As a fan of zombie and apocalyptic fiction I was so excited when author Craig DiLouie agreed to an interview. His book The Infection is one that is on my TBR list and lucky for me the Dallas library has been great with bringing in most of the books I’ve requested that aren’t in stock. The Infection is one of those books I’m waiting on. It’s currently on order so as soon as I get my hands on it I’ll be sure to devour it like a zombie does brains. Everyone say hi to Craig and be sure to check out The Infection.
Craig please tell us about yourself -
I’m a middle-aged guy with a lovely wife and two small children. I have a successful technical writing business, and have been living a dream in seeing my fiction achieve success, an experience that has been truly humbling. In short, I’m a very lucky guy and try to take nothing for granted. The funny thing is I am this extremely calm and content person, but I’m often imagining the end of the world. Your readers can learn more about me and my work at www.craigdilouie.com, where I also interview other authors and review apocalyptic books, movies, TV shows and film shorts.
Please tell us about your newest book The Infection? -
My first zombie novel, TOOTH AND NAIL (www.infectedwar.com), tells the story of a platoon of U.S. infantry deployed in the middle of New York City during a global pandemic of a disease that gradually turns a percentage of its victims into violent, mindless, rabid automatons.
In writing it, I tried to answer for myself, “What happened to the Army?” as realistically as I could. In many zombie movies and books, the military is portrayed as cannon fodder or pillaging maniacs, or they have already been overrun. In TOOTH AND NAIL, you as the reader are embedded with a platoon of soldiers dealing with the unthinkable–fighting the people they swore to protect on their native soil. I researched everything from weapons to radio protocols to small arms tactics to Army slang, and vetted it with a veteran of the 101 Airborne, to make the book as realistic as possible. The soldiers of TOOTH AND NAIL are scared kids, mostly, and struggle with the desire to go home to their families, the trauma of slaughtering civilians by the hundred, and notions of duty to a country that is collapsing. The grunts have the weapons, the organization, the training–but maybe not enough bullets, as the city’s population gradually turns against them. When the soldiers are tasked to get an important scientist out of the city, they must risk everything. For the boys of Second Platoon, the proverb, “War is hell” is about to take on a whole new meaning.
My second zombie novel, THE INFECTION (www.infectednation.com), is closer to AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD in scope and feel (but with many significant differences) that it tells the story of a small group of broken people who have lost everything and are trying to reach sanctuary. They team up with the crew of a Bradley fighting vehicle, which serves as a mobile fortress for them to scavenge across Pittsburgh. They call the Infected the living dead–people who are alive, but controlled by a virus–and call themselves the dead living–people who are surviving, but not really living. I wrote into this book my greatest fear, which is the loss of the people I love most. The characters in THE INFECTION have lost more than that–they have lost everything, and yet continue to fight to survive, even as they question why they are bothering. THE INFECTION has the same gritty realism and brutal action of TOOTH AND NAIL, but with deeper characterization and other innovations such as monsters that emerge among the Infected to add even more horror and unpredictability to the story.
Two book trailers for THE INFECTION are available to help you get into the mood for the apocalypse: http://craigdilouie.com/trailers/the-infection/.
Both books have sold extremely well in trade paperback, popular eBook and audiobook formats for horror fans who like their read bloody. We are in discussions to adapt THE INFECTION as a graphic novel.
Can you give us a scoop on the next book The Killing Floor? -
THE KILLING FLOOR, currently in editing and to be published/available in early 2012, picks up where THE INFECTION leaves off. In THE KILLING FLOOR, America’s far-flung military has returned home to wage a horrific war against its own country, engaged in a fierce battle to retake Washington, DC. Two hundred miles away, Ray Young, survivor of a fight to save a refugee camp from hordes of Infected fleeing the burning ruins of Pittsburgh, awakes from a coma to learn he has also survived Infection.
But this is no miracle. Ray is not immune. Instead, he has been transformed into a superweapon that could end the world. Or save it.
Check in at www.craigdilouie.com or friend up with me on Facebook to stay tuned for the final announcement about the release date. Two book trailers for THE KILLING FLOOR are available to help you get ready for this book: http://craigdilouie.com/trailers/the-killing-floor/.
Zombies, horror, the apocalypse what about this appeals so much to you? -
That’s a good question. The end of the world is a fascinating idea–the idea that something terrible is happening to everyone at once, and we are all in the same boat. For me, zombies are simply my favorite form of apocalypse. During a zombie apocalypse, the familiar becomes unfamiliar, everybody you know and love suddenly turns against you and is hunting you, and you must interact with and suddenly trust total strangers to stay alive. The potential for storytelling is almost limitless.
How did this love for the genre start? -
I’ve always been fascinated with the end of the world. I think when I was younger, part of it was an innate desire of young men to be tested. Of course, one does not actually want the world to end, but wouldn’t it be great to not have to work, pay bills, deal with the same old routine? To start new in a simpler world tested by an enemy over which you would have many advantages? That was then. Now that I’m older, for me it is more about the fear of losing the people I love most–for me, that is the greatest horror I can imagine.
When I was younger, I read a lot of science fiction, occasionally apocalyptic books like LUCIFER’S HAMMER. Then I read two zombie books–THE RISING by Brian Keene and DEAD CITY by Joe McKinney, and loved them. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else. If the bookstore had a horror section at all, it usually offered a choice of funny or sexy vampires, and Stephen King. Then I discovered authors such as David Moody and pioneering small presses such as Permuted Press, who sold primarily online, and the genre opened up to me as both a reader and a writer. So I started writing a novel I always wanted to read: TOOTH AND NAIL, a story about the end of the world told from the perspective of the soldiers who fought to save it. Now, of course, there are dozens of zombie novels available to genre fans–even from big publishers, and some are quite good.
What are you reading now? -
I just finished SPARROW ROCK by Nate Kenyon, AFRAID by Jack Kilborn and THE EERIE ADVENTURES OF THE LYCRANTHROPE ROBINSON CRUSOE, a mashup by Peter Clines–the author of EX-HEROES. While I’m struggling to get through ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead, I’m taking a break to read LAST STAND IN A DEAD LAND by Eric S. Brown, who is probably the hardest-working writer in zombie fiction next to Jonathan Maberry.
What is your work space and working routine like? -
I have a great home office–a second floor bedroom in our home converted into office space for my wife and me. It gets plenty of daylight. Since my computer kind of serves as a workplace/TV/game console/social interaction space for me, I have the best you can buy. During most of the day, I write about the lighting and electrical industries as a journalist, educator and marketing consultant. At night, after the kids are in bed, I start writing about the end of the world.
If the zombie apocalypse broke out tomorrow, would you be prepared? -
I’m not sure one CAN prepare for such a thing. You would have to be completely self-sufficient. That is very hard to do. A weapon and a bug out bag are not enough. Only an extremely rare breed would actually survive a real zombie apocalypse, especially if the zombies were the fast kind.
Zombie novels often tell of the extremes the best and the worst in people come out, after all your writing and research any clue as to why people are the way they are? -
Another good question. I study human responses to stress as part of research for my writing, and found out some interesting things about human nature–most of which has to do with the fact that we are herd animals:
1. People are conformists who will change their views of reality to conform and fit in with others, as confirmed by the Asch Experiment.
2. In a crowd fleeing danger, most people will pushing and shove to be in the middle of the crowd, where they will feel safer.
3. In a sudden crisis affecting a small group of people, other people, judging things safe for themselves, will stand there not doing anything until somebody tells them what to do. This is called the Bystander Effect.
4. A majority of people would do an evil thing if ordered by a credible authority figure, as shown in the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s Experiment.
5. The human body reacts to extreme stress outside of conscious decisionmaking–”fight or flight.” This is why soldiers would have an extreme advantage over zombies in a fight–not so much for their weaponry, but because they are trained to handle extreme stress.
With the changes in the publishing world do you think authors have a much harder time in getting the word out about their work or less so with the access to places like twitter and blogs etc? What has your own experience been like? -
The digital revolution has democratized publishing and marketing. In other words, it is now easier than ever before to get a book published and promote it. For my own work, I was able to find small presses willing to take a risk on me as a new author, produce quality book trailers at a small expense, and promote my work through social media, blogs and websites. I’m old enough to remember the old days before the Internet/digital publishing revolution. Back then there were no social media, few small presses, no eBooks, no websites/blogs, no book trailers. If you wanted to get published, you had to mail query letters to publishers who would send you form rejections after 3-9 months. If you got published and wanted to promote your work, you had to buy a publicity directory and subsequently deal with magazines and newspapers who would ignore you. It was total crap trying to get published. Self-publishing had a huge stigma associated with it back then–it was called “vanity” publishing. Now that has all changed. Today, a guy like me can write a book, see it published without an agent, promote it through blogs and websites and social media and book trailers, and sell more than 10,000 copies of it in a year. That’s an amazing thing.
My thanks to Craig for an awesome interview. Pleasure to have you on the blog and I hope you’d be willing to come back again.