Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building … and left behind the uber-cool Shannon Walters. Another member of the All Things Zombie group, Shannon’s story, “The List” is tearing up the pop charts like it was the latest Katy Perry single as sung by a boy band made of angels and demons.
So, it is my pleasure to Jack the hell out of Shannon. Let’s get to it.
JW: The job of being a writer is often portrayed as a tortured, painful life. On many levels I will wholeheartedly agree. Should you dare open up one of your earlier works, you are certain to get caught up in a wave of weeping and kvetching. You follow your idols in hopes of someday finding your way upon the same rank and file and pedestal they stand upon. You toil and drain your soul through words you hope people will read. When you release the work, you do so knowing it will be picked apart, donkey punched, mocked, loved, cheated on, copied, heralded briefly as the next big thing … and then you move on.
… all the while, enjoying what you do like a kid at Christmas. That is my truth. I do work myself up into a frenzy about my characters, stories, and future. But in the end, I truly love what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else. Writing is a mad passion and a passion of madness.
SW:*taps mike* Is this thing on? What? Huh? this is just a writing thing? Then why did I take a shower…? ok…well, writing, HELL, I can do that! I’m going to tell you little story… Once upon a time there was this chick, she was kinda ..um…out there? She had her own column in the school paper, Music Reviews by Shannon. She also dabbled in semi-erotic/horror short stories, which she gave her horrified English teacher. Although suitably concerned, said English teacher told Shannon….GO forth and be a writer. Ok, enough of the creepy third person. I finished high school, life got in the way…blahblahblah, never wrote again until All Things Zombie on Facebook posted that zombie-themed short story contest. That writing spark, or by now, barely burning ember, got a little brighter. I started to write, The List was actually my third story. I scrapped the first, submitted the next two. Incidentally…the first one I wrote? Was a Christmas themed zombie story starring some ATZ admins. How cool was it that I got to use it anyway when ATZ decided Christmas zombies were the next hot thing? I’ve been droning….and didn’t mention any idols! Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by this…Shawn Chesser…got a little fangirly thing going on there. He paints a full HD movie with digital surround sound in my head when I read his books. If I can achieve even 1/10th his awesomeness, I will be happy. Another idol would have to be Michael Crichton, *sniff* . I love to read his stuff because he always has one foot firmly entrenched in real science and the other in pure fictional entertainment. Part of the joy of reading him, at least for me, is figuring out which is which. AND also why I will never, ever, get on a plane, unmedicated that is, again. Read ‘Airframe’ if you are curious about that.
JW: Everyone who has ever been sprayed by the glitterous substance that shoots from my pores knows my one and only idol is Clive Barker. He’s the reason I read…the reason I write. I once had a book of mine compared to his early work ? yeah, in another dimension that’d be filed in the spank bank.
Oh wait …
Umm … hey, look over there, something shiny!
I love it when writers can keep their imagination entrenched in both the real and the unreal. I think that’s what I’ve always like Barker so much ? his ability to reimagine reality into something wholly and completely different, while retaining a certain level of realism. Plus, there’s a certain level of poetry to his work ? something I try very hard to achieve.
But here’s the thing with idols and writing (at least for me) … I’ve spent so many years finding my own voice, that I now eschew emulation. Clive Barker is the best Clive Barker. Stephen King is the best Stephen King. To strive to be the next King or Barker is doing yourself (in the generic form) a disservice. I strive to be the best Jack Wallen (with a nod to my dad, Jack Wallen, Sr). Yes, they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but why would anyone want to imitate the masters of a genre?
Did I just get serious? I suck … and not in the good way.
SW: *stepping back* whoa….”glitterous substance” shooting from your WHAT??? Jack…you don’t even come close to sucking. In fact, you kinda remind me of Clive Barker, who is uber cool, now that you mention him. ‘Cabal’ was one of my favorite horror books.
I agree you need to find your own voice. I cannot even fathom attempting to emulate someone else’s writing. To me, writing is extremely personal and intimate. A piece of me. Now I’m feeling all wishy-washy, dammit. Moving on!! Did you know I have a blog?? yup… www.steelyshan.com I review all the books I read there, and sometimes make random, weird posts. I even hosted Winter of Zombie 2014 and Eric Shelman there.
JW: Yeah, things can shoot out of my whatsits here and then ? usually sparkly, fancy things.
Wait, are we talking about the same … oh, never mind.
You’re right, writing is one of the most intimate artistic endeavors I have ever undertaken ? especially as an indie author. When you have a publishing house backing you up, you know there’s this safety net to fall into. You know that, at least in theory, they have your back. As an indie author, I used to think I was all alone in a sea of massive wonder and that there were so many others out there who knew better had better toys. The truth is, we’re really all in this together. I have also found, more often than not, the fans have my back. That is a tremendous feeling. One of the many things I love about being a writer is interacting with people.
Okay, I’m getting verklempt. Time to spin this in a different direction. When you found out your story was accepted in the All Things Zombie anthology, what was your initial reaction and what is the next step in the evolution of the Shannon?
SW: That did not help my wishy-washy-ness, I like that idea, that we are all in this together. It may be a bit of a romantic point of view, because clearly the bigger you get, the less time you have to hang with the newbs. Right now though, that idea fits my needs. Feeling very vulnerable with my first offering, and my second will be out with the second ATZ book, A Very Zombie Christmas.
When I first found out that I was going to be in a book, I was so excited I danced around my house…then I hopped on my computer because three great friends helped me edit my pieces, Lana Sibley, Giles Batchelor, and Ramona Martine. Those three also made it into the first book so you can imagine how many “OMG”s were flying through the interwebs at that moment. My story is a slice of a bigger pie that I am currently working on now, only difference is the big picture contained no zombies. Its a realistic post-apocalypse story. So temporarily altering Sara’s world with zombies was kinda fun! There’s also a zombie tale rattling around up there in my dusty brain, hopefully I can coax it out onto digital paper soon.
This? Has been ridiculously fun, thanks for gettin me all Jack’d up, kinda feel like I need a shower now…
Check this out…All Things Zombie: The Gathering Horde! All these stories are amazing and scary, and one is sorta sexy..ehhem…Jack! And if you are not already a member of ATZ, I will just scratch my head while you click this link and become one..