Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chasing one's tail...maybe dogs have something there.

My years in journalism are well behind me. I do still hold on to one of my instructor's biggest lessons. A headline will bring them in, and your writing has to keep them. That is why I sometimes "tabloid up" with my blog headlines. I think that is the deal today. I really did not know how to label this one.

For those of you waiting, DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon now has an OFFICIAL release date. April 3rd, 2015. Also...on the side of the bad news, DEAD 11 is delayed until May 4th. Sorry folks. This is what happens when you bite off more than you can chew. I am really trying to get everything done on time, but the new recording studio is proving to be "a bit tricksy" to quote Gollum. Toss in the wedding (vow renewal) in Vegas next weekend, my workout schedule as I close in on the new obstacle course racing season, and just life in general, and I am often left each evening feeling like I spent most of that day chasing my tail.

So, today, I have a very serious question for all my zombie fans. What is more important in a GOOD zombie novel? Characters with depth (regardless of whether you would like them or hate them as people if you ever met)? Or lots of action and people being ripped apart?

I ask this because I feel that I have found my voice in this genre (after only twenty or so books have been published...wowzers!?). I feel it is about the people and the "realness" of them. I want you to like some and HATE some. But, and I have said this before, but sometimes I hear Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm character in my head saying, (use your best Goldblum voice impersonation here) "Ummm,, uh,, uh, you are going to have zombies in your zombie novel, right?"

I don't think there needs to be a person ripped apart on every age, but as I prepare to launch this spin off "Snapshot" series, I worry about the new reader that stumbles across my book for the first time. I won't lie when I say that I really believe that this series holds my future in its hands. This has the potential to launch a good forty or fifty novels. I have all these cool ideas including the small town that actually withstands the zombie menace, an entire book of "evil" (think nasty Garrett McCormick types) some who die horribly...but, some who get away with their evil schemes in a lawless world, and all sorts of things, including at least one novel told entirely from a zombie child's point of view, one from a prison, and one that is a tribute to our armed forces members.

So, what do you think? Can a zombie novel reach "greatness" without horrific violence in abundance? Or, do I need to bow to the masses and stay away from the faces of evil, tell only happy, rainbow and pony tales, and make sure that a zombie appears on practically every page?


  1. Hi Todd.
    Only just found your blog. I'm a massive zombie fan. I have just been recommended your books by a fellow zombie gaming blogger, so have yet to read any yet.
    To try and give you a little input, all the books I have read and liked (zombie and regular) have had good characters in them. Violence can be an essential part of the story but when it's for it's own sake that can be so meh.
    What really works well is when a character that is well liked and has depth and a realness (is that a word) to them is killed. Not only have you invested time and emotion reading about said character the shock of losing such an investment can be greatly unsettling.
    Like I said I haven't read your books yet so I could be teaching my granny to suck eggs. Anyway, I'll be following your blog and buying your books real soon.

    1. Bob,

      I look forward to hearing of your reactions as you travel through my books. And the DEAD box set Vol. 1 is still 99 cents for the next couple of weeks or so. That gets you the first three books of the series for dirt cheap. Either way, I hope to hear from you again.

  2. i really like strong Characters with depth .and person ripped apart by zombies. and unicorns being ripped apart.
    just keep doing what you are doing
    ps stop killing the dogs makes me sad :(

    1. Graham,

      Believe it or not, that scene with Imp and Circe took me three sessions over the course of two days to write, it kept upsetting me to the point where I had to get Aoife and Tyrion and take them outside to play Frisbee.

  3. The best post-apocalyptic books are about how people react to the cataclysm, as well as how they make their way in the new world. Your characters happen to play out against the backdrop of a zompocalypse. (Alien invasion, solar flares, Supervolcano eruption, etc. are also examples of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI.) The situations they run into allow them to expose what lurks beneath the fragile veneer of civilization, whether they were budding psychopaths or just ordinary folks who found an iron core of strength and leadership ability.

    Gore is fun, but it can get repetitive, so character development in *any* apocalypse story is vital. For me, there must also be a large element of "What would I do in that situation?" As a reader, I have to feel a connection to the characters, whether negative or positive. Moral ambiguity is essential in order to heighten suspense.

    No ponies, no rainbows, and especially no ponies who poop rainbows. We love your books, dude. You strike the perfect balance

  4. Catching up on your blog (life has been crazy) and had to add my view. I love characters the good and the bad, admittedly my favs are the good. In no particular order..Steve, Emily, Kevin, Thalia, Juan, Billy, Meredith, Snoe and the kittens and dogs. I still miss Steve and I'm not sure why, but I do. Emily zombie broke my heart...sighhhh Kevin, I've known people like him and he was another heartbreaker for me. Juan wasn't someone I thought I would care about but wow you made me care.Your characters reach out through my kindle and grab my attention, and that's why I'm a TW Brown fan. Keep them coming

  5. PS
    I read a 5 book series that I enjoyed and waited for the author's 1st book in a new series that was published recently and I am seriously disappointed so far. The main characters are too stupid to survive a hangnail let alone any SHTF type event. Gore is good but characters are everything.