We recently did a review of Necromancer and had time to sit down with its author, Scott Harper, to get a few words in about it.
1) Can you provide a brief summary of your novel, Necromancer?
It has been two years since Wendy Markland learned the horrible truth that vampires and other supernatural predators are indeed real. She has spent that time alone, hunting, desperate to avenge the loss of her brother. Now, a news report draws her to the small town of Pinewick, New Jersey, located in the small state’s infamous pine barrens. Upon arrival, the local Sheriff tries to end Wendy’s investigation before it can even begin. When she ignores him, Wendy finds out that what’s going on isn’t what she thought, though the dead are walking in Pinewick, New Jersey? Wendy’s investigation leads her to new friends, new love and new terrors in the pine barrens as she deals with not only a human necromancer, but an ancient death demon and hordes of zombies.
2) As this was the second book in the series, how many more do you plan?
Honestly, there is no overall plan for the length of the series anymore. The first book, “Predators or Prey?”, was originally meant as a stand-alone novel. After writing “Necromancer”, I had intended the next book, “Vindicated” to be the final Wendy Markland story. Now, I have a draft of Book 4 written. The Wendy Markland series of novels as a whole is also the basis of an up-coming, on-going comic book series called “Wendy Markland: Chronicles Nocturnum”. I’m writing and lettering that series. Pencils, inks and colors are by artist James Smith. Issue #1 is underway right now; the pencils and inks are finished on that issue and the colors are underway. “Wendy Markland: Chronicles Nocturnum” will be the flagship title of a new comic book publisher called Timeless Comics. Even when the novels stop, if the comic series is still going on at that point, I’ll still be writing new Wendy Markland stories. There are some in mind right now that I’m extremely excited about and eager to get to.
3) Considering the overall plot, there had to be a reason to include the New Jersey Pine Barrens as a setting? It is a location that already has a history of strange sightings, The Jersey Devil for one. Was this based on a personal preference or because so few authors in this genre have used that area?
Setting “Necromancer” in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey was a choice I made because of a mix of reasons. One is that, as you said, it already had a history of mysterious occurrences. I also felt it best to use a location that easily afforded large areas with little human habitation. Also, the fact that I haven’t run across very many stories set there made it more unique in that regard.
4) Would you consider your book and series with the character of Wendy and Necromancer, to be a project that you created for yourself to enjoy initially then decided to put out for all to read?
No, I intended for the Wendy Markland books to be published all along. For a long time I’d wanted to do a project focusing on a monster-hunter. None of the ideas I’d had for that in the past felt right to me, though. I wasn’t until Wendy Markland “introduced” herself to me that things really fell into place, though.
5) When you sit down and write, what is your perfect writing environment, Quiet, Music, a specific room in the house?
What helps get you in the mood? Watching classic horror films or…?
When I work, I need absolute peace and quiet – no music, no TV, no screaming children playing in the yard next door. As for what gets me “in the mood” to write, I’m always in the mood for that! Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. There are more ideas bouncing around in my head than I’ll probably ever get to write. Ideas come from all over the place and at the oddest times. The inspiration for Wendy Markland actually came from the character of Peter Vincent in the original (1985) “Fright Night”, as portrayed by the late Roddy McDowall.
6) What kind of research did you do to get the ambience of the story setting, the environment, incorporating a region that already has a history of supernatural sightings and events into the plot, attitudes of the characters, developing the characters, etc?
When “Necromancer” was written, I was living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. In June of 2012 I relocated to California to be with my fiancée—critically-acclaimed, best-selling paranormal author Desirée Lee. Never having actually been to New Jersey, research into the area was by way of websites devoted to the area in general and the paranormal history of the Pine Barrens. I also watched several TV documentaries and exchanged e-mails with a few people knowledgeable about New Jersey. While the Jersey Devil doesn’t actually appear in “Necromancer”, I didn’t want to omit reference to that unexplained phenomena, either. With “Wendy Markland: Chronicles Nocturnum” starting up, there may well be a return trip to the Pine Barrens for Wendy Markland in the future. If that were to happen, maybe she’ll cross paths with the Leeds Devil then…
7) Once you were finished or even before you set out to do this project, were there publishers already in mind or did one seek you out?
Dark Castle Lords Publications had picked up my work beginning with the first Wendy Markland novel, “Predators or Prey?”. My first three novels – “Winter’s Rite”, “Well Wishes” and “Gauntlet” respectively – had all been self-published. My plan at the time was to self-publish “Predators or Prey?” also. Then I was invited to partake in a group book signing as one of around a dozen authors for the event. That signing changed my life. It was there that I made contact with people from Dark Castle Lords Publications, leading to them picking up my work beginning with the Wendy Markland series. It was also there that I met my fiancée.
8) What advice can you impart to other authors who want to create a zombie/horror/apocalyptic genre novella/novel?
Personally, I would have to advise them to make the story revolve around the human characters, not the zombies. So many of the things I see in this genre are not much more than zombies killing people – not much of a plot there. If someone wants to write zombie fiction, I think the story needs to focus on more than that. With “Necromancer”, Wendy actually goes to the Pine Barrens thinking she’s going after vampires. She wants vampires after what she went through in “Predators or Prey?”; she wants to kill more vampires because she doesn’t feel she’s gotten enough revenge after the events of the first book. When she gets there and finds zombies instead, she mostly takes it in stride, but that’s more, I think, because she’s already made friends with someone who is involved in what’s going on by that time. Not to mention the proverbial gauntlet being tossed down in front of her by the local sheriff. The story, though, is Wendy trying to atone for perceived failures from the first book while wanting to keep anyone else safe from what she went through. The actual threat doesn’t matter nearly as much, I don’t think, as the motives and drives of the main character.
9) Do you feel there is anyone in particular that influenced your entry into the horror genre and specifically the inclusion of zombies into your work?
As I said above, my Wendy Markland character was inspired by the character of Peter Vincent in the original (1985) “Fright Night”. I’ve not yet seen the remake, though I want to—in large part because I’m very curious to see David Tennant’s take on the Peter Vincent character. As for “Necromancer” specifically, though, not really. The first Wendy Markland novel, “Predators or Prey?”, was meant as a stand-along novel at first. Not long after I finished it, I had a mental flash, vision, call it what you will, of Wendy Markland standing in deep woodlands. She was surrounded by zombies and wearing/holding the razor disc launcher she has in the novel. In all honesty, one of the main reasons I wrote “Necromancer” was simply to see Wendy use that razor disc launcher!
10) Do you have any particular favorites when it comes to other books or films that depict somewhat similar events not one that necessarily contains zombies?
Nothing really comes to mind on that one. Sorry.
11) If you had to do it all over again, the writing, the publishing, the advertising, is there anything different you would do?
As an author, you always look back on past projects and want to do certain things differently. You learn; you grow as a writer. Revisiting a past project, you always see things you’d do differently if you were writing it now. You have ideas for subplots and plot twists that you never thought of while writing the project that you wish you could add in. You want to word things differently. You also asked about the advertising. Promotion and advertising are never-ending, full-time jobs for any author. Yes, there are methods of promotion I know about now that I didn’t know about when “Necromancer” was first published. It would have been nice to be able to take advantage of those when the book was a new release.
12) What are your future plans for this book? Any sequels already planned and outlined or is it still waiting in the wings?
“Necromancer” was the second Wendy Markland novel. The third, “Vindicated”, is also out now. The fourth, “Retrograde”, has been drafted. I’ve also talked a bit about the comic book series, “Wendy Markland: Chronicles Nocturnum”. The first story of that series is going to be a comic book adaptation of the first Wendy Markland novel, “Predators or Prey?”. The current plan is to then adapt “Necromancer”, “Vindicated” and “Retrograde” – which may well end up being the first original story for the comic – to get me, as the writer, to the place I want to be with the character for future stories. Otherwise, the series would diverge into a sort of parallel universe and I’d rather not do that. So, unless Timeless Comics changes their minds, that’s the current plan for the comic series. I’m anxious to get to some of the original stories that Timeless Comics has green-lit.
13) Where can fans find more of your work?
My website is www.scottharper.net. There are links there to all of my work. I keep a WordPress blog, too, and it appears on the homepage of my site.
Category: Zombie News