Welcome to IAB. I'm so glad you could stop in today to chat. May I offer you a beverage?
Although I wrote a zombie novel, I think I will have a Witches Brew; it sounds like the kind of drink that will sharpen my otherworldly senses and heighten my magical abilities. The Vampire Wine sounds too hoity-toity. The Zombie Blast sounds like it will depress me and make me sleep for days. The Magic Margarita sounds like a sugary novelty drink that will stain my tongue and make me do embarrassing things, after which I’ll wake up with a terrible hangover.
Now that we are settled in, let's get to know you better.
BK: Looking out the nearest window, describe the scene you see.
Like in the book, I am on the top of a hill and 900 feet above sea level. I am facing north and my street slopes steeply down to where I can see the coastal part of the city of Monterey and the bay itself. On the horizon are the mountains of inland California. It is a beautiful day here.
BK: Tell us about your office. Is it a mess like mine, or is everything in its place?
I don’t have an office. I did for a long time, but I ditched it when I realized I was effectively working in a storage room. I didn’t need any of the crap that was around me within arm’s reach. I then packed all my files and some software into a filing cabinet and moved it into my wife’s office. I have a laptop, iPad, and iPhone so I can work when and where I want to. I usually work at a Starbucks or at one of many locations around my house.
BK: What is a must-have, such as coffee or a favorite pen, that you need to write?
BK: Do you like to write in silence, or do you need music or background noise?
Doesn’t matter. Silence, if I had to choose one.
BK: Tell us a bit about your hero/heroine, and their development.
I based the hero in the book, Cooper, on my son. Personally, it was great because I missed him (he went off to college) and it was a way of being with him. A few years earlier, my daughter had also gone off to college and I wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t want to repeat that process again when my son left. It was great to have a hero that was young, very capable, but not yet worldly and 100% confident in all matters.
Now, the downsides of using my son as a main character were many. I am still glad that I did, but it created challenges for me I didn’t see when going in. First off, if you must know anything about me, it’s that I believe in being true to a character. A character has to act on their sense of right and wrong, their fears, and their values, etc. A pet peeve of mine is when a character is clearly the author’s puppet. So when it came to writing my son and not a fictional character, I immediately felt restricted. Instead of being in my character’s head, I found myself not wanting to think for my son and wondering what his reaction would be to what I had him doing in the book. Usually, worrying about what someone else might think is the last thing I do when writing.
When I finished the first draft and sent it to a beta reader and she’d read the first several chapters of the book, her first comment was that it seemed like the main character was just taking a stroll through the apocalypse. It was amusing and embarrassing because I didn’t see it. I was protecting my son in the fiction and I was blind to it. So I just deleted the first four chapters. I went through a mental process for a few hours (I think you call it daydreaming), where I changed the main character in the book from my son to a fictional kid very much like him. When I sat down to write the new chapters with the new character, it was easy and exciting. I could get absorbed; the writing flowed. In hindsight, I was also blind to the warning signs that something just wasn’t right. Those first chapters were much more of an effort to write and nothing happened in them. I also felt something nagging me the entire time I was writing. I knew subconsciously that the writing was flawed, or weak, but I just worked harder when I should have worked smarter. Thank God for beta readers.
It was also a challenge to not write about all the great things the main character learned from his parents, how awesome they were, and that his only regret in life was not listing to them more.
BK: As a writer myself, I'm always curious how other writers get through stumble blocks. When you find a story not flowing, or a character trying to fight you, how do you correct it?
I’m not sure what you mean, but I don’t believe the character fights the writer; it’s the other way around. I think letting a character be true to himself is what stumps a writer. It’s hard to let a mean character be mean if you are a nice person. It’s hard to accept when you need to rewrite a scene or setting because the character could easily foil you and defeat the conflict you laid before them. Characters are our pet rats and they will run like rats through the maze we create. If you leave a wall off the maze, the rat isn’t going to ignore that (without good reason), and the rat will be scurrying away faster than you can imagine.
If the story isn’t flowing for me, it is almost always a simple matter of not having motivating and immediate goals for a character—like getting to or away from something, overcoming something, or solving something. Just throw cruel crap at your characters; it’s your job. They may hate you in the short term, but they will thank you in the long run. You are their author, not their friend. Man, I wish I would have used that on my kids.
BK: Using the letters of your first name as an acronym, describe your book...
How fun! Lunatics Unleash Killer Epidemic.
BK: How did your writing journey begin?
When I was ten, I knew I wanted to be a writer after reading The Hobbit. Since then, I’ve written a bunch of fiction and never seriously tried to publish it. I started writing nonfiction about ten years ago. I learned a lot about writing by doing nonfiction, even though they are so different in many ways. Finally, I am ready to give my fiction the time and attention it deserves.
BK: Using the letters from the word, Summer, how would friends and family describe you?
Silly Unfiltered Merry Making Extroverted Recluse.
BK: What is the craziest thing you've ever written about, whether it got published or not?
I started work on a novel I didn’t think I could pull off because it is set in Victorian England. I don’t know enough about everyday life and the history of the time, so I would either have to do a ton of research or the writing would be so riddled with errors, it would detract from the story.
It was a weird tale about a group of various people, all down on their luck, more so than the average Victorian Londoner. These people are all empty and dead inside, some waiting to die, some contemplating suicide, some just shut down mentally and emotionally. They were also very parochial, there were many things they hadn’t done and places they hadn’t been in life. They are all brought together one by one by a young man known only as Joe. He brings the ten of them to a large courtyard behind a block of abandoned houses and explains his vision, a magical place for them all to live. He leads them in a massive cleanup of the courtyard and they start bringing in furniture and organizing things, tents and lean-tos where they can live. Soon, they are living an amazing life together in this camp. They are all quickly getting healthy and happy as Joe implements certain practices, normal things like eating well, practicing hygiene, and talking as a community. But the good escalates, and they are going from drinking wine and kicking off their shoes to drunkenness and nudity, and finally to orgies. They are getting noticed by the neighbors who either want to get in or want them jailed or driven away. The authorities want to shut them down, too.
One evening, one of the residences of the court murders a cop and brings the body to the court. Everyone is a bit shocked, but they all see the greater good of it and they dispose of the body by chucking it down a large sewer hole in the middle of the courtyard. They end up murdering more local police and several of the more vocal residents. Eventually, they are short on food and after having a lengthy discussion, decide to eat a victim. They become feared by the locals and start pulling off various crimes around the city, committing gruesome murders and acts of destruction. Joe didn’t manipulate them to do these things, but something surrounding life on the court is responsible for what is going on. There is a long, slow build from powerless people to a group of feared criminals who have convinced themselves that they really are doing good works. It is eventually discovered who the owners of the abandoned block of houses was, which has something to do with the effect the court has on the residents. That’s as far as I got.
BK: Tell us one thing you've done in life, that readers would be most surprised to know.
Probably how straight-laced I am. Despite the things I can read, watch, discuss, and write about, I am a nice guy. I can write about a serial killer, but I don’t like them or relate to them. I think they are nothing more than severely damaged people that do terrible things and need to be stopped. It bothers me when someone assumes that I think serial killers are just swell, but it makes me angry when I am approached by a sicko who looks up to these abominations with the assumption that I do, too.
BK: What can we expect from you in the future?
The sequel to Euphoria-Z is in the works. I have a thriller coming out and a sword and sorcery novella as well.
This or That...
Coke or Pepsi? Coke.
Night Owl or Early Bird? Night Owl, for sure!
Fantasy or Mystery? Uh…pass.
Pen/Paper or Computer? Computer.
Pizza or Burger? Burger.
Rock or Country? Rock.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla (I get the chocolate hangover).
Beach or Mountains? Beach, if I have to choose.
Thank you so much for having us as one of your stops today. It has been great getting to know more about you and your book, and hope you will come back when the next release is out (*hinthint*)
Wishing you much success!
Genre: Thriller/Zombie Apocalypse
Publisher: Luke Ahearn
Date of Publication: May 19, 2014
Number of pages: 409
Word Count: 118,099
Cover Artist: Steven J Catizone
Civilization shuts down as throngs of speechless hedonists fill the streets in deadly revelry. They feel only pleasure and never pain, even as they are injured, maimed, and mutilated. Few people remain in the world unaffected, left to witness the madness unaware that things are about to get unbelievably worse.
Cooper is among the few survivors of a conspiracy to depopulate the world. One week ago, college was his biggest concern. Now he is on a dangerous journey to find his sister as an ever-present threat of nightmarish proportions engulfs the world, throwing him in the path of some of the most malicious people that ever walked the earth.
The present, Monterey, California
“Fuck!” The wiry, gray-haired old man felt his eyes go wide with surprise, but he quickly got his shit together. Jasper scowled; now he was very pissed off. He might stoop and shuffle when he walked, but he didn’t take any shit.
Some big fat bastard was bear-hugging him from behind. He could see white mountains of wet flab before his eyes, and he smelled vomit. He felt a massive wet belly and man tits pressing against his back. Large folds of cold wet flesh engulfed him, and he shuddered at the sensation.
He hated hugs, especially from men, and hugs from big fat sweaty bastards were absolutely unacceptable. He carried his best spiked hammer, an old-school Craftsman from back in the day, before the gooks were making them. He was just itching to use it. The fat bastard was yelling something in his ear.
“I love you! I love you, man!”
“Ahhh, geez!” Jasper twisted out of the flabby cocoon and took a few steps back. What he saw disgusted him. It was a giant fat kid, a head taller than himself, who looked like a giant baby, all hairless and soft. The kid was smiling like an idiot, and that made Jasper even more pissed off. Food smeared the kid’s face and ran down his chins in greasy streams between his man tits and over his belly. All Jasper could think was that all that shit was all over his back. Now he would have to burn his shirt and take a long, hot shower.
The kid wore nothing but baggy white underwear soaked in sweat. Jasper shuddered at the clammy coldness on his back. His flannel shirt clung to him and felt like a cold, wet bathing suit.
“I love you, man!” The big fat kid smiled as he came at him for another hug.
“Ahhhh! Fuck you!” Despite his advanced age, Jasper moved with an efficiency and force that spoke of his many years as a carpenter. He brought the spiked hammer down on the kid’s skull, and it collapsed inward with little resistance. He liked the sensation of cracking a head but hated wasting the time to do it.
The kid dropped to the concrete like a wet sack. He was still smiling, which made cracking his skull less enjoyable. Jasper wished he could bash every asshole around with his trusty hammer. He looked around to make sure another shithead wasn’t looking for a hug.
A woman came at him, hooting so loud he could hear it over the crowd, waving her tits at him. He took her out too, with an easy smack between the eyes. He had enough of this shit. He cracked a few more skulls for fun, but he got bored. It was always the same: an easy tap to the skull and the moron dropped, still smiling.
The streets were crammed with people, and they were all acting crazy. Jasper just wanted to get home. It seemed everyone was congregating downtown, streaming in from the surrounding neighborhoods. People were walking in large groups, arm in arm, naked and clothed, dancing, running, and hugging. It all made Jasper sick, just god-awful sick.
He tried to go all the way downtown and almost got caught up in the crowd. People were pushing and jamming each other into doors until they cracked open. He heard the crash of large plate-glass windows, but no one reacted. In fact, he saw people just getting pushed through the windows in a wave. He could tell that people were getting seriously injured and killed, and he just wanted to get the hell out of there.
He left at the right time. The press of the massive crowd smashed and suffocated, ground and trampled, and killed many—and the party continued to grow. No one screamed in panic or pain. No one yelled for help or dialed 911. And no one stopped to offer assistance, an apology, or true human interaction of any kind. Everyone was bent on doing exactly what they wanted to do, and what anyone else wanted didn’t matter to them in the slightest.
In any place where people gathered for a good time, the crowds were thick. The mall was packed, but the hospital was empty. The wharf was so full that hundreds fell into the icy waters of the bay. The office parks and businesses were dark and silent. Some groups formed parties on random streets for one reason or another.
A large majority of the city was empty, devoid of people. Most left their homes and walked away, leaving doors unlocked and often wide open. They would join a group and wander away.
There were still a few souls hiding indoors who were anything but euphoric. They watched with fear and horror the goings-on outside their windows. Jasper had been one of these, but he needed his goddamned pills and had to drive through all this crazy shit to get them. Of course, when he got to the damn pharmacy it was closed. He had tried to call ahead, but no one answered the phone. He was pissed. He wanted nothing to do with this crazy shit. He didn’t want to see any of it and certainly didn’t want to walk through it. He saw quite a few people doing things he had only seen in his buddies’ dirty magazines. But there was one thing every single person was doing: smiling like a retard with a lollipop—every single one.
At first, he thought all the outlandish behavior was confined to idiots, kids, and queers. It had to be some new drug to get them this nuts, he thought. But too many people were acting bonkers, too many people who just didn’t fit the behavior.
He walked as quickly as he was able away from the crowd and back to his car. He’d seen some shit in his day, but in the last few the world had descended into pandemonium. There were reports that almost everyone around the world was walking away from their jobs, no matter how critical. Everything was grinding to a halt. Transportation, communication—private or military, trivial or critical—everything was just going belly up. Jasper had known this day was coming ever since the blacks were allowed to vote.
And the crooks in Washington didn’t know anything. They said it was an unknown virus and creatively named it Euphoria-Z. Z because they didn’t know what it was, only what it did. And their advice? Stay indoors and away from crowds, bunch of geniuses.
Jasper had never expected he would need to kill people, not since the war, but in the last few days he had been forced to. The streets were crazy, and he wouldn’t even be outside if he hadn’t needed his pills. He felt as if he were the only sane person for miles. He looked at his feet and wondered, only briefly, if something were wrong with him? No, couldn’t be, he thought. None of this was right. The world had gone crazy.
About the Author:
Luke Ahearn has over 20 years of professional game development experience and has authored numerous nonfiction books on the topic. He ran his own computer game company for ten years and currently owns MasterWerxStudios, an animatronic prop shop in Monterey, CA.
4 life-sized, handmade, zombie heads.
One of a kind and made by the author.