By Ethan Cross
The third book in the Z7 series, THE SIEGE OF SEVEN CITY, follows the citizens of a community of reborn zombies called Seven City. After the events of the previous book Seven City finds itself in bad shape, having lost one of their leaders and being exposed to the world. Now they will have to defend themselves as the people that fear and hate them prepare for an all out attack.
Tell us about THE SIEGE OF SEVEN CITY in one line.
The third book in my Z7 series, THE SIEGE OF SEVEN CITY is about a secret colony of former-zombies that are forced to fight off an attack when the outside world finally learns that they exist.
What kind of research did you conduct for THE SIEGE OF SEVEN CITY?
Since this was the third book in the series, I can’t really say that I did a lot of research for this one that I didn’t already do for the previous two. For them I had to learn some basics about microbiology and epidemiology to make the zombie virus a little more plausible (which is not the same as being scientifically accurate. I certainly had to fudge a few facts in order to get the virus to work the way I needed it to for the story). This book deals a little more with the political implications of a zombie virus than the previous books did, but because it is set in the future after the virus has already mostly run its course I was able to make up quite a bit.
Describe your typical writing day. How do you balance your writing with marketing, editing, plotting, and all other commitments?
I’m lucky in that I don’t have children, I’m not married, and my day job is only part time so I don’t have a lot of other things vying for my time and attention. I write an average of about two thousand words per day using a system of rewarding myself. If there’s something I want to watch or something I want to do, I allow myself a specific amount of time to do it before I have to stop and I’m not allowed to go back to it until I get a set number of words done. I usually do this for about a month or two at a time before I need to take a brake and recharge my creative batteries, which is usually the time I do most of my marketing, editing, prepping self-pubbed books, or dealing with my publishers for traditionally published books. As a schedule it can be grueling sometimes, but it works for me.
Do you have any marketing advice for your fellow authors? Any techniques that you feel have worked especially well for you?
The only thing I can say to people looking for advice is that you need to try anything and everything. We are at a point in publishing where everything is in flux. What works for you one day might not work the next because of myriad outside forces rearranging things in ways you can’t predict, and the things that work for one author might not work for another. Do a little of this and a little of that, and make sure you are paying very close attention to how it all interacts. Don’t be afraid to take chances with a new marketing idea because if you don’t do it someone else might, leaving them to reap the benefits instead. And when all else fails there’s always that one piece of advice that is constantly trotted out because it really is true—keep writing because the best advertising you can do is the next book.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
For a day job I’m a librarian, so my life really does revolve around books at almost all times. So there’s also lots of reading in there. Hobbies also include community theater, painting, and I’m an avid gamer.
As a reader, what are some of your personal pet-peeves? In other words, what’s your list of writing dos and don’ts?
I don’t understand why it’s so hard for so many books to pass the Bechdel Test. For anyone who’s never heard of it, it’s a really basic test that asks three things: 1) Are there at least two female characters who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man. Such a simple and seemingly inconsequential test, but the fact that so many books and movies fail it says some weird things about our society. So I try to make sure that everything I do at least passes this one test, and it’s surprisingly simple to do. Half the population is female, after all, so the book should reflect that unless there’s a compelling reason why you shouldn’t see this (a story set on the front lines of WWII, for example). And then, once you have those women in the story, flesh them out. Then they’ll talk to each other about things, really. It’s not that hard.
What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books/authors and who has had the greatest influence upon your own work?
The first and last parts of that question are the same: Stephen King. I’m reading Revival right now. I started reading him at the age of twelve, and a lot of things about his work such as his pacing, his dialogue, and his folksy way of telling a story have had a huge impact on me. Beyond him I would give a lot of credit to Neil Gaiman. Every single thing he writes comes off as a beautiful folk tale, even when he’s writing about things that are hardly beautiful.
What’s something that you’ve learned about the publishing business that you weren’t expecting?
It’s small. They can say there’s six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon and anyone else in Hollywood, but in publishing it’s more like two. If you don’t know a given person then you know someone else who knows them. This makes it important to always be on your best behavior, something I think some new writers don’t always understand. If you’re a jerk to someone, it spreads. If you treat them with respect, that gets remembered to, and you never know who’ll hear about it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring (or struggling) writers out there?
Be nice. It goes a long way.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got six more books coming out with Permuted Press over the next year and a half: the first two books in my urban fantasy series The Apocalypse Shift, two standalone science fiction novels, and a duology of horror novels with my own unique take on vampires. Beyond that I’m currently writing a novel about the urban legend of Polybius and working on edits for the first installment of a serial about a stranded mining colony on Mars. Somewhere in there I suppose I should take a break, too. We’ll just see whether or not that happens.
Derek J. Goodman is the author of the Z7 series from Permuted Press. When he is not writing he works as librarian in Wisconsin.