My dear friend and the only person I willingly share my muse with releases the first book in a new post-apocalyptic series today. The Dead Survive was originally a stand-alone novella called Monsters Unmasked, but it has a new cover, new content and a new publisher.
I don’t do zombies, but I read Lori’s romantic suspense novel, Make or Break, and loved it. She’s an amazing romance author with a gift for bringing scenes to life. So what’s she doing writing zombies? Read on to find out
Why is a romance writer writing a zombie apocalypse series? Is there a romance involved?
Honestly, I’m not totally sure! I do consider myself a romance author first and foremost, but if you think about it, both books have relationships at the core of them. As for romance in The Dead Survive…sort of, but not really. Ellen meets Quinn, of course, but rather than it being a true romance story, he’s more there to help her learn what she needs to learn to overcome everything that’s happened to her and find a way to live in this dangerous new world. Happily ever after is hard to come by in the apocalypse. The next two books will see Ellen in a better emotional place, though, and ready to risk falling in love.
I read Make or Break and loved it, but I never read The Dead Survive. Zombies aren’t my thing. I’ve never seen The Walking Dead, and I don’t plan to. How would you explain the zombie appeal to readers like me?
Just like there is a wide spectrum of romance sub-genres, there is a lot of variety in zombie or post-apocalyptic fiction, too. There is plenty of “blood and brains” zombie stuff out there, but that’s not really my thing either. The best zombie fiction, in my opinion, isn’t about zombies. In any apocalyptic story, it’s not about the zombies, plague, aliens, comet, whatever. It’s about the survivors. It’s about the people who embrace lawlessness, the people who struggle to rebuild lives, how societies redevelop, and how people form relationships when lives can literally depend on those around you.
What makes yours different from all the others?
The majority of zombie fiction seems to be written by men. I can think of a few female authors, but not a lot. The guys tend to focus on the gore, survival tactics, and weapons more than the relationships and psychological aspects of living in the apocalypse. For me, the zombies are a device, a means to put people in this sort of chaotic situation and see how they handle it.
How did The Dead Survive become a series? When can we expect to see the next books?
Again, not totally sure! It was originally a short story written as bonus material for a friend’s collection. I released it separately, but it was mostly just sitting in cyberspace gathering dust. I edit for Limitless Publishing, and one day it occurred to me that they might be interested. They were, but they asked me to make it longer, so this book is over sixty percent longer than the original. They asked if it was part of a series, and I said no. Then I thought about it, and decided I wanted to know what Ellen did next. With my editing schedule, I can’t invest the time to write another massively long novel like Make or Break, so I decided to do what John Saul did in the 1990s with The Blackstone Chronicles, which were a series of short novels following one main story arc. If things go according to plan, Book Two should be out in the spring, and Book Three in the fall of 2015.
You’re also a full-time editor and proofreader. How does your writing fit into your busy schedule?
It’s really difficult. My obligations to my indie author clients and to Limitless come first. I’ve made a commitment to edit for them, and they count on me to do my job, focus my attention on their books, and get things done on time. I might eventually have to block off several days a month for my own work, but since I’m scheduled solid into June 2015, that won’t be soon. For now, if I finish a four-day job in three days, the fourth day is for me.
Seth is your hottie hero in Make or Break, but I fell in love with Dilbert too. Who inspired him?
Dilbert was a real dog owned by my close friend, Jessica Levy. She’s a veterinarian I worked with for many years. Dilbert looked exactly like the Dilbert in my book, a medium-large guy who looked like a flat-coated retriever. He lost his eye while on “walkabout,” possibly due to a run-in with a barbed wire fence.
How long have you been writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve never not written. I wrote my first short story when I was ten. Coincidentally, it was horror, one of those “evil dolls come to life and kill stupid little girl” things. I’ve always written essays, and was probably the only one who did a happy dance when the English teacher assigned one. I wrote a journal for many years—note to self, burn those things—and was a columnist and feature writer for a racing magazine and later a dog magazine. Then came blogging…there are too many words in my head, and they have to come out. Inspiration, who knows? It can be a scene, as it was for Make or Break, or a concept like zombies or shifters or a cosmic equalizer. I just take that seed and let it germinate in the back of my mind till I see if it turns into something.
What do you have planned for 2015?
I hope to get at least two more books out in The Dead Survive series, for sure. I sort of promised my publisher! Lots and lots of editing, of course. On a personal level, my husband and I want to add another dog to the family, spend some time on the beach, and get passports so we can potentially travel a bit. Oh, and a new tattoo!
Lori Whitwam Official Author Website: http://www.loriwhitwam.com
Lori Whitwam, Author, on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/loriauthor
Lori Whitwam on Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/author/loriwhitwam
Lori Whitwam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ripleygold
Lori Whitwam on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4696047.Lori_Whitwam
About the Author
Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.
She has worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. Her current day job, conducted from her World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (her couch) is as a full-time editor for indie authors and small publishing houses.
Her dogs are a big part of her life, and she has served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and her own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.
She has been a columnist and feature writer for auto racing and pet publications, and won the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award for a series of humor essays.
Parents of a grown son, Lori and her husband were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love her in spite of herself. Some of his duties include making sure she always has fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach her to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring her from house arrest in her hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but she still really, really appreciates it.