Zomblog: Your novel has a lot of references to app development and technology. Do you have any experience programming?
Eric: No I don’t, unfortunately when I was in college (read: I’m old) studying design we were still laying things out by hand. We had pencils, paper and drafting tables. Cell phones weren’t bricks, but they sure as hell weren’t sophisticated enough to run apps and the internet was a dark and scary place. As the web has expanded into our everyday lives I’ve toyed with the idea that I should go back to school for web / mobile application development, so I’ve tried to keep myself up to date with what’s happening in those fields. Mobile technology fascinates and horrifies me as well. I also needed Jeff to be rich, ok not just rich, but super stinking filthy rich and the people who are, or are becoming super filthy rich are those developing new systems and applications in the technology field.
Zomblog: If not, what are you basing the “coding” references on?
Eric: I’ve amassed a large number of (rss) feeds that I subscribe to that are all technology based, I also have several books on web application development as well. I really have a love hate relationship with design/technology so I have a ton of source material at hand.
Zomblog: Jeffery Sorbenstein is an acquired taste. He is such a bigheaded ass I can’t help to love him, but what about everyone else? Do you expect some negative feedback in regard to his character?
Eric: The funny thing is that I don’t worry about that aspect at all. I loved writing Jeff. After I had finished the first draft of the novel I let it sit for a while, I went back and read it again with other readers in mind and I still loved Jeff. I popped it out to a few Beta readers and they all loved to hate Jeff. I guess I don’t see him as an ultimately unlikable character. I see him as the truest expression of how people act when given a nearly unlimited supply of time and money. If you’re foolish enough to think that having access to money and more importantly all the free time in the world doesn’t change you…well sorry folks, but it would. And I’m not saying that everyone with money changes their tune, but let’s face facts, you read more stories about the asshole billionaire than the lovable philanthropist.
Zomblog: Since we’re talking about Jeff, what motivated you to make such a dislikable character?
Eric: To expand on my other answer and hopefully not give anything away: I needed Jeff to be as selfish, childish and seemingly cold as he could be. Think about it from his perspective. You’ve struggled, fought and done things that you knew, absolutely knew, were not the right things for you, because you thought they would further your career and help you escape the idea of class stratification you’ve fallen (or been born) into. Those decisions change you. He also needed to be cold and calculating, selfish and razor focused to do what he does in the end.
Zomblog: But now that we’ve established that, I have to say Jeff did have his moments where his inner dialogue or actions created a small sense of redemption for his jerk-ness. Did you have to add those moments intentionally or did they come naturally?
Eric: No, those moments came totally out of the blue, it’s just who Jeff is. The way that I write, in first person narrative, (almost 99% of the time) is really a way for me get inside the heads of these characters and explore what it is that makes them human. It’s very method acting like, where you assume the character and try to become the character. I tried to immerse myself inside Jeff’s head and figure out what he was really like. Not the highly polished, media image of Jeff. Not the monster he had become, but the real human underneath. The guy that did have common experiences with other people, the guy that could relate to an average Joe and the guy that you’d like to go to a bar and have a drink with.
Zomblog: I’m not going to give anything away about the novel, but I (and I’m sure some of your readers) might feel inclined to think there could be a sequel. Is this a totally outrageous notion or is it a possibility?
Eric: In all seriousness, no, I highly doubt there could ever be a sequel. It’s sort of surprising to me that you would ask. There might be a supplemental story line or two in the future, one that focuses on Kel or Scott –maybe on what really happened, etc. But the end of the book is the end of the book.
I will say this-there will be a reediting so that I can go back and clean the text up as much as I can, I’ve also secured a proof/copy editor for my next book and I want him to take a look at “This Is The End” as well. I may have it reformatted, and the cover tweaked a bit but as to a definite sequel, nope.
Zomblog: What has your experience with self-publishing been like so far?
Eric: Rewarding and frustrating. There were so many ideas that I had come up with that would have made “This Is The End” a very unique book. I wanted multiple layers of content in multiple media formats for the reader to consume. But I’m also a working class guy, which means that money is tight, so I had to forgo the majority of “extras” to get the thing out there in this form.
Creatively it’s very rewarding and the book has done better than I expected so I can’t say that my experience was at all bad. Frustrating, sure, absolutely bad? No.
I sort of have a theory that ebooks will only get rid of print (not something I really want, but it’s inevitable) when they begin to engage the reader in multiple forms of content and immerse the reader so far into the story they lose themselves in the world. Now, you may be thinking that writers do that all the time, but I’m looking at the future of consumers here and thinking, words on a screen, that’s not going to cut it.
Zomblog: Do you plan on self-publishing most of your works?
Eric: I have this debate internally everyday. Would I like a nice three book deal with a decent advance from a major publisher? Sure, any writer that writes wants that, and any writer that tells you something different is a liar. It’s like saying, “Yeah I would love to eat steak (or whatever it is that non-meat eaters eat) every night but I’ll settle for McDonalds.” Nobody wants McDonalds; it’s just cheap enough for people to afford it. You eventually come to like the taste of McDonalds if you eat it enough, but in the end it kills you. Horrifically.
So I’m shopping the next novel, but I’m still looking into ways that I can put out a really awesome self published book as well.
Zomblog: I see you’re going against the 99 cent trend most indie (especially independent zombie) authors follow. What’s with that?
Eric: A long time ago I looked into the 99 category on Amazon. I really thought, well, I would rather have readership versus sales. I then grew up quickly. I would never, and I know how this sounds and so I’ll try to explain it, never buy a 99 cent book, unless I know the author.
Cheap, to me doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad, don’t get me wrong. There’s a literal shit ton of great indie authors selling their great books out there for cheap. But then there’s what I call the 99 cent Amazon slush pile. How the hell is your book (or my book) going to compete with the amount of bad press/reviews/negative perceptions you see following the slush pile around? It’s not.
So I went with what I thought was a fair price for the story. Because that’s what you’re buying when it comes to digital. The story. You don’t have physical ownership over the work like you do with a printed article. There’s no permanence to an ebook. I looked at what top tier zombie/horror/spec-fiction writers were charging and then what I thought the story was worth and sort of wound up in the middle. People haven’t complained yet and so what if it doesn’t move 10,000 copies? It can move 5000 over a broader time frame and it means more, because if you’re shelling out 5.00 or even higher for an ebook, you’re probably going to invest more of your time to read it. Then you’re even more likely to pick up the next book from that author and so on and so forth.
Zomblog: Is your ultimate goal to be a fictional writer or do you have a day job you’d rather pursue?
Eric: Yes. Absolutely. I have done a number of things creatively and yet I’ve always been a writer deep inside. I was either playing shows with bands or doing this or doing that and never had the time to really focus my attention on it. But I’ve been writing my whole life, I’ve never shared much of it though and never thought I would. But since I’ve done other things, pursued other creative endeavors I sort of became fearless and just said “Fuck it. I’m going to seriously pursue this now and piss on anything else.”
There isn’t anything I would rather do. I do have a day job and I happen to enjoy that as well, but ultimately my goal is to at least make a living writing.
Zomblog: What are you working on now?
Eric: I’ve just finished the first draft of another full length novel entitled “One Fine Day,” which is about the devil getting a day off and then having to save the world from zombies and a rebel fallen angel.
I’m also planning on starting two novellas that will almost certainly be self published one about zombies tentatively titled “The Lazarus Effect,” the other one titled “Eton Place” which will, I think, be a more traditional supernatural thriller.
I have a regular full fledged zombie apocalypse book/trilogy I’m working on called “The Church” as well. None of them have publishers yet and I’m working on shopping them around. So I’m busy for now.
Zomblog: Now for the mandatory question—you look out the window and there’s a fight raging in the streets. They’re obviously zombies. What’s your plan?
Eric: Put pants on. I can not stress the importance of pants. Then quickly make sure the house is relatively secure, grab my bug out gear and make a few calls if cell phones/phones are still working. I have a wide expanse of friends, many of whom share my passion for zombies and zombie/survival preparedness.
It also helps to try and assess if it’s just a localized outbreak or not, chances are it’s not local, but definitely asses the situation as much as I can through the relative safety of my home for the first hour or so. Again this all depends on the severity and numerical superiority of the zombie horde.
I also want to find out if there’s any information on how the outbreak occurred. It doesn’t make much sense running out the door right away if the contagion is airborne or if a “terrorist or some other threat” has managed to weaponize an airborne biological contaminant. You probably have a few hours or so to figure that out. From there, if I can’t ascertain any discernable information and its all rumor, just say fuck it, grab the people I love and go.
Other than that… I can’t really tell you, because it’s about survival.