S.G. Browne

The Glamour of Book Touring

You wake up at 6:00am PST Wednesday morning in San Francisco. You spend all day running last minute errands and packing for a 10 day trip and trying to get all those bright yellow Post-It notes with reminders off your desk. You catch the Super Shuttle, which arrives 10 minutes early and deposits you at SFO two-and-a-half hours early, but at least you saved $30 by not taking a cab.

You board your 11:40pm flight and get as comfortable as you can, hoping to catch some sleep during the five hour flight. But you’re not sitting in first class, so you know that’s not going to happen. Especially since someone a few rows back thought it was a good idea to bring their two three year old boys on the overnight flight and one of them screams and throws a tantrum every twenty minutes.

You land at Ft. Lauderdale at 8:00am EST, awake now for twenty-three hours, and rent your car from Budget and get on the Florida Turnpike to drive up to Orlando for your book signing later that evening. As you drive on the Turnpike, you blow through the SunPass lanes, the prepaid/pre-registered lanes that avoid the hassle of having to stop and pay the tolls or dish out exact change. You do this because the guy at Budget who checked you in told you that was how it worked and the credit card you rented the car with would get charged for the tolls. As you blow through toll after toll, you read the sign that says $100 per toll violations and wonder if you’re racking up a lot more than toll charges.

You get to Orlando at noon and spend a few hours having lunch and hanging out with Tommy Castillo, zombie artist genius and karaoke god (who sang “The Rainbow Connection” in the voice of Kermit the Frog in Winnipeg) and eventually realize you’re about to pass out, so you crash on his couch but can’t sleep because his two dachshunds have decided they really, really want to climb all over you and lick your face. So you rest instead.

At 6:00pm, after a shower and a change of clothes, you’ve been awake for thirty-three hours, so you drink the 5-hour energy drink you bought at the airport and head over to Barnes & Noble in Colonial Plaza for your 7:00pm signing. Geoff and the crew at B&N make you feel welcome and have up great displays and there are actually people waiting there for you and you talk and read and sign and it makes the fact that you haven’t slept in a day-and-a-half worth it.

At 9:00pm, you get on to the I-4 to Tampa because you’re booked at the Hilton in St. Petersburg, courtesy of the editors of Zombie St. Pete, the zombie anthology you wrote the introduction for and the reason you’re in Florida in the first place. You get on the Interstate and see the EZPass lane and blow through the gate, the same you’ve been doing all day long, only this time under the red light instead of the words DON’T STOP it says WAIT FOR GREEN. You don’t notice this in time, so you don’t stop. An alarm sounds behind you and you wonder if you’ve just earned yourself a ticket for running a red light. But at least you can write it off.

At 10:00pm, you pull off the freeway to use the bathroom at Burger King and because you haven’t eaten in eight hours, you cave in and order a BK Big Fish value meal. You decide that the BK Big Fish is considerably superior to the Filet of Fish from McDonald’s. You also realize you’ve just used the word “superior” to describe fast food.

At 11:00pm you check into the Hilton in St. Petersburg and you’ve now been awake for thirty-eight hours. Before you go to bed, you get on the Internet to post a few comments to Twitter and to check e-mail. Only the Hilton doesn’t provide free Internet service and because this annoys you, you go downstairs in your jeans and bare feet to sit in the lobby instead. The next morning, you cave in and pay for the Internet service.

Filed under: Breathers,The Writing Life — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 7:52 am

Blah Blah Blog Q&A

In response to my last entry, Blah Blah Blog, Sarah Malone commented and posed a couple of questions that I thought would be best addressed here, since they’re not just simple yes or no answers.

And if anyone has any other questions, fire away.  I’ll do my best to answer them in a timely fashion, even if I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Question #1: Are you critical of your own work and does it ever truly feel finished?
I’m definitely critical of my own work, to the point that as I’m writing, I’m wondering if what’s coming out of me is good enough. But I realize that’s what the editing process is for, to take the initial concept, the shell of the novel, and turn it into what I envisioned.

Think of the first draft as kind of like building a house and putting up the walls and the floor and the ceiling, creating a solid structure on a firm foundation. Something that will hold everything I want to put into it. Each subsequent draft fills the house with furnishings and decorations and all of the details it needs to make it complete.

Of course, sometimes, I realize I need to rearrange the floor plan or add another room or a second level or a basement, but fortunately, it’s just an analogy, so it costs a lot less.

And as far as feeling as if it’s ever finished, yes.  There’s a definite sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed the first draft and then again when I’ve made the final edits. But I can always find something six months down the road that I think I could have done better.

Question #2: The novels that you wrote before, are you planning on trying to publish them now that your name is out there?
Prior to Breathers, I’d written three novels that were straight supernatural horror, with the first two being told in third person omniscient and the third told in the first person. While there are redeeming qualities on all three, it’s unlikely I’ll pursue trying to publish the first two.

One, they’re very different from what I’ve doing now, both in style and voice. I’ve found that writing dark comedy and social satire with some kind of a supernatural edge resonates with me more than writing straight supernatural horror. And, more importantly, I don’t believe the quality of the writing is up to par with Breathers or Fated. The third novel, however, has promise, though I’d have to rewrite it to make it more darkly comedic.

Thanks for the questions, Sarah!

Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 2:45 pm

Blah Blah Blog

Okay, I realize it’s been nearly two weeks since my last blog entry, Andy’s comments about breathers notwithstanding. Chalk it up to projects and trip planning and general distraction and attending to some personal matters like flying up to Portland and helping my mom pack and then driving her down to California, which is what I was doing when I was informed that Breathers had made it on to the final ballot for the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards for Achievement in a First Novel.

Woo hoo!

But that’s another blog post. Eventually.

This was going somewhere when I started it. Let me get my map. Hmm, let’s see…ah yes, there we are!

I’m aware that I seldom discuss what I’m working on, or not working on (which is often the case) because I don’t plot and I’m not really sure where it’s going and I’m easily distracted, so I’d have to be vague and stumble through some fragmented explanation that would try to deflect attention from the fact that I had spent the last three days playing spider solitaire and watching the last season of Weeds.

I do, however, sit my ass down in front of my computer at 8:00am every morning (or mostly every morning) and give myself the next 3-4 hours to compose my 1000 words for the day. Sometimes I see other authors posting on Twitter that they’ve finished their 2000 words by noon and will write another 2000 words that night. Or that the average person can write 500 words an hour (which is two, double-spaced pages in 12-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins), and I think, okay you gluttonous bastard, how about giving some of those words to me?

The most words I’ve ever written in one day is 2500, and I powered through 5000 words in two days back in February 2008 just before the Super Bowl when I had a bad cold and was finishing up Fated to give to my writer’s group. I have to say, I think that was probably some of the best writing I’ve done. I don’t think I edited much of that portion of the book. Maybe I should write when I’m sick and under deadline more often.

So that’s why I don’t tend to blog about my writing. But if anyone’s interested enough in knowing more about my process, I’ll be happy to occasionally blog about it. But be warned, there will be a lot of plot holes.

I also notice that some authors are perfectly capable of blogging about personal things that happen throughout the course of their existence – health issues, pets dying, interpersonal relationships. Which always amazes me when men can blog about relationships because we never talk to each other about them in real life. And yes, I firmly believe that the Internet is an alternate reality. Kind of like on LOST. Though I’m not really sure which reality is the real one there. The island now or the airplane landing in LAX three years earlier? Come to think of it, maybe I’m not sure about this reality, either.

Where was I? Ah yes, personal things…

While I’m perfectly happy sharing my love of Ben & Jerry’s and the fact that I have a lingering man crush on Kevin Costner, I’d prefer to leave the more personal details of my life to the tabloids. Who, fortunately, don’t give a damn about me.

So there you have it. A rambling discourse on not much of anything. Thank you for listening. Now, back to spider solitaire.

Filed under: Just Blogging — S.G. Browne @ 4:55 pm

10 Questions With S.G. Browne

I had some readers of my blog and of my recent interviews contact me wondering what my answers to my own questions would be, so I thought I’d conduct a somewhat incestuous and self-serving interview with myself for those who were curious. And to stick with the idea, here’s my bio:

S.G. Browne has written more than four dozen short stories and five novels, including Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament. His first three novels will never see print. S.G., known as Scott to everyone but his parents, started writing short stories in 1990, most of them inspired by a steady diet of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, and Robert McCammon. Scott watches very little television, except for LOST, and spends a lot of time wishing he lived in Tahiti. (And yes, that’s me when I bleached my hair).

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
In sixth grade with my two best friends. Okay, that sounds a little weird, but they came over to my house and we watched Night of the Living Dead on Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins. Back then, you couldn’t see NOTLD unless it came on television, so we had to watch it with commercial interruptions and without the naked zombie scene or the scenes where they’re eating BBQ Tom and Judy. We cheered when Ben kicks Cooper’s ass. And we laughed and made fun of the cemetery zombie who was staggering along like someone had kicked him in the nuts.

NOTLD Triva: By the way, for those who don’t know, Cooper’s wife also played the role of the bug-eating zombie.

What’s your favorite zombie film?
Well, I have to go with Night of the Living Dead simply because it set the standard and I still think it’s one of the creepiest movies I’ve ever seen. But if I had to pick another zombie film that’s a little less classic zombie, I’d have to go with Evil Dead 2. I love Bruce Campbell.

Other than a reliable weapon, what one item would be on your Must Have List for the zombie apocalypse?
Comfortable shoes. I figure if I’m going to be running away from zombies, especially if they’re those fast bastards, then I don’t want my toes cramping up or shoes that rub and give me blisters.

If you could have a pet zombie, what would you name it and who would you feed it?
I’d name my pet zombie Sparky and I’d feed it Christian conservatives, athletes who lied about using steroids, and people who turn on their cell phones during movies.

What’s the first thing you remember reading that inspired you to want to become a writer?
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub during my sophomore year in college. While not my favorite work of either King or Straub, the story pulled me in and took me on a journey that left this world behind, and I thought: I want to make people feel this way.

Who’s your favorite author?
While Chuck Palahniuk has definitely been an inspiration and I would have to consider him a candidate, Stephen King is the reason I wanted to become a writer. I believe that when all is said and done, he’ll be considered one of the greatest story-tellers of the 20th century.

What’s your favorite word?
Dude. I know some people think “fuck” is more versatile, but you can say dude ten different ways and give it ten different meanings simply by changing the inflection. In both Breathers and Fated, I have a character who regularly uses “dude” as part of his vocabulary.

Fun fact: Ten years ago on New Year’s Eve in Santa Cruz, I backed into a BMW while parking my car and the owner of the BMW was still in it. We both got out and the conversation went like this:
Me: “Sorry dude.”
Him: (Appalled) “Sorry dude?”
Me: (Speaking slowly) “Yeah. Sorry dude.”

What’s your favorite non-zombie film?
That’s really kind of a tough call. My snap answer would be Fight Club, but depending on my mood, I could throw Being John Malkovich, Alien, or The Graduate into the mix.

But as far as an all-time favorite, I’d have to go with Star Wars. I’ve never had a movie-watching experience like the first time I saw Star Wars at the theater in 1977. Awestruck pretty much nails it. And I’ve still never been part of an audience that cheered and applauded and booed like that. It gave me chills. I think my mouth was hanging open the whole time.

If you weren’t writing about zombies, what would you write about?
I’d probably write romantic comedies, but with an odd or quirky twist. Hmm. Come to think of it, that’s what I’ve done with Breathers and Fated. Okay, no romance in the next book!

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
“Bullwinkle Part II” by The Centurions. I first heard it on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. You can give it a listen here: Bullwinkle Part II – Pulp Fiction

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
My second novel, Fated, is scheduled for release in November 2010. Fated is a dark, irreverent, supernatural comedy about fate, destiny, and the choices people make to screw up their lives. You can read the synopsis at www.sgbrowne.com. Also, later this year, my short story “Zombie Gigolo” will be available in the zombie anthology The Living Dead 2, edited by John Joseph Adams.

Filed under: Breathers,Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 10:13 am

10 Questions With James Melzer

James Melzer is the author of The Zombie Chronicles trilogy that began as a free podcast series on his website back in 2008. Since then it has been bought by Permuted Press and picked up by Simon and Schuster, with the first book, Escape, coming to print nationwide in March, 2011. He’s the host of the interview podcast, UNLEASHED, a freelance writer for RealTVAddict.com, Manolith.com, and a lover of all things horror and cats.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
The first exposure I had to zombies was through George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I loved the film, still love it today and watch it at least once a month.

What’s your favorite zombie film?
While my first love was Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, I have to say that the sequel, Dawn of the Dead, is my all-time favorite zombie flick.

Other than a reliable weapon, what one item would be on your Must Have List for the zombie apocalypse?
Some form of deodorant spray. Zombies are attracted to the scent of humans. If I smell like AXE, maybe they won’t be as likely to come for me.

If you could have a pet zombie, what would you name it and who would you feed it?
Duncan, I like the name Duncan. I’m still trying to convince my wife to let me get one of those mini-great white sharks just so I can call him Duncan. So if I had a pet zombie (which my wife would NEVER allow in the house), I’d call him Duncan. I’d probably feed him all the people who said I could never be a writer. That would keep him busy for a while.

What’s the first thing you remember reading that inspired you to want to become a writer?
My very first influences were JAWS by Peter Benchley, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty and Swan Song by Robert McCammon. Those three books made me want to be a writer.

Who’s your favorite author?
Stephen King. Cliche, I know, but that’s all I got.

What’s your favorite word?
Fuck. It has so may uses.

What’s your favorite non-zombie film?

If you weren’t writing about zombies, what would you write about?
Well since I don’t plan to write about zombies forever, I’m gonna say anything with a supernatural/thriller element to it. I love the genre and it’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Hopefully.

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
Probably the Spongebob Squarepants theme.

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
Right now I’m working on CTHULHU THIS! which is a mix of crime noir, EC comics and Lovecraft mythos. It’s a free web series that I’m doing over at www.jamesmelzer.net. I’m still currently working on the second novel in The Zombie Chronicles, called Invasion. After that I’ll be working my third full-length novel called Hull’s Landing. I’m also gearing up for the release of my first novel, The Zombie Chronicles: Escape, which is coming in March, 2011, from Simon and Schuster.

You can keep up with James and all of his zombie goodness by following him on Twitter or friending him on Facebook. Or visit him on the web where you can still listen to The Zombie Chronicles for free at www.jamesmelzer.net.

Filed under: Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:52 am