Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m from Los Angeles and have lived in California all of my life. I started in LA, went up to Camarillo for college at CSU Channel Islands, then came back to LA for a year or so to do PA work on award shows for Dick Clark Productions. I was also taking a course at UCLA on Film and TV Production. My favorite topic during that course was entertainment law.
I did my sentencing, I mean law school, down in San Diego. I somehow graduated, passed the CA Bar, and moved back to LA where I got involved with a startup company.
When I’m not working for the startup I’m busy writing about zombies ripping faces off.
I also like dogs. And pizza.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
When I was a kid I used to make stop-motion movies with my GI Joe toys. Sometimes I’d write little scripts and do the voiceovers for each character. It was hilariously bad…or maybe just plain bad. In high school I didn’t want to write (or do) anything. Then I got to college and my roommates and I were coming up with a horror movie script, and we really had no idea what we were doing. About halfway done with the script, I thought the story would work better as a book.
I brought the idea to one of my best friends while we were at a party and he’d said no way I’d ever finish writing a book. Being a college kid at a party, I was like, I bet you I’ll write a trilogy!
The next morning while suffering a hangover, I really wanted to win that bet so I got to cracking on my first novel about a killer farmer. I quickly tossed that story into the trash, quit writing for about a year or so, then finally started on the first draft of FOUR (Their Dead Lives, 1). That was about eight or nine years ago, and despite the bet with my friend, I very much enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, the writing process.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Growing up I read a lot of Michael Crichton. I was in middle school when I first read Jurassic Park and thought it was the coolest book ever, even cooler than the movie, which is one of my favorite movies. I’ve always been fascinated by man vs nature stories, so anything I read or see involving people fighting animals, or monsters, or mother nature definitely influences my writing.
I also like Harry Potter because wizards.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
Well usually I’m working, either for my startup company or analyzing contracts for legal clients. Or, more importantly, I’m managing my family’s fantasy football league.
I try to write when I can, which is usually late at night if I manage to stay awake, or on the weekends. I love writing so I try to do it whenever or wherever possible.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
The first thing I knew when I started writing Their Dead Lives was that I wanted there to be zombies…and that’s about all I knew at the time. The original title of the trilogy was How We Survived The Zombie Apocalypse, then changed to The Dark, The Light, and The Undead about the time of the fifth or sixth draft.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I came up with those two names. I was just determined to win that bet against my friend. But the more I worked on it, and rewrite after rewrite after rewrite, I really like where the story ended up.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
Oh my novel is just another zombie book in a vast sea of them.
What I enjoy most about Their Dead Lives is the relationship between the main characters Alec, Scot, Jeff, and Kale, and their arcs throughout the trilogy. These guys are such self-involved idiots, it’s interesting to see how they adapt and evolve (or don’t) when the zombies rise. While the story does take place during the zombie apocalypse, the focus is really on these four guys and the characters who influence their paths.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
Kale. Which is funny because I’m probably the least like him.
Scot, on the other hand, is a slightly exaggerated version of myself when I was in my early twenties. While he’s the easiest to write, I still have to go with Kale.
Kale’s journey gets even better in the sequels.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
Any scene when the four friends are together. Obviously the story is fictional but a lot of those scenes reminded me of good (or bad) times with some of my friends.
Also when zombies eat a character or characters. Those scenes were a blast. When I finished my first grisly death, I was so squeamish, I couldn’t believe I wrote it. But I soon became slightly desensitized to the violence. A lot of the gore is over the top to fit with the satirical nature of the story. It’s harmless fun.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
If they have a good time then I’m happy. I intended to write a fast pace fun ride, so I hope they enjoy the adventure. And while the story can be very dark at times, I hope I make someone laugh once or twice during the lighter moments.
11) What are your hopes for this novel?
I hope it’s turned into a movie. I think that’d be pretty cool.
12) What do you have in store next for your readers?
FOUR and VITAL BLOOD, the first two parts of Their Dead Lives are currently available on Amazon. I’m making a lot of progress with part three, and aiming a December 2015 release date. After the trilogy is complete, I will release my crime thriller.
When he’s not writing stories, Zack can be found in a never-ending wrestling match with his dog Leo or cooking pasta while wearing a Chargers apron.