1. Stephen give the readers and I a run down of who Stephen A. North is. What roads have you traveled that have brought you to where you are now?
Who am I? I am the eleven year old kid who loved Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, C.S. Forrester and Ursula Le Guin. I am also the shy kid who never had the nerve to tell a girl how much he liked her until it was too late. I have only recently realized and accepted how impulsive I have been when my heart was set on something. Whether it was trusting a new friend, making a life altering decision like joining the army, falling in love, or writing a book. All of these decisions had far-ranging effects on my life in different measures, that have brought great joy and/or nearly destroyed me. Probably no surprise there, as I am hardly unique. Maybe it is my persistence, or sheer hard-headedness that are unusual? Where am I now? I stand at a crossroads, perhaps as happy as I've ever been. There may be sorrow ahead, and sorrow, for sure, behind, but I am at peace.
2. I seen your work in print Stephen and you work in different genres. Which genre is your favorite and why? How do you switch gears to seamlessly produce works in multiple genres?
As a child, my favorite genre was fantasy, but that quickly evolved into horror and science fiction. I wasn't a happy kid when I discovered The Hobbit. I went to three different elementary schools that year, and by the last one, my brother was my only friend. I was primed to escape into another place, and imagine I was a hero. Later, I discovered thrillers, detective and historical fiction. Not sure that I have a favorite, but plan to continue to expand the genres I write in. The books I love are in multiple genres. I suspect that mood plays a role in my reading and writing choices.
3. Let's talk about zombies a subject that is near and dear to my heart. When did your love for writing about the undead begin? How far do you see the genre of the living dead expanding? How do you prefer you zombies running or bumbling?
I was sixteen when I first saw Dawn of the Dead at the midnight movies. Remember talking about it with my friends, and wondering what we'd do to live. How and why. The seed was planted, but it didn't flower until I discovered this guy named Jacob and his small publishing company called Permuted Press, close to 24 years later. Jacob was the catalyst. Writing zombie horror stories doesn't lead into happy places, but wondering how different types of people might survive such a disaster can be interesting. The Walking Dead is proof that there is interest in zombie horror Better yet, there are quite a few talented writers out there still writing them. I doubt that the genre will disappear anytime soon. I'm comfortable with running or bumbling zombies. Wasn't always that way. I was a Romero purist, but something happened when Eric S. Brown and I decided to write a book together. Bottom line is that I can be flexible when it comes to zombies. If vampires can sparkle, zombies might be able to run.
4. Having read and loved both books in your Dead Tide series. Tell me when and where the idea for the series came from? The book has two very diverse groups of survivors was this intentional? Where is the Dead Tide series headed? What to hope a first time reader of the series will take from Dead Tide?
I would love to be the Stephen King of Tampa Bay. I suppose this idea of visualizing my hometown in a post apocalyptic setting all started with seeing The War Of The Worlds as a child. I remember the star being hunted in the ruins by the Martian machines. Flash forward to seeing Dawn of the Dead, then combine that with middle-aged angst, and working in retail in a retirement Mecca and what do you get?
Just a year or two before writing Dead Tide I was the Lead Writer for a Post-Apocalyptic Computer Game Fan Project. (I was also the only writer for a while) The other team members didn't really care what I did and let me have free reign with modifying, expanding and writing the design documents for the story lines, the locations, the characters, and the dialogues---I went nuts creatively! That experience gave me a taste of how much fun I could have on my second book (Dead Tide). Potential characters appeared and their stories practically wrote themselves. I actually had to make myself stop character creation, but was glad that cast was large. People are going to die in a zombie book. Better start off large, right? I suppose this explains somewhat how two diverse groups of survivors emerged, also. Maybe not? People need each other to survive catastrophes. Alone, no matter how competent you are, there may not be enough reason to want to live.
Not sure whether the series will end with the third book. I'm at the 17k mark, and the situation is grim for most of the survivors at this point. However, as long as some of them have a reason why to live, maybe they will find a way.
My take-away hope for a first time reader of Dead Tide would be, number one, to entertain them and provide an escape from the real world. Gaining a friendship or creating a fan of the genre would be another. If I entertain the reader, I have succeeded.
5. Barren Earth is a zombie tale with a twist. You worked on Barren Earth with Eric S. Brown what was that like? How does this story come to life and how would you describe it? Are there any more author collaborations you've done or will do? Who would you like to pen a story with an why?
Ah, working with Eric S. Brown! He is an amazing man: Incredible drive and talent. Overall, a pleasure to work with. I hope to do so again someday. Without him, that story would never have been written. There is a joy in a shared creation if both people can compromise and come to agreement. We were able work together with little friction. I've been told that people can't tell which parts either of us wrote. That is the best compliment! Two different people, living miles apart in different States, created something that worked! Doesn't happen every day.
The way we made it work was by passing the story back and forth, and communicating. He would have it a week, and then I would have it a week. There was only the second story line to begin with, and then we had the idea to tell the story of what happened before The Hyperion came home as a Prologue. That idea grew beyond what we expected (Probably the fault of that guy who gets excited when given free reign).
My description of Barren Earth (WARNING, CONTAINS SPOILER! Skip past the next paragraph if interested in reading this book later)
How does a defeated, exterminated alien race get revenge on triumphant humanity? From beyond the grave, right? An undead virus left waiting for unsuspecting humans to bring home with them.
At the moment I have several books waiting to be written, but would love to collaborate with many authors when I catch up. It is an experience I recommend. As to who I would love to write with, perhaps I should keep that secret. They might love me only like a brother.
6. Stephen can you give us a rundown of your work in various anthologies out there? Do you find short stories easier or more trying for a guy whose done so many novel length tales? Are there more anthology works you plan releasing?
Proud to be part of two charity anthologies: In Kizuna, I have 'Dial Tone'; and in the upcoming Scare Package, I have 'Sedation Dentistry.' I also have: 'Like A Man' in Read The End First; 'Zomkrieg' in Zombology; and 'Elk Stones' in Baconology. Those stories range from horror, to sci-fi, to fantasy and would maybe make the good basis for a collection of my short fiction someday. Some of them I'd like to see in novel form also. Most of them almost wrote themselves once I had the inspiration for them. For example, 'Like A Man' would never have existed without Suzanne Robb. There is actually a person behind every one of those stories. Maybe that is why they weren't difficult to write?
I have one short story planned in the immediate future in the steam punk genre.
7. Now gives us a synopsis of The Drifter. What inspired this tale of humanity and our bleak future? Any plans for future books or stories from The Drifter universe? You seem to have a knack for stories that throw mans fragile existence into pure chaos as in "Beneath The Mask." Explain this mysterious tale of woe? How you have developed your own unique style of Post Apocalyptic despair?
Drifter is a combination of the old and new on many levels and time frames. I've always been disturbed by the concept of punishment versus rehabilitation. There is not enough forgiveness in our current penal system for some crimes. Some crimes haunt people for life. I just took the current situation, added over-population, dwindling resources , and adopted the English 16th century solution to it: Transportation from home and penance in a harsh new world. What if the government had the ability to wipe out memories and shape egos? Humans become a commodity again!
(The following paragraph contains some spoilers!)
The viewpoint character in 'Drifter' has had at least one memory wipe, although it may not have erased everything, and is trapped in a miserable existence. In the beginning of the book he has an unsustainable motivation to continue living. As the story evolves that changes, but it isn't easy. A couple of quotes might explain better what the story is about:
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for." Dag Hammarskjold
"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." Friedrich Nietzsche
I hope to offer something different, and would love to on a more regular basis.
8. We want to know what's come down the pipe from Stephen A. North? Without giving away the juicy details. Give me and my readers a look into the future.
The third Dead Tide book is in progress. The original Dead Tide is getting its first professional edit, and so will Dead Tide Rising. After that I need to find a new home for Drifter, and the sequel to that is halfway done.
I have a large number of other unfinished stories, but would love to finally write and finish a fantasy novel. Who knows, maybe I will even attempt something romantic for the ladies.
9. Where can new fans find you Stephen? Give us links to all your haunts. Also share with us where your books and be found for purchase and on what formats?New fans and old can always find me at Stephen A. North (fans of) on facebook, and I'm on Goodreads. My email is:
Hoping to get my own website next year.
Three of my books are currently unavailable, but two (Dead Tide and Dead Tide Rising) will be re-published soon. Still looking for a home for Drifter.
Barren Earth, Beneath the Mask, and all of my short stories are still available on Amazon right here:
10. Whose undead readings are you currently enjoying? What are some of your favorite works of undead literature and by who?
I'm hoping to see more from this guy, Jamal Luckett soon. Recently, I have read Timothy Long's latest 'Among the Dead' and enjoyed it. Eric Shelman is good also, and I plan to read Dead Hunger 3, next!
Favorites eh? How about these authors: J.L. Bourne; Patrick D'Orazio; Suzanne Robb; Sue Edgerly; Rhiannon Frater; Eric S. Brown; Brian Keene; Richard Laymon; Stephen King; Sheri Gambino; Travis Adkins; D. L. Snell; Bowie Ibarra; Z.A. Recht; David Dunwoody; and Brian Lumley. Hope I didn't miss anyone, but probably did.