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REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIE AUTHORS ROUNDTABLE -PART 1

REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIE AUTHORS ROUNDTABLE -PART 1

Think fighting zombie hordes through an apocalyptic hellscape is tough? Try writing a book. No doubt, capturing the zombie spirit on paper is no small task, and in this day and age it takes creativity and an unflinching pen to breathe life into the genre.

Thankfully, there are more than a few authors who are up to the task. In this second edition of ZRS Author Roundtable, we sat down (virtually) with four of them to talk about their craft, their stories, and what it takes to write about the dead for a living. Meet Bobby Adair (BA), D.S. Campbell (DC), John L. Davis IV (JD), and Mark Tufo (MT)…

What is your novel about, and what does it bring to the zombie genre?

BA: Crass humor and a different goal.

I imagine lots of books in the genre have some humor sprinkled throughout. I’ve heard rumors of such, and read one or two. I even dabble a bit with some darkly comedic moments in the Slow Burn series. With Dusty’s Diary, I think I wasn’t so much looking to write a zombie book that was funny, but a funny book that happened to have some zombies in it.

The main character, Dusty, is coarse, opinionated, and driven toward an uncommon goal. Again, I think most of the genre (I do it too in my other series) tends to lean toward a story arc that leads the characters to sanctuary or safety, however that’s defined. That goal is never mentioned in Dusty’s Diary; Dusty’s problems are more mundane. He’s a guy who built his doomsday bunker under the assumption that he’d have female company. Unfortunately, he doesn’t. He’s alone, with no wife, no girlfriend, and no pornographic media to while away his solitary hours. So, when Dusty emerges from his bunker several years into the zombie apocalypse, he’s not chasing a lofty goal; he’s just a regular guy with regular post-apocalyptic problems.

DC: Zombie Manifesto is about the human quest for immortality. In a way, it’s a 21st-century update on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, since both novels are tales of the best-laid plans of mad scientists going terribly wrong. In my story, the “monster” is a run-away artificial virus created by researchers experimenting on human neurological tissue. And those billions of tiny little monsters end up creating millions of zombies.

JD: The American Revenant series is about a group of people that are working together to survive a cataclysmic sickness, an EMP attack, and the resurrection of the dead. This group of people would be considered “preppers’ by today’s standards. They have the mindset of survival, although zombies were the last thing they expected.

I like to think that my books bring something refreshing – and maybe a little classic – to a saturated market (then again, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t think; it gets me into trouble). So many people are writing zombie fiction these days and trying new things, which is wonderful, but I wanted to read a story that leaned toward the older idea of zombies — that shambling horde – so that’s what I’ve tried to create.

MT: My novel is about zombies. I like to be brief and to the point! Okay, that’s a lie. If you know me at all, you realize I’m fairly long winded, and the supposed “one-and-done” Zombie Fallout book is now an eight and a half book series with the ninth projected to come out this fall.

This series follows Michael Talbot, a “loyal to a fault” everyman who desperately tries to keep safe those who mean the most to him when all around is falling to sh*t. I guess the subtle difference here is that this is almost more of a series about the human relationships as opposed to just the zombies’ wave of destruction.

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Why zombies? What inspires you to write about the living dead?

BA: I think it stems from frustration with society in general along with a desire to fantasize about an exciting life where all the choices are simple and all the villains (stand-ins for real world problems) are easy to shoot.
In one way or another, most of us grew up watching movies where the bad guys were always bad and clearly identifiable, whether they were cowboys with black hats, chrome-covered Cylons (depending on your version), or wore white Imperial stormtrooper suits. The worlds in our fiction were easy to understand; problems were easy to solve. You just shoot the person in the bad guy costume.

In every zombie story, the world gets distilled from a jumble of complexity (e.g., a world that usually resembles the frustration world we all currently live in) down to simplicities. The bad guys moan and shuffle (unless you like fast zombies), and the good guys shoot ‘em dead and solve their problems.

DC: First of all, zombie horror is fun. There’s a kind of guilt-free violence in killing zombie hordes. They’ve somehow lost their humanity and they want to eat “us”, so we can just mow them down with impunity.

There’s more than that, though. People debate the zombie metaphor. For me, they can be seen as the symbol of the potential loss of our humanity in the face of ever-expanding, ever more invasive technology. Are we becoming more free, or more mindless? Ask a zombie.

JD: I love zombies, and their unnatural state. These rotting, walking corpses have a certain appeal to me beyond just being a horror trope. There is a certain thrill in writing these creatures that were once us; they went to work, had families, pined over lost loves, went to movies, and did all the things we do every day. Then, they are suddenly ravenous shambling (or running) beasts whose only desire is to devour. It is this that leaves the story open to a reflective examination of society and the human condition, or a story can be written, read, and enjoyed thoroughly without an underpinning of commentary; just a straight up “Oh crap, that thing wants to eat my face!” kind of tale.

MT: I’ve been fascinated by zombies and the zombie genre for many a moon now and I’ve always loved to write, so it seemed like a perfect combination. Perhaps if my cousin had opted to watch a mummy movie back when I was seven, things would have turned out differently. As it is, Night of the Living Dead blew me away back then, and I was terrified and thrilled to be that way. Even now, all these years later, I can sometimes tap into the feelings of that scared little boy as I watch a new movie or television episode, and certainly when I read and write. The indelible mark has been made!

 

What were the biggest challenges when writing your novel?

BA: Dusty’s Diary was way too easy to write; I literally wrote it in a week. I’d just come off of writing a bunch of pretty emotionally difficult scenes to wrap up the previous novel and I was worn out. I needed something fun and unpretentious. Dusty’s Diary is exactly that: fun and unpretentious. I guess my only difficulty was choosing whether to publish it. I was afraid it might chase off some current and potential readers.

DC: The writing was almost always a blast, and it was lots of fun to lose myself in the world I created. But the editing? As a zombie would say, “Graaaghh!” Because I published Zombie Manifesto as a serial novel, the editing went on day in and day out for months. But there was an upside to the relentless daily editing: I learned a lot about creating exciting cliffhangers and moving the story along at a good clip.

JD: The biggest challenge for me was writing a large cast of characters my first time out of the gate. Every one of them is an integral part of the group, but giving each the development they needed without bogging down the story with description after description is the thing which was most problematic to me. I like to think I succeeded in developing strong characters – especially in the second book – but that, of course, is up to the reader.

MT: When I wrote the first book I was laid off, so I had all sorts of time. The difficult part was amassing the jumble of thoughts into a coherent story. Then when I wrote the second and third, time became my biggest constraint. I was working full-time and the kids were younger, so I really only wrote on Fridays and Saturdays when my brain wasn’t too cooked or I wasn’t too tired. Now I find that the biggest challenge is going through my editor’s red marks, which due to the sheer volume of them makes for a small mountain of work.

Read Part 2 of Revenge of the Zombie Authors Roundtable where we talk inspirations, writing tips, and favorite zombies. Also make sure to read our first in the ZRS authors interview series

90 comments

  1. Mark Tufo is the best zombie all I can say when zombies come I want to be like Mike

  2. Wanted to thank Matt for hosting the blog and for all the readers that posted!

  3. Clarence benschoter

    Great interview love his books

  4. The Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo is one of the best zombie series I have ever read!

  5. I Love the writing style of Mark Tufo. I’ve read all the Zombie Fallout books and decided to read the Lycan Fallout books so I could continue on Mike Talbot’s journey. Can’t wait for ZF9 this fall.

  6. Darling Mark… You forgot to mention Talbott is a giant ass germaphobe with more sass than Betty White. But I digress.. I still love you.

  7. Keep the good stuff coming guys…I love the break your books give me from the real world

  8. Great interview! And you’re definitely right. Writing about zombie scenes is way harder than fighting zombies.

  9. Jeff Berryhill

    These are some great writers. My favorite is Mark Tufo. Michael Talbot is a great character and his ZF novel’s are awesome reads.

  10. Tufo! Tufo! Tufo!

  11. Joseph Fleischman

    The Zombie Fallout series is one of the most addicting zombie sets you will ever read. Now is a great time to dive headfirst into the series as book 8 came out last fall. A reader can go through all 8 with no wait. (Rhyme not intended).
    His characters are down to earth believable with many pushed to their limit and then beyond. Fair warning. You may not view cats as cute animals anymore.

  12. cliff luna bylicki

    Mark tufo rules!!! (no offense to the other writers)

  13. Lucille Bransfield

    Mark Tufo I am such a fan!! If you wrote the yellow pages, which none uses, I’d read it!!

  14. Pheebz Petenstine

    Love the post.

  15. Awesome read

  16. Love Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series. Action packed and full of humor. The man can make me laugh and cry, sometimes in the same chapter. A Must read author.

  17. Posting as per Mark Tufo

  18. Posting per Mark Tufo

  19. Zombie fallout series is amazing!

  20. Love the interviews and insight into the minds behind the madness. Zombie books are great reads and now I have new series to read.

  21. I’m leaving a comment here.

  22. natoshia wimberly

    Great interview! Love hearing about the details of what the author likes,and inspires them

  23. I love all things zombie. Great interview!! GO TALBOT !!

  24. Mark Tufo,

    You’re an inspiration. I’m in awe that you were able to write ZF2-3 on the weekends. I’m lucky to get my mind to work after a week of teaching high school. Keep those books coming! Who knows, it may be what saves me from these zombies I’m teaching every day.

  25. Mark Tufo is the author who really brought my love for zombie books around! His characters are unforgettable and have you laughing the whole way! 🙂

  26. Sylvia Sebring

    Very cool

  27. Zombie fallout is such a great series! Awesome take on a zombie apocalypse!

  28. some of the horrors written, I could never imagine! Keep them coming folks!

  29. kimberly griffith

    Love it! Looking forward to round 2!

  30. Mr. Tufo is one of my Favorite authors, gotta love the Zombie Apocalypse!

  31. I simply ADORE the Fallout series…I cant IMAGINE not looking forward to the next one..!!..

  32. Great interview! More authors for me to read! Already read all of Mark Tufo!

  33. Shaynah Johnson

    Mark Tufo is a very talented author. He has a way of putting you in the book. Making you feel as if you are there walking along side the characters. I have never been able to find an author that has been able to do that. All I have to do is say thank you so much for your work!!

  34. I love Mark Tufo ‘ Zombie Fallout series and I can’t wait to read the 9th book!

  35. phillip aldenderfer

    I have only read Mark Tufo’s books, but i would recommend them to anyone.

  36. My wife and I love Mark Tufos books! He has the funniest humor in his books and on his Facebook page. He tells one hell of a zombie story. Keep up the good works!

  37. Love Mark Tufo’s zombie fallout series. Mike Talbot is one of my favourite characters. Looking forward to reading the books from the other authors too.

  38. Mark Tufo rocks!

  39. Thanks Mark I’ve enjoyed your books and am looking forward to number 9.

  40. MARK TUFO IS A BEAST OF A WRITTER!

  41. What an insightful piece. I love zombie fiction and these folks get it right (or as right as anyone can through mere conjecture). Nobody can know what it would REALLY be like, but I think some are closer than others. Mark Tufo has a knack for answering most of the questions that pop into my head when I think of zombie scenarios.

  42. I agree that Mike Talbot is all for his family and friends. The books are written so well that my husband and I truly believed that the characters in Mark Tufo books were about his life and his friends. My husband asked him one time if one of his characters was someone he knew and he answered right back that it was a mixture of all the a holes he had met. My husband and I truly enjoy listening to the books. We like audio books that way we can sit and listen together.

  43. Awesome

  44. Great interview!!!

  45. Came to read about Mark and found three more authors to check out!

  46. Mark Tufo, Michael Talbot, and Zombie Fallout are awesome. My favorite series by far.

  47. I am obsessed with zombies and Mark Tufo books are amazing. I like to listen to them on Audible it makes them so realistic.

  48. My husband turned me on to Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series a couple of years ago and I have listened to the entire series to-date multiple times via audible. It never gets old! The characters are interesting and, like Shrek, they’re onions.. They “have layers!” I have no clue how Tufo keeps coming up with so many creative and believable ways for his characters, both good and bad, to escape Sure Death situations. I have many favorite characters in this series.. It’s hard to choose just one.. But I especially love Mrs. Deneaux, an evil, Little Old Lady sociopath who makes me alternately scream, “Go, Granny, Go!” and “Won’t somebody stop that b****!?”

  49. Love the Zombie fallout books cant wait for 9

  50. I was a fan of Mr. Tufo’s from the very first book I listened to, Zombie Fallout. The mix of horror, humanity and comedy in his writings are a home run.

  51. Rosanna Landeros

    i love there answered to the question I envy them cause I could never write. All I can say keep those zombies books coming. Never can get enough. I have a collection of 90% of zombie books

  52. I love the books from the survivalist perspective. Especially when they’re a bit on the jaded side with a snarky, quick sense of humor. Those books with the fast running zombies that get really technical are just not for me.

  53. I love these books so much! !!

  54. Mark Tufo is one of my top 5 writers! Hes awesome! If you dont know the series then you should check him out. He has other series as well that are fully worth giving a go as well. And a few stand alone stories. Most involve Mike Talbot, the main character of ZF just in alternate realities. I have serious laugh out loud moment reading his books, seriously. Lol

  55. So if I my older cousin would have scared me too bits with a zombie movie instead of a vampire movie I would have been into the zombie genre decades sooner 🙂

    Thank Mark Tufo for that bit of insight 😉

  56. hi! Mark Tufo sent me!!! Unfair contest of the day!

  57. Love mark tufos work

  58. After listening to the first zombie fallout book on audible I was hooked. Now I’m up to date with all of Marks books, he in indeed my favorite author. If you haven’t yet listened or read any of his books. You really should. If you love adventure he definitely hits you right in the G spot haha. Keep up your amazing novels Mark!!!

  59. Allison Holland

    Mark Tufo has me totally hooked to the Zombie genre. Can’t get enough.

  60. Tamara Bonshire

    i have read all of Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout books & am anxiously waiting for the next one. After reading this blog I am interested in resding thd other authors’ books

  61. Im a huge fan of Mark Tufo and his Zombie Fallout books along with anything else involving mike talbot.

  62. I love zombie fallout

  63. Mark Tufo does zombie apocalypse the best! His books make me feel like i am in the apocalypse myself right along Talbot Tracy BT and the kids(Henry). I cant wait to check out the rest of these cool authors!

  64. Big Mark Tufo fan…loved the Zombie Fallout series. Mark has a way of making you love the characters and making you crack up in a creepy as hell setting. I blew through the entire series on Audible in about 3 weeks. Definitely recommend his books!

  65. Absolutely LOVE Tufo’s books! Read all of them, never a dull moment!

  66. I’m a big fan of Zombie Fallout, I’m about half way through the series as it stands now and very glad there’s more for me to read!

  67. Charles Johnson

    I truly believe it is all the editor that makes a book worthy to reread again and again and again.

  68. Thank you for publishing this! I read all of Mark Tufos books and have them all on Audible. I have thoroughly enjoyed each one of them and anxiously await each new book!

  69. My vote is on Marc Tufo! don’t get me wrong all are great! The Zombie Fallout series keeps me coming back every time!

  70. How do you keep your fans interested in your series?

  71. Great interview! I love MT books!!

  72. Love Mark Tufo. He is my favorite zombie writer. Thanks m moody

  73. Love mark tufo books

  74. Love the roundtable!

  75. I am new to the zombie genre and would like to thank Mark Tufo for his absolutely funny and entertaining series Zombie Fallout. Now I just love the genre and am on the lookout for more.

  76. Fort Wilderness Lodge at Disney only sells cherry pop-tarts in their vending machine.

  77. Fredric Fogelberg

    Go Tufo!

  78. Love mark tufo!

  79. I love me some zombies!!! Mark Tufo and Bobby Adair are great!!!

  80. BRAIIIINS!

  81. Mark Tufo is a Zombie Genius – I am completely addicted to all things zombie. I am seriously having withdrawals waiting for book #9!

  82. This strange zombie author dude, Mark, sent me over here to leave a comment. So that’s what I’m doing! Long live Talbot! 😉

  83. God I love this website, I have read some of the best zombie novels out there based on the recommendations from this page.. thanks!!

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