Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 5 – Stant Litore, King of Zombies

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win :)

Stant Litore writes about the restless dead, and the first volume in his series The Zombie Bible is now available at Amazon. It’s called Death Has Come Up into Our Windows and tells the story of a prophet imprisoned in a well in a dying city; each day, his gaolers toss one of the ravenous dead in after him. You should read it; the book will leave a mark on you. Stant lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters, and stays out of certain parts of the mountains during the dark of the moon.

1. What sparked your obsession / interest in writing about zombies?

Zombies look at your face and they see nothing. They don’t see a person. They don’t see a soul. They see food. I don’t think there’s anything more terrifying, or more resonant with the issues of injustice and lack of compassion in our world. To what extent do you see a human soul when you look into another’s face? I mean to what extent, really? Or do you see an object to maneuver around, or a being who can serve your purposes, whether for business or pleasure, who can (metaphorically) fill the hungers you have – the hunger for approval, or for affirmation, your hunger for a parent or your hunger for a child, your hunger for sex or your hunger for competition? To what extent are the acquaintances and coworkers in your life … food? That’s a question Father Polycarp asks in my second book,What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, and it is a question that an encounter with the ravenous dead demands of us. Faced with the ultimate incarnation of hunger, we have to deal with our own hunger. We have to rethink what other people actually are to us, and what it means to live and what it means to die, and what part justice or ethics has in that.

2. Sit on Santa’s lap and tell us your top five wishes for Christmas.

An excellent year of health for my wife and children. The opportunity to hunt for a house. Good sales and good readers. More awareness among my community of the poverty in the community, and of the growing issue of underground slavery and human trafficking right here in our own town. Four is all I can think of; I’m a cheap date.

3. As an indie artist, what would you say are your biggest challenges?

I suppose there are two. The first is honesty. It’s not challenging so much at this moment, but I could see it getting there. The problem is like this. When you are an indie without the surrounding apparatus of a publishing firm, it can be tempting to cut corners on your own work, to rush things, to make decisions that have a short-term payoff but will cause you trouble down the road. This is the case as long as you aren’t accountable to anyone else. In my case I’m with a small indie press, and I have one of the best editors I know. I sought him out. And I am committed to being honest with myself about what I need to work on in my art. My editor is both encouraging and ruthless.

The other challenge is credibility. Because of the ease of e-publishing on a budget, there are a lot of indie writers who are publishing work that a professional editor would tell them is a draft (don’t get me wrong, though; some of the best books I’ve read this year were both indie and polished). This has the effect of keeping many readers leery of indie publishing. I decided early that the marketing plan for my series would place a premium on setting the foundation for credibility first, before moving aggressively after sales.

4. Did you always want to be a writer? What set you on this path of storytelling?

Always. Before I could write, I drew pictures on paper. Telling stories is in my blood, and if I stop for a week, I become the most cranky, cantankerous person you can imagine. Some things you can’t hold in any more than a flower can stop from blooming at the touch of the sun.

5. What is your writing process like? Pantser or plotter and why?

It’s both. In a very basic sense, the outlines for my current stories are suggested by the biblical tales I’m retelling, but that’s too simple an answer. I usually start with a scene that is very dramatic to me – though in fact it might be a very quiet scene — say, a loving moment between a couple. But, for me, it’s a scene full of drama and human life. That’s usually where I discover my characters.

Then I start writing a character arc – a few scenes where my characters make significant choices. That becomes my outline; it grows organically. By then I’ve an idea of what’s happening with this plot and at least a little idea of who’s in the story and what their lives and their choices are about, and then I just start to tell the story. And about two thirds the way through it, I learn eight things about my characters I didn’t know before, and I learn what thematic questions this story is demanding of its readers, and then I just keep rewriting it until I have it right.

But the key is to learn early on what choices these characters have to make, and why those choices are important to them and to the world they live in. That’s an exciting process of discovery and a tremendous wrecker of outlines, if I were so foolish as to start with an outline. But once you know what five scenes are the defining choices for one of your main characters, you know what your outline looks like. Everything else that’s going to happen in your story is made necessary by those moments of choice.

6. Give us a list of five things you think would be the most useful in the Zombie Apocalypse.

A machete, a greenhouse in an inaccessible location, access to clean water, a good supply of toothpaste, and a good book, at least one. That last is to keep you sane.

7. What writers have inspired you?

So many. Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, and C J Cherryh come readily to mind.

8. What is the one thing about the publishing industry that irritates you the most?

Nothing that I can think of. I’m currently an independent not because of any longstanding issues with the industry – I have none – but because I like to be at the helm, and because I get a thrill out of the process of publishing and marketing. I get energy from it and a bit of an adrenaline high, the kind that comes with facing almost insurmountable odds and still producing something beautiful.

9. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

For the next year or two, I am pretty wrapped up in The Zombie Bible. Today the first volume, Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, has hit #8 in the Amazon bestseller list for horror, and the second, What Our Eyes Have Witnessed , has just been released for Kindle and Nook. But there are a lot more stories waiting to be told. You can get a brief preview here . You will see zombies in the Old Testament and the New, and you’ll see men, women, and children making difficult choices in difficult times, and fighting to live lives that are about more than just surviving.

Don’t forget to visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and tons of free swag!

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier :)

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