Today I have a treat for all of you! A guest post by Joshua Cook and a chance to win a free e-copy of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. I had the distinct honour of working with Josh on the editing of AiZ, so this is a project near and dear to my heart. Let’s start with a little bit about Josh. (Make sure you read to the end to find out how you can win!)
Joshua Cook is a writer for hire living in the Seattle area. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Pinterest. To find out more about Zombie A.C.R.E.S., visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and in the ACRES merch shop. In his spare time, he and his girlfriend enjoy helping other writers out through their website FreeBookDude.com, where they post free Kindle and Nook books every hour.
Alice’s Path: A Guest Post
The path from inception to creation for AiZ: Alice in Zombieland was a long and hard one, to be brutally honest. A series of events knocked over my happy little life like a set of sadistic dominoes. I lost my girlfriend, home, family (by choice, not death) and job all within a month or so. I am not here to bore you with all of the details of this drama, but knowing that I was in a very dark place and state of mind lends much to the process of writing AiZ: Alice in Zombieland.
With nothing in my life being very steady, I needed something to anchor my attention. I had been having dark thoughts, and realistically feared doing something stupid. As I said, this was a very dark time for me. I had already written The Interview a few months earlier, which has become the introduction to my entire Zombie A.C.R.E.S. series. I decided to put everything I had into Zombie A.C.R.E.S.
I may not have known at the time why I was putting every ounce of my soul into this project, though it did not make much sense to me. I hadn’t written fiction since high school, and that was more than a few years ago. I had been writing non-fiction on and off for a few years, but that’s a totally different beast most of the time. All I knew was that Zombie A.C.R.E.S. was special to me, and I had to show everyone else how damn special it was. Looking back on it, I see that I was probably filling the giant void of emptiness that had been left by losing so much, so quickly.
This eagerness to show the world resulted in many mistakes early on, most of which centered around just rushing things too much. I had grand plans of global pop culture domination, which I still do; I have just learned to tread more slowly and carefully. The writing ocean is much larger than most people imagine, and definitely much larger than I had ever anticipated myself. Swimming into that pond without the proper practice and knowledge could have drowned AiZ: Alice in Zombieland from the very beginning.
I released free short stories at ZombieACRES.com every week for awhile. I had no real plan for the direction of these stories at first; I just turned on a computer and cranked a loosely knit together series of short stories each week. Some of these stories were done just to meet my weekly deadline, but many of them contained my heart and soul. This is where that dark period really comes in.
It began with the first story, Tough Love. The only backstory I had at this point was The Interview, and was not even thinking about Barbara’s story yet. My only focus was on this terrible scene where an infected mother comes home and starts attacking and devouring her children, a scene obviously derived somewhat from reality. Instead of focusing on the gore, though, I was writing to release the demons inside myself before they attacked me. I wrote what I was feeling through the characters as a way of self-therapy.
Sam Ashe and Heather Young came from a very messy break-up that had helped fuel that dark depression. I was angry with corporate America, the banks, and all of the issues I was now facing as an unemployed retail worker. This anger was the seed that created Richard Roslun, the head of pharmaceutical giant Roslun Global and true power behind the zombie infection. All of the emotional pain I felt was thrown into those early stories, and that made them different from most of the zombie fare out there.
People loved the stories and things were going along smoothly – until the moment they weren’t. I had re-edited the short stories here and there, but for the most part, they stood as they were. I was getting to the head of the free stories, everything leading up to the release of my AiZ: Alice in Zombieland ebook.
After initially releasing a copy of AiZ in ebook form, I sent out a handful for reviews. Many never came back, and finally I got my clue as to why. One man had come back with a review that made me doubt I had even made the right choice in writing. After I picked my heart up of the ground and resuscitated it, I took a new and healthy look at my stories. I saw where my major mistakes were through the whole thing, and employed the help of fellow author, Julianne Snow, as an editor.
My personal life had gone through some additional major changes, both good and bad, which caused a huge delay in the final editing of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. When I finally did get to editing, my life was not nearly as dark. I had to get to that place to keep the emotional bond that readers originally felt with the short stories. This was a very draining process, as any writer of emotional fiction will tell you. I still have to bring myself back to that dark place when I write the short stories and comics that are continuing the AiZ storyline. It is a very draining process, both mentally and emotionally.
Once I finally made it through and got the final editing thumbs up, I was good to go… And go I did.
Now I am having a blast on my first blog tour, the AiZ Blog Tour 2012, which I set up on my own. I have two paperback versions coming out, one very limited edition with a sneak peek at a special Bruce Campbell vs the ACRES comic. The reviews are in, and people across the board love it. Zombie and non-zombie fans are drawn to AiZ: Alice in Zombieland and Zombie A.C.R.E.S. because of all the emotion I poured into the stories.
So while Alice’s path was the longest and hardest road I have ever travelled, I get to sit here and look back and say, ‘I created that.’ And that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland takes place in a world that is much like our own. The sky and water are blue just as the grass is green. Every day, people are going about their business, most just trying to make ends meet. Politicians still get on the television and lie to cameras and the good people of the world.
This world has one stark difference from our own – the living, and talking, dead. This is not an apocalyptic scene of destruction and despair (yet!), but hope for the living is dwindling with every waking moment.
William Lohman, a recently deceased man, held an interview that was seen by the entire world. In this interview, he told of how the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Roslun Global, has been conducting secret experiments meant to revive the dead, among other atrocities. Mr. Lohman was taken quite seriously seeing as how he was obviously one of these experiments, what with the decay and all.
This interview knocked over the first domino in a long series of setbacks for Roslun Global, and the company’s greedy CEO Richard Roslun. Richard was not known for being subtle or calm, but he was known for getting results…at any cost.
Nine years have passed since that historic interview changed the world forever. People have learned to live with the idea of zombies, much the same way they learn to live with many modern diseases; it’s a terrible thing, but it doesn’t affect them. Until it does, that is.
Georgia ‘Gee’ Marie is a typical college student. She enjoys reading and hanging out with her friends, smoking a little weed and going to work. Her life is pretty mundane, until she returns one day to visit her father. Gee finds her younger sister being attacked by her mother, who has just finished feasting on the rest of the family. Gee and Alice are about to begin the greatest trials of their lives. Not only will their will to survive be tested, but the bonds that hold them together as family and loved ones will be pushed to their limits.
Gee and Alice are not the only ones to be affected by the terrible actions of Richard Roslun. Sam Ashe and his fiancée, Heather Young, have just moved to a nice neighborhood in Seattle. Their new neighborhood is beautifully manicured, right down to the last tree lining the street. This area was chosen for its aesthetics, but also for its safety. According to several of Sam’s favorite zombie reporting sites, a very low number of incidents have been reported here.
This is why Sam is caught off guard one night after an intense gaming session when he sees a shambling zombie. Thinking of his love, he heads off to save Heather from the inevitable zombie outbreak about to occur. Their path is not an easy one, and again, human emotions will be stretched to the limit. If you have ever been in love, and I mean true love, then Sam and Heather’s tale will grab you by the heartstrings and never let go
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble Nook or on Smashwords for all formats, and through many online retailers. Pre-orders are open the signed limited edition paperback, as well as the regular paperback editions, at ZombieACRES.com. Also available through Amazon is the anthology 100 Horrors, which features an exclusive Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story, along with 99 other tales of terror. 100 Horrors is available in Kindle and paperback formats.
Now it’s finally time for the contest!! If you’d like the chance to win an e-copy of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland, all you need to do is comment. I’ll even give you until Saturday, August 4th, 2012 to do it! On the 4th, I will enter each of the names into a random name picker that I found on the internet – make sure that you subscribe to the comments, otherwise you may not know that you’ve won! Once the winner has been chosen, the winner will have to email me (I will supply my email address at that time) so that I can get your email address and forward it to Joshua. Good luck!!