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Shells Chats with author Sean T. Page
What do you find most challenging about writing a horror short story?
Two things for me really–getting a powerful story, then being able to get it down and formatted on paper. Some people have brilliant ideas but don’t have the technical and the editing skills to make it work. I try to get ideas from all over the place, from work, films – and always have a note book handy to jot down those twisted visions.
Where can we find some of these stories?
You can read a good one about flying corpses (always a good thing) in Dead Worlds 7 – an anthology. I’ve got a few coming out with Norgus Press in the months ahead. Also, there are plenty a short case studies in the Official Zombie Handbook that you might like.
How has the horror community helped with your writing?
I have built up a great network within small presses so both editors and other writers have been immensely helpful to me. This ranges from a curt rejection but one in which the editor has given me tips on way something didn’t work – hard to take but invaluable feedback. To other writers who I exchange stories with and we swap views and suggestions. I should also mention all of the dedicated reviewers who really support the whole horror genre.
What made you want to write about zombies?
I did start a formal writing course – doing all sorts of projects as part of the course. I hated it. I just wasn’t enjoying it. Someone told me to write what I enjoy – I love zombies and the whole horror genre so I went from there. I love HP Lovecraft and many of older ghost story writers – such as May Sinclair. However, I’m also addicted to games like Left4Dead and the Romero films – all things for me lead to the way of the zombie!
What would be the most important thing for you to have during a zombie outbreak?
For the unprepared, it is going to be a testing time – that’s for sure. So, I would say the important thing is a plan. Emergency planning is all about preparation, whether its zombies or major power cuts.
However, to really answer the question – my approach is to find a secure location and stay put. Don’t try to rush on the freeway or get to your local hospital – many people will just get eaten in the chaos that develops. So, keep a ‘bug out’ bag at home, in the car, at work etc. Always be ready to take shelter. The first few weeks will be the most dangerous.
Can you tell us about the Official Zombie Handbook?
Well, there obviously some great titles already out there, including Max Brook’s fantastic book but survival book take was more from a survival point of view. So, the Official Zombie Handbook includes a complete 90 day survival plan with details around water, food etc etc.
I’d say you have to be into zombie survival to enjoy it but it’s make a real hit over here in the UK – particularly as I don’t cover guns.
I think the bottom line is if you watched the Walking Dead or loved Dawn of the Dead and ever wondered – how would I survive and even started making plans, then you’ll enjoy it. It will certainly get you thinking. There’s a dry sort of British humor in it but it’s not a joke book.
How much research and time was spent on writing the Official Zombie Handbook?
I have to say it was a labor of love for over two years. I looked at everything from emergency food preparation and home water storage all the way to disused nuclear bunkers and microlight aircraft. I wanted everything to be authentic and tested. This is not a web-researched book – it’s practical – I learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
Can you tell us a bit about War against the Walking Dead?
The first book was based on surviving an outbreak of the living dead in the UK but loads of the lessons were equally applicable to the US and Europe. However, the scope was the first 90 days of the outbreak – very much the survival piece.
War against the Walking Dead is completely different. I looked at how a band of survivors can fight back against the zombies dominating their country. The whole driver of the book was people saying ‘What happens after day 90?’….
It covers the latest science on zombies, how to hook up with other survivors, guidelines for dealing with other survival groups including the hostile ones and then everything you need to know about waging war against the walking dead, from developing your armed forces to bombing tests using microlights. (You may have noticed that I love microlights.)
It’s a bit of an epic, there’ll be some great illustrations and I hope it’s something that every zombie fan/survival nut will love.
What advice can you give an author who may want to start writing about zombies?
My first, as you’ll probably guess from my comments above, is to write about what you enjoy and know. Don’t try to go for vampires just because they are fashionable. You have to know your subject.
Also, you have to keep at it. A novel takes a lot of work and much of it the dull editing stuff.
A final point would be, don’t go in it for the money. Like many authors, I work a full-time job. Few people make living out of it without doing some other job and the writers that are full-time work really hard. That’s what I’ve learnt so far – I’m sure there’s loads more.