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In This Dark Zombie Wasteland

Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole Author Interview

Outbreak follows a group of friends trying to find a safe home in a zombie wasteland. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I think it was a combination of different stories, but the main inspiration for this story is the same inspiration that made me start writing – a book called Everlost by Neal Shusterman. It was an amazing story of this boy and this girl trying to survive in a mysterious limbo world while seeking personal answers. The book pulled me in and I was developing the spark that would later ignite the writer in me. I started writing and re-writing while brainstorming what works and what doesn’t.

Sonny, Ashley and Carrie are all well-developed characters. What were some ideas that guided the groups development and relationship?

I looked and analyzed stories that weren’t just good, but great and why they were great stories. I looked for what made characters likable. Likable characters are ones that readers care about. They want good things for them and feel the intensity when they are in danger. In this dark zombie wasteland, it’s easy to lose humanity and resort to savagery. So, the idea that kids so young are not only fighting for their own survival but are fighting for their humanity. The way it is, if you have something you care about, then fight for it. Just like these three, Sonny, Ashley and Carrie fight for each other.

This novel did a great job of exploring friendships and connections between people. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Some of the themes that were important to explore in this book were figuring what to let go and what to hold on to. In a way, that’s part of growing up but the dark side in the book is in a zombie wasteland, children have to grow up faster. So, letting go of childish things like the joys of just being a kid for their own survival is something Sonny and the girls had to figure out and decide. The things they hold on to were things like love, friendship, courage, kindness, and the fire that keeps them alive inside are important because in certain environments like this, it’s almost all they have left.

This is book one in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book two?

In book two, readers can expect different things and familiar things. Without giving spoilers, the main character Sonny finds someone who has suffered loss in a severe way that most people can’t recover from. He helps her and in a way, it helps him be part of her family.

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Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.

While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.

When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1 by [Douglas, Ellie]The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas is a collection of thrilling short stories. The anthology investigates the idea of zombification threw a number of avenues, exploring what the impacts of an outbreak would be in a variety of scenarios. The anthology sits well within the horror and thriller genres and makes for an exciting though horrifying read. Ellie Douglas often investigates how the transition from living to dead, to living-dead would progress in the various instances of infection meaning that each story is unique in the ways in which this topic is explored.

The opening story is placed within a unique setting – space. The isolation of which is felt by the few characters exposed within the claustrophobic conditions of a space craft. When the Captain John Lancaster teases a crew mate, he accidentally breaks a space rock against the crewmate’s head. Upon inspection the rock appears to bleed. The unique nature of this rock leads Captain John Lancaster to send it as a gift to his daughter before the crew launch. Only when the crew are in space however does the full impact of the space rock’s strange qualities come into full effect. The crewmate, who the rock touched, begins to grow ill with flu like symptoms and is sent to the med bay. With the affected crewmate breaking out in lesions, Ellie Douglas explores in graphic detail the vile nature of the character’s transition creating a visual spectacle not for the faint hearted. The crew now in space, rush to find out if the disease is contagious. Meanwhile, John Lancaster, having sent the rock to his daughter on earth, attempts to contact the CDC and his family to see if his daughter faces the same fate as his crewmate. The author creates an intense feeling of suspense as John grows frantic trying to find out if his daughter will be okay.

Some of the stories are intended to be truly horrifying, such as ‘No More Coochy Coochy Coo!’ which takes place in a hospital, somewhere that maybe considered moderately safe in the event of an outbreak. This short story follows the labour of Samantha who is worried that her partner Jeff will not make it time for the birth of their first-born child. As the labour continues Samantha becomes increasingly more distressed. The new mother starts exclaiming that the baby is eating her. Initially the nurse dismisses it as labour pains, but as the doctor – attempting to aid the birth, begins to lose his fingers to the hungry unborn child, all is confirmed.

Meanwhile, Jeff the expecting father, gets distracted and finds his way to a ward where twenty-three babies lay wrapped soundly in blankets. He notices two children looking pale skinned and with sores, their arms blistered. Notifying a nurse of the babies’ condition he is escorted out of the room swiftly by a doctor as the children are taken to be quarantined. An air raid siren begins to sound outside.

Despite some of these more sombre and horrifying stories, some of the stories are laced with some comedy, such as a talking parrot on a cruise ship that yells profanities as it begins to peck at its keeper. Though, this becomes less humorous as the parrot’s feathers shed and it flies frantically around the inside of an elevator pecking at its keeper’s eyes.

The short stories offer snippets of potential scenarios to get the reader thinking and, being short, make for a perfect night time read – though be wary of nightmares.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B078PH4143

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Review: City Under the Moon

cutm 4star

City Under the Moon is a well written action adventure novel, but that’s not surprising considering who the author is. Hugh Sterbakov was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Robot Chicken: Star Wars and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III. He also co-created the Freshman comic books with Seth Green and also wrote Hell & Back which is a stop-motion feature film. Sprinkle in an MFA in screenwriting and you’re guaranteed the writing is going to be rock solid. Enough about Hugh, let’s focus on his book. City Under the Moon takes an outbreak approach to the werewolf story which, I think, is a semi original plot. The werewolf plague is spreading through Manhattan on New Year’s Eve eventually getting the attention of the FBI, the military, and the President.  In the beginning it starts with one or two cases of werewolf attacks, but that quickly multiplies. The military is deployed to Manhattan to, at first, evacuate civilians, but that quickly devolves into a quarantine of the island where the military is battling huge waves of zombies… I mean werewolves. An interesting idea that comes along with the werewolf outbreak is the fact that werewolves only change when the moon is out. So through the story there are these times during the day when people have time to prepare, sort of like the calm before the storm. But during these times there are people walking around among them that may have been bitten by a werewolf, don’t know about it, forgot about, or are trying to hide it, and when the moon comes  they change into werewolves right next to their loved ones. So it’s like a disease that is only deadly when the moon is out and makes everyone suspicious of each other during the day. Although the story takes on a scientific pretext, the origin of the werewolf outbreak comes straight from werewolf lore and is resolved according to those rules. At one point the characters have to travel to Transylvania to find the werewolf’s lair (the scene does not disappoint). The scene stands in stark contrast to the rest of the book as it seems like it’s pulled from an old Dracula novel. The last half of the book is a race against the clock to take out the werewolf leader before Manhattan is overrun and the wolf plague spreads beyond the island. There are several characters in the book, but I consider Brianna Tildascow and Lon to be the two main characters. These characters have well defined motivations and well developed character traits.  Tildascow is an FBI agent that is part of a secret government program to create super soldiers (which pretty much means she kicks ass), she has some abandonment issues that leads to promiscuity and a need to throw herself into her work. And Lon who is your typical anti-social, self-aggrandizing, misanthropic nerd (I’m pretty sure there ‘typical’…right) who happens to be the world’s foremost authority on the occult, specifically werewolves. There is rarely a dull moment in the novel where you’re not learning about the interesting characters, learning about the werewolf disease, learning about werewolf lore, or where werewolves are either killing or being killed. Now to discuss what I didn’t like about the book….. Well that’s enough about that. LOL. Ok, gun to the Hungry Monsters head, there were a few things that didn’t digest well, but City Under the Moon is a non-stop action packed thrill ride with very few missteps.

ISBN 0985245611
Pages: 464
Published March 1, 2012

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