Friday, June 27, 2008

Generation Dead on Television?

Generation Dead was featured on the Good Morning America show yesterday as one of their "Summer Sizzle Reading Picks for Kids"! Did anyone catch the show?

Here's a link to the article: Good Morning America.

Some of the comments people left on the article are interesting, in a Nathan Mather-esque way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Ever Changing Life


The booksigning at the Borders Express in Waterford, CT for June 28th has been cancelled due to a scheduling mishap. Hopefully I'll get there at some point.


I'll be at Books of Wonder in NYC on July 10th for a YA event with at least two other authors, Anna Godbersen (The Luxe) and Rachel Vail (Lucky).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Under the Influence Part III

After reading Night Shift by the dim porch light at the lakeside cabin in Maine, I went on a King-frenzy, reading all that had been released up to that point. The Shining, Carrie, and The Stand were my favorites from that period of his work, but probably the book that had the greatest impact on me as a writer was his nonfiction homage to the horror genre, Danse Macabre, wherein he relates his thoughts about the societal impact of horror (and perhaps more importantly to me, on horror), spicing the analysis with plenty of great King-ian anecdotes concerning his childhood, dealings with fans, the business, or other writers. In the last section of the book he discusses modern horror literature, and the books and authors he wrote about were ones I read eagerly.

Stephen King is one of the main reasons I wanted to be a writer, and I think it has a lot to do with me discovering him when I was so young. In much the same way that Mr. King and many of the horror writers of his generation claim that E.C. comics and Ray Bradbury inspired them to pick up pen and paper, I believe that many people of my own generation--if they are being honest--would point at Mr. King and credit him for similar inspiration.

And, callow youth that I was, I must admit that it wasn't just King's writing that attracted me--it was also his celebrity. More accurately, it was what I perceived his celebrity to be. I remember seeing him in his cameo in his movie Creepshow and thinking that, in addition to earning his living by the pen (and what a living it must be!), he was also doing it entirely on his own terms. The avuncular (albeit creepy-uncle avuncular) come-along-with-me style in which he wrote the forwards to his own material made him seem to be another presence in the room once I started reading the stories themselves; I could picture him (always the hulking, bearded guy of the early book jacket photos) wringing his hands, looking on with feverish glee and waiting to see my reaction as I read the next page. So on one hand I thought he was a writer who worked on whatever the hell he wanted, openly contemptuous of certain editors, critics, and armchair psychoanalysts, but on the other he seemed to me to be a writer who had a real fondness and respect for his readers. This rather unique duality in his work and persona was something something I would think about as I developed my own ideas of the writer/reader contract.

From King, I read just about every modern horror novel I could get my hands on for the next few years. And as this was during the 80's, I had an endless supply to choose from, and I read many that were great, and many that were not great but I still managed to enjoy, and I read many, many that were not great and not enjoyable, either. And when these began to outnumber the good ones, in my mind, at least I started reading...other things.

The summer before college I read a number of books, outside of what is typically classified as "genre" fiction, that began to affect my life dramatically. I was writing daily by graduation, with two novels, a few notebooks full of short stories, and a pile of rejection letters, mostly from indie comic companies, to my credit. I knew what I wanted to do with my life before I even set foot in a college classroom.

And it was around this time that I read what, for me, was the most terrifying passage I'd ever read in a book, for worse than any of the fiction King or his contemporaries had written.

It was in a book written by Dan Simmons, I writer who I began reading around that time and have never stopped reading, one whose books I scarf up as soon as they hit the stores. In this book, Mr. Simmons wrote about his "discovery" by Harlan Ellison at a writing workshop he was attending (or possibly it was Harlan's version of the same story; I think both authors have written about their fateful meeting).

Apparently, before Mr. Simmons was up to have his work critiqued, an elderly gentleman had his story read, and was told by Mr. Ellison that his time would be better spent pursuing an endeavor that he had a greater aptitude for. I remember reading that there were those who "mistake a love of reading for a talent for writing."

Ouch. Those words haunt me every day I sit down at the keyboard.

My reading wasn't all horror stories, though in the early going the horror stories were what I emulated. Late in high school and on into college I started reading more widely and fell in love with a number of authors and books that would influence my work heavily. I'll write about some of them in a later blog.

Friday, June 20, 2008

We Have A Winner

iGoth!!!! If you are out there, please send an email with your address to so I'll know where to send your new shirt! Congrats!

Still no "Under the Influence, Pt. III". I went to Yankee Stadium yesterday and saw one of the most amazing games I've ever seen, from the nosebleed seats way up on the third tier. Well played by both the Padres and the Yankees, Joba fanned 9, and Rivera K'd all three batters he faced in the 9th to end the game.

You know what? The nosebleed seats are pretty cool. We were close to the plate on the first base side and when a batter would pop one back foul the ball would seem to hover at eye level a few moments before falling back to earth.

Plus, free hat day!!!! Yeah, boooooiiiiiii!

I see I'm remiss on my album of the week as well, so I'll keep it mercifully brief.

REVOLVER, The Beatles, 1966

Revolver is the best album ever recorded. Any questions?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Keep an Eye on Summer

I'm having some trouble coalescing my thoughts for "Under the Influence, Part III" and didn't think anyone would be interested in reading the ten pages I'd written thus far. What is a blog, anyhow? Is it entertainment? Information? Infotainment? Edutainment? Entermation? Mindless blather? A masochistic form of therapy? None of the above?

I'll edit, and post. In the meantime, some interesting bits of Generation Dead infoedutaintionment available on the web:

An interview with me at Yapping About YA:here.

An interesting website which breaks down some of the tropes in GD, TV Tropes. Many books and movies are discussed on the site and it would probably be useful for completing homework assignments or possibly broadening one's reading/viewing pleasure. Warning: Mild Spoilers: here.

The website of CJ Bott, Ms. Bott is an educational consultant who "uses literature to start the discussion on bullying." I was honored that she selected GD for reasons I've written about elsewhere in the blog. You can check it out here.

The first review from across the pond, that I'm aware of anyhow, at I absolutely swooned when the reviewer said that the style "is kitchen sink drama with humour." Read ithere.

Speaking of the the U.K. (which I often do, and with great respect), rumour (note special pandering U.K spelling) has it that Generation Dead will appear there in full flower (ahem) on July 7.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Under the Influence Part II

Who are my writing influences? What are my writing influences? And are we talking about subject matter, theme, style, or general world view?

My sugar and caffeine intake (or lack thereof)have an influence on my writing as well, but let's ignore that for now.

To answer these questions I first considered where one of the essential tools for a writer came from, namely, a love of reading. My mother read to me when I was very young, and my father always had change for me to buy comic books or Mad magazines when I was young. I'm not sure exactly when I became an independent reader, but I know I was pretty young. The first book I can recall reading on my own was given to me by my esteemed Uncle Ron and honored Aunt Beth, D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, which has stunning pastel pictures to accompany some of the most fantastic stories ever assembled. Every home should have one; it gets Danny's vote for Best Book for Children, ever.

From comic books and Greek myths, I had a tendency to drift towards series books--Dr. Doolittle, Thornton Burgess, Tarzan, the Three Investigators, the Hardy Boys. Birthday celebrations at my house were far different from the Laser Tag/Chuck E. Cheese/Mini Golf/Roller Skating extravaganzas of today--for my birthday when I was a kid, my cousin would get to sleep over, and my Dad (or my uncle, when it was my cousin's birthday) would take us out for a pizza and a movie, and we'd get to split five bucks at the arcade. But the highlight was a quick trip into Caldor's where Matt and I would each get to pick out a Hardy Boys book, which we'd trade back after we'd read it. From the Hardy Boys I went to reading all of Ian Fleming (I remember getting in trouble in 5th grade for reading From Russia With Love during indoor recess) including his travelogue Thrilling Cities which was my favorite. I read all of the Philip Marlowe stories, and I started branching out into science fiction, and I think by around the age of ten I'd read some Heinlein, Bradbury, and the Tolkien novels. I read Doc Savage novels by the dozens. I was a fiend for reading.

One week each summer we would go to my great uncle's cottage in Maine, which my father had been going to since he was a little kid, and where I now bring my own children. Back then, the cottage seemed like the last outpost of humanity in a thrilling wilderness; it sat on a pine shaded lake, only accessible by a winding narrow dirt road. Once on a drive back through the woods to town an owl flew inside of the open window of our station wagon, its wings flapping against my father's neck in a panic, sharp talons inches away from my father's neck. My grandfather, the most gentle man I'd ever known, was sitting beside him in the shotgun seat. He leaned over and, without hurry or malice, calmly flicked his wrist at the owl, and the bird tumbled back out the window and flew off. The incident, in addition to convincing my young brother and I of our father's bravery and grandfather's incipient heroism, lent yet another aura of adventure to the mystique of the cottage and surrounding woods.

The days on the lake were the brightest ever, the lake glittering silver and gold in the sunshine, and the nights were darker than in the development where we lived back home in Connecticut.When not warding off deadly birds of prey, we'd swim, go canoeing, hiking or swimming, and after a day full of physical activity, the best conclusion was to sink, muscle-tired skin still tingling from sunshine and lake water, into one of the soft-cushioned chairs on the screened porch and read. Some of my best memories of my weeks in Maine are of the literally hundreds of books I've read there over the years.

One year, maybe I was eleven or twelve, I brought along a new paperback that looked pretty interesting to me, a book of horror short stories. I'd also been reading everything in the library with Alfred Hitchcock's name on it) had a blue cover with die cut holes in it where various sized eyes peeked out. You'd open the cover to find that the eyes were on a gauze-wrapped human hand. One of the eyes was at the joint of a finger, and for some reason I'd fixate on it and wonder what would happen if the eye-hand guy made a fist. I thought that maybe I'd find a story inside about old Argus, my buddy from D'aulaires Book of Greek Myths.

The book was Night Shift, by Stephen King.

Stayed tuned for Under the Influence, part III, where I'll write a bit more about Mr. King, and also of the most horrific thing I've ever read. Also, don't forget to leave a post under the T-shirt contest blog. I'll pick a winner, randomly, next week.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Giving You the Shirt Off MyBack

In addition to the shirt I'm giving away to one of the people that posts on the last blog entry, the fearsome--and well read--Monster Librarian is running a contest for a large Generation Dead shirt over at The contest can be found here. There is also a review of GD here and an interview with me here. The interview was fun; we did it through Instant Messenger.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Under the Influence--GD T-Shirt Giveaway--Video Review

I was interviewed yesterday by Dylan from (I'll post a link when he posts the interview). We did the interview through IM, which was sort of weird to begin with, but I was thrown when he asked a question about my influences as regards to GD being a zombie novel.

I was thrown initially because there really weren't any zombie novels per se that we're top of mind when he asked the question--certainly not novels I'd consider an influence. Maybe the answers are buried more deeply inside my brain (my braaaaiiiiiin), and I no longer consciously recall what my influences are, at least with regards to the zombie-ish aspects of the book. Anyhow, I did come up with a few titles, which you can read about when the interview posts if you'd like.

The question of influence has been an odd one to wrap my mind around, maybe because my starting point is that everything we've read, is influential in some way. There are stylistic influences, thematic influences, and influences on one's world view. I'm going to write about my literary influences over the next few posts, I think--fair warning!


Before I do that, I'd like to ask a favor--if any of you who've read the book could take the time to post a comment about who you see as my influences, I'd really appreciate it. I think I know which authors and books had the greatest influence on me, but I want to know what you think.

I'll even sweeten the deal--anyone who post will be entered into a drawing for a Generation Dead t-shirt.

Also, check this cool video review out at OneMinuteCritic.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

With a Hope of Making Sense

I posted a few more reviews in the links section, as well as a last minute appearance in the calendar section. If you happen to be in the Waterford, Connecticut area this Saturday around 1 p.m., stop by the local Borders, where I will be signing and discussing zombies.

P.S.--we will be raffling off one of those too-cool Generation Dead T-shirts that are all the rage these days.

Don't be caught dead--mwuh-haha-ha-ha!--without one.