Today is an auspicious day because it is the beginning of a new addition to my blog, Morning Tea with the Author, which is a Q&A with authors about books, writing, reading and everything in the kitchen sink.
My first author is H.L. Wampler, creator of the novel The Last Alive, a horror story about a zombipocalypse that begins when her twin sister is bitten in the woods while camping and then things get really hairy.
Writing a book is an enormous feat. You must feel very accomplished after writing and publishing your first book. What was the feeling you had when you hit that final key?
It was a mixture of a feeling of relief and dread. Even though I hit the final key a whole new process was beginning. I had to start working on editing and writing the query letter. It was like starting an entirely new journey.
I read on your blog that you didn’t know you wanted to write and it just happened one afternoon. Would you say that you have been completely seduced by storytelling now with the publication of The Last Alive?
I was seduced the moment I started. I loved telling the story. Granted being published does make it that much better, in fact it makes me want to create something good enough for an agent and one of the big Five.
I recently started reviewing books from NetGalley, have you ever thought of getting your book on something like NetGalley or another Advance Reader Service to get your novel out to more reviewers?
I’ve talked with my publisher about it. She said she was in talks with a few other e-reader sites. My husband wants to buy it for his Nexus7, but he’d have to buy it through Google Play. I hope they start selling through more sites. That’d be awesome!
What inspired you to write a book about a zombie apocalypse? Do you have any inspiration from the classic authors who wrote about plagues like Mary Shelley’s Last Man or Albert Camus’ The Plague? Or have you had more of a modern introduction to world devouring end of days like World War Z by Max Brooks or I am Legend by Robert Mathewson? What made you bring life to the undead?
Actually I didn’t draw my inspiration from books…it came from the silver screen. I grew up and still reside in Pittsburgh. Zombie central. George A. Romero worked on all of his zombie cult classics here. (They’re coming to get you, Barrrbbbaaarrraaa.) Ever since watching the original Night of the Living Dead I’ve had this fascination with zombies. It also doesn’t help.
I remember growing up in the 80’s with the Living Dead movies! I think that your rite of passage as a rural Pennsylvania kid in the 80’s was going to see the Living Dead movies at the drive-in! I am from NEPA. Total opposite end of you but I completely get where you are coming from. What are your thoughts on the newer Zombie movies? Or even Walking Dead? Have you seen any of them and do you feel that the direction of newer zombipocalyses are as epic as your Romero inspiration?
I am a HUGE Walking Dead fan. I’ve seen all of the episodes at least 10 times! LOVE them!! With that show I actually feel bad for the zombies. Especially the earlier episodes. You can kind of see the person behind the zombie. Which is sort of what I wanted to get through with Emma and Becca. That Emma wanted to still find a bit of her sister in there, even though we all know once you’re zombie, you’re zombie. Actually Greg Nicotero, who is a Pittsburgh native is executive producer/special effects make-up designer on The Walking Dead. So it must be us ‘Burghers blood to work on zombies. lol
I kept getting an odd visual at times during the novel of Emma being somewhere between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alice from Resident Evil. What was the vision you had of her in your mind and when you were writing her how did you want her to be read?
She’s definitely bad-ass like Alive with some Buffy qualities. Just without all the super powers. (Even though that would have been awesome.) Emma is a hardened zombie killer by time that silly Nathan goes missing. She learns that closing herself off to other people keeps her from being hurt, but honestly you can’t help falling in love. It happens whether you want it to or not.
When I read books I find that secondary characters are a really important part of any novel for me. How important do you feel the supporting characters were to your story and do you feel that you were happy with them at the end of the book? If you could have rewritten any of them who would you have rewritten? Why?
I was very happy with the supporting characters at the end. I tend to forget about them or slack off on how I write them throughout the story, but this was one time I was really happy. Especially with Nathan. I may have worked on Meaghan some more. I definitely feel she was the weakest of the supporting characters.
I was wondering actually if you would talk about Emma’s mother. I don’t know if you had intended for it or not but I really wished that she would be eaten. =)
I definitely intended for Emma’s momma to stay alive. They have a complicated relationship. She’s overprotective of her daughters. After the zombipocalypse it got 10 x’s worse. She is absolutely terrified of losing her last daughter. All she wants is for things to return to normal and her happy family to go back to their farm, which obviously can’t happen. She has a good heart and loves Emma, she’s just too overbearing. Which Nathan helps Emma to cut those apron strings.
This book is firmly in the horror genre, is that the genre that you like most to create your fictional works in? I was looking at your “What’s coming up page on your blog and you seemed to have a rather versatile basis in works. What have you found most fun to write?
I don’t really have a “homebase” for my genre. I like to write whatever pops into my brain. I actually have a historical fiction coming out in February and just recently started working on an erotic novel because the story just came to me one night. As far as what’s most fun…they all are. They’re all so different than the other and I just love them all. Horror is fun to scare people. Fantasy is fun to transport people to another place. Erotica is fun to stimulate people in all their happy places. Historical fiction is fun because of the history. (I’m a history buff. I LOVE history!) I haven’t tried any others yet. I would love to try a crime and a mystery. Perhaps a thriller in the future.
What of the books or stories you have written so far are you most looking to have published and read?
I have an urban fantasy which is a fairy tale retelling that I previously self-published. I pulled it about eight or nine months ago and have since completely rewritten it. I am very excited about it. While I love all of my works I am IN LOVE with this one.
Would this be The Last Grimm Novel? I read the synopsis for that book on your Goodreads and I am really quite excited to check it out. I am actually a really big sucker for fairy tales retold. Do you have a timetable for this one?
I’m actually in the query stage for this one. So as soon as I get the yes it’ll be one step closer to being back out! It’ll be longer, juicier, and awesome!
Who are some of your favorite authors? When you are writing are you inspired by their style or methodology? What is your own writing method?
I love Gail Carriger. Her Parasol Protectorate series is AMAZING! It’s paranormal, not usually my cup of tea, but it’s great. I was hooked and have read all 4 multiple times. Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy was awesome. I actually cried reading the first one. As far as the writing style goes…I’m not sure what mine is. I’ve never really paid attention to it except I don’t outline. I am a pants-er.
Being a published author what is your biggest fear for The Last Alive?
That everyone will hate it and it’ll be forgotten. I know it’s not going to be the most popular, but I’d love for a few people to enjoy it. That’s why I write for people to enjoy my stories.