Ladies and gentlebipeds of the Jackverse, it is my pleasure to bring yet another star into the world of Get Jack’d. This man is the author of some seriously good fiction. His name? Who am I kidding, you read the title of the post, so you know the name. On the off-chance you have a debilitating condition that prevents you from reading titles, his name is … everyone say it with me …
JW: The world … she is growing smaller and smaller by the second. Take that ever-shrinking globe and slice out a singular section — fans of apocalyptic fiction — and the walls start to close in. So it came as no surprise that mutual online friends were suggesting that Mike Evans get Jack’d! It also came as no surprise to find out how much we have in common — such as the love of cycling, music, and that zpoc fiction isn’t the only flavor of fiction that we write.
Although zombies are my bread and butter, I take great joy and pride in drifting away from the chosen genre and crafting thrillers, or hellborn horror, or whatever flight grips my fancy. When I step back and take a top-down look at my work, I realize that each series I write serves a very different purpose for me as an author: The Fringe Killer series allows me to address issues that I think are important, Shero makes me laugh, The Nameless Saga gives me a chance to unleash the beast, Klockwerk Kabaret allows me to explore a genre I find truly fascinating … the list goes on and on. It is incredibly important to me, as an author, to be able to, now and then, be selfish and fulfill my own needs as an artist — even if that means writing outside of the genre that has welcomed me with open (and rotting) arms.
ME: Good god man that is one hell of a introduction. If it is one thing I have learned about zombie authors is that we are by far the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon of the literary world. I feel like everyone knows everyone in this community and if you don’t know them it’s only because a mutual friend has not introduced you to someone yet. I am very excited about getting Jack’d, that is what I hear all the cool kids are doing nowadays! I can’t say as that is something I’ve ever imagined myself saying but you bring an entirely new “rad” not “awesome” approach to it good sir!
My road to becoming an author actually started with my first book which will surprise most people was not The Orphans Orphans Vol I (just between you me and the million readers i’m tweaking the name to something even cooler when it is released under Winlock Press at the end of February. I know we can keep a secret so it is going to be titled The Orphans: Origins and will be squeaky clean and polished after Monique does her magic to it. But my first book was a crime, thriller that i wrote before The Orphans called Buried. It got set to the side after I finished it because at that time I wasn’t really sure what the next step was and I had been dying to write a zombie book which became The Orphans. Buried got picked up by Winlock Press as well so it will finally come to readers this June 2015. I am hoping people can handle the darker side of my writing because things get a little darker when I step away from the Z genre. I’m not quite sure how that could happen? It could just be that i’ve read my own books so many times that I don’t think anything is dark??
JW: That is pretty much identical to my situation. For some reason, my apocalyptic fiction is the lighter side of Jackdom. Honestly, I think I do that intentionally. If you really give over enough brain power to seriously consider the apocalypse, you understand fairly quickly that the only way to survive is with a dash of humor. You lose that and you’re going to lose the war. To that end, I sprinkle my zpoc worlds with as much humor as the recipe can handle.
And you can have fun with that. Serious, serious, serious … FUNNY. Serious, serious, FUNNY. Serious … FUNNY … serious. You play with the rhythm between humor and horror to keep the readers on their toes and it makes for a more richer experience.
Or so I tell myself. Of course, I tell myself a lot of things as I navigate this journey. Am I right? Who in the heck knows. But it’s who I am and it’s the only voice I have — so I make the most out of it.
That’s one of the cool things about our genre. Me, You, Shelman, Rosamilia, Tufo … the lot of us could write the same story and each iteration of that same plot would be so vastly different … in fact, we should do that. Let’s make it happen. Make it an anthology. The same story told by different writers. How cool would that be? EDIT: THIS IDEA IS GOING TO HAPPEN. I WILL REPORT ON CONFIRMED AUTHORS SOON.
ME: The Orphans for me was more of an Origins story It was the reason why the outbreak happened. I really wanted people to deeply care for the characters in the book. I had more than one person mad at the cliffhanger of what happens next at the end of the book dying to know more. I can’t say there is too much humor in it but people really were into the fact that there are no heros in my books. Everyone is a perfect yet imperfect character. They are selfish, they want love, they want attention, they want to help their friends and being so many teenagers in the book there is no shortage of smart asses.
The parents in the book of course think they know what is best for the teens. The fact that it is called the orphans is ironic given that both the main characters parents who fall in love with each other are workaholics and the two teenagers tend to have to raise themselves half the time.
I think what worked for me so well is I was so into the walking dead at the time that i was so excited to write a zombie book that it just seemed to all flow really naturally. It taught me how to work with storylines and it taught me even more that you can have a basic structure but the first time you try and lead your story by a leash is the first time that it’ll straight up smack you upside the head. I changed so many things in the story from where I thought it was going to end up going. Every time I thought I had it figured out the characters themselves would take a flying leap and go in an entirely different direction and I loved and hated it at the exact same time. But I think if you let them go their own way it just gives so much more heart to the material.
Now with Gabriel I started it off running hard and never stopped. My typical genre are action, adventure, assassin, cia, fbi, etc books I love them I think they rock. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the hell out of a good zompoc book but before I was ready to publish I had done very little research on zombie books and thought at the time that I was coming up with an original idea doing a zombie book. Yes I know quit laughing at me Jack…..No really stop i’m sensitive and you are going to hurt my feelings….Thanks, I had to laugh at myself as well once I had joined some of the groups and saw that there were thousands of different authors and books and series and the thing that was awesome was that no matter how many of them were they were all different or at least the good series that were different from the normal storyline and set themselves apart from the typical book did.
I knew starting out with Gabriel that I wanted to have an action book and I knew that I wanted brutal violence that set itself aside from normal books like this. On a side note I also didn’t just want him to come off as some evil assassin that had no heart he needed to have a purpose and like any good author I am a huge fan of ripping my characters heart out and making them will themselves to have a reason to go on in life. For Gabriel, revenge played a large part. I had actually wanted to make it a zombie book originally calling it zombie hitman but after i wrote a few choice scenes I came to the conclusion that it didn’t need zombies.
I think before I got too far into releasing orphans I started getting requests about doing anthologies and had no idea what they were until i started looking into them. I saw that lots of groups either liked doing them or wanted to try and do one with charity which i’m a pretty big fan of those. I always feel like the new kid on the block as I’ve really only put out the one book so far, but on a positive note there will be five full length books by my count spread out over this year, so maybe I wont feel like the rookie quite so much. I know that when i’m reading other authors books I always think hey that would have been cool if they’d had done this or i say man if they don’t do this one thing i’m going to have to feel like I should kill them in my next book, just kidding – kind of. So when you mentioned your idea about bringing a set of authors together and running one storyline and getting to have our own taken on it I thought that effing genius and there is a reason why people love to get Jack’d and it must be not only the hair but the awesome ideas that the man is capable of producing! So if we are able to figure out a schedule, a word count, and a storyline I am all in on coming up with my story.
JW: I’ve always felt kind of like I was on the outside looking in. So many of our peers know the business of writing inside and out. Me, I have been flying by the seat of my pants and on great gusts of imagination since I started this journey. I guess that is part and parcel to how I became a writer — but we won’t get into that (otherwise It’ll be all about me and that’s not what this is about).
The single most important thing I have ever said to another writer is you have to find your own truth. That applies to how you get from point A to point B with your career, your story, your character, your manuscript — everything. I find it is so crucial to navigate these waters in such a way that best conforms to my personal identity and not try to do it the way Writer X, Y, or Z did. I think that frees me up to say “Hey, why don’t we all try THIS!” That very truth allows me to find a brevity I might not otherwise enjoy … so I can do an anthology (such as Fading Hope) of pieces that are far darker than many writers are willing to work with. Or have the guts to plan out an anthology akin to the super secret piece we are currently dreaming up (when it comes together, every zompoc reader in the world will have to go shopping for socks, because it will rock them all off).
It also allows me to market my work in ways that don’t tend to follow trends. Why is that important to me? Trends and memes go away. Longevity is key here and I think what writers like us, Rosamilia, Wilburn, Tufo, Shelman, Abell, O’Brien — and so many more — actually get that. I refuse to be boiled down to a meme. That’s frightening to some, because memes are easy. Being a mean means less creative work will be required throughout the journey. But skirting the meme and shooting for truth means the rewards for that work will far exceed what you’ll reap following trends and riding on the coattails of others.
ME: Jack it has truly been a pleasure getting to talk to you. I think that if you aren’t writing what you are feeling at the moment that you are insane. What do I mean by that? Simply put if you aren’t feeling the sequel to a zombie story at the time and you’d rather write about a hitman who cuts guys heads off that don’t pay him, and does free pro bono work hunting down people who put hits out o n their own family because it helps him sleep at night then I think that is what you need to write. Your fans are what keep you doing it, they encourage you, they tell you how great your books are, they tell friends about the books, and they let you know that you stirred an emotion in their hearts whether it be, fear, love, or you made them dream warm thoughts about a character they are all important. I think the best thing is when you do like I did and do your first two books on the series people fell in love with and then go a completely different direction which pushes yourself and your readers out of their comfort level or their particular genre they enjoy reading but nevertheless are happier that they did after reading it.
When you use yourself, Rosamilia, Tufo, Shelman they all do the same thing we know we could write zombies forever. We could probably do it happier, but there is a certain satisfaction put into myself for having the chance and throwing out an entirely different story that no one expected. The first thing my friend Lori told me after reading the intro to Gabriel was Mike has seriously got a dark side, after she told me she had nightmares two days in a row I couldn’t have been more pleased, where as my friend Lisa fell in love with the man which again is just people reading out of their genre and finding out that they can easily and non-painfully read a non Z book and be very happy for doing it.
On a side note I did want to make one last mention that while watching breaking bad and doing a bit of laundry I came up with the most killer idea for the zombie anthology that I think will be totally killer! I can’t wait to see what comes of it. I can only hope that Tufo writes the belly button story, just kidding inside joke!
Please friend me on facebook if you’d like I am not shy many of the people I interact with seem to be someone who had recently bought, read, and reviewed my book and I’ve made some great friendships because of it.
Mike Evans lives in Iowa with his wife and children. He writes for character depth because he wishes for you to love the character, regardless if they are the villain or the hero. He likes to write from a unique perspective, doing things with books that no one has done before. He keeps his characters realistic, there are no superhero like events that will happen. There are no perfect characters in his books, everyone has their flaws much like that of life.