GJ: Can you describe your journey to publishing your first novel?
DS: It took about a year of thinking about it and brainstorming the “perfect” zompoc story. I used to be a truck driver and listened to post apoc audiobooks all day. After a particularly dismal story I was complaining to my wife about how bad it was and how dumb the characters were and how ANYBODY could write a better story. She’d heard me talk about writing a book “one of these days” and told me if I could do better then why don’t I do it? Faced with put up or shut up, I had to actually sit down and start working on it, not just talking about it. I hadn’t written much of anything, only a few pages here and there, in thirty years. Once I sat down and got serious about it though, the words started flowing and wouldn’t stop.
GJ: For those who have not yet read your novels, can you describe the premise behind you successful Zombie Road series?
DS: There’s actually nothing new or groundbreaking in the tale, I used the same words as everyone else, just put them in a different order. It’s the story of a group of people trapped in a truck stop when the outbreak happens. They have to abandon it when they realise that when the nuclear reactors from power plants start melting down, they will be in a fallout zone. They armour their rigs the best they can and try to make it halfway across the country to a safe area.
The books are written in a trilogy format. The first three are about the outbreak and journey to safety. Books 4, 5 and 6 are about rebuilding and shifts focus to the main characters son and his journey. Books 7,8 and 9 will add a sci-fi element that ties all the way back to the first book. I try to write this huge, sprawling story in three book arcs so if you don’t like long series, there is a conclusion of sorts every third book. I don’t leave huge cliff hangers as a sales device but if you like the characters and the world they live in, there is more if you want.
GJ: What inspires you to write about Zombies?
DS: Zombie stories, at their heart, are about new beginnings. Billions of people are wiped out, the survivors have to figure out how to live and rebuild. If they can manage to hold on, to live through the worst of times, then the future is bright and they can shape it anyway they want.
GJ: What is the most rewarding part of the writing process for you?
DS: Having everything come together on paper that you’ve envisioned in your head: All the subtle details and foreshadowing, all the actual knowledge you’ve researched and want to share without your story sounding like a dry textbook. When people come away from the tale emotionally moved and maybe learned a thing or two it makes it all worthwhile.
GJ: Do you have much contact with your fans? If so what is the weirdest question you have been asked and what is the most frequent question you have been asked?
DS: I’m accessible, a lot of people email or PM me. The most frequent is when is the next book coming out and I never get tired of those. It reaffirms a reason I write: people enjoy it and want more. I can’t recall any really weird questions, my fans are perfectly normal in every way. 😉
GJ: If you had to give up one part of the process of getting a novel to your readers which part would it be and why?
DS: The stress right before deadlines. I know my books are far from perfect but about a week before release, I’m up half the night doing rewrites, cleaning up sentences, getting yelled at by my editor to quit changing things, worried because the cover isn’t exactly, precisely like I wanted it, agonising over the three or four sentence blurb, thinking the whole book is a train wreck and will get a thousand one star reviews on the first day… Yeah. I could do without all that.
GJ: What can we expect from you in 2019/20?
DS: More books! There is a spinoff series I’m writing with Wesley Norris that starts at the beginning of the zombie uprising. It’s about a group of kids on a field trip to a wild animal safari park the day of the outbreak. Except the animals really aren’t all that wild. They were raised in captivity and the panther would rather have his belly rubbed than attack anyone. Neither can survive without each other and as they teach the animals how to hunt and be wild again, they protect the children from predators, both living and dead.
Zombie Road 7 will pick up right where number 6 ended, slated for a summer release (and I hope to have Zombie Road 8 released by years end)
I’m cowriting a thriller series with Gini Koch that is loosely based on my repo man days in Southern California. It’s with a traditional publisher though and I don’t have any control when they will release it. Probably next year. (They’re slooooooowwwww.)
GJ: What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
DS: Meeting people is the most interesting. One fan brought in car parts to a convention for me to sign, that was cool. Being a writer has opened a lot of doors, there are a lot of intangibles that come with success that just make life exciting. A lot of talented writers submitted stories to a Zombie Road anthology and we’ve donated the proceeds, thousands of dollars, to the Wounded Warriors project. All of the books I’ve released have been #1 bestsellers in their categories on Amazon and my 6 zombie books held the top 6 slots in the zombie fiction category for a few days. That was heady!
GJ: What advice would you give to new writers looking to writing to publish?
DS: Study marketing. No matter how good you are, if nobody knows about you, you can’t sell books. If it’s a personal thing, you just want to hold your work in your hands and aren’t too concerned with selling a lot of books, I say do it and do it NOW! Write, you’ll learn the technical side of publishing as you go. If you want to go indie, Amazon makes it pretty easy. If you want to go traditional, start querying agents and try to land one.
GJ: How prepared are you for the apocalypse?
DS: We’re good. My parents were preppers and to me it’s normal to have a year’s supply of long-term food in the back of the closet. I live on a lake, have water filters and more bullets than I care to admit. We wouldn’t be living high on the hog but I think we could last longer than most with what we have.
GJ: If you had your time again would you do anything differently?
DS: Like if I could go back in a time machine to when I was twenty knowing what I know now? Heck yeah! I would have bought Microsoft and Apple stocks!
GJ: Thank you David. Great answers. If you’re into Zombie or post-apocalyptic fiction and you haven’t heard of David’s books, where have you been! All his novels are available to buy on Amazon now. If you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love my spine-chilling novel, In The End which is also available from Amazon!