Friday, October 25, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Devan Sagliani, author of Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde

Today I have the enormous pleasure of welcoming author Devan Sagliani to the blog as part of our Spook-tastic Halloween event! Devan is here to talk about his zombie-tastic novel , Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde, and share with us his favorite Halloween-y reads and spooky stories!

I really enjoyed reading Devan's novel and would recommend it to all zombie fans out there, especially if you enjoy The Walking Dead and classic zombie horror movies :) It's an awesome gore fun! 

I also have the pleasure of hosting a giveaway of Devan's awesome book, so be sure to scroll all the way down and enter! :) And great news - it's INTERNATIONAL! 

How would you describe Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde to those who haven't heard of it yet?

Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde is young adult adventure through a post apocalyptic zombie filled dystopia. It’s a travelogue, a thriller, with romance, suspense, and horror blended in. It takes off fast and just doesn’t slow down. Most people who come back to talk about the book with me tell me that they read it in a single sitting because they couldn’t stop reading. They also ask why it’s not longer and are surprised to learn it’s over 120 thousand words. With zombies, martial arts fighting, weapons, human sacrifice cults, bikers, Nazi’s, gangs, child celebrities, rock stars, cannibals, and constant mayhem it’s very absorbing.

What were the challenges in bringing this story to life? Did you have to do any research for your book?

I don’t feel like there were any challenges, past learning to sit down and write on a schedule. Zombie Attack really came from a special place, taking me back to the days when I was sixteen, just like the protagonist Xander Macnamara. I did work in a lot of different elements, which meant having to go back and make sure I got my facts straight. My first editor Patricia Bains helped a lot as well. She is amazingly meticulous! I’d be lost without her. By the time I finish a book I’m so completely engrossed in what I’ve created I tend to be really frenetic and eager to get it out. A good editor will let you do that, rush something out to appease you, but a great editor makes you wait while they help you work out all the kinks.

I took ideas and inspiration from a lot of different places. For example I had read an article in the L.A. Weekly years back about the psychoactive properties of Ibogaine and how drug treatment centers were using the plant to help addicts on their last leg kick heroin in Mexico by sending them on the longest acid trip of their lives. I was fascinated and saw a way I could work it in to the story that made sense to me, so I went back and studied up on it again. Then I went back again later and double checked what I’d written to make sure it was as accurate to the truth as possible while still blending into my fictional world. Generally I let the ideas flow and try to go back and do more research when I’m working on the second draft.

Can you share with us a few of your favorite quotes from Zombie Attack?

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Xander first meets the girl of his dreams, literally, Felicity Jane. She wanders out of the house to find him and his friend Benji swimming in the pool. Xander is surprised to see the girl threatening to kill him is his celebrity crush.
“What are you smiling about?” she fumed, turning on me.
“Nothing,” I said. “I just wasn’t expecting . . .”
“What?” she said fiercely, fear in her voice. “A girl with a shotgun?”
“A celebrity. I mean a reality television star. Guess we’re all on our own version of reality TV now.”
“If you’re trying to convince me not to shoot you,” she said, cocking her head to the side, “you are doing a really bad job.”

What are some of your literary inspirations? Favorite books/authors?

I was a literature major in college so I was exposed to a lot of different stuff. I read endless amounts of Shakespeare at UCLA, along with the rest of the classics, but I also got in a lot of commercial fiction. I didn’t watch television back then. I read books the way people watch their favorite sitcoms. For an hour or two I might read Steinbeck then I’d switch to Ginsberg or Hunter S. Thompson or JG Ballard. I remember one time I was stuck between reading Milton for one class, Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain for another, and Anne Rice for fun.

Maybe that’s why when it comes to the idea of picking a favorite author or book I have such a hard time. I like so many different styles of writing. Some of my favorite authors are Salman Rushdie, Brett Easton Ellis, John Steinbeck, Don DeLillo, J.K. Rowling, Michael Connelly, Tom Robbins, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, Harry Crews, Clive Barker, Jonathan Maberry, William Gibson, and Chuck Palahniuk. Crazy list, I know. I’d like to think they’ve all contributed to my style of writing in some way, and that I’ve learned things from reading their amazing work. Great authors get inside your head and make you think which is why great books change you. After you read them you’re never the same. My two favorite books of all time are The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie and Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. I could read just those two books over and over and be happy.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

First and foremost I set out to write a compelling story that readers could sink their teeth into and feel satisfied by when they were done. The novel shows young adults dealing with grown up problems in a world gone crazy. It explores themes like family, friendship, loyalty, love, sacrifice, honesty, and compassion. If there was a specific message it would be about coming together as people through hard times instead of turning on each other.

What is your favorite paranormal creature and why?

With so many wonderful things that go bump in the night this question turned out to be harder than I imagined. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness monster, unicorns, dragons, genies, and ghoulish demons are just a few of my favorite things. In the end I’m going to be boring and pick zombies. I can’t help it. Zombies are a symbol of the mindless times we live in and a metaphor for a dangerous world spinning out of control. They are not evil in and of themselves but are driven to unspeakable acts by some dark force inside them they cannot resist. They’re single minded of purpose and  totally committed to the cause. They never deviate or disappoint. They will not stop until they kill and eat you or you shoot them in the head. What’s not to love?

Halloween is almost upon us. To me that means horror movie nights with popcorn, tricks and (hopefully) stacks of yummy treats, and, perhaps most of all, the chance to scare someone and experience the thrill of being scared myself. What does Halloween mean to you?

October is definitely my favorite month and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Always has been. I just love this time of year. To me it reminds me of being a kid again, dressing up and going trick or treating, watching spooky stuff on television and reading scary monster books at school. I love everything about it right down to the endless varieties of pumpkin flavored treats that come out seasonally. Halloween is a time to explore the darker side of ourselves in a safe way, to dress up in costumes and indulge our deep seated thirst for gore and violence and mind numbing fear. What’s not to love?

Do you have any real-life spooky stories to share with us? Any supernatural experiences or blood-chilling encounters?

I have a pretty wild imagination and a love of the macabre so I’ve got armfuls of firsthand stories about haunted houses, ghost sightings and unexplained supernatural phenomenon like stuff moving on its own and apparitions and being visited by spirits in my dreams. I’ve been to a few amazing psychics as well for research on another book I am plotting out who just blew me away.

One very freaky event I can share happened when a friend of mine and I went to Las Vegas years back. When you live in Los Angeles it’s not uncommon to drive out to play slots and hit the clubs for the weekend. We got a cheap room with two beds at Bally’s and crashed for the night so we could hit it hard the next day. I had a wild dream I couldn’t wake up from about an evil old woman who lived in a house. She wouldn’t let any of the people in her house leave, including my friend. She was trying to kill us all one by one. It was very graphic and felt real and terrifying but I kept managing to slip away.

When I woke up my buddy was staring at the wall looking white as a sheet. I asked him what was wrong and he told me about this dream he’d just had about being trapped in an old woman’s house with me and a bunch of other people he didn’t know. He said she’d been trying to kill him. He described feeling like she was sitting on his chest, crushing the air out of his lungs to choke him to death. He said he woke up gasping for air and couldn’t shake the feeling of dread and cold the dream left him with.

We checked out after that and left. To this day I wonder why we both had the same exact dream and what it could mean. Spooky huh?

What are some of your favorite scary stories? Any favorite horror or thriller books/authors?

I’m a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe and have been since I first heard the Tell-Tale Heart as a kid. I loved that Michael Connelly wrote a thriller about a serial killer who has a killing ritual that invokes Poe’s work. The killer is nicknamed The Poet as a result. I read both books in that series as fast as I could.

As far as horror books go I still think The Witching Hour by Anne Rice is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read to this day. I remember being afraid to shut the lights off at night when I was too tired to go on with the book. The Witching Hour is right up there with Misery, which is obviously the scariest book ever written. No question about it. King is the master!

What's the scariest / most memorable horror movie you ever saw?

I used to love scary movies as a kid! It was all about the anticipation and the kill, getting caught off guard by a loud sound, feeling that lump in my throat, and my heart going so fast I could hear the blood singing in my ears. Soon I discovered I’d grown pretty thick skinned about it all. That’s around the time I saw the movie Jacob’s Ladder for the first time. To me that movie is absolutely terrifying. It’s psychological horror, being tortured over and over in your mind without control. What could be worse? In most slasher movies you die and it’s over but in this movie the nightmare just keeps going.

Fill in the blanks:

1) If I was magically transported back in time to the Dark Ages, I'd... become a monk and work day and night to preserve all those handwritten books and scrolls! Someone has to watch over them until the light gets turned back on.

2) I'm a pro at... wasting hours away on social media. I’m working on reining it in but I just love Twitter and Facebook too much to stop. Plus I meet the coolest people online.

3) I'm addicted to... the ocean. I hate being away from it. The longer I go the worse it gets. I just need to see it and put my feet in and breath it in. I don’t know how people who live far away cope without seeing the water. I’m not sure I could.

4) I'm scared of...heights. Snakes and spiders don’t really bother me so much but the thought of falling from a tall building leaves me paralyzed with fear and unable to breath.

5) The last book I faked reading was... Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. It’s my Finnegan’s Wake, which is the book before I pretended I'd read to sound cool. The truth is I own both of them and can't finish. One day I’ll at least read Eco’s book, I hope. I will never read Finnegan’s Wake. There’s no point in lying.

Last question: I'm super curious and I'm sure your fans are all wondering about it too: are you working on a new book now? If so, when can we expect it? Can you share some juicy details to keep our appetites going?

Yes! I am currently working on the sequel to Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde. I’m almost halfway done and so far it’s even more out of control than the original! It looks like it’s going to be longer too. Xander gets shipped off to run a civilian colony called Freedom Town near Barstow. Soon he’s battling bikers, nomads, and even factions of the military as he learns there is a bounty on his head and people lining up to try to collect it. Highlights so far include a house of ill repute that’s been turned into an outlaw paradise, a historical re-enactment town from the Wild West filled with actors, and a whole circus of zombie clowns. There’s also a hot new female character who might be a villain or a savior…or both?

If all goes well it should be out by or before February of next year from Permuted Press. They’ve been amazingly supportive and are really pushing for me to get it done so they can start promoting it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and for giving me this opportunity to connect with your readers. You’re the best.

Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde by Devan Sagliani

When 16 year old Xander's older brother Moto left him at Vandenberg Airforce Base he only had one request - don't leave no matter what. But there was no way he could have known that one day zombies would gather into groups big enough to knock down walls and take out entire buildings full of people. That was before the rise of the horde!

Now Xander is on the run, fleeing south to Port Hueneme to locate his brother with nothing but his martial arts training and the katana blade left to him. Along the way he'll have to fight for his life against other survivors, neo-Nazi's, outlaw bikers, gang bangers, cannibals, cult members, and a seemingly endless sea of flesh hungry zombies.

But Xander is far from alone. Traveling with him are Benji, a 12 year old comic book geek, and Felicity Jane, a childhood celebrity with wild mood swings. Will they make it together in one piece to the safe zone or will they become the next meal for a hungry horde of wild zombies?

Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde is filled with pulse pounding undead action from the very first chapter up until the bitter sweet end. From rock stars and celebrities to false prophets and miracle workers, this book has it all! The story takes off like a bullet and doesn't slow down until the last sentence. You won't be able to put it down!

2 copies of Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde (thank you, Permuted Press!)
RUNS TILL: October 31st
OPEN TO: Everyone - it's an International giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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