I was born and bred in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s a small town, near Kennedy Space Center, and I love that my whole family is here, as well as most of my wife’s. It’s a pretty town, with beach everywhere, great, if hot, weather and lots to do. I’m homebound most of the time with my writing, but the fresh air and exercise is always a bike ride or quick walk to the beach away!
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Honestly, I never really wanted to be anything else!
- Tell us about your latest book.
My Brother, My Zombie is a short novella about the human cost of a zombie epidemic. It’s about a sister escorting her brother, who’s a zombie, to the Z-Zone, a place where only zombies must live. It’s a cross between sending your kid to kindergarten and taking your dog to the pound to be put to sleep. The closer they get to the Z-Zone, the more the brother is aware something is changing and the sadder the sister feels. There is a little violence there, at the end, but mostly it’s about sadness and loss, so it was a bit of a switch for me.
- Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I am very proud to say that I’ve been working hard on the sequel to my debut YA paranormal novel, Zombies Don’t Cry, called Zombies Don’t Forgive. It’s Book # 2 in the Living Dead Love Stories series, and it is scheduled to come out next April!
- Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Yes, actually; the anxiety it produces! I’m very Type A and the minute I get an idea, I want to sit down, start writing and finish it! Obviously, with book length stuff, that’s not going to happen. I think that’s why I write so much short form stuff, like poems and stories, because I can sit down on a Sunday morning, start a poem or story and, conceivably, have a rough draft I’m 95% proud of by that evening. Then, I can just polish it at some later date and call it “final.” I like that type of closure.
Be yourself. More than anything, if you stick to your guns and write what interests you, what you’re passionate about, the unique and kooky or weird or eccentric world that your characters inhabit, that will translate to the readers. I’m not saying to be eccentric just to stand out; not everyone can have Tim Burton’s unique vision and communicate it so well, but those things that make you individual – your sense of humor, sense of style, dialogue skills, humor or dark, morbid curiosity – are the things that will draw readers back again and again. So many writers start out trying to be “safe” or follow a trend or imitate a style; God knows I did. But as I try to evolve in my own writing, the one thing I work on consistently is fighting my fears to “fit in” and have people “like” everything I do and just try to be myself instead.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t want to jinx myself by saying “no,” but I will say “hardly ever.” In addition to writing YA zombie and vampires my “day job” is as a full-time, freelance ghostwriter, so really if I want to pay my bills I can’t afford to have writer’s block. I know it sounds really mercenary but, for me, writing is a business, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I can still be creative AND keep a schedule, and that’s really how I’ve always treated my writing, even before I made a living with it.
- Who is your favorite author and why?
I love Stephen King. I have since I read Carrie, way back in school. He just has a way of description, of characterization, of narration that I really relate to. I don’t read all his novels, and may not have even read his last few, but I always know he’s there and if I ever need one, there not too far away. That’s very comforting for me!
- What books have most influenced your life?
Oh gosh, I can really count them on one hand: Forever by Judy Blume, Carrie by Stephen King and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt!
- How did you deal with rejection letters?
I’m getting better about them. I’ve just learned that every publisher, now more than ever, has very specific needs, even tastes, and you’re just not going to “fit” everywhere. Writers often think a rejection is a reflection on their writing, but these days it’s more about that fit and what type of books a publisher is trying to line up for the next few seasons. I think once you take the personal out of the professional, rejection becomes much easier to swallow.
- What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I’m not a very high-tech guy, so really as long as I have a keyboard, Microsoft word, internet access and a computer monitor, I’m golden. The nice thing is with today’s technology, you can be really portable!
- Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I have a personal “line in the sand” when it comes to gore and “adult” content, particularly since I write mostly YA. It’s basically PG-13, with a few curse words and some definite gore, but I qualify it as mostly B-movie stuff and nothing you can’t see on TV. It’s funny, though, because YA is getting so sophisticated that, for some fans, I’ve never been gory enough and am described as “zombie light,” while just the other day I had a publisher reject a book because it was “too gory,” so it’s different for everyone I suppose.
- What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Ha! Well, not sure how weird it is but I do get to claim every single zombie movie I’ve ever seen as “research”. Does that count?!?!
- Don’t forget to give us links to your website etc.
Sure thing. My blog/website is really the best, central place to find new releases, cover leaks, excerpts, writing/publishing advice and, of course, lots and lots of FREE zombie stories, poems and even a full-length YA novel. That can be found at www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com