My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

  1. Warm Bodies. I can totally and completely blame this for starting me off on zombies. I’ve never been a fan of horror, and if I had to name my top fear in horror it would be zombies. Oh, okay, I admit it – number one would be the Alien. But zombies come a too-close-for-comfort second! Or did.Thanks to the cuteness and humour of the Warm Bodies film (and the beautifully lyrical writing in the book by Isaac Marion), I became a convert. I won’t be watching World War Z or Night of the Living Dead any time, but a Warm Bodies sequel or something along similar lines will definitely get me watching.
  2. Sir Terry Pratchett. When I said I hated zombies, I meant the classic horror film, Hollywood variety. Anyone who has read any of the Nightwatch books by Terry Pratchett will be familiar with the somewhat tragic figure of zombie Reg Shoe. Or maybe you know Baron Samedi from Witches Abroad or the recently deceased wizard WindlePoons from Reaperman. And you’ll know that these aren’t the moaning, lurching brain-eaters more familiar on the big screens. These are more the original form of zombies – rather sad figures dragged back from death either because of something left undone in their former life, summoned back to seek revenge, or simply left behind when Death hung up his scythe and retired. Or maybe you know the zombies in Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. These are more the type of zombies that I love. Still mostly the people they were in life, but unable to rest, often not by their own choice. It was researching this old mythology that set me writing the kind of zombie story that probably isn’t so well known to zombie devotees.
  3. Music. This is always a big influence in everything I write. It can affect the feel or tone of a story, or lyrics can inspire a title or story idea. For Restless In Peaceville, I had a couple of tracks from Warm Bodies, but mostly a lot of Linkin Park, plus an album by Dead By Sunrise, a band fronted by Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington.

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The Little Things Give You Away was one of my favourite LP tracks, and one that would have fitted right in on Warm Bodies!

  1. Louisiana. Just after seeing Warm Bodies, and comparing the Hollywood zombies to those I’d met in other books, I got curious about the whole mythology and started out reading it up on Wikipedia. Then I got into a discussion on Facebook about it, and someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo. I was hooked! Not only did it lead me off into yet more interesting research, but it gave me the perfect setting for my story (even though I knew nothing about it and have never been there). Fortunately for me I have several friends who live in or near there, or were born and brought up there. Together with my research, their feedback helped me shape a location that otherwise I could only visit via the internet and Google maps. And now, thanks to my husband’s interest in books set in Louisiana, we’re actually in the process of planning a holiday there!
  2. Curiosity. Well, if I hadn’t been curious about why I’d encountered such different kinds of zombies, I wouldn’t have gone looking for the answers and got so completely enthralled by the whole concept. The research was a ton of fun, and although this was the hardest book I’ve ever written, it’s also the one I’m most proud of. I learned so many new things and found out what I can write if I challenge myself.

So, have any of these things inspired you to write something outside of your comfort zone?

I’d love to hear from you.

Pippa

***

RestlessinPeaceville_200x300Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Buy: Restless In Peaceville

Sunrise by Scott J Abel

Sunrise by Scott J Abel

People often ask what inspired me to write a novel. I’d already been a successful teacher, coach, and college administrator, but I didn’t become a published author until the age of forty (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you). But I always answer the question with the same two words: Stephanie. Meyer.

Yes, I owe my writing “career” to Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga. I hadn’t read the books, but my wife and I saw the first Twilight movie when it came out just to see what all the hype was about. After the movie ended, I turned to my wife and naively said, “This was based on a bestseller? I can do that.” After all, every Barnes and Noble bookstore was just constantly filled from floor to ceiling with books. So, apparently anyone can write a novel, right? I mean how hard could it be?

I quickly learned the lesson of “look before you leap.” I knew nothing about the craft of writing fiction, and I cringe at the thought of my first draft that I sent to agents and publishers in those early days. After countless rejections, a profound thought occurred to me: maybe it’s me and not them.

So I began to study the craft. I read books on character development, deep points of view, emotion beats, and the subtleties of dialogue. I joined a critique group of authors and editors.

Over time my writing got better, much better. And along the way I found what works for me: writing in the pre-dawn darkness at my kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee and my iPod. Coffee and music are non-negotiable. Have to have them. In addition to the caffeine jolt, I’ve found that the right music can really help with the flow of writing. If I’m writing an action scene with some great conflict, then I’m amping it up with “Let the Sparks Fly” and “War of Change” by Thousand Foot Krutch. Those songs give me a total adrenaline rush and really help me feel the actions of my characters. For romantic scenes, there’s nothing better than “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star and The Sunday’s cover of “Wild Horses.” If I’m trying to tackle a difficult, emotional scene, I’ve found nothing works better than instrumental movie soundtracks. My personal favorites are “That Next Place” by Thomas Newman and “Let Me Sign” by Robert Pattinson (yes, THE Robert Pattinson from Twilight). And last but not least, if I’m writing a scene in which my really cool villain, Seth, is making an appearance, then there’s only one song that works – “Black” by Kari Kimmel.

So, after five long, humbling, arduous years later I’m finally a published author. Thanks, Stephanie Meyer.

Scott

***

Scott works in state government and is the author of several short stories and the recently published young adult paranormal romance novel, Sunrise. He lives in the suburbs of Austin with his wife and two precocious daughters – who enthusiastically assist him in his search for the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Scott can be contacted through his blog at https://abelstories.wordpress.com/

***

Sunrise-200x300Eighteen-year old Parker, big brother, and high school quarterback, dreams of glory on the football field. But on the night of the shooting, his entire world shatters. In a chilling span of sixty seconds, a mass tragedy wreaks havoc upon his life, family, and community.

Although hailed a hero, Parker is horrorstruck to discover an incident from his past was the motive for the killings and that he was the intended target. When someone threatens to get the one that got away, Parker finds himself hunted. Help comes from an unexpected source…an angel named Marie.

A spunky, impulsive guardian, Marie is dedicated to saving Parker at all costs. When confronted by a sinister nemesis who covets Parker’s soul, a desperate struggle is waged over Parker’s fate. With time running out, Marie must face her growing, but secret affections for Parker that she can no longer ignore. Affections that will force her to make the ultimate decision—sacrifice herself and all that she believes, or lose Parker to the darkness forever.

Buy: Sunrise

 

Philip Hoy, author of The Revenge Artist

Queens of the Jungle: Re-Appropriating Symbols of Masculinity in YA Literature

Symbolically, animals play an important role in The Revenge Artist, and one especially reoccurring animal symbol in the book is that of the lion.

The symbol of the lion is introduced early on in the story when Evelyn’s art teacher, Ms. Shipley, gives the class a presentation on prehistoric cave paintings. Evelyn is captivated by the images, especially those of the lions leaping across the ceiling of the cave. Even more so, Evelyn is empowered by the idea that the cave painters were not painting pictures of past hunts, but using their artistic abilities to influence the success of future ones. “The hunters hunted, but these cave artists had another job,” Ms. Shipley explains. “They could see the future and they could make it happen.”

Symbols are such powerful storytelling devices because they utilize a common language of imagery, emotion, and understanding that can often communicate volumes with only a single word or phrase. Just as effectively, symbols can convey negative biases and reinforce gender stereotypes without a reader always consciously aware of the messages being sent.

Traditionally, lions are symbols of power and authority because of their dominance in the animal kingdom; however, because it is the male lion’s role to protect the pride while the females hunt, the lion is often viewed as a symbol of masculinity. As a result, such lion-like qualities as strength and courage are reinforced as exclusively male attributes. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Evelyn is attracted to the symbol of the lion. She is drawn to these lion-like qualities in others and she aspires to them herself. This becomes evident in her art, in her female role models, and in her choice of friends.

It is not surprising then, that when the students are asked to paint self-portraits using the theme of masks, Evelyn chooses the image of a little girl wearing a plastic lion’s head, “standing alone in a field of grass, barefoot and wearing a sun dress. Her arms are raised in the air and her little fists are curled like cat paws.” The image celebrates her femininity, while at the same time revealing her inner strength and courage. She is delicate and powerful, gentle and ferocious. As conflicts between Evelyn and her bullies escalate, she struggles with these two sides of herself. And as Evelyn attempts to find her balance, the painting will go on to include the disemboweled corpse of a boy wearing a zebra mask, and eventually an angry mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks.

Hopefully, the lion symbolism in The Revenge Artist manages to undermine some of those gender stereotypes about what girls can and can’t be and maybe even openly challenge them a bit. It is Evelyn’s fiercely protective friend Karen that is probably the most outwardly lion-like character in the story. When the girls decide to venture out from their usual lunch spot behind the art rooms and brave the main food court, Karen quickly puts one particular sexual harasser in his place by verbally emasculating him with a very explicit insult traditionally—and anatomically—reserved for the boys. In the jungle that is sometimes high school, Karen definitely shows herself to be one of the dominant animals.

Best,

Philip

***

TheRevengeArtist_600x900Evelyn Hernandez is a high school junior who reads Shakespeare for fun, sews her own dresses, and keeps a sketch journal of her daily life. When varsity quarterback Garvey Valenzuela breaks her heart, she sends him to the emergency room with a busted hand.

Add black magic to her résumé.

The Revenge Artist is the story of a bullied teen who embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them. The novel explores the emotional pain, isolation, and self-hatred caused by bullying and cyber-bullying in particular as it follows the self-destructive path taken by one teen attempting to defend herself from bullies.

Evelyn is temporarily empowered by her ability to hurt others, “Don’t you know? I’m a witch… a real, honest to God, black-hearted, evil witch!” and this is what keeps her from seeing that her true power comes from her loyal and caring nature, the love and support of her friends and family, and most of all, her intelligence and creativity.

Buy: The Revenge Artist

The Vengeful by Chantel Fourie

Writer’s block and worldly distractions:

I’m probably the wrong person to be asked about writer’s block, because I’m one of those lucky people who rarely go through it(Yay me!).My problem, however, is distractions. I get distracted pretty easily. That’s why I had to move all my writing to a Tablet–free from worldly evils. Just the slightest thought of friends playing a game without me, anime updates, chats (ooh, a message *reads*),would get me to minimize or even close my writing documents. As a writer, it’s not easy to stay focused. You get those days when you would do anything not to write–when even cleaning the house sounds like fun (uh, yes, guilty). That’s when you need to prioritize your life and ask yourself how much you really want to be an author.

Now where was I… Oh yes, writer’s block! (See? Distractions are evil!) Even though I don’t get writer’s block as much as many other writers, I know how frustrating it can be. Here’s what I do: I simply write something else. When my mind hits a blank on one scene, I move on to the next project. That’s right. It’s easier having a few ideas than keeping to one story at a time. And what happens to the page I struggle with? Well, normally while I’m busy with another book or doing something else, an idea will suddenly hit me and I’ll jot it down before I forget (or get distracted… ahem).

Here are a few tips from my point of view:

1:            I’m not about to tell you to set a specific time of day to handle all your writing, because let’s face it… There will be days when you are busy and wouldn’t be able to make the exact time. And then it will be so convenient just to skip the writing part for the day entirely. Bad writer, bad! If you want to take writing seriously then you will have to set a daily writing goal for yourself. Set a minimum word limit and write it at your own pace during the day. Stick to it no matter what!  Don’t listen to your deceivious mind telling you of all the awesome things you could rather be doing. Decide now. Do you want your mind to be the hero that help you write or that sneaky villain always plotting to keep you from your goals?

2:            Find something that will motivate you. I have a little to do list RPG on my tablet that rewards me for completing tasks during the day, and takes back experience when skipping them. I’m not a person for routines, but as a gamer, this is kind of fun and a motivational way to see what I get done during the day, at which aspect of my life I’m lacking, and where I’m making progress. What’s your motivation?

3:            Don’t let writer’s block get you down. Keep an open mind. Ideas are everywhere, just waiting for you to discover them.

4:            Read. Never stop reading. As my second language, English isn’t easy to master. But even if it’s your home language(lucky devils), I’m sure you need to work just as hard. Unless you read and learn from others, you will never get better.

5:            When all else fails… Just sit down and get started. That’s the hardest part, really. Let the words create their own story. Even if it’s just a bunch of random junk, you can always go back and break down the sentences, smooth them out, build them better and more defined, and eventually they will turn into something amazing.(Inspiration from endless world building with George.)

 

Thank you for reading! Below is a blurb of my novella, The Vengeful. Enjoy!

 ***

The Vengeful-200x300In a world where vengeful creatures battle humans, knowing who to trust could be the difference between losing his brother and saving the human race.

When Zack ends up in an alternate dimension and loses his brother to the Vengeful, the last thing he expects is that one of the soul-seeking creatures would save his life.

Vale, a Vengeful with human capabilities, needs his help to retrieve an orb from the last remaining human settlement. In return, he promises to help Zack save his brother and take them back to their own world.

In the settlement, he learns the truth about the Vengeful and the orb’s power. But it is only when he meets Shiro, the human leader, that Zack begins to have doubts. Can he trust Vale to keep his promise, or should he believe Shiro instead?

The fate of the human race rests on his choice.

Buy: The Vengeful

***

Chantel Fourie is a YA author, specializing in Fantasy and Paranormal fiction. She lives in Despatch, a quiet town in South Africa.

Since a young age, she has treasured books and spent many afternoons at the local library. Even after the librarians suggested the adult section, she kept loyal to the Young Adult shelves.

Her first novella, The Vengeful, is published with Lycaon Press. She is currently working on various short stories and novellas, including the sequel of The Vengeful. When she is not writing, she is most likely absorbed in a world of fiction or playing online computer games with her friends.

You can find her on Twitter @darkwrld1021

Excerpt: Awakening (The Elder Chronicles, Book 1) by

Awakening 200x300Awakening Blurb: Forget everything you ever thought to be true about our world. Angels are real. And they are fighting for control over the human race.

What would you do if you learned everything you knew about the world was wrong? Microbiology student Elena Michaels is about to find out. After a few chance encounters with Alexavier Edmunds, a strange but intriguing student on campus, Elena is on the run from an ancient organization of angel-like beings. Strange things are awakening within her, and there is only one with the answers—the Elder. But can she make it to him in time?

Buy: Awakening (The Elder Chronicles Book 1)

AWAKENING EXCERPT

Elena’s face felt cold as the blood drained from it. She had not seen the woman’s mouth move while she spoke. She sobered almost instantly, the hackles on her neck rising as she stared at the woman’s cold smile. She recognized the voice in a moment of lucidity as the one she had heard at the airport, their tail, their stalker—one of the Opposition.

My mistress was right, the woman’s voice continued. She told me it would be a matter of time before one of you two slipped up. The amazing thing is you both slipped up at the same time. The woman turned to Elena.

The woman stood nearly a whole foot shorter than Elena and appeared much more fragile. Elena tried to gauge whether or not she would be able to handle this woman on her own. She knew from experience Daimon men were quite powerful, but never expected such strength from females.

Let me clue you in on some secrets. First, Daimon men cannot handle their liquor. In fact, all Daimones are very quickly undone by alcohol. The woman eyed Elena up and down before saying, Second, you could never take me on. To illustrate her point, the small woman gripped the countertop and crushed a small section of it into powder.

“What do you want from me?” Elena asked.

The choice is simple, the woman replied mentally. Either come with me to see my mistress. Or…

“Or?” Elena asked, realizing she would regret this decision.

Or you and your companion die, the woman replied. A placid and sickly happy smile spread across her face as she said it.

The woman’s evident pleasure at making such a dire threat sent a chill down Elena’s spine. She conjured up the most severe feeling of pain she could imagine and directed it right at the Daimon woman as she had done to the other Daimon in Canada. However, instead of the anticipated effect of crippling pain she had seen in the Daimon man, the woman’s eyes flashed, and then she laughed.

Silly girl, the woman said to her mentally. I am no mere weakling. Your foolish mind games have no effect on me.

Alec…I need your help! Elena cried out, hoping beyond hope he would hear and come to her aid.

The woman started laughing even louder. A terrifying grin crossed her face. He can’t hear you. Alcohol impairs Daimon abilities. And Alec has had a few too many. I guess I shouldn’t have bought him so many rounds!

Elena didn’t wait for the woman to move. Filled with blind rage over being trapped by this woman, she pressed her attack. If her death was on the menu, then she would take this woman with her as dessert.

Elena bowled into the small Daimon woman, throwing all of her weight into the attack. To her surprise, the woman fell backward with her arm clutching at the sink.

She didn’t stay down for long, though and responded by pushing back at Elena with startling speed, shoving her back a few paces.

Elena responded as fast. She threw her hands up in anticipation of the Daimon woman’s attack. However, she couldn’t fathom what kind of attack to expect coming at her.

The small woman was lithe. She maneuvered herself underneath Elena’s arms and thrust upward with both arms like lofting a volleyball lifting Elena off of her feet and throwing her into the far wall. Elena managed to turn herself sideways in order to absorb her impact with the wall and push herself off into a counterattack.

Elena rushed across the room. The woman crouched at her approach. Instead of missing her target, however, Elena lowered her center of gravity and leapt, flying over the woman’s back. While sailing over her opponent’s body, Elena stretched out and grasped the woman around the waist.

Elena’s momentum carried her forward, and she tucked her head and rolled, pulling the Daimon woman off her feet and flipping her onto her head with startling force. The Daimon’s legs flailed and slammed into the large wall mirror, shattering it.

But she did not stay down for long. Before Elena could right herself, the woman leapt up and moved back across the room. Elena stood and whirled to face the woman but was caught off guard as a fist struck her across the face. Surprisingly, it did not carry much force. Elena brushed the blow off and delivered her own to the woman’s chest, forcing the woman back several feet.

The Daimon crumpled, winded by the force of Elena’s attack. When the Daimon stood again, she clutched a large shard of the broken mirror, which she wielded like a knife.

Buy: Awakening (The Elder Chronicles Book 1)

Scott Wieczorek Author PicBio: Scott Wieczorek is a professional archaeologist working in the American Middle-Atlantic region. He has written numerous short stories and several full-length novels ranging from science fiction, to paranormal mystery, to horror. In addition, he writes reviews of books by Independent authors. Samples of his work are available on his blog at wieczorekfictblog.blogspot.com.

Buy: Awakening (The Elder Chronicles Book 1)

Keeping Up with Your Favorite Authors

bookstoreTracking new releases from your favorite authors seems like it should be fairly simple. Unfortunately, a comprehensive app for keeping track of release dates for books has yet to be made. Since the amount of time it takes for an author and publisher to produce another book varies greatly, it can be easy to lose track of who is publishing what and when. You do have more resources now than stalking your local bookstore. By using a combination of these resources, you can keep up with when your favorite author’s next book is coming out.

Create Your Own Release Date Calendar

This is the first step to keeping track and staying organized. You can use your favorite calendar or reminder app, so you don’t have to work with anything new. Make a calendar or section specifically for release dates. As you find new ones, you can add them to the selection. You can build in alarms or alerts for the books you know you don’t want to miss. If you live near a city that is a regular stop for book tours, you may want to have a reminder to look into tour dates about a month before the book comes out.

Websites, Blogs, and Mailing Lists

Most authors maintain an online presence. Websites and blogs usually include a section on new and upcoming books and stories. Similarly, author-maintained mailing lists are generally used to inform readers of new books and upcoming tours and appearances. These can be more useful than bookstore and publisher websites, as they may be updated throughout the writing process. How frequently these resources are updated depends greatly on the author and her assistants. If the site has not been updated in several months you may want to contact the webmaster or author and ask about upcoming releases. Publisher blogs can also be helpful for tracking release dates. Depending on the popularity of the author, they may post updates throughout the publication process.

Social Media and Forums

Some authors have an active presence on social media sites or forums related to their books. Forums can be a good resource for finding information on release dates since they are searchable. Posts by forum moderators, administrators, and the author are the most reliable. Social media sites are trickier since they are generally harder to search. Release dates can be lost under a pile of other comments and updates. If you are looking for release date information, start from the author’s page rather than your update stream.

Keeping up to date on your favorite authors’ new releases does take some work. You have to be active about finding out when books are near completion and can be expected on the shelves. Knowing when new releases will be available will let your better budget for your upcoming book buying ventures. You may also be able to find local book signings that you might miss if you only realize the book is out when you see it on the shelves. By being aware of release dates, you can turn the wait for new books from a morass of mystery to an array of anticipation.

Photo Credits: nayamola