Yesterday, Daniel Humphreys released the second book in his popular zombie fiction series, A Place Called Hope. He stopped by the blog here to answer a few questions about the book and series:
Zombies have been all over the media these last ten years with a lot of books, comics, films and tv shows. What inspired you to write zombie fic?
I’ve been a big zombie fan since I was a teenager. Most of the stuff available back then was camp horror. I saw the Night of the Living Dead remake with Tony Todd in the theater and it blew me away. When I got my first Kindle, many of the first books I got were zompoc.
How does your take differ from what else is out there?
My books don’t really ‘start’ until almost a decade after the end. That’s unique in the genre – even The Walking Dead, after 8 seasons and over hundred comics issues, is only a few years after the end. A book without survival is not the type of story I’m interested in reading or writing, so starting from there the obvious question was, what next? What sort of society do we rebuild out of the ashes, and what are the mechanics of survival? In a sense I was inspired by some of my favorite books – Paulsen’s Hatchet, Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold, and Stirling’s Dies The Fire. The story elements are as various as can be, but they all have a core of people enduring and surviving against impossible odds, using their wits and whatever tools they can craft.
Did you expect A Place Outside The Wild to become such a success (and to receive a Dragon Award nomination)?
Not at all, being honest. I figured it would be years before I’d have any sort of tangible commercial or critical success. I’m not at the ‘quit the day job’ stage yet, but I’m closer than I thought.
Does A Place Called Hope stand alone or should a new reader check out the first one before delving into it?
The new book is for the most part stand-alone, though character personalities and actions are obviously informed by what came before. ‘Wild’ was very epic in terms of scope; there were half a dozen POV characters. Hope tells a much more focused story, with only two plot threads – a flashback scene involving an entirely new character, and the core expedition that mainly focuses on Pete and Charlie from the first book.
Tell us a little about your protagonist and what A Place Called Hope is about.
The new character, Sandy, is a doctor trying to survive on foot and alone in the months immediately after Z-Day. His story arc was interesting because it gave me a chance to explore a part of the world that I’d only referred to in the first book. His journey from the beginning of the book to the point where his storyline intersects with the main plot thread was a blast to write. Pete is always fun – he’s a grouchy, retired Marine who returned to the military at the end of the first book, and now he has to lead an important mission to the other side of the country. Charlie is a survivor and scavenger, and one of Pete’s friends. He is one of the only people known to be immune to the zombie plague, which puts him in an interesting position considering that the survivors from the first group are now in contact with the remaining element of the military and government.
How many more books do you have planned for the series?
I’ll be wrapping up the series with the third novel, though I don’t make the mistake of never saying never. There’s always the possibility for more, but this storyline will be resolved in the third book.
Your other work is about a paranormal investigator / ghost hunter. Was it difficult to transition between sub-genres?
At first. It takes a couple of chapters to shift gears, either way, but focusing on one work at a time helps, for sure. I will make notes of ideas for plot elements and add to the outline of other works, but for the most part I like to focus on one project at a time and avoid distractions.
What’s next for you?
When I finish Night’s Black Agents, the second Paxton Locke book, I’m going to start researching and writing a weird western I’m calling Tombstones. It’s a ‘sidequel’ to the Paxton series (George Lucas ruined the “p” word) and there will be a tease as to who and what it involves at the end of Night’s Black Agents. I’ve had this story in my head for a long time, and I’m excited to get to it.