Can you provide a brief summary of your novel, 100 Days in Deadland?
In one day, the world succumbed to a pestilence that decimated the living. In its place rose a new species: vicious, gruesome, wandering zombies with an insatiable hunger for the living. There is no government. No shelter. No hope.
Still in her twenties, Cash has watched her friends die, only to walk again. An office worker with few survival skills, she joins up with Clutch, a grizzled Army veteran with PTSD. Together, they flee the city and struggle through the nine circles of hell, with nothing but Clutch’s military experience and Cash’s determination to live. As they fight to survive in the zombie inferno, they quickly discover that nowhere is safe from the undead…or the living.
From what I understand, this is the first book in the Deadland series. How many books are there total within this series and do they continue with the characters from Book 1 or are they different tales that take place within the same ‘universe’ as it were?
The Deadland Saga is a single story stretched across three books: 100 Days in Deadland, Deadland’s Harvest, and Deadland Rising. The saga is a retelling of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, zombie apocalypse style! Each book covers one of the three poems in the Divine Comedy.
What did you find difficult to accomplish within your book? The research, character development and arcs, regional locations, etc?
Without a doubt, the hardest part of writing 100 Days in Deadland was the tie-in with Dante’s “Inferno.” I wanted a fresh, modern story, but I also wanted to keep the themes and symbolism of the “Inferno” without it feeling like a remake. An example of a movie that I think pulled off this blend perfectly was Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou, which is a modern retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.
As this isn’t your first novel, it is however, your first within this particular sub genre that straddles both horror and science fiction. What made you want to step into the whole Zombie Apocalyptic genre?
I have been obsessed with apocalyptic stories since Mad Max, and I love the human element of zombie stories. Put the two together, and this is something I’ve been craving to write for a very long time.
When you sit down and write what is your perfect writing environment, i.e., quiet, music, a specific room in the house?
What helps get you in the mood? Watching classic horror films or…?
I have a red recliner where I enjoy writing on my laptop, and I always have music playing in the background. Some of my current favorite bands are Volbeat, Five Finger Deathpunch, Avenged Sevenfold, and Godsmack.
Who are 5 people, besides immediate family and nearby friends, that you would want to bestuck with or in a group with during an apocalyptic event not exactly a zombie outbreak but something that would affect life as you know it on a global scale? Why?
If an apocalyptic event happened, I’d try to latch onto a Delta team or Seal team. Knowing they’d be tough to find, I would search out Team Exodus. They’re a group of preppers on the Zombie Forum who together have the knowledge, weapons, and tools needed to survive just about any event.
In a hypothetical apocalypse, what would be your preference;viral outbreak, extraterrestrial event, zombies, natural disaster, etc, and why?
My preference for an apocalypse would be a viral outbreak because it would offer the best chance for survival. If I were prepared and able to quarantine myself in time, I would stand a decent chance at surviving until the outbreak ran its course. Surviving any other type of outbreak requires luck as much or more so than preparation.
What advice can you impart to authors just starting out who want to break into the any particular genre?
Read a lot. Authors need to understand the rules and trends in a particular genre so that they know what readers expect as well as what rules are critical (and what can be broken).
Who do you feel is directly responsible for your entry into thefield of writing and specifically the inclusion of zombies into your work?
Ever since reading Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, I wanted to write a zombie story. In his book, it could be argued his zombies are vampires (and vice versa), but regardless, it was what gave me the zombie bug. I absolutely love how zombie stories (and any monster story, really) is a story of the human condition and what it means to be human.
What and who are your favorite authors and books not in the zombie/horror genre? Tell us a little bit about them and how they may have affected your work.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s an apocalyptic tale, but it’s told in such a fresh voice that it really stands out as a masterpiece. It’s in a class all of its own and inspires me to push myself to think beyond the current trends (I know, that’s ironic since my current novel is a zombie story!).
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It’s a story where the enemy is as much us (humans) as it is the aliens. This story is a great reminder that the enemy can sometimes be ourselves.
The Histories by Herodotus. A little bit fiction, a little bit fact, they paint the world with a dramatic, epic brush. Often times, I find myself looking to the classics for inspiration regarding conflict (because the best stories and tales of conflict never go out of date). In the case of 100 Days in Deadland, my inspiration came directly from a classic: Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy!
If you had to do it all over again, the research, the writing, the search for a publisher, etc, would you do any of it differently?
While I have no regrets, I would venture into self-publishing sooner. I have five novels traditionally published, from which I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about the publishing process and industry. I had a skewed perception about self-publishing not being recognized as a viable publishing model, and I was wrong. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it also has some great perks. Stories that may not fit publishers’ niches are ideal for self-publishing. Where my other books were written within specific genre guidelines, I decided to write 100 Days in Deadland based on what the story needed. Very few publishers, if any, handle literary horror. But, I went ahead and published it, and it found an audience.
Do you have any plans to continue writing within this same genre or branch out into other related sub genres that ‘straddle’ main genres?
Absolutely! I really enjoy apocalyptic fiction and nearly all my stories involve that theme. Going forward, I think it’s safe to say that my writing will likely always fall somewhere within the science fiction/horror genres.
Where can readers and fans alike find out more information about your books and upcoming projects that you’re involved in?
I keep my website (http://www.rachelaukes.com) updated with the latest scoop on releases and works-in-progress. From there, you can join my mailing list to get notified on new releases (and to receive exclusive stories!). You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.