Saturday, November 27, 2010

Interview: Author Timothy W. Long

Interview by Jessica A. Weiss.

Thank you, Timothy for taking the time to do this.

My pleasure.

Tell us about your novel Among the Living. Why did you set it in your home town of Seattle?

Among the Living is the story of a group of people caught up in the first few days of a zombie outbreak. I have often referred to the book as ‘pre-apocalyptic’. One of my favorite parts of zombie movies/books is the beginning. I love seeing how people react.

In my book, a group of dysfunctional people are swept up in the horror as the city descends into chaos. It is not a book about a single person walking across an apocalyptic wasteland. It is all about the events leading up to that.

I stayed away from everyday characters for the most part. One of the main characters is a twenty-something serial killer. Her viewpoint starts the day before the zombies arrive with her in a hotel room murdering a guy she met on Craigslist and then covering it up. When the zombies show up she is presented with a very unique gift. As one that has the need to take life, suddenly she can get away with it.

Another character is a drug dealer that prefers to stay in his home and smoke/drink the days away while shooting the dead that show up at his fence. He cracks one-liners while swilling rum and lusting after his girlfriend. One reviewer called it a dark zombie book with a few laugh out loud moments thanks to that character.

I picked Seattle, mainly the downtown area because I have lived and worked in the area for many years. Like they say, write what you know. Besides, everyone knows it is grey and rainy all the time. It’s the perfect place for a zombie book.

I would also like to mention that the version out now is a greatly revised and expanded version. I went back and added about 20 pages to it. It was also professionally edited by Stephanie Kincaid.

What inspired you to do The Zombie Wilson Diaries?

The Zombie Wilson Diaries was a funny little experiment I tried as a way to promote my first book Among the Living. Being on a small press is great. They pay large royalties and I get a lot of say in my work. The downside is that it takes a lot more promotion.

I was trying to come up with a way to get more readers to look at Among the Living so I decided to do a blog with an ongoing story and weekly entries. I was watching this movie called Survival Island one night. In the movie this ridiculously attractive woman is stuck on a deserted island with two guys that fight over her all the time. Oh yeah, and in the morning they all have perfect hair. So I got to thinking. What if the woman was a zombie. I bet the guys would be really frustrated. From that, I took a bit of Castaway (Zombie-Wilson instead of a volleyball?) and my love of satire. I blended it with the trials and tribulations of relationships and zombiefied the whole mess.

The blog got quite popular thanks to Doctor Pus of Library of the Living Dead. He started doing weekly readings of the diary entries. As time went by I had to set the character up with more and more outlandish situations including a beached zombie-shark.

The book really gave me a chance to do something I love which is pure satire. But I also threw in a bit of one sided romance. Let’s face it. The poor guy in the book just wants a companion, someone to share his life with. Someone to talk to. All she wants to do is eat him. Relationship satire? Yep, been accused of that one too.

What was your involvement with ZomBCon? How was the experience?

ZomBcon was a wonderful con held in Seattle. I was at the con as a vendor but I do that so I can setup my books and meet people. Sure selling books directly to folks is fun but it is even more gratifying to just sit around and chat with people who have the same love of the genre as I do. I chatted with one woman for about 10 minutes before I even mentioned I was the author of the books on the table. It’s just that much fun to meet other zombie nuts.

I did a book signing at the Barnes and Noble book pavilion which was a real blast. I also had a filmed interview for an upcoming zombie documentary which was quite surreal.

zomBcon was a great experience and I can’t wait for it to come back next year.

Of all the horror genres, why zombies?

Really, I blame Permuted Press. A few years ago I was at a Borders and saw, much to my surprise, a zombie book. It was Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons. I picked up the book and could not believe that not only was the book a zombie novel, it was by a small press dedicated to the genre. I picked up 3 books on the spot.

I was finishing writing classes at Gotham Writers Workshop and decided: “How hard could it be to write a zombie book?”

Well it turned out to be a hell of a lot harder than I thought. You really have to dig deep and think about the folks caught up in a zombie event. How would you act? What would you sacrifice? But I love the genre and plan to stick with it for a long time.

Besides, zombies offer so many ways to abuse them. Since zombies are people they can bring out the best, and worst, in the folks around them. Or they can just be the butt of a joke. They can be used for pure horror like being trapped in a room with tons of them pressing on the door, to girl zombies in coconut tops and grass skirts.

Plus, zombies don’t sparkle unless they are covered in shrapnel.

Tell us about your new zombie book Barriers Beyond.

Barriers Beyond is really the first 30,000 words of a much larger book. I have been working on the full book for over a year now and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. Hoping to take advantage of the huge Kindle community, I released the first third of the book as a novella. My friend, Lee Harnup, helped me with the cover and Stephanie Kincaid, editor extraordinaire, did the hard work on the book - taking my virtual chicken scratch, and making it readable.

I hope to have good new on the full book pretty soon. After that the novella will be pulled. A number of horror writers are seeing big sales numbers from doing monthly Novellas. I wanted to get in on the trend but have been too busy with other projects. I do have plans to release a zombie western at some point in the same format, called Bordello of the Dead.

The title is a bit off, so what would you say to someone in regards to reading The Apocalypse and Satan’s Glory Hole?

Oh, there is nothing off about the title . It is a rip-snorting journey across the apocalypse with the most insane cast of characters you will ever come across - all on their way to stop Satan from getting funky with a giant floating glory hole.

I wrote the book with a bizarro/horrorcore author named Jonathan Moon. We started out joking about doing a book together in the bizarro genre. What came out was an absurd journey we liken to an acid trip with words.

The four horsemen are completely reimaged. War looks like Dick Cheney. Famine is a foul mouthed Rosanne Barr wannabe. Death is kinda emo and hooks up with a dominatrix. Pestilence is a junkie that wants nothing more than a new fix.

Jesus and Death go on a vodka and red bull fueled road trip and get into all sorts of adventures.

There is also a one-armed, heroin addicted monkey named Phil who is the punch line of every chapter he appears in.

You can’t go wrong with this book. It is absurd, bizarre, gross, dirty, and the funniest thing I have ever worked on.

Is there a personal horror story that hides in every piece of your writing?

Not at all. I don’t really know where that stuff comes from. I do like telling the story of people caught up in horrible situations, to me that’s where real horror stems from.

What is your next upcoming project?

I have a trilogy of zombie novels in the works. The first one is done and is out to a publisher. The title is At The Behest of the Dead.

I plan to do a sequel to Zombie Wilson Diaries called My Live with Zombie-Wilson, a Memoir.

At some point I will also do a direct sequel to Among the Living called Among the Dead.

Do you see yourself expanding into “Mainstream” Publishing or do you prefer the personal touches of small press publishers?

I love small press but I’m not going to slam the door on a major publisher showing up at my door with a wheelbarrow full of cash. The dream of every writer is for mainstream appeal and I am no different.

The ever classic: Where do you see your writing in ten years? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Wow. I really can’t say. I have been a huge fan
of epic fantasy since I was a kid. I would love to do a series of books in the genre. The problem I run into is that I hate all the standard fantasy clich├ęs and troupes. I would want it to be different so I might have to resort to satire.

What is your thing with hula-girl dolls?

There is a chapter in Zombie Wilson Diaries which has the protagonist dressing up his pet zombie in a coconut bra and grass skirt. Well, Rhiannon Frater (As the World Dies trilogy) became a fan of the story and joked about the coconut bra. Then accused me of zombie abuse. Now I carry hula dolls to the cons I attend and set them up in front of a bloody Wilson volleyball.

You’ve stated that you are a “recovering” Science fiction writer and that you are taking pills for it. Care to comment further?

When I took writing classes a few years ago I focused almost exclusively on Sci-Fi and fantasy. The problem is that when I write the serious stuff it tends to have a nourish feel to it. This really didn’t sit well with the sci-fi I was doing. I’m not abandoning it, though, I would love to do a high tech, hyper-violent science fiction zombie story someday.

How can readers, fans, stalkers, and curiosity seekers find and/or contact you?

I do have a blog (http://timothywlong.blogspot.com). I tend to more of my stuff on Facebook now (http://www.facebook.com/Crusis). The Zombie Wilson fan page has almost 900 fans and grows daily. When I go over 1K , I will randomly pick someone over the 1K mark and send them a free copy of the book.

If folks care to check out a healthy dose of The Zombie Wilson Diaries just head on over to http://www.zombie-wilson.com and read the first 50+ pages for free.

I can also be stalked at stupidzombies@gmail.com

Again, thank you for your time.

Oh no, Thank you!

About Jessica A. Weiss

Owner and Editor-in-chief of Wicked East Press (www.wickedeastpress.com) and short story author. You can keep up to date with her blog (thewriterssideofthelookingglass.blogspot.com) or email questions to her at jaweiss@wickedeastpress.com.



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