‘Laugh at zombies as all the tired memes stand on their heads.’
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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?
I love telling stories and entertaining people with them. I began writing stories in 3rd grade with science fiction stories. I wrote my first parody in junior high school, another humorous scifi story in high school, and then a parody of a romance in college.
Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?
First was Heinlein, then Madeleine L’Engle. For humor, Terry Pratchett. For zombies and overall action, John Ringo.
Tell me about your book / series.
Life After Life Chronicles
Laugh at zombies as all the tired memes stand on their head.
Zombie Turkeys lead the parody parade. (Hook: I killed a zombie turkey. Now will it stay dead?) The poultry apocalypse ruins the NFL Thanksgivings game and the President’s thanksgiving dinner as the turkeys come back life again and again. Sam Melvin, a low-achieving e-reporter is the main guy standing between them and world domination.
Then the zombiism spreads to humans in My Undead Mother-in-law. (Hook: My mother-in-law’s a zombie—and she has anger management issues.) Only a few humans turn zombie at first, led by bubbly middle-aged mother-in-law Diane Newby who’ll serve you cake and cookies, but can’t control her temper and superhuman zombie speed and strength. She ends up in a zombie reality show, and also in the crosshairs of a criminal who plans to control all zombies, the United States, and the world.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
One unpublished non-fiction work harmonizing the four gospels. One partially complete romance adventure.
What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?
Unless the book is harmful to human life, or deceptively harmful (e.g. jumping in front of trains is good for your health) or slanderous, all books are protected under the first amendment.
Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?
In Zombie Turkeys, e-reporter Sam Melvin is an anti-hero: unambitious, an average follower, who ends up risking his life covering the zombie turkeys story for his editor, Lisa Kambacher. He discovers he is courageous in the face of unkillable turkeys and inadvertently becomes famous.
In My Undead Mother-in-law, Diane Newby finds herself a zombie and discriminated against as such. She becomes a champion for zombie rights, and fights to improve the image of zombies in society by fighting against zombie animals, like zombie turkeys. She becomes famous and wealthy and then goes up again a secret criminal who controls all crime in Europe and wants to move into the US. Her irresistible directness meets the criminal’s wealth and genius in a worldwide conflict.
Indie, or traditionally published – and why?
Indie because I couldn’t stand trying to sell myself first to an agent, then to an editor, then to a publisher and then to readers. I just cut out the middle men.
It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?
Makes perfect sense. You read a lot of fiction and you get a sense of pacing and what’s entertaining and what isn’t.
Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.
The worst aspects are promoting, advertising, and selling your books. Why don’t people just buy them, knowing they’re great? By far the best aspects of being an author are the joy of creating a new story and having people love it.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?
Definitely I’m a plotter! So much so, I can’t even imagine ever writing without a clear idea of the theme of the story, and the story arc. The more I plan the plot, the more excited I get about actually writing it.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Mostly they’re inside jokes about the internet or cultures that I know well, that only people familiar with those cultures will ‘get’.
Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.
Bike riding. I started bike commuting 9 miles to work at 41, and kept it up for twelve years. I still ride 40-50 miles a week on local bike trails.
What are you writing at the moment?
The third novel in my Life After Life Chronicles, entitled Paranormal Privateers.
What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?
Sometimes it’s true, most of the time it’s not. Editing errors slip by traditional publishers and certainly indie authors who try to self-edit are vulnerable to this problem.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
I started with science fiction as a child and I still feel most comfortable writing science based speculative fiction.
If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?
Absolutely! In general, a world dominated by nice zombies is a nicer world!
If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Be patient, research and outline in detail before writing.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?
Occasionally. I like guitar (Tommy Emmanuel) and piano as background.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How often life is like what I have imagined! I dream of plots which require certain technologies or geographic features, I research the world and find it just as I imagined!
Tell me three unique things about you.
1) I was adopted at 5 months old and do not know my nationality.
2) I played clarinet for two years and oboe for twenty years and tried to teach myself piano.
3) I’m a certified Six Sigma Blackbelt and project manager before I became a full time author.
Andy, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!