Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview: Author Patrick D'Orazio

Interview by Erika Gilbert.

Can you tell us about the releases you have with the Library of the Living Dead Press?

I have written a trilogy of books that are about the personal journey of one man during the zombie apocalypse. At the very beginning of the story, his entire family has turned into zombies and he is forced to deal with that, and the fact that everything else he has ever cared about is gone. So he decides that his only option is to cause as much mayhem with the undead as he possibly can before they destroy them. But it doesn’t take long for him to meet up with some other survivors that aren’t quite as interested in giving up just yet. Instead, they want to find a way to survive (and live) in a world dominated by the undead, and they need Jeff, the main character, to help them do that. The first book was released in July and is entitled Comes The Dark, the second book has just come out and is entitled Into The Dark, and the third book is being released in March of 2011 and is entitled Beyond The Dark.

I have also written quite a few short stories for both the Library and several other publishers, ranging from horror to science fiction to bizarro. I am enjoying having the chance to stretch my writing wings a bit with those different tales.

How do you research your books?

I actually sat down with some National Guardsmen and grilled them on several different aspects of how they would respond and react to different scenarios. I spent several hours grilling them about equipment, weapons, their personal perspectives and what their instincts would lead them to do if the world had turned upside down. That was just part of what I felt I needed to be able to write my book, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to tap into their expertise.

I would say that each story is different. Some require a bit of minor research online, while others, if you are going to show the material and the reader proper respect, you need to seek out experts on the subject matter you are bring up in your story. I will admit that there is always more research that can be done on any topic, but the trick, for me at least, is to not over indulge in saturating a story with too much irrelevant data. I may fire, reload, and even clean a handgun a character of mine will use in a story, but I doubt the reader needs all that detail in my story. There has to be a balance between knowing what you are talking about and not over-indulging in minutia that doesn’t move a story forward.

Tell us about your favorite character from one of your novels.

Well, it would seem that Jeff Blaine, the main character, would be the character I should speak about, but Jeff’s story is really laid out in the books fairly well. I believe the reader gets the chance to see how he morphs and changes over the course of the three books based on the horrendous circumstances he finds himself in. So I tend to really lean toward Megan as someone who the reader gets to know, but perhaps not quite as well as Jeff. She goes from being a virtual basket case when Jeff first meets her to someone who is getting “back to her normal self” as the story moves on. She realizes that she is happy to be alive, despite there being so many reasons not to be, and she has great depth and compassion for the people she cares about, while at the same time not being afraid to show her disgust and hatred for anyone who she despises. She is someone who, on the outside, looks like a complete wreck-she has lost a tremendous amount of weight, she is physically weak, and she looks ghostly and haunted. But on the inside, she is one of the most vibrant and strong people in the story. She is forced to do some terrible things, but she still has the capacity for love and acceptance despite living in a world that no longer seems to care about such concepts.

The start of Comes The Dark is one of the most intense I’ve ever read. How do you maintain the suspense without overloading it?

That is a tough question to answer. I don’t really think about that when I am writing or creating a story. It is more along the lines of seeing if what is happening makes sense. I let the characters breathe a bit when I write them. In other words, I might give them a certain personality at the outset, but I accept the fact that as things happen all around them and to them, their perspective and personality can and will morph, especially when we are talking about the apocalypse. So in many ways, the characters dictate how the story goes and how intense things will get. I might toss them into the meat grinder at first and may throw the occasional curve ball at them, but they are more than capable of creating their own mayhem through their actions and reactions, which makes the story all that much more intense and intriguing…or at least I hope.

What do you think it is about zombies that appeals to readers?

Zombies are the apocalypse, or the physical manifestation of it. Ever since Romero created the modern day zombie, they have been symbolic of a whole lot of our weaknesses and failings as human beings. The old adage that they are us and we are them isn’t really far from the heart of the matter in my humble opinion. It is the idea of the mindless horde coming for you, to consume you…and the fact that members of that horde might include your wife, your husband, your children, your parents… that makes them all the more compelling and disturbing. Zombies aren’t appealing or appetizing on any level, whereas monsters such as vampires and other dark creatures have a certain romantic allure. Zombies are foul, mindless, hungry, rotting corpses. They can’t be reasoned with, they have no real weaknesses, especially when there is a crowd of them coming for you, and they are the essence of inevitability. They can wait forever, patient beyond imagining, for you to give up, go mad, or starve to death. I don’t think it is ever a matter of believing that you can escape them, but knowing that sooner or later it will be your turn to be consumed at their hands and wondering how long you can last before they get to you.

Apart from your own work, what is your favorite zombie novel and what did you love about it?

I think there are several really compelling zombie books out there, and I have read a lot of them. So it’s hard to pick just one for me. The ones that really examine the human condition, such as Kim Paffenroth’s Dying To Live trilogy have been some of the most interesting to me. I love The Walking Dead graphic novels, because they show the lives of these people long after most books and movies would leave them behind-their saga just keeps going forward and we can see how everyone is coping not just days after the world has ended, but years after that. I have to give a nod to Max Brooks for bringing a lot of attention to the zombie genre with The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z as well - they are both great reads. But it is hard to stop there. I am a zombie book hound and love a lot of stuff out there-from the really gory, visceral stuff, to the more cerebral stories.

I’m on a personal crusade to find a book that really scares me. Is there a book you’ve read that scared you so badly you had to sleep with the light on?

I still love a lot of Stephen King’s classic stuff, like ‘Salem’s Lot, It, and The Shining…and there are several other books of his that were pretty disturbing for me. Ghost Story by Peter Straub knocked me over when I was kid too. Clive Barker is another author that tends to stick with me with the demonic worlds they create. I also love Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos he created for its ever-present aura of darkness and hopelessness that permeates most of those stories.

The tricky part about horror, at least in my estimation, is that it is a deeply personal experience. I have friends who are terrified of clowns and It still freaks them out to this day. When I was young, my fertile imagination often filled in the gaps on ghost stories and tales of monsters that you never really got a good look at and had to create in your own mind. Now, as a husband and father, stories that involve a family in danger actually stick with me more than anything. Perhaps they don’t make me leave the light on, but it is often hard to get back to sleep when I’ve read something that really rattles my cage about a father whose children die or have been stolen away from him. That feeling of helplessness scares me more than anything.

Has anyone or anything from your past influenced your writing?

I think there are a lot of experiences in my life that are constantly influencing my writing and what I will write in the future. The birth of my son, which was, in many ways, one of the most frightening and terror filled experiences in my life, because he was born so premature and barely survived his first few months of life, has impacted how I write and how I develop characters a great deal. People like my father, who grew up in a ghetto and yet was able to do so much for his family are people who have a profound influence on my writing and what I want to write about. Even all the jerks and oddballs I have met in my life give me a lot of ideas about what to write about.

I know this will probably will reveal my true inner-geek, but my experiences as a Dungeon Master in Dungeons and Dragons probably also shaped me as a writer a great deal. You get the chance to create a world and then plop several characters down into it. You give them an intense scenario and watch them react to it. Just like with writing, you have to constantly be flexible and let the story reveal itself as a Dungeon Master, or it feels wooden or forced and the players will let you know that. Learning how to improvise and adapt on the fly with those games had a definite influence on how I write and create situations for my characters to cope with.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers just embarking on the journey?

Read as much as you can, and not just in the genre you plan on writing in. Give yourself a diverse menu of books and stories to check out, from a lot of different authors. I have met a couple of people who have told me they want to become writers, yet they don’t read all that much. If you aren’t an avid reader, chances are you won’t be much of a writer.

It is okay to share what you write with friends and family, but you will need honest, almost heartless opinions about your work from people who are also writers and readers. In other words, network. Connect with folks who share a passion for the type of books you want to write and get writing partners; people who want to share their works with you and who are willing to look at yours. Grow a thick skin. You have to be able to handle criticism and embrace it. If you really believe you are all that good, then it is a good idea to have some folks who can help knock you down a notch or two. Because even if you are good, there is always a lot of room for improvement, and you need people who will tell you that honestly and constructively.

Can you share something about yourself not many people know?

I guess something that might surprise some folks is that I never thought of myself as a horror writer until I started writing Comes The Dark. I have been writing since I was a kid and almost all of it was fantasy and science fiction stories. I still love those genres and my intention is to write novels in those genres as well as horror in the future. This particular story grabbed a hold of me a few years ago and wouldn’t let go, and so I had to write it, but if it hadn’t, I may have never stepped into the horror arena. I am definitely glad it has happened, because I find that I really love writing horror a great deal. Since I started writing my trilogy, I have also written numerous horror short stories, along with some others in a variety of genres, including bizarro, erotica, high adventure, and plenty of others. It’s a lot of fun trying on different hats with my writing.

So it seems somewhat strange to me that I have found a home in the horror genre when none of my previous writing efforts to my first novel were horror related.

Which are your favorite television shows at the moment?

I guess it probably goes without saying that The Walking Dead is my new favorite show. I think that beyond the quality of the writing and storylines, it is great because it really gives some tremendous exposure to this genre to the public at large. And given that it has been rated the best new show on television by at least one magazine and it is breaking records for viewers, there is a strong interest in good quality zombie television out there that should help both the writers and fans of the genre get even more quality stuff out there.

Besides TWD, I would say that Netflix is my friend. I have been able to watch shows like Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, True Blood, and Dexter that I never really got to see as they were airing. I do enjoy a few mindless comedies to go with the dramas I watch, but I find myself craving good writing and compelling characters more than anything on TV these days. A lot of TV is junk food for the mind, but there are some really good shows out there if you keep an eye out and I really am envious of the writers who create that stuff.

Sum up your writing style in one sentence or less.

I attempt to write from the heart, first and foremost.

Do you have any upcoming novels and/or works in progress you would like to share with us?

I have probably far too many ideas for novels brewing inside my head. I do love writing short stories as well and have more than a dozen that will be appearing in different anthologies over the next several months. I will be continuing to write short stories but I think the main project I am going to be devoting myself to over the next few months is another book that takes place in the same realm as my trilogy. I also plan on starting work on a Young Adult adventure novel that will be a complete one eighty from what I have been writing recently. We shall see how that turns out!

If you had to choose between being a werewolf and a vampire, which would you choose?

It is too easy to be a vampire. I need angst with my monsters. Vamps look like us, perhaps with a bit paler skin and pointier teeth, but they can get away with being vamps pretty easily in public. The ladies dig them and they have pretty much gone mainstream. I think being a werewolf could still easily mess with your mind, especially if you can’t remember what you have done under the control of the full moon. Not knowing if you have butchered innocent people would be torture. That would mess with my head enough to make being a werewolf a pretty interesting gig.

About Patrick D'Orazio

Patrick D'Orazio resides in southwestern Ohio with his wife, Michele, two children, Alexandra and Zachary, and two spastic dogs. He has been writing since he was a teenager but only recently clued into the fact that unless he attempted to get published, no one else would care. Approximately fifteen of his short stories appear or will be appearing in various anthologies from Library of the Living Dead, Library of Horror, Library of Bizarro Horror, Library of Erotic Horror, Library of Science Fiction, Library of Fantasy, Pill Hill Press, May December December Publications, Dark Silo Press, and NorGus Press. Patrick's Dark Trilogy is being released by The Library of the Living Dead Press. The first two books, "Comes The Dark" and "Into The Dark" are now available and the final book, "Beyond The Dark" is being released in March of 2011. You can find Patrick on his blog at

About Erika Gilbert

Erika Gilbert is a stay home mother by day and a paranormal author by night. She has trained in martial arts and has a psychology degree, but her greatest achievement is the birth of her son who is an inspiration to both parents. Erika's father, Tom Millard, died before he could realize his dream of becoming a published writer. Erika hopes he would be proud. Erika lives in New Zealand with her family. Her first novel, Blood Talisman, is available from Noble Romance Ltd. She has two humorous urban fantasy novels coming out in 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing and her flash story, "Kiss the Bride," will be included in the Pill Hill Press 2011 Daily Bites of Flesh horror anthology. Visit Erika online at

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