1. What do you prefer to write, stand alone novels or series?
Each has advantages and challenges. With standalones, you’re free to treat your characters as disposable, including killing off favorites. With a series, readers expect the same main characters to stick around for a while.
2. How has the digital revolution and the emergence of ebooks affected you as a writer?
Given me a career, pretty much. Even though I was published in mass market, most of the money went to the publishers and bookstores. Now I get most of the money because overhead costs are so low. That’s the practical reason. The artistic reason is now I can write whatever I want, with nobody holding veto power over my ideas except readers.
3. If the human race were to face an actual apocalypse, what do you think would be the cause of the apocalypse?
Collapse of the grid, for whatever reason—three low-atmospheric nukes over the continent could erase the US electrical supply. A massive solar flare could do the same job on a planetary basis. A coordinated series of terrorist strikes of key infrastructure points could also cause widespread outages. The problem is you need the power to fix the things that have broken, and you would now have to do that from scratch, and that would take years. From there, civilization does the rest of the job as we turn into raving, starving mobs.
4. Do you outline prior to writing your story, or do you work out the plot as you write?
I very occasionally outline, but mostly I just have a character and an interesting idea and go from there.
5. Where did you come up with the concept of zapheads in your After series and how are they different than traditional zombies?
Conventional zombies were well-represented in popular culture, so I wanted something that could change. The most boring thing about zombie fiction to me is that zombies remain the same and most plots devolve to the same place—a small band of survivors with guns. Zapheads are genetically and energetically altered so they begin evolving from their primitive states, so the threat is more than just getting eaten—it is being replaced as rulers of the planet. I had these big themes of transcendence and change which I am not sure I effectively communicated…but that’s how art goes.
6. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Just write constantly and finish what you start. If you can write a sentence, you can write a book.
7. Is there any subject that is off limits for you as a writer?
Plenty, but not for any prudish reasons. I try to cross multiple genres in my work because I read a lot of genres and like them. Some subjects just don’t interest me and I know I’d be bad at them, so I just do us all a favor and stay away.
8. How is your career as a primarily self-published author different today than it was when you were traditionally published early in your career?
For one thing, it’s now a full-time career and a small, international business. A self-publisher’s job is selling books, while someone with a book under contract has a job as a writer. A lot of people don’t recognize the distinction.
9. If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?
Stephen King, naturally. Although modernizing “1984” with George Orwell might be really cool.
10. If you could create a Mount Rushmore of the greatest authors in the horror genre, which four writers would you choose?
I’m going to leave off younger contemporary authors so as not to hurt any feelings. So King, Levin, Jackson, and Koontz.