Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!
We will be joined today by William Esmont.
William Esmont lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife and a motley collection of dogs and cats. When not writing, he can be found tooling around town on his road bike or hiking in the desert.
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Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, William!
William has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!
I’m often asked why I write about zombies, why I spend countless hours constructing an imaginary world and populating it with characters who, for the most part, will all meet a gruesome fate before the final page. Usually the question comes in the form of “Why are you so fascinated by those disgusting things? Why don’t you write something nice instead?”
That’s right. Nice.
On the surface, it sounds like a simple question, and I believe most people who ask expect a simple answer.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Asking me why I write about zombies is a bit like asking someone to describe the taste of chocolate. Go ahead. Give it a try. What does chocolate taste like? It’s difficult, isn’t it, to put words to something so fundamental as a flavor. That’s because taste, like my reasons for writing about zombies, is unique to the individual. Sure, it may be possible to come up with some colorful adjectives that sort of describe the taste - words like earthy, or acidic for example, but when you do this, you’re not really answering the question. What, for example does earthy taste like? How about acidic? Is my perception of acidic the same as yours? Who knows?
So, please bear with me as I attempt to put words to something I have come to accept as part of myself, a way of viewing the world along with a lifetime of experiences that is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes. But be warned - it’s going to sound a lot like I’m describing the taste of chocolate.
I’ve always been a people watcher. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed trying to understand why people behave the way they do in spite of the words coming out of their mouths. Take for example a couple engaged in an argument. To an outside observer, their disagreement may appear to be about something as simple as money. But with a little context and a little inside knowledge, you may discover money is not the subject at all. Instead, they’re using it as a proxy to discuss some deeper issue in their relationship, one neither individual is comfortable discussing in the open. The money allows them to move toward some level of peace while simultaneously protecting themselves from a topic they find painful or distasteful. Only by peeling back the language on the surface, by reading between the lines, can an outside observer hope to comprehend the truth. Even then, it may sometimes prove elusive. Sometimes the argument really is about money. This is one example. The same applies to all sorts of human interaction, from two toddlers fighting over a toy to a group of nations marching off to war. There are always words behind the words. Finding and understanding these hidden meanings, to me, is like catching a glimpse of a lone star on a cloudy night.
I’ve chosen fiction as my tool for exploring these interactions. Through this medium, I have the power to define the initial conditions for each of my characters - their hidden agendas and unspoken secrets - and then to set them in motion to observer the outcome. As a reader, this probably sounds counterintuitive. If I’m the author, shouldn’t I know everything about my characters in advance? Yes and no. I start each story with only the sparsest idea of who my characters are and what I want them to do. The details, the how and the why, always remain obscured until the story is almost complete. Take Jack in my novel, Fire. When I first came up with the idea for his character, I had no idea how he would react to the tragedy about to befall him. Would he lie down and die at the first sign of trouble? Or would he discover some unknown reserve of strength, some hidden quality I had not anticipated that would allow him to move beyond the unthinkable. I learned of his growth through his interactions with other characters. Beginning with his wife and daughters, the true man grew from my rough sketches, eventually becoming almost a living, breathing person in my mind. This is one of those magical moments in the process of writing, the point at which you realize you have achieved the impossible - you have created something out of nothing.
But enough talk of chocolate. Why zombies?
There are a few reasons. The first has to do with expediency. By plunging my characters into a world in which death lurks around every corner, I’m able to force them into interacting with each other at an accelerated pace. It’s like boiling water on the stove versus in a microwave oven. Both activities produce the same result, but the microwave is a hell of a lot faster. The second reason is a little more selfish. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of solving difficult problems. And what problem is more difficult than trying to survive in a world where the dead have come back to life?
Maybe some day I’ll reach a point where I understand enough about people that I won’t need to place my characters in perilous situations anymore. If I do, perhaps I’ll write a nice zombie story then, one in which my survivors lock hands with their zombie counterparts and sing Kumbaya. Or not.
Until then, stay tuned. The next installment in the Elements of the Undead series is on track for a summer release!
Thanks so much for joining us today, William!
William has generously offered 1 paperback and 5 e-books of Fire! That's 6 lucky winners! The paperback copy will be available to those from Canada/US only, and the e-book is available worldwide.
I reviewed Fire back in December 2011, and I really enjoyed it. Click HERE to read my review.
No one knows what caused the dead to rise. No one knows what caused them to attack the living. Fighting for their lives, scattered survivors find the attempted cure to be almost worse than the disease.
In the twilight of a shattered civilization, the fate of humankind rests upon the actions of a handful of war-weary survivors. Driven to a scorched corner of the former United States, they alone hold the key to a global reawakening.
Or the final epitaph for a dead planet.
To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.
This giveaway open worldwide (paperback to Canada/US only), and it will close on Saturday, March 31st at 12:01 AM EST.
a Rafflecopter giveaway