Author Spotlight - Stant Litore, Author of the The Zombie Bible Series
It is with much pleasure that today we have an interview with Stant Litore, author of the Zombie Bible Series. The much anticipated third novel, "Strangers in the Land", is published today! Can't WAIT to read it!
It's 1160 BC. As great herds of these walking corpses invade ancient Israel, four must stand against the dead. Devora, who sees what God sees. The slave girl Hurriya. Zadok, a legend among warriors. And the widower Barak, fighting to keep his vineyard free of this new peril.
Devora is no stranger to the unclean dead. As a child, she heard her mother’s shrieks as the ravenous dead pulled her from the tent. And it was Devora's hand that ended her mother's restless hunger the next morning.
Now Devora has made an uneasy alliance with those she fears most among the living. But can they stand together? For the living fear each other—fear the strangers in the land—as much as they fear the hungry dead.
Arrives October 16, 2012 from 47North
Based Loosely on Judges 4
How the stalking of Stant Litore began:
One of my good friends on Goodreads.com, Devlin, sent me a recommendation to read "Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows", the first book of the Zombie Bible.
I totally loved it!
Without much delay, I read the second novella "What Our Eyes Have Witnessed" and knew I had found an author to never lose track of. Anything this man writes, I will read.
(The old covers. The covers have been re-done and I posted them below. How awesome are they though?)
I was so happy when Stant granted me an interview, and some ecopies for some super lucky readers! So make sure you don't miss your chance to win, and enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post!!
A little about Stant:
Born a farmer's son in the Pacific Northwest, Stant Litore took the college road and eventually earned his PhD in English, but remains passionate for things that grow. He spent several years in a dim corner of a library, repairing bruised and battered books, before heading overseas to backpack through Europe. Haunted by the hunger and poverty he witnessed at home and abroad, he began spinning stories about the hungers that devour us and the hopes that preserve us. Today he lives in Colorado with his wife and their two daughters, writing about the restless dead and the restless living. He avoids certain parts of the mountains during the dark of the moon.
You can contact Stant Litore at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What brought you to writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
When I was three I started drawing stories in pictures on all the paper I could find in my father’s shop. Stories about rocket ships, or cats, or cats in rocket ships zooming off to hunt mice on the moon. I juststarted telling stories, and I’ve never mastered the knack of not doing it, so I still am.
2. What drew you or inspired you to write horror fiction, specifically into the zombie genre?
I started by writing fantasy, and will probably always write fantasy. The Zombie Bible is fantasy fiction, even though it’s horror, too. The reason my fantasy becomes horror is that with each passing year, I am more acutely aware of the utter horror of the world we live in, held barely in balance with moments of incredible wonder and tenderness. I may look up from my writing and go play with my toddler and listen to her giggle and know her laughter for something indescribably and irreplaceably precious, but I cannot forget that a few neighborhoods from where I live, there are young women and girls locked in
basements, suffering because they have been sold and bought as property. My fiction is about the good and the bad that we witness – and about witnessing about it, the necessity of speaking up when we see suffering. I refuse to let either myself or my readers forget either the horrors around us or the hope we must have within us.
3. What was your inspiration in creating The Zombie Bible?
I was watching one of my favorite movies, Night of the Living Dead, and I happened to be reading the biblical book of Judges at the same time. And something just clicked. I was suddenly imagining the prophetess and the war-leader that you meet in chapter 4 of Judges facing not a living opponent but a dead one. Some of the first scenes I wrote in this series appear in Strangers in the Land, the forthcoming volume, which tells the story of that prophetess and that war-leader.
After that I just brainstormed and wrote, furiously. This was in summer 2009. I asked some tough questions. What do you see when you look into the face of a zombie? What do you see when you look into the face of the living? What do these encounters mean?
4. I have read a lot of zombie novels, and you are the first author that I have personally read that has set your stories during biblical times. What made you decide to use those time eras, as opposed to a more futuristic setting which seems to be the trend?
A love for the old biblical stories. They are bloody, raw, tender, beautiful, all at once, and they force us to ask difficult and sometimes unanswerable questions. Trouble is, they are so overused and misused politically that in our time and our culture both the religious and the secular ignore the actual stories. They deserve not to be ignored.
More generally, I am in love with history. I look to the past to learn things about our present and our future. It’s also possible to look entirely forward and speculate, but that is someone else’s job.
5. There are so many different relationships created in both novels between people, and between individuals & country/government. You definitely explore everything from love, friendship, selfishness and betrayal. Individual readers will take different messages with them because the stories are so full bodied with different human emotions and situations. When you wrote these novels for your audience, what was the main message you personally hoped to convey?
That’s a near-impossible question, because the message comes out of the story, the story doesn’t come from the message. And each story has its own theme. In Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, Yirmiyahu says, “No nation can be called great if some of its people starve, or are sold to beds in other cities, or are forgotten, or sacrificed to the dead to make a few men feel safe.” That’s one of the themes of the series – that we cannot call ourselves civilized yet allow members of our community to suffer through neglect, cruelty, or lack of opportunity. In the world of The Zombie Bible, those are the very
conditions that make a zombie apocalypse an inevitability. Other themes include the necessity and power of hope, even when failure is almost certain, and the need to gaze into another human being’s eyes – as Polycarp does – and see them as who they truly are, not who we wish them to be or fear them to be. As one of the characters in the upcoming novel Strangers in the Land tells us, “When I look at you, you look back. Only the dead don’t look back.”
In both my fiction and my life, I am driven by a couple of religious themes. One is tzelem elohim, the idea that we are each made, and all of us are made, in the likeness of God. That carries profound implications for how we look upon and treat one another. It’s a theme that our value and our worth, while not intrinsic, is yet irrevocable because we are loved by our Maker. No matter how damaged we are, we are also truly loved and we retain, always, the ability to truly love others. That’s what Regina learns in What Our Eyes Have Witnessed.
Another is the utter necessity of social justice. In the words of one old apostle, “True religion is this – to care for the fatherless and the widow, and to keep oneself focused and undiluted in the world.”
6. I would imagine that authors that write about zombies, and the readers that gobble those books up (like me!), spend some time thinking about the possibility of the dead rising. What would you do, Stant, if it EVER happened??
In all reality…probably die. I’d have a wife and two girls to feed and defend, and that isn’t conducive to long life expectancy in the zombie apocalypse. I’d just make damn sure they were as safe and provided for as they could be. I’d give my wife a few more lessons with the longsword; she’s a natural, and where her babies are concerned, she’s fierce. I’d teach my children not to go anywhere alone, not to go near someone with a bite, etc. And I’d fight for their survival. We’d have to get out of the city quick – that would be the first really hard part. The second would be setting up somewhere with food. Luckily we always have a good supply of canned goods, so we can take those with us. But hungry dead aside, the bare necessities of life would quickly become overwhelming. I have no illusions. It would be very nearly unsurvivable.
So, like Father Polycarp, we’d have to give the impossible our best shot.
7. I am reaaaalllyyyy looking forward to third installment being released this year. Please tell us a little bit about it and where it will take place this time?
Strangers in the Land takes place in 1160 BC Israel—as the walking corpses devour the tents and homesteads of the People. Four will stand against the dead: Devora, who sees what God sees. The slave girl Hurriya. Zadok, a legend among warriors. And the widower Barak, fighting to keep his vineyard free of this new peril. But can they stand together? For the living fear each other—fear the strangers in the land—as much as they fear the hungry dead.
8. What is your personal favorite genre/authors to read?
I read widely, but especially enjoy any type of “wonder” fiction – whether it is the “magical realism” of Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez or the space opera of C J Cherryh. I read a lot of fantasy. I enjoy a good historical novel more than almost anything, but rarely enjoy the historical fiction I do find. My two favorite novelists are Gene Wolfe and Cormac McCarthy.
9. As best as you can recall, what has been the most memorable reader reaction to your novels?
I made a reader cry.
10. The writing world is tough! Any advice for aspiring authors?
Find out who your characters really are, let them show you, and find the truth your novel has to tell. Nothing matters more than that. Do not compromise or take shortcuts. Do not chicken out under pressure and write the easier path for your story. If that means you find out two thirds the way through that a near-complete rewrite would give you a story nine times as powerful, you do it. If you won’t have the courage to let your story dig deep into the heart, you’re wasting your time.
Secondly, if you are an indie writer, hire a good developmental editor. This is crucial. I have heard a lot of indies talking about the need for a good copy editor, and that’s certainly essential. But you need a good developmental editor, too – someone who will take an experienced and impartial look at your story and talk with you about which scenes to cut, which scenes to move, where a character is inconsistent or falling flat for a while. Don’t skip this phase. That one additional draft with an expert’s questions to prompt you may be the difference between an okay novel and a great novel.
Third, whether you are looking into traditional publishing, regional publishing, indie publishing, or self-publishing, do your research on your options—and most importantly: never, ever give up.
Stant, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on the latest release of this series, "Strangers in the Land".
Guys, you need to head on over to Amazon, and grab these books! Worth every penny. But if you want to take a chance on winning the first two novels make sure you enter below. Stant has generously offered two sets of the first two books - "Death has Come Up Into Our Windows" and "What Our Eyes Have Witnessed" - so we will have two winners!