Sunday, 1 February 2015

Blog of the Dead - Lost: Book 3 Release

Blog of the Dead - Lost is available to download from Amazon

Blog of the Dead - Lost is the final installment of the Blog of the Dead trilogy and is now available to buy as a paperback or download from Amazon for Kindle. The Kindle version is only 99p. To celebrate the release, Blog of the Dead - Sophie and Blog of the Dead - Life are currently FREE to download for another couple of days - so a great time to catch up on what has been happening to Sophie, Misfit, Kay and the others in the zombie apocalypse!

Blog of the Dead - Lost

“We left Folkestone two days ago, on the day of the mass funeral. We didn’t make it far.”

Leaving behind a high death toll, Sophie, Misfit and the others set off on an ill-fated journey across an apocalypse torn England. Their mission: To find and protect Zombie-Shelby.

Only, zombies are herding, forming strong and formidable packs as individuals grow weaker. But the zombies are not all that stands in the team’s way – During their road trip they meet an array of characters: some strange, some enlightening and some just plain dangerous.

Who will survive and who will be Lost…?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Blog of the Dead 3: First Drafts and Sleepless Nights

Yup, this was me as I neared the end of Blog of the Dead 3's first draft. Restless, I had to drag myself out of bed to jot down plot notes as they came to me somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. Once downloaded onto the page, I was able to relax and drift off happily.

The first draft is now complete, having come in at approx 52,000 words. And because it was a rough (I’m trying to avoid saying the words ‘messy’ or ‘rubbish’) draft, I’ve already boosted the count up to around 60,000 words on my first quick read through. The final word count will be around 80,000 at least.
I’m relieved to have the first draft completed. I find them tough going, and, I’ll admit, I can become a bit of a hermit, shunning social occasions in order to write. That’s because I get somewhat obsessed with my characters at first draft stage, and I need to concentrate on getting their story down on the page, and real life just gets in the way. It can be a little bit like turning up at the supermarket and realising you’ve forgotten your list and having to remember everything, feeling frantic while you place items in your trolley, yelling at people not to talk to you in case they make you lose your train of thought, constantly worried you’re missing something important. But once I get to the end of the first draft, once the framework is down – and because of the obsessive way I work, that can be in as little as 2 or 3 months – I can breathe again.
I don’t plan my novels before hand, I just write. I prefer doing it this way because I like my characters to be in charge – I plunge them into situations but they have to figure out where to go from there. The organic nature of going-with-the-flow avoids me becoming blinkered and allows me to spot and explore exciting opportunities I – or, rather, my characters – might have otherwise missed.
So now I have the first draft and first read through finished – the first read through is a bit like going back to your home after an earthquake to see how much damage has been done – I can now spend the coming months in a much more relaxed state of mind, editing and developing and ‘making sense of out nonsense’.
This early stage of editing is my favourite part of the writing process. The structure is built and I can now start decorating – the fun bit. I can get into each scene and draw out all the possibilities, like choosing the colour scheme for your new house, and going off all excited to buy the paint and the knick knacks. But the only thing about decorating is it gets bloody boring real quick. I’ll soon reach the if-I-read-this-manuscript-one-more-time-I’ll-smash-my-face-into-the-computer-screen phase. Once there, I’ll take a break for a couple of months and write something else while this one brews. Then it’s time for the last edits and then it’ll be release day – I’m hoping for end of this year or early 2015.
Like I said, Blog of the Dead 3 is in its early stages right now, but expect to be reunited with Sophie, Misfit, Charlotte, Kay and Clay as they travel through the apocalypse in search of Zombie-Shelby, meeting an array of weird and often dangerous characters along the way – oh, and a ton of zombies, too! Unfortunately, I can’t promise the whole team will make it to the end, because they won’t. No one is safe in the zombie apocalypse... 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Zombie or Not Zombie …? That is The Question.

As a writer of zombie fiction, a watcher of zombie movies, an organiser of zombie walks and an all round zombie fan, I’m considered by those who know me to be – deserved or not deserved – a bit of a zombie geek. That’s why a friend contacted me on Facebook recently, asking me to settle an argument that had been raging all day between him and his mum: In my opinion, do I class the ‘Rage’ infected victims in the 28 Days/Weeks films as zombies? His mum was adamant that they were while my friend disagreed. 

I knew he was hoping for a yes/no answer (and more specifically a ‘no’), but that was something I couldn’t give. In my zombie obsessed mind, the seemingly innocent question raised all sorts of problems. The first being: What is a zombie?
            If you type my friend’s question into Google you will get a wide response from those who firmly believe the rage infected victims are NOT zombies because they are living, rather than reanimated corpses that feed on flesh; those that DO consider them zombies because they attack the uninfected and pass on the virus; and those that just DON’T CARE (it’s just a movie ffs!).
            The image of the lumbering, brain munching Undead that we know as the zombie comes largely from the zombie king himself, George A Romero and his Living Dead series. Of course, zombies existed in movies and literature long before then, but it was Romero who brought the iconic image into the mainstream.

In 28 Days/Weeks Later, a virus called ‘Rage’ infects humans through blood and saliva. The infected are nothing like the classic Romero rotting, reanimated corpse zombies. In fact, they are not dead at all. Furthermore, they run, rather than shuffle, they are strong, rather than stiff and rotting, and instead of stopping to chow down on their victims’ brains, the rage infected like to bite for biting’s sake, for no other reason than to spread the virus. 

So with the biggest argument against the 28 Days/Weeks rage infected victims being termed as zombies is that they are not dead but infected by a virus, does that mean someone has to be dead in order to be a zombie?
The zombie’s roots go back to voodoo. The Haitian zombie has less to do with a witch doctor actually raising the dead, and more to do with a victim being rendered into a death-like state by the use of a powerful paralysis inducing drug. Once the drugged victim has been ‘raised from the dead’, they are kept in a zombie-like state by the use of further drugs, allowing the witch doctor to control the affected person. This is, after all, the premise of the 1932 movie White Zombie. Thought to be the first ever zombie movie, it tells the story of Madeleine who is drugged and turned into a zombie by a voodoo master, until she wakes up from her trance upon her captor’s death.  

A story that dominated the news a couple of years ago was that of ‘bath salts zombies’ where individuals under the influence of a synthetic drug similar to crystal meth, become crazed, flesh eating cannibals or, as the media revelled in calling them – zombies. Ever since the case in Miami in 2012 where homeless Ronald Poppo had part of his face bitten off by Rudy Eugene while Eugene was under the influence of bath salts, there has been a new wave of zombies in town … they are alive, they do not lumber, they do not munch brains. People were falling over themselves to term the Poppo/Eugene case, and the subsequent copy cat cases that followed as zombie attacks … so why do some people have a problem with calling the 28 Days/Weeks films zombie movies?

And what is wrong with playing with a genre? Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I am Legend, that perhaps inspired Romero and his Living Dead series, is a ground breaking vampire tale that was way ahead of its time. While the novel’s hero, Neville, himself, refers to the creatures as vampires, they are nothing like the I’ll-bite-you-then-you-drink-some-of-my-blood-and-you’ll-be-a-vampire-too creatures that we’re used to from Dracula to The Lost Boys. In I am Legend, the vampirism is transmitted by a bacterium, one that Neville is immune to. Some of the vampires are dead, others are alive and infected and intent on killing humans and spreading the disease. Not so dissimilar to the ‘Rage’ virus in 28 Days/Weeks. But who are we to argue with Neville when he decides to call them vampires? He is, after all, the last human – it’s up to him what he calls them.
            Okay, so no one in 28 Days/Weeks refers to the victims as ‘zombies’, but no one in The Walking Dead has ever said the word ‘zombie’ either, instead sticking to the term ‘Walkers’. But we all agree that the show belongs in the zombie genre.

So, do I class the infected rage victims in 28 Days/Weeks as zombies? Yeah, I do. Just a different take on them. Matheson pushed boundaries to create a fresh spin on a genre. And if people don’t move a genre forward, play with it, do the unexpected, subvert it, what are we left with – something that is as dead and rotten as a … well, a zombie …?