Alan Edwards is awesome. One of the first Indie authors I met when I started up all of this BLOOD SKIES nonsense back in April and a seriously disturbed individual (but in a good way, I assure you), Alan is the author of the zombie/fantasy novel Curse of Troius. Recently, I helped inspire Alan to complete the rough draft of the sequel, The Storm of Northreach, by offering him up with a suitable punishment should he fail to reach his deadline. (He would have had to go to see the new Twilight movie this November dressed as Edward…needless to say, Alan found motivation to finish his novel). Finally, Alan is also currently working on a modern zombie apocalypse novel entitled Waiting on the Dead (which, I promise you, is going to be some seriously awesome shit).
Alan: That’s funny – before I read this question I answered it on my blog. I have psychic powers! GET ME A FILET O’ FISH AND A LARGE FRY. Hmmm. Nothing. Guess I don’t get mind control. YET.
I write because I enjoy telling stories. I enjoy the process of crafting them, putting them together with random bits of stuff floating around in my head. It’s fun to create something, especially when it ends up being something that I’m really proud of. If I can make someone chuckle, or feel for a character, or not want to put the story down at a certain point – it’s a very gratifying feeling. I guess I also write just to have something left behind when I’m gone, a big “I WAS HERE” sign painted on a metaphorical bridge. It’s immortality of a sort.
Steven: So we know you love zombies…any chance we’ll ever see a different “monster” make its way into your work?
Alan: Most definitely. There are other monsters lurking in the Northreach books, some of whom will become more prominent. I have an idea for another fantasy horror story, one that would not involve zombies much if at all, but more of a gothic-style haunted house tale in a fantasy world. It’s in the early stages of thought right now, so we’ll see where that one goes. After that, who knows? I might leave horror behind for a bit and work with human monsters for a while. They’re the scariest ones of them all.
Steven: What’s the easiest part of writing for you? Don’t be shy.
Alan: Wow. That’s actually a tough one. When I know what I want to say, or have a good idea of it, then the whole writing process is easy. Everything just pours out onto the page, and in a lot of cases I find that I feel no big need to go back and edit it; it all just fits and says exactly what I want to say.
Steven: What part of writing makes you want to mow down innocent bystanders?
Alan: The times when I don’t know exactly what I want to say or I start second-guessing myself. Then everything gets stilted and awkward and it’s frustrating to even go back and edit those parts. It makes me want to just give up completely.
Steven: What are your favorite musician and song, and why?
Alan: That’s a tough one, because it’s hard to pick one. If I could only have one album by one artist, it would be Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, because that is one large, powerful, cohesive album. But a single song…man. Right at this moment I’ll go with Teardrop by Massive Attack, because it just started playing and I love it. It’s powerful, atmospheric, and emotional for me. It could also be I Stay Away by Alice in Chains or Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin or 15 other songs. Curse you for making me pick one.
Steven: What’s your favorite movie?
Alan: Hands down, no doubt on this one: Conan the Barbarian, the good one with Arnold, not the lame one where Conan sounded like he was from Brooklyn. The score, the action, everything about it hit me at the right age – I was 10 or 11 when I saw it for the first time and it just hit everything that my brain wanted more of. I still watch it often. So many little nuances and great touches in the film. It beat Star Wars for me, and made sure I went towards Fantasy instead of Sci-Fi. It’s still the greatest fantasy movie ever made, even better than the LOTR trilogy by Peter Jackson (because he ruined that for me with idiotic changes from the book and, well, I’d probably better not get started on that one).
Steven: Favorite book?
Alan: The Silmarrilion, by Tolkien. I love LOTR, of course, but the Silmarrilion to me was like a textbook, a history of a place and people that was so much deeper and intricate and layered than anything I’d ever read that wasn’t about the real world. The long doomed struggle of the elves against the greatest evil in the world, and the tragic fall of their kingdoms and the greatest heroes of their race – it is powerful to me. I love a good tragic feel in fantasy, from King Arthur and Camelot to Arnor in Middle-Earth – the story of the heroes who struggled and lost is a lot of times more interesting to me than those who win all the time.
Steven: What do you turn to for inspiration when the going gets tough?
Alan: I know I will never be the greatest writer in the world. But I also know I will never be the worst. I have a book that was published by an actual company that is so bad that I know I will never, ever, produce anything that lousy. I take it down and read it when I feel like everything I write is garbage. Then I feel better. For positive influence, I read Steven Erikson, Tolkien, Glen Cook, Steven Brust, and P.C. Hodgell. They didn’t have a lot of early success either, and I admire and enjoy how they write, which is generally in a way that isn’t mimicked by anyone else.
Also, the community of writers and self-published authors I’ve met on Twitter and blogs and things like that are a source of inspiration for me. Some I watch from afar and get inspired by their success, others are people that I respect and admire and get to interact on a more personal level for cheerleading and encouragement and feedback. I can’t thank those people (Kendall Grey, Jen Kirchner, and yourself to name a few) enough for that.
Lastly, I challenge myself by publicly declaring that I will do something by a certain date or suffer the consequences, like announcing that I’d reach 85,000 words in The Storm of Northreach by a certain date or I’d have to go to the Twilight premiere dressed in a Team Edward t-shirt with glittery makeup. A particularly diabolical and devious friend came up with that one. I wonder who THAT could have been.
Steven: Do you have any advice for any would-be zombie authors?
Alan: Wow, another hard question to answer. I guess I’d say this: while you don’t want to be predictable and boring, try to avoid the idea of making New and Different Zombie Type #8,354 as a way to differentiate your story. Zombie stories are compelling for their human element, not the Smart Zombie or the Mind-Controlling Zombie or that kind of thing. Make your human characters interesting and compelling. They don’t all have to be ex-soldiers and commandoes and policemen and all that. No reason why one of the heroes can’t be a pizza-delivery guy. Great zombie stories are about the people who are trying to survive, not the mindless beasts trying to eat them.
Steven: What are the odds of you not having to the premier of the new Twilight movie dressed like a teenage fan-girl?
Alan: Since I have the benefit of answering this AFTER I did what I needed to do to avoid that fate, I can say that it’s a dead mortal lock that I don’t have to. But I would have given the same answer beforehand. I believed I could do it, and I just needed to have the added pressure to make sure I did. Boy, am I glad it worked, because that would have been miserable.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions!
Grab a copy of The Curse of Troius at Amazon.com!
For more of Alan, check out his site Me and My Shovel.