Cross-post: The Transparency of Zombies

A few weeks, ago, I participated in a blog-tour round-up for the “Summer of Zombie” on Jay Wilburn’s blog site. If you’re a fan of the Z-Day series, the content, snippets, and discussion posts are well-worth checking out. I added a few names to my ever-growing ‘to-be-read’ list and had a grand time participating.

I’m often asked some variation on the question ‘why write about zombies?’ Fairly or not, the genre tends to be looked down upon. I disagree with that assessment. Original, slightly revised and expanded post:

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#FreeAwfulNovel Part 10: The Farce Awakens, and some tidbits

Jim McCoy had a great review of Night’s Black Agents. Check it out if you’re still on the fence. It’s a definite change of pace from my zombie stuff, but as soon as I’m done with A Place For War the Paxton universe will be my main focus for a while as I have, at minimum, the next four books in the series sketched out. That’s not to say I won’t ever step back into the world of Z-Day (I’ve learned to never say never, heh) but sometimes it’s good to switch gears and let the ideas mutate on their own.

Anyhow, on to the awful–

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Home from LibertyCon & Night’s Black Agents is OUT!

Last year was my first time at a con with pro obligations, and we didn’t get off to a great start. We left the morning the con was scheduled to begin, hit traffic, got behind, and things didn’t get much better than that for the rest of day one. I did my first panel with the most horrible migraine of my life (not recommended at all), but things did get better as the weekend progressed.

This year, forearmed with knowledge, I took the day before off as a travel day, which made for a nice and relaxing mini-vacation for my wife and I. If last year was classified as a ‘good’ experience, this year was most definitely great.

 

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Make Science Fiction Fun Again

In one of the more interesting offerings this year, the con staff arranged for long-time editor and author Bill Fawcett to conduct one-on-one mentoring with some of the younger writers. I jumped at the opportunity when it was offered, and it was truly a great session. Bill is an all-around-awesome guy with a wealth of experience in the business. I’m looking forward to utilizing some of his tips and strategies moving forward.

Saturday night, I was on a panel debating the merits of vampires versus zombies in fiction. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of my recent ‘Vampires Suck’ blog past was a preliminary ordering of my thoughts on the subject, since I’ve been pretty zombie-focused these past few months.

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Either my forehead is getting bigger, or my hairline is receding . . . 

Great panel, lot of fun interaction with the audience, and thankfully there were no Twilight fans in the house. One of the more interesting points raised was the zombie horde or vampire as apex predator as an explanation for why they are so terrifying, and popular in genre fiction. I feel, and said as such, that’s an oversimplification. Humans are pretty good at taking out other predators, and if we’ve learned anything from Blade, silver, sunlight, and stakes are a pretty easy set of weaknesses to leverage.

For me, what make both sets of monsters terrifying is the concept of loss of self. Zombies, depending on the story, are former humans become mindless cannibals, which is frightening enough. Vampires, in most fictional examples, still retain sapience, even while turning into parasites driven by their need for blood. In that regard, you almost have to wonder if such creatures would retain that which me might call a soul . . .

Which dovetails nicely with the second half of this post. Night’s Black Agents, the sequel to Fade, is out now for your reading pleasure. To say I’m pretty proud of it is an understatement, though the reasoning behind that might seem a little strange. The larger … Paxtonverse, I guess you could call it, has been wandering around in my head for a while now. My full intention a couple years back was to get A Place Outside The Wild out of my idea factory so that I could focus on other things. That didn’t work out the way I’d planned, of course, which is why I’m currently working on the second sequel to a book I always intended to be standalone.

Minor spoilers for Fade, but it doesn’t really end where you’d expect. There is a pretty good chunk of story left after the final confrontation. It’s an important chunk, both in terms of future payoff, as well as setting up the launch point for Night’s Black Agents, but I’m fully aware many readers and reviewers saw it as odd or possibly indulgence on my part.

Here’s the thing, though. When I first started sketching out this parallel version of our own world, Pax wasn’t really the first character I walked into it with, nor was Fade where I initially planned to bring you, the reader, into it. Those pesky plans, again.

But, for all that, the sequel continues to open the window, just a peek. And trust me when I say it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

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Heading to LibertyCon

Some time soon I’ll be loading up the family ‘truckster’ and heading south. Unfortunately the con is sold out (like always) so unless you’ve already got your ticket, you are out of luck. I’ll be hauling along plenty of books and swag, so hope to see you there!

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#FreeAwfulNovel Part 9: A Return to Sanity

In the last post, I shared with you a, well, let’s face it–stupidly long chapter. This time around things are much shorter at a mere 26 pages. I’m guessing I was worn out back in the day when I first wrote it.

We’re a bit over halfway through Warhawks. I’m only re-reading as I post, but I’m fairly certain the action is right around the corner.

In other news, I’m making good progress on Z-Day book 3. I’m trying something a little new this time around and working on the next Paxton book at the same time. It’s not an equal distribution — I’ve written about eight times as many words in the Z-Day book as I have for Pax, but I feel like it’s been a solid tool so far.

Sometimes as a writer I tend to be a bit hyper, and I bounce around from scene to scene when I lose focus. The only issue that tends to crop up is in editing, where I find that the transitions in the middle of scenes I put on pause aren’t always smooth. So by working on another project at the same time, it turns my easy distraction into more of an asset.

So far, so good. I’m on track to get A Place for War out in the last three months of 2018, and Come, Seeling Night will be out in early 2019, depending on how my publisher’s schedule shakes out.

Hit the read more button for the next chapter of #FreeAwfulNovel!

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Cross post from urban-fantasy.com: Vampires Suck

Yesterday, I dropped a bit of my take on the use of vampires in modern horror and urban-fantasy. Cliff’s Notes: I’m all in for monsters. Not so much when it comes to suave European royalty a la Bela Lugosi and Anne Rice.

I outlined a few uses in the genre that I do like. Of course, I missed a few, and forehead-slapping ensued. Here’s a few of my faves that I overlooked:

The Keep, F. Paul Wilson. The antagonist isn’t really a vampire, but Wilson does a marvelous job laying out the backstory of an ancient being that inspired the legends. First book in an epic series. Wilson is, in my very humble opinion, one of the best storytellers of today. Skip the movie adaptation, though. Honorable F. Paul Wilson mentions: Midnight Mass and Draculas. Standalone, but still worthy of a read. The prior involves a literal vampire apocalypse, if that’s your sort of thing, and the other envisions a pandemic outbreak in a hospital.

The Necroscope series, Brian Lumley. British horror is a bit hit-and-miss for me, and the series goes a little off the rails as it progresses, but it makes cool use of vampires and ghosts early on.

The Strain, Guillermo Del Toro. This is kind of a weird series. It was initially developed as a TV project, scrapped, and then turned into a book trilogy. The first two books are really good,  but the third was a little disappointing. The FX series that (finally) aired the past few summers polished out some of the rough edges and tweaked the plot line a bit. A lot of people complained about the “annoying kid” trope used in the show, but it was spot-on to the portrayal in the books. The real stars of The Strain are its vampire-analogues, and man, are they terrifying.

If you like your vampires blown up or staked, that should be a good start for you. If you’d like a hint as to the possibility of vampires in my own Paxton Locke series, be sure to check out book 2, Night’s Black Agents, on June 19.

Oh, and conveniently enough, I’ll be on a Vampires vs. Zombies panel at LibertyCon next month. Hopefully I don’t get staked by fans of romantic vampires. 🙂 Be sure to check it out if you’ve got your tickets as the con is sold out.

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Fade IN

That’s right, folks. Book one of the Paxton Locke series is available for sale once more. Much appreciation to Russell and the rest of the crew at Silver Empire for giving Pax and the gang a home. We’ve got big things planned that would be huge spoilers for some world-building reveals in the upcoming sequel if I let the cat out of the bag. Suffice to say . . . there’s a lot in the pipeline.

Hit the picture in the sidebar to take advantage of the release week 99-cent sale if you haven’t already. If you bought Fade during its initial release, have no fear, nothing was added to change the story structure. The new version is a little prettier and features a taste of what’s to come with Night’s Black Agents, which launches next month.

If you’re more familiar with my Z-Day series and wondering what all the fuss is about, check out a dynamite (and spoiler-free) review from Jim McCoy’s blog here. Fade, and the larger ‘Paxtonverse’ were what I wanted to write for some time, but a little brainworm otherwise known as A Place Outside The Wild refused to be ignored.

Easter Egg warning – Paxton might be familiar to those of you who’ve read A Place Called Hope. I’m not planning any universe-hopping, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of subtle references.

Happy Tuesday, and I hope the rest of your week is awesome!

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