I have the fitness mad, food loving, Zombie killing machine (at least he would hope) Todd (TW) Brown on the blog today, telling us all about his newest release - DEAD: Spring: Book 9 of the DEAD series.
He answers some important questions on the series, and is also offering up three chances to win a copy of either his latest book or the first three in his series.
So sit back and enjoy the ride zombie lovers.
Todd (TW) Brown is the author of the DEAD series, That Ghoul Ava, and the Zomblog series. He is also the editor for May December Publications with numerous anthologies to his credit as well as the full length works of authors such as Mark Tufo, John O' Brien, Chantal Boudreau, Robert Dean, and Heath Stallcup.
Feel free to stalk him at any of the following, especially if you're bringing baked goods!
| Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads |
Claire - Tell us all about your latest DEAD release. What can readers expect from this book in the series?
Todd - First off, this is the longest read of the series. Most of the DEAD books come in around 100,000 words. This one hit over 174,000. Also, I have some fun plans for the final three books in the series, so I really wanted to put that in motion. To that end, I wanted the reader to be in a pretty good place with the multiple story lines. Lots of closure here.
C. Do you find it hard, this far into the series, to keep coming up with original plots, and plot twists also I guess?
T. Sometimes I go in totally blind. I have to let the story find itself. That seems to be when things are the most fun. Also, I am really trying to make this more about people dealing with the aftermath. The zombies were just the catalyst; sort of like the whole nuclear scare we lived under in 60s and then again in the early 80s.
C. Do you have an end game for the entire series, or does it come to you as you write?
T. Most of this stuff comes as I write it. I have a few things in mind for how I want the final book (#12, and it will be titled DEAD: End) to wrap. But honestly, even those ideas are not etched in stone.
C. You write realistically, and aren’t afraid of killing characters off if needed, something I try to incorporate into my own work. I know I’ve gotten stick at times for doing this, yet I continue to do so because for me, that’s life. What are your reasons for writing this way?
T. I think one of the worst things is to feel somebody is safe. It takes away from the feelings of tension. If you can pick out who will live and who will die in the first ten pages, what is the point of reading the rest of the book?
Also, my goal from the start has been to hit some chord of realism. In the real world, the good guy does not always win, people do not always get closure, and sometimes you walk away from a situation having no idea what the hell just happened. I think leaving things like that not only adds to the realism, but it also gives the reader something to ponder.
C. What aspects of writing do you find most difficult?
T. Editing. I am lucky that my words seem to just come. I think that is the benefit of keeping the story “organic” and allowing it to wander. But I hate going in and trying to clean it up in post-production. That is the only aspect of what I do that feels like work.
C. All writers know that reviews are our gold, but are there any reviews—both good and bad—that have stuck with you?
T. A few. I had one lady who has medical issues and escapes through reading. When she wrote her first review, she said that I had taken away her pain to the point where she was able to cut back on being medicated as much for that time she spent in my books. That was huge. But overall, anytime somebody says that I made them ACTUALLY laugh or cry…that is the stuff right there. I invoked real emotion with a string of words on paper. How cool is that?
C. There are a lot of clichés in horror, and I base a lot of my writing on avoiding these. What, if any, is your particular pet peeve when it comes to this sort of thing. Mine would have to be the woman running into the house where she heard the screaming coming from and not even bothering to turn the light on! **groan**
T. I think it would be a toss-up between the “super” military guy with all the answers and the unlimited supply of bullets…that, and the dark basement with the burned out light bulb.
C. Out of all your work, and there’s a lot, which is the piece that you’re most proud of?
T. Actually…it would be my “That Ghoul Ava” books. Writing comedy (or attempting it) is a struggle. However, I have had critics and reviewers who refuse to believe that man wrote the books. That is a huge compliment. But I would be remiss if I did not say that I am very proud of the world that I have created in the DEAD series.
C. If you had to pick a soundtrack to Dead: Spring, what would it be?
T. I love Future Sound of London’s Dead Cities.
C. What’s the next thing that you’re working on, and when can we expect to get our greedy little mitts on it?
T. I am busy with the next That Ghoul Ava story which should be out by the end of July, I am also putting together the second volume of Special Editions from the DEAD series where I take the three rotating chapters of DEAD: Winter, DEAD: Siege & Survival, and DEAD: Confrontation (the first person story line of Steve/Billy which I call Perspectives, Geeks, and Vignettes) and add some bonus material based on reader response. I do that after every three book in the series for those who don’t like the rotating chapters. Those are due in August, and of course, the next 10th book in the DEAD series, DEAD: Reclamation is due on Halloween.
In between I am starting to lay down the beginnings for the first of the DEAD: Snapshot books. DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon will roll out early next year, and I already have dozens of requests from people who want to see their town fall in the DEAD universe.
Thanks, Todd, really cool chatting with you as usual.
Thanks so much Claire. I really appreciate it.
Behind The Curtain Of The Dead Series
When I first sat down and wrote the opening line for the DEAD series, I was thinking, “Maybe I have a five book series here.” By then end of that book, I knew it was going to take more than that. My mind was made up that I was going to write the Wheel of Time (or, if I can be so bold…The Stand) equivalent for the zombie crowd. I was set to build an entire world and then take the reader on a whirlwind tour of the apocalypse populated with a cast of characters that might reach a hundred in any given book. And yeah…I knew it was risky. But I also felt that the zombie fans were a group that deserved something with depth.
The formula that I chose was inspired by George R.R. Martin. If you have dipped your toes in the books that the very popular “Game of Thrones” series is based upon, then you know how he does each chapter from a different perspective of one of his characters. I tweaked it for my own devices and came up with “Steve’s Story”, “The Geeks”, and “Vignettes” as my three rotating chapters. If you have read any of my DEAD series, then you know that each book is always 18 chapters long (6 per story line). However, things have changed some since that first book. I learned some lessons.
Of course, Steve’s chapters are all in first person. That lets you really see things from one person’s perspective. You are only as clued in as he is during any particular moment. The Geeks was my homage to every single zombie fan who thinks that the Zombie Apocalypse would be so freakin’ cool. This is the story that I get to sink in to as I write it. I channel many of my friends and the snippets of conversations that we have had since that day in the 70s when we all came out of the original Dawn of the Dead with some fairly silly adolescent fantasies. However, it is the Vignettes where I think I have learned the most as a writer. And that is sort of my focus here as I let you peek behind the curtain.
The vignettes were initially just supposed to be snapshots of the world in chaos. I even toyed with the idea of folding every one of those stories in to my two main story lines. Somewhere along the way, many of those shorts began to take on a life of their own. In fact, they are the source of the most hated and loved (according to reviews and personal emails) of my character; Garrett being the former and Juan the latter.
In the first book, DEAD: The Ugly Beginning, I wrote the vignettes as they came to me. So, there was no order, rhyme, or reason. However, as some of the stories began to take on a life of their own, I started to really get invested in what would happen. By the second book, DEAD: Revelations, I realized something: I needed to keep the stories in the same order chapter by chapter. By the third book, DEAD: Fortunes and Failures, I had a refined formula. What I would do was continue to keep the main vignettes in order, but I would give each vignette chapter what I termed as a one-timer. This would be a single open-and-closed short.
Funny thing about when an author sits down with an idea. They are usually the only one who understands it. So was the case with Vignettes. The idea is one that I would not change as a whole, but I do think that I would have modified it to some extent. And that is where I believe it to be now.
Readers of the series have had to go through this process with me, but I do think what I have now is the way to go. Now, in Vignettes, there are the main story lines that have endured since the first book or two of the series. However, since I try to complete the main ideas of a story arc in each three-book offering, I now introduce a new vignette at the start of books 4, 7, and 10. That will allow me to write a bit of a novella-length story. Some will fold in to the main stories, some will simply reach a climax and end, and others might be melded into one of the other vignettes.
Now, I realize that I still run the risk of “too many characters” as some critics have pointed out. However, I believe that, once you become engrossed in this DEAD world, you will find it a very rewarding experience.
At least that is what I am hoping.
As book nine, DEAD: Spring, hits the ground, I am more excited than ever before. For one, I can’t be sure, but this might be the largest (in terms of word count) of any zombie novel out there to date. And if you find a longer zombie novel, you have to let me know because I am as much a fan as anything else and I would love to read it (if it is good).
Book eight was the riskiest for me due to all of the cliffhangers. But I was fairly confident that, if you have come along for this much of the ride, then you are probably a fan and will be on board for the next one.
So, I hope that you enjoy it. I think that it is my best to date.
Todd Brown Giveaway
As Always Happy Reading my little zombie freaks!
Claire C. Riley aka Red x
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