Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guest Author: Walter Greatshell

Greetings to my fellow Enduring Romantics!

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Walter Greatshell here. Since Halloween is fast approaching, our host Kimber An has graciously invited me to share a few thoughts about writing.
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Why me? Well, I am the author of the Xombies series of novels: Xombies: Apocalypse Blues, Xombies: Apocalypticon, and the upcoming third book in the saga, Xombies: Apocalypso. I also have a short story, The Mexican Bus, in the just-released zombie anthology The Living Dead 2, as well as a non-zombie novel due out this December, a sci-fi psychothriller called Mad Skills.
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How do I come up with this stuff? Why do I come up with this stuff? Am I warped, twisted, sick in the head? Sure, but that has nothing to do with it. The fact is, when you spend years working at mind-numbing jobs for low pay, you have to do something to keep yourself sane, whether it’s Sudoku or fantasy football. I chose to create fantasy worlds that I could escape to during those long, uneventful graveyard shifts. Eventually my fantasies took on a life of their own, demanding that I write them down.
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It’s something I’ve done all my life. When I was a little kid, my best friend and I used to reenact all the Godzilla movies we loved and then improvise sequels and spin-offs involving new characters we created. We made monsters out of papier-mâché and wrote up complex stage directions and cast lists. When my friend got a Super-8 camera as a Christmas gift, we started making actual movies, and that was even cooler…but then my friend moved away, taking his camera and projector with him.
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Since I couldn’t afford a camera of my own, I began to write. First short stories, then articles and reviews for the newspaper, and finally books.
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My first novel, Xombies (2004), was a crazy quilt of everything I ever read, from Candide to I Am Legend to True Grit to On the Beach to the Bible and Greek mythology to Native American folklore. That was the whole point—I was deliberately subverting what I felt was a stale genre marketplace. I believed and still believe that pulp fiction is literature, and that authors should experiment, follow their passions, take risks. It’s tough in this hypercommercial environment, but you have to do it. And just as I prefer satiric-minded movie directors like Stanley Kubrick (dead) or the Coen brothers, my literary idols are folks like Mark Twain (dead), Kurt Vonnegut (dead), Ken Kesey (dead), James Dickey (dead), Shirley Jackson (dead), Charles Portis (?), Thomas Berger (?), and even the comic artist Bob Fingerman (very not dead), who has recently started writing novels (Bottomfeeder and Pariah) that are as disturbingly funny as his comics.
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In recent years there’s been a whole new wave of horror maestros like David Wellington (Frostbite), Nate Kenyon (Sparrow Rock), Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero), Joe Hill (Horns), and Justin Cronin (The Passage), all of whom are doing their part to keep the form interesting. Then there are all the new women superstars like Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer, or Suzanne Collins, whose Hunger Games series is probably the most shocking and subversive YA I’ve read in a long time, God bless her. All these people inspire me…and give me something to aspire to.
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In fact, while I’m waiting for the trick-or-treaters to arrive, I might as well work on my new book. It’s just so hard to concentrate. Those candied apples look so tempting, so red and shiny, but it wouldn’t do to bite one—definitely not. They’re for the children…only for the children.
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Shhh, I can hear them coming now.

1 comment:

Kimber An said...

I love Science Fiction spins on old monsters!