Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joshua Cook, AiZ, Alice in Zombieland

AUTHOR: Joshua Cook
BOOK TITLE: AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga)
BUY LINK: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/172653
GIVEAWAY?: I’ll giveaway three digital copies of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) through Smashwords.com


What gave you the idea for this particular story?
The seed for the overall idea of a gated zombie community, like Zombie A.C.R.E.S., came from jokes made while working on a department store freight team. There was a small group of us that had some geek inside and we would talk about zombies and toilet humor. One day we combined these two things into jokes about living zombies in suburbia. One day Bob Zombie is out mowing the lawn and off goes a leg or something.

I have always wanted to do something to entertain and help people (or maybe just too lazy for a real job, I’m not sure), so I took these ideas and began to run with them. Instead of the jokey tone we were giving these creatures, I thought this world would be a much harsher place than happy suburbia. It would be much more like the real world - Evil and greedy people looking out only for themselves.

Once I decided to sit down and try to write these ideas I had into stories, I instantly knew the focus had to be on survivors. The only thing that sets a zombie flick apart from the crowd, especially these days, is a strong survivor tale. The monsters outside are all the same, but the monsters inside the living are different. When we are backed against a wall, what will we do? I took this idea and just went one step at a time until this small section of the story was finished.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Unfortunately I would have to admit that I am only a part time writer at this time. I thought once  my first book was published I would go straight into the next, and that was the plan. But as real life tends to do, things changed and I became the father to a beautiful baby girl. I now need more immediate income, so I am starting a blog tour company through one of my sites, FreeBookDude.com. I am happy to be able to help other authors through the massive networking and experiences I have had, but there is a piece of me inside that hurts and misses writing. I will write again, but  not until finances are a little freer.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
My usual answer has always been that I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child, and I think that is mostly true. My memory has always been terrible and I think that’s because my mind is always somewhere else. I never live in the now, but I digress…

I remember wanting to write when I was very young. I also tried writing a few times when I was a little older, probably early junior high. I also thought I could be a radio personality, a comedian (with social anxiety?) and a handful of other things to entertain people. Then real life set in and all that took a backseat until recently. So I guess the short answer made long is I think I have always wanted to make people happy and entertain them.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I always find this a bit of an odd question. There are many forms of pop culture that want you to walk away thinking about the world around you or some big message. There are other ones that are simply there for entertainment, and I feel that is where AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) falls. I didn’t write the stories to teach my readers something. I want them to spend an hour or so in this world I created and just have some fun – a Popcorn Book, if you will.

With that being said, it was pointed out to me that there are some things to take away from the story, even if they were not intended. My feelings on things like marijuana, corporate greed and the prescription drug industry do come out, but these are not intended as something to take away. No writer can ever write a story without pouring themselves into it somewhere.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Zombie A.C.R.E.S.  is my only published work right now (AiZ and a flash fiction short in 100 Horrors). I have some other ideas that span horror, drama and even a parody and children’s series idea with my girlfriend. I’m not sure when or if any of these ideas are going to see the light of day, but I want my career to be more diverse than just horror and zombies.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
People don’t realize it, but writers, no matter what level they are at, have to go through and deal with a lot. The hardest thing to writing for me is the focus. I can barely stay on the same topic for more than a few minutes before I get bored. When I write, I have to completely immerse myself into this other world. I can’t do that when I am worrying about my daughter, bills or anything else. That’s why I have to put fictional writing on hold for a moment (I’m still freelance writing). Once I know money isn’t as much of a worry, I can put myself back into the worlds in my head.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Like I said, every writer pours themselves into each story they write somehow. Everything is based off something in real life, be it a news story or your trip to Starbucks this morning. Little things from my life formed some things in AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga). The characters of Heather Young and Sam Ashe are loosely based off an ex-girlfriend and a messy break-up. There are also some things referenced about their history that is based on real life events, like Heather’s dad pulling a gun on Sam.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Out of my three protagonists in AiZ, Sam Ashe is most based off me. Not just the relationship with Heather, but he is a horror geek and has been obsessed with zombies for a long time. I would think that put into the same situation, I would act similarly. I’m not a hero or anything, but when it comes to protecting my family, I will do whatever it takes.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Nope. I know that right thing to say, especially given recent events, is yes, but the truth is that it doesn’t bother me. I don’t think violent books, movies, video games or anything else cause violence. Stupidity, hate and the need to survive is what breeds violence. Violence and sexual scenes as entertainment are just that, entertainment.

What about your book makes it special?
My zombies can talk and think for themselves. My survivors and the world they inhabit are all realistic. People don’t try to be heroes, but when they must, most will choose to stand up and become one.

What is your marketing plan?
My marketing plan consists of me trying to get as many people to read AiZ as possible. I have done a couple blog tours and conventions to help promote this book. My girlfriend and I plan on hitting at least one local convention again this summer. Once people began reading Alice in Zombieland, word began to spread online. I also have Zombie A.C.R.E.S. Facebook and Twitter pages to help ensure a strong online presence.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Aside from the Facebook and Twitter pages mentioned above, there is also ZombieACRES.com, which will be posting new short stories as well as guest posts from other authors soon.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Be persistent. That is one of the best tips I can give anybody. When you really want something, never give up. If I would have listened to the naysayers and doubters, I never would have achieved a dream. I am a published author, and that is something they can never take away from me. Had I stopped listening to them years ago, I may have reached my dream sooner.

What’s in the future for you?
I am working on FreeBookDude.com and the new book tour company most of the day. I am also putting together a non-fiction anthology to benefit a children’s charity. For awhile now I have been fighting to be able see and spend time with my daughter. The way the courts treat and look at fathers is atrocious in America. This feeling has spilled into the general psyche of the people leading to many wrong ideas about fathers. Most of us are not deadbeats and want nothing to do with our children. We want to be fathers and want to be there ach and everyday of our children’s lives. To help highlight how much fathers do care about their children, I am putting together a series of true stories and essays on being a father. There are many indie authors already sign on to help out with this project and I am excited to show the world this side of fathers that people just don’t understand.

There is also a sequel to AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) coming and free stories at ZombieACRES.com. Those projects depend on clearing things out to find that focus I need, though I am expecting to have them ready sometime this year. 

Tell me a little about your book.
Alice in Zombieland is a story about family and love and testing what extremes you would go to for those that you care about… With zombies. It focuses on two separate couples – a sister duo and a young couple in love. The lives of these people are torn apart by the greedy actions of a pharmaceutical company CEO named Richard Roslun. Now they are thrown into a battle with the undead unlike anything ever seen before.

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