S.G. Browne

The Living Dead 2

The website for The Living Dead 2 is now live!

To elaborate, The Living Dead 2 is the follow up anthology to The Living Dead, both edited by John Joseph Adams for Night Shade Books. While the first volume contained mostly reprints of classic zombie stories from authors including Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Neil Gaiman, The Living Dead 2 is packed with original zombie tales from names such as Max Brooks, David Wellington, Jonathan Maberry, and Carrie Ryan.

Oh, and you’ll also find my original short story, “Zombie Gigolo,” in the anthology, as well.

On the official website for The Living Dead 2, you’ll find eight stories in their entirety, available both as regular web pages and in a downloadable ebook sampler, currently available in epub and pdf format. There will also be 36 different author interviews with the contributors scheduled to appear daily, starting on August 30 and running through October 4. And last, but not least, you can also read the introduction and the header notes to each story in the anthology. (You can read the introduction for “Zombie Gigolo” HERE.)

You can order The Living Dead 2 now through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Night Shade Books. Or pick one up at your local bookstore!

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Filed under: Zombies — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 7:52 am

The Writing Life: To Plot or Not to Plot

I’m frequently asked about my writing process. When I write. Where I write. How I write.

When? Mornings and evening, mostly. I like to use my afternoons for running errands and taking naps. Yes, I take naps. Discovered them in college following late nights of, ahem, studying. I love naps.

Where? In my apartment, either at my desk or on my couch with my laptop. I’m one of those rare writers who doesn’t drink coffee. Plus I’m easily distracted. So going to a cafe to write is mostly pointless. And at a cafe, I don’t have my cats curled up on either side of me.

How? I’m like Indiana Jones in The Raiders of the Lost Ark. I make it up as I go.

Generally, I get an idea of how I want to start a story. Or where I want it to start and then I start writing. When I’m finished, it may not begin in the same place or in the same way, but that’s what gets me moving forward.

For instance, Breathers originally opened up with what is now Chapter 2. But after doing some rewrites, I ended up switching things around and beginning the book with a scene that takes place in Chapter 37 and having the first 200 pages be a flashback to explain how Andy got there.

But how he ended up in the kitchen, standing in front of the refrigerator and finding his parents’ body parts in between the mayonnaise and the leftover Thanksgiving turkey isn’t something I planned to have happen. It’s just the way the story developed.

Generally, I don’t know how my story is going to end, or at the very least, how I’m going to get there. I didn’t have definite endings for Breathers and Fated when I started, but rather a vague idea of what might happen. The eventual endings developed from the actions of the characters.

My notion of a story is an interesting situation in which a human being has to cope with a problem, does so, and thereby changes his personality, character, or evaluations in some measure because the coping has forced him to revise his thinking. How he copes with it, I can’t plot in advance because that depends on his character, and I don’t know what his character is until I get acquainted with him.
— Robert Heinlein

Much like Heinlein said in his quote above, plotting out what my characters are going to do before they have a chance to get there doesn’t work for me. I don’t know how my characters will react to certain situations until I put them in those situations, so I can’t tell them what they’re going to do ahead of time until I get to know them. Otherwise, I’m just forcing my will upon them. Instead, I let my characters’ actions dictate where the plot is going to go.

Of course, not knowing where you’re going can sometimes lead to moments of complete and absolute terror when you’re two-thirds of the way through the manuscript and you’re not sure what’s going to happen in the third act. But it’s what’s worked for me for most of the last two decades, so I’m sticking with it.

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Filed under: Breathers,Fated,The Writing Life — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 4:03 pm

R is for Road and Regulators

Other than the two titles that made the final list, the only other books I’ve read that begin with the letter R include The Red Badge of Courage (Crane), Robinson Crusoe (Defoe), Road Trip of the Living Dead (Henry), and Rose Madder (King). I’ve never read any of the Rabbit series written by John Updike or Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, though I have Never Let Me Go on my list of books TBR.

As for other familiar titles that begin with R? If this was a category on Jeopardy!, I’d be the last one pressing my buzzer.

No Ragtime or Rebecca or Rich Man, Poor Man.
No Runaway Jury or Red Storm Rising or The Return of the King.
No Right Stuff or Razor’s Edge or Red Pony.

I’m apparently very deficient when it comes to reading my R’s. But I’ll make up for it next week. For now, I give you my two favorite books and my favorite narrative poem that begin with the letter R.

Blue Ribbon:
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
A bleak, haunting, Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of a father and son’s journey across a post-apocalyptic America in which few humans have survived. The fact that you never find out exactly what happened to cause the cataclysmic disaster only adds to the power of the narrative. Written with sparse prose and no chapters, the story is both heartbreaking and nearly impossible to stop reading.

Whatever Color Ribbon Is For Second Place:
The Regulators, Richard Bachman
Bachman is, of course, the famous pseudonym of Stephen King, having written a number of novels and novellas. Although their writing styles are similar, Bachman tends to be a little more fast-paced than King, with his narrative, coming at you relentlessly in this supernatural novel about a spirit who takes over the mind of an autistic boy and turns his suburban hometown into a wild west nightmare.

Poe*Bonus – Favorite Narrative Poem
The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
While I love Poe’s version, I have a hard time remembering the actual lines to the poem because I’ve rewritten parts of it several times, including my ode to turning 40 titled Poe and the Big 4-0: The Raven Reprised. Most recently, I rewrote The Raven for a Best Man’s speech that starts out: “Once upon a bachelor dreary…”

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Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 5:42 pm

P is for Princess, Post, and Phantom

No. The Princess in the blog title does not stand for The Princess Diaries, just in case you were wondering. And although I’ve seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, I’ve never read the French novel on which it’s based.

I’ve also never read The Pearl (Steinbeck), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde), or Pride and Prejudice (Austen), with or without zombies. I’m not a big Jane Austen fan, so adding zombies to one of her books isn’t going to compel me to read it. You could add zombies to The Bridges of Madison County and I’m not going to read that, either. Though I do have a signed copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on my bookshelf.

Some of the titles I have read include Patient Zero (Maberry), Pressure (Strand), Phantoms (Koontz), Pet Semetary (King), and Presumed Innocent (Turow). I currently have Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Suskind) on my stack of books to read, though it keeps getting pushed back by all of these books I keep buying. Someday…

On to my favorite books that start with the letter P:

One for the money:
The Princess Bride, William Goldman
This is another instance where I read the book after I saw the film, so my memory of it is somewhat colored by the Hollywood version. But since Goldman wrote the screenplay as well, it stays truer than most adaptations. Good writing, memorable characters, great dialogue, an adventurous plot, and lots of fun twists and turns gives this one top billing. It’s a joyous romp of a read.

Two for the show:
Post Office, Charles Bukowski
A recommendation from a writer friend of mine, this first novel by Bukowski is apparently as much autobiography as it is fiction. Filled with down and out Americans, booze, gambling, failed relationships, meaningless work, and a main character who is more cynical than Sam Spade and Han Solo. This novel is a good introduction for anyone interested in reading the author who TIME called a “laureate of American lowlife.”

Three to get ready:
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
I didn’t read much as a kid. I hated going to the library and checking out books, which invariably sat on my dresser, unread, until the due date arrived. But I remember loving this adventure fairy tale about a bored kid who discovers a magic tollbooth and decides to drive through it into another world. A classic childrens’ story worth re-reading as an adult.

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Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:49 am

Slushpile of the Mind, Part II

If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop. If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. —Carrie Latet

Where do writers get their ideas? In the first installment of Slushpile of the Mind, I told you where I get mine. Below you’ll find five authors who share where they find theirs. Check ‘em out!

Eric S. Brown

Eric S Brown is the author of Bigfoot War, Season of Rot, and World War of the Dead. His novel, War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies, will be released from Simon and Schuster in December and is available for pre-order now at www.amazon.com and numerous other places. His short fiction has been published hundreds of times and he was a featured expert on the zombie genre in Jonathan Maberry’s Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead.

I get my ideas from growing up reading comics, loving zombies and horror, and having that whole background to draw on. With all that genre knowledge bouncing around in my skull, it’s easy to see something happen in everyday life or on the news and go “whoa, what if this happened but with this?”

Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the author of the award-winning As the World Dies Zombie Trilogy, originally self-published but later picked up by Tor for release in 2011. She is also the author of the modern day vampire novel, Pretty When She Dies and the gothic horror novel, The Tale of the Vampire Bride. Her latest release is the YA zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters from the Little Library of the Living Dead Press. Visit Rhiannon at rhiannonfrater.blogspot.com.

My nightmares are my primary inspiration. As strange as it sounds, every time I have one, I wake up thinking “Can I use it?” My vampire novels are both based on vivid dreams. Also, sometimes I’ll just have a vivid image come to mind that gives birth to a story. I “saw” Jenni standing on her doorstep in her pink nightgown staring at the tiny fingers of her zombified toddler pressed under the front door and that was how As The World Dies was born. Once in awhile, I’ll hear a conversation start up in my head (yes, I have voices in my head), and I’ll turn my attention inward to discover characters discussing their story. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, being a writer is just a way of being legally insane.

Rain Graves

Rain Graves has been published in the horror fiction genre since 1997 professionally, but she’s best known for her poetry books, The Gossamer Eye (2002 Bram Stoker Winner) with David N. Wilson and Mark McLaughlin, and BARFODDER: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes (2009 Bram Stoker Finalist), which Publisher’s Weekly hailed as ‘Bukowski meets Lovecraft…’

I get my ideas from real life horror; crime. Sometimes it’s as subtle as watching a cat toy with a bug and toss it around before killing it. Other times, it’s terrible news stories like the Fritz Lieber trial, or good old fashioned unsolved mysteries, like the Black Dahlia or Jack The Ripper.

Mark Henry

Mark Henry writes just about everything, from horror comedy to young adult fantasy to erotica. His novels include the Amanda Feral trilogy, Happy Hour of the Damned, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies. His first short fiction as Daniel Marks will be published this month in the young adult anthology, Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love. Check out Mark’s snark stylings at www.markhenry.us.

Where do I get my ideas? That’s a hard question and one I don’t get very often, which puts me in the minority. I think people are worried about how I might answer, like I roll up out of the gutter to do my author events and those damp spots on my clothes might be urine or vomit or…worse. Understandable considering my horror-comedy series is pretty vulgar and very dark. But, oddly enough, I’m not out plumbing the depths of bondage dungeons and funeral home foam parties to put together a story. The answer is simply, the ideas come from EVERYWHERE.

Regardless of whether I’m writing about zombies or vampires or sex-changing demons, I try to infuse the stories with all the little horrors of everyday life. It’s not unheard of for me to sit around in cafes and write down eavesdropped conversations, or draw out people’s horror stories about pus extraction or relationship decay. That shit is perfectly decent fiction fodder, in my book. Food Courts, newspapers, gossip blogs. Books. Reading is a big one. Though I’m rarely inspired by my own genre. I am inspired by “perfect sentences.” Those stretches of words that are themselves self-contained stories. Vonnegut owns my favorite. But I’ll keep it to myself.

Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, and Withersin. His new book, Fungus of the Heart, comes out in October. Feel free to visit his online home at www.jeremycshipp.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JeremyCShipp.

My creative fire is predominantly enkindled by those beings who elicit a potent response in my organs, from the man who bolts toward my car pointing a handgun at my head, to the kitten who dies in my arms, to the zombified Smurfs in my dreams, to the wife who calls me just to say she loves me. I also find myself reacting creatively to the goings-on on this planet. I make an effort to keep my finger on the weakening pulse of civilization, and I am sometimes heartbroken, sometimes touched by what I learn. All of these people, all of these experiences funnel into me, reflect off the funhouse mirror in my soul, and transform into ideas. The ideas, then, shoot down my right arm, and squirt out of my fingers, octopus-style, and I write and I write until my brain implodes and I have to sleep for a while.

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Filed under: The Writing Life — Tags: , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 6:38 am