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Monday, August 13, 2012

Interview: Author Stant Litore and His Extraordinary Undead
One of the great things about being an Indie writer is the true sense of community I've discovered along the way. Writing is a tough and largely solitary slog, so finding connection with others in the same boat is vital if we are to keep sane and true to the journey.

Today I am pleased to share some time with one of my favourite folks I've 'met' over the past year... zombie author extraordinaire Stant Litore.

Now before you nay-sayers out there roll your eyes and groan 'not more zombies', you need to know that Stant's Zombie Bible series has raised the bar for this genre. His work is lyrical and beautifully crafted. The emotion is raw and heartfelt in ways that surprise and hook you at every turn. This is not all about half-rotten ghouls staggering after the hero endlessly growling for 'braaiiinzzzzzzzz'. Stant peels away the layers to the core of our own humanity, and the spiritual stakes are very high indeed. Even if you are not a fan of zombies, give Stant's fiction a try. If you do love zombies, I urge you to have a look at this fresh and intelligent take. It is not for the squeamish, certainly-- but it is so much more than a gory yarn. This is truly literary stuff.

Stant has also been incredibly fortunate along his own Indie journey. After launching on his own and creating a devoted following, his books have been picked up by Amazon's publishing imprint 47North! New and fantastic cover art has been revealed [we'll insert the images here] and the excitement is mounting ahead of the release dates: August 14th for the first two books Death Has Come Up to Our Windows and What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, and October 16th is the much-anticipated launch of Strangers in the Land. Here are the links for the books:

Death Has Come Up To Our Windows
What Our Eyes Have Witnessed
(Strangers in the Land is forthcoming:

Welcome Stant! And congratulations. This is all very exciting!

First of all... why Zombies?

Zombies have always held an eerie fascination for me. It’s the eyes – that these are bodies that look at you and do not see you; they see only food. That’s a terrifying thing. It’s terrifying to the gut, and it’s terrifying in a metaphysical sense.

What inspired you to meld this very specific horror sub-genre with such heightened spiritual matters?

I have no idea. Perhaps just the chance of watching Night of the Living Dead while reading the biblical book of Judges. But zombies do allow us to explore some very intense spiritual questions about both our relationship to our dead … and our relationships with the living. Questions such as “How do we remember our dead, how do we grieve for them and say goodbye to them?” and “What do we see when we look at another human being? How often do we look at another person and see only food – fuel for our desires, our fears, our ambitions?”

When you first began, what were your goals for your books?

Writing them. And holding nothing back.

What's changed?

Not much in terms of the what, but a lot in terms of the how. Originally, The Zombie Bible was going to be a long book containing five novella-length stories. It rapidly became clear that these were big stories, and their character deserved more. It is now a series of very ambitious scope. Of the original five stories, one has been published, one will be published this October, and the other three are yet to come. Along the way, other stories I wasn’t aware of when I began have insisted that I write them.

Tell us about how the 47North deal was born.

I’ve told the full story here, under the title “How the Kindle and KDP Helped Save My Little Girl”: It’s worth a read.

Did you ever at any point feel yourself falter along the way? If so, how did you keep yourself on track?

The short answer is no and the long answer is yes. No, not since opening up The Zombie Bible – these stories have torn themselves out of my chest and have not let any doubt or any obstacle get in their way. The long answer is that for years during my twenties I moved very slowly and often faltered in my writing—less from doubts about my craft than from doubts about whether this was the life I *should* be committing myself to. I did not keep myself on track.
Then I had children. I looked down at my daughter’s beautiful face and realized it was time. There could be no more waiting, no more dithering. How could I teach my girls to follow their dreams if I did not pursue my own aggressively and with truth and ferocity?

You're a busy man with a growing family. How have you managed your life/work balance?

Precariously, and with diligence. It helps that I write fast and I revise fast. I trigger myself into a creative mood with music, and I get in fast. That’s not luck, it’s hard work – I’ve trained myself to do that over years. But it does mean I can accomplish a great deal over a lunch break or after the kids are in bed.

What future writing projects are in the cards?

Ah, now that would be telling. You have to be surprised. But I will say that The Zombie Bible will be ongoing for a while, and that you should expect a few fantasy novels in upcoming years that do not involve zombies. Expect panache, pirates (though not on Earth), true love, giants (this is beginning to sound like The Princess Bride), and tales of insane things happening to not entirely sane people. Expect novels that will demand that you hold on tight for a very fierce ride.

Any advice for aspiring Indie authors that you'd care to share?

Find out who your characters really are, let them show you, and find the truth your novel has to tell. Nothing matters more than that. Do not compromise or take shortcuts. Do not chicken out under pressure and write the easier path for your story. If that means you find out two thirds the way through that a near-complete rewrite would give you a story nine times as powerful, you do it. If you won’t have the courage to let your story dig deep into the heart, you’re wasting your time.
Secondly, if you are an indie writer, hire a good developmental editor. This is crucial. I have heard a lot of indies talking about the need for a good copy editor, and that’s certainly essential. But you need a good developmental editor, too – someone who will take an experienced and impartial look at your story and talk with you about which scenes to cut, which scenes to move, where a character is inconsistent or falling flat for a while. Don’t skip this phase. That one additional draft with an expert’s questions to prompt you may be the difference between an okay novel and a great novel.

As always it's been a pleasure-- I hope you'll return and let us know how the books are faring in the coming months!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mea Culpa!

So I wrote a post exactly one month ago today, promising to be more diligent and post more often.


The past few weeks has been a struggle about finding work/life balance in my day. My 'day job' is writing descriptive video TV/Film scripts for the blind and visually impaired. This is contract work that I can do from home (huzzah!) but it is also feast or famine (boo!) I try to tell myself that the relative freedom I have (cool perks like making my own hours, a commute that is a mere stumble from bed to coffee maker to desk, no dress code, and no snarky co-workers or supervisors hanging over my shoulder) is worth the sacrifice of no employment insurance, dental benefits or predictable workflow.

Reality is harsh. I had virtually no income from mid-April until three weeks ago.

In theory, this gave me plenty of time to work on my new novel In The Bag- Book One of The Dead Drunks Mystery series. I did spend a respectable amount of time with my 'boys' Winston and Teddy,  and their ever-flatulent and compellingly ugly bulldog sidekick, Hotspur. But when there is no income, the walls tend to close in. That sort of fear and depression can make one's creativity dry up.

So-- hooray-- there is paid writing work coming in again. But I need to make hay while the sun shines, so I end up putting in 12 hour days. The last thing I feel like doing after sitting at the computer writing all day is to stay put and write well into the evening. I keep reading studies about how sitting more than a few hours a day shortens your life span. Awesome. Did I mention my back hurts? I also stayed inside for 4 days running last week and went a bit stir-crazy. Whee!

As the contract work steadies out into a more predictable flow, I'll find ways to regularly get back to my fictional Stratford sleuths. I enjoy my time with them, so I'm sure you'll all like getting to know them just as much... eventually. I've also been getting outside more this week. I'm feeling a little more human again.

Meantime, I promise to be more faithful to my word! I have some guests on the blog coming up soon. Watch this space...