Monsters have been around in the Horror genre for a long time; especially now with the popularity of zombies. How do you feel the publishing market has handled this craze for monsters again and how do you feel about some of the works currently out there combining classic stories with vampires or say zombies?
The zombie thing has just been nuts--it's been going on for years now. Every time I do a zombie project somebody is there to tell me zombies are over, that they've been overdone. That you can't tell a good zombie story anymore, because they've all been done. Then somebody comes along and proves them wrong! I think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a brilliant idea. Something truly new. Me? I just like monsters. There's something about them I really respond to. If other people want to come along for the ride, I'm thrilled.
When writing your stories, do you have an idea that you just work with as you go or do you find it helpful to have an outline?
I usually have a pretty solid outline before I begin. Then, as I'm writing a book, I tend to deviate from what I had planned. It's important to be prepared--it's way too easy to get stuck in the weeds when you just try to improvise a novel. You need to have an idea of how things are going to end, and how you're going to get there. But of course you still need to have room for happy accidents--when you come up with an idea that seems to come out of nowhere, you have to know when to run with it.
The Monster series is popular amongst Horror readers. How did the idea come about for this series and did you always plan to do three books for the series?
Like most of my stories it came from a weird image I couldn't get out of my head. In this case, I had been watching a lot of zombie movies and I had this idea, this scene, of an astronaut coming down from the International Space Station and discovering everybody on Earth had become a zombie. If he took off his space suit, even for a second, he would become one too. So he wandered around New York (I didn't claim these ideas made a lot of sense!) seeing what the zombies were up to. It just sort of grew from there (and the original idea is pretty much nowhere in the finished book). I had no plan whatsoever to write three books at the time. That came out of an offhand comment one of the characters in the book made. The readers took it and ran with it, and wanted more stories. So I had to go there.
Besides zombies, you have also ventured into writing about vampires and werewolves. In comparing these three monster types, which is your favorite to write about?
Depends on the story, of course--if I have a great idea for a werewolf book, that's what I want to write. Zombies are great because you can write a huge, end of the world story, with a gigantic cast of characters. Vampires are fun because you can keep it contemporary, keep it in the "real" world, or you can go back and history and explore any period you want. Werewolves, for me, mean a very small, very personal story--it's all about the tragic nature of the werewolf in his human form.
Can you tell us a bit about Frostbite and where the idea came from for this story?
Honestly, I had written about zombies and vampires, and I thought maybe I should do a werewolf story to round out the classic monster types! It was that calculated. But once I started doing the research, watching werewolf movies, reading old books, studying real wolves and how they lived... suddenly I was hooked. I could not wait to write that book!
You are a comic book writer as well. How do you feel that has helped you as an author and what do you find most challenging about writing comics?
As a writer you need to write every kind of story you can think of, anything that will be a challenge and give you some new skills, or at least a new perspective. You can do things in comics that would never work in a novel, and vice versa. It was also a lifelong dream of mine to write a Marvel comic, and I wasn't about to say no when they asked me. I quickly discovered that it's a completely different medium--and a completely different approach to writing. Describing a scene to an artist, who's interested purely in the visual side of things, is totally different from describing a scene to a reader. It was a very steep learning curve, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
You started with serializing your fiction online and still have some online. How do you feel that has helped you get your work out and do you suggest that as a marketing area new authors should attempt?
I spent thirty years trying to get published, with no success. I put one book online, and now I do this for a living. I cannot over-emphasize how awesome that was. It also taught me a huge amount about writing, because when I would put a chapter online, the readers would respond to it before I could even write the next one. They told me what was working and what wasn't, and that was invaluable. For that reason alone I would recommend it to other writers. As a marketing strategy, it's probably played out, and it's a whole lot of work that might come to nothing. But for learning how to write, there's nothing better.
What do you feel is the most important thing a new author should know?
Keep writing! There's no such thing as wasted writing. Even if you think a story isn't working, finish it. Even if you know, for a fact, that you can't write a novel--do it anyway. You learn from everything you write, even if all you learn is what not to do. It turns out knowing what not to do is one of the biggest parts of learning how to create something good.