I haven’t been blogging much this month because I’ve dedicated most of my writing time to editing my zombie apocalypse novel, Sam’s Town, and drafting its sequel, Sam’s Home. Today, I want to give you an update on how all that is going.
My editing of Sam’s Town is nearly complete. I am working through the wonderful comments given to me by a fellow author whose zombie knowledge, eye for sentence structure, and life experience as a young man (something I have never personally experienced!) have been invaluable. I have just a few chapters to go, so I may even finish up within the next few days. From there, my next steps will be to look at self-publishing options, procure a cover illustration (I’m hoping to commission an original work of art), and convert the manuscript from its current format into one that will work for publication. I am planning to release the novel as both an e-book, which I know some of my potential readers will prefer as more cost- and space-effective than a hard copy, and a paperback, because I don’t want to alienate those who don’t own e-readers.
Meanwhile, I have begun working on Sam’s Home, the sequel. Some have asked why I am not planning to combine the relatively short Sam’s Town (just over 50,000 words) and its sequel (which will probably be about the same length) into one novel. The main reason is that I have always thought of the pacing of my novels in terms of a movie. I think that if Sam’s Town were adapted into a film, not much editing would need to be done in order to make it a typical-length feature. I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s easy for me to wrap my mind around a film-like structure. Another, perhaps more important reason is that the ending of Sam’s Town brings Sam’s story to a place of equilibrium. His problems aren’t all solved, but he’s learned a major lesson, and there’s a moment of rest–a deep breath, if you will–before the events of the sequel.
Although Sam’s Home will continue with the themes (which I’ll discuss in a moment) and the style of Sam’s Town, there are a few differences. In the sequel, as in many sequels, the world gets bigger. In the first book, there were basically only six characters. In the sequel, while these six are still the focus, we meet a number of others who aren’t just background characters. Some of them are ill-intentioned, and this is another difference. Whereas in Sam’s Town, the antagonists were zombies and depression, Sam’s Home has some actual bad guys, which I think makes sense because we’re no longer in the opening days of the apocalypse. Bad guys have had time to organize. Another difference is that there are two concurrent plots. While Sam is still the main point-of-view character of one plot, for the other, we are inside the mind of Ramona, who has gone to Ohio to find her sister. It’s been fun for me to write from Ramona’s perspective because I didn’t do that at all in book one. Ramona has a number of superficial resemblances to me, but I’m finding out that we really aren’t that much alike (or maybe we are, and I’m in denial!).
Finally, for those of you who haven’t read or heard any of my novels or talked with me about them at length, I want to give you a little pitch for them, especially for you non-zombie fans. My novels really aren’t about zombies, though I hope that my obvious moments of homage to George Romero’s films and The Walking Dead will satisfy fans of the genre. My novels are about friendship, family, and mental health. I wanted to write about people who are woefully ill-prepared for the zombie apocalypse and show how, despite their clear deficiencies, they survive by taking care of one another. I see my novels as aspirational—not about the ugliness of human evil (though those books are important too), but rather about how we could treat each other if we valued each other. Value, or worth, is a major theme—Sam has to learn that he isn’t just a waste of space, but his life has meaning and is worth saving, even when he feels like there’s nothing he can contribute to the world. If that sounds like an important theme to you, I hope you’ll stay tuned. Sam’s Town is coming soon!