Got another good one for all of you lovelies today: author David Moody (Hater, Autumn) has stopped by Book Rat to tell us about his zombie experiences -- both writing them and being one (on film...)
BR: There's this fantastic tension throughout Hater, even before chaos ensues - Danny's life reads really authentic and stressful and relatable, and it all unfolds into this craziness that makes sense in such a disturbing way. How much of a struggle was it to keep the tension? What was the process of creating Hater like?
DM: Hater was a disturbingly quick and easy book to write. I say disturbingly, because everything that happens in the book – the violence, the unease, the breakdown of relationships etc. – all seemed to flow naturally. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Danny was based on my situation at a particular time in my life. I found myself living in a house that was too small, with three kids I wasn’t expecting, doing an unrewarding job... some days I’d pray for the end of the world to come just to give me a break! I like to think that I broke out of Danny’s situation by getting off my butt and finding something better (whereas all Danny wants to do is sit and moan about how hard things are for him), and his situation in the book is the nightmare position I’d probably still be in today if I’d had that attitude. In my novels I like to write about ordinary people, not great leaders, politicians or square-jawed heroes. I think that makes it easier to ratchet up the tension. Not only can people identify with the characters, but the characters themselves also have no clue what’s happening around them. We share their confusion, bewilderment and fear!
BR: How did Danny come about for you, and the idea of Haters?
DM: As I’ve said, Danny was based on me when I was at a difficult time in my life. I guess he’s a character, to an extent – all my worst traits exaggerated! For a long time I’d toyed with the idea of writing a book which looked at what would happen if all the divisions we use to distance ourselves from others – sex, age, race, beliefs, sexual orientation, etc. etc. – suddenly disappeared or were negated. The only viable way I could make this happen was to introduce a new division, and what I particularly liked about the approach I chose was that this new divide knew no barriers. Suddenly you’re getting parents and children turning on each other, lovers being split apart, workers turning on their bosses and then on each other... For a while I struggled with what that divide might be. Then, in July 2005, suicide bombers struck London. One of the most chilling things I saw around that time was video footage of one of the bombers. He’d worked as a classroom assistant in a primary school, and I found it impossible to comprehend what could make someone who spent their time helping kids, suddenly decide they had to walk into a tube train with a bomb on their back with the sole intention of killing as many people as possible. That sudden, massive change within one person inspired me to come up with ‘the Hate’ which divides the population in Hater.
BR: Your publication story is a bit Cinderella-like; not minimizing your hard work, what was it like to publish online and have your work take off the way it did, with Autumn being downloaded like crazy and the rights to Hater being bought by Guillermo Del Toro?
DM: You’re right, it is a bit Cinderella-like, but I had to work for it. I had a book published traditionally back in 1996 and it bombed. I naïvely thought I’d be made for life once the contract was signed, but it didn’t happen! When I’d finished my second book, Autumn, I decided to try a different approach. I figured the most important thing would be to get the book to as many potential readers as possible, so I made it available as a free download from my website. The free download was a bigger success than I’d ever dared dream it would be. Over the years Autumn spread by word of mouth and grew into a monster. I wrote a series of sequels and then, in 2005, I left my job and started Infected Books, my own micro-publishing house. Using print-on-demand technology I was able to produce paperback editions of my books which were available from Amazon and most other online retailers. I kept writing, and kept publishing, and released Hater in Summer 2006. Within a couple of months I had Hollywood on the phone asking about film rights! I don’t know how they got hold of the book, but I’m glad they did! As a result of the film rights sale, I also landed a publishing contract with Thomas Dunne Books in the US for both the Hater books and the Autumn series (which are being released over the next 12 months, starting on October 26th).
BR: Your books are sort of not-zombie stories; they draw those comparisons, and have definite zombie influences and characteristics, but when it comes down to it, they aren't really zombies, they're your twist. What is it that draws you to this sort of story, and why and how do you set your "not-zombie" stories apart?
DM: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m fascinated by post-apocalyptic books and films. I struggle to get my head around the fact that, as a species, we seem to put our heads in the sand and go through each day assuming that everything’s going to stay the same. But it’s not. The population’s exploding, resources are running down... something’s got to give eventually. I like to ask questions with my stories – how’s it going to happen, what will trigger it, what will people do, what will I do?! I’ve also always had a fascination with zombies. They’re my favourite horror monster for a number of reasons, not least because they’re just another version of us. That kind of taps into the theme of Hater – a species divided: a different type of human. It wasn’t until I’d finished writing Hater that I looked back and realised that, in some ways, I’d written a zombie novel from the point of view of the living dead!
BR: You're working on the final book in the Hater trilogy -- any hint of what you want to work on next?
DM: The third book is (hopefully) almost done. It’s going to be called Them or Us and will be out late 2011. Apart from that, right now I’m snowed under with revisions for the Autumn books (it’s a five book series – four are written, one to go). I also have a few older books I want to return to soon. Too many ideas, not enough time!
Random Quickfire fun:
BR: Zombie name?
BR: Best Halloween costume?
DM: See above. [Or right over here...eewww --->]
BR: Worst Halloween costume?
DM: I’m a big guy with a shaved head and a permanently angry scowl (can’t help it – that’s just the way I am!). I look like I’m in costume as a horror movie heavy most of the time!
BR: Tips to surviving an encounter with a Hater:
Get in fast – kill them before they kill you. If you don’t attack first, you’ve had it. There are no second chances. But hold on, if you’re the first one to fight, doesn’t that make you the Hater?
BR: Reader Q: Giada wants to know: What is the first book you remember reading, and has there ever been a book that changed your life?
DM: The same answer to both questions! When I was around 10 years old, I found a copy of The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham in my school library (no idea what it was doing there – hardly appropriate for 10 year olds!). I read it, and it changed everything for me. It was the first post-apocalyptic tale I remember reading and I was totally hooked. The characters are so ordinary, and the situations so bizarre but also uncomfortably believable... it totally blew me away and it’s still my favourite book today.
Thanks for stopping by, David!
For the rest of you, make sure to check out Hater (it's excellent. And unsettling.), and make sure to stop back by tomorrow for an excellent Hater prize pack giveaway!
You can also follow David on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook!