Dead New World
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Zombies
Published: 13th October 2014
Curiosity Quills Press
Genre: Horror, Dystopian
Age: Young Adult
Zombies aren’t mindless anymore.
Before the world fell into chaos, the undead existed only in the imagination. Now, more of them walk the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans entomb themselves inside concrete barricades to stay alive.
All that, while the leader of a powerful cult – known only as Reverend – becomes the next threat to the rebuilding United States. Believing zombies to be God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With his combined army of humans and zombies, he may well get his wish.
Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose…though he survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death.
Disgusted with myself, I let go of Nancy and walked, alone and with a heavy heart, to Ambrose’s room. I could see him through the window, asleep on a twin bed.
“Push the red button to talk into the microphone,” Nancy said.
I pressed the red button on the control panel next to the door. “Hey, man, wake up.”
Ambrose slowly stirred from his sleep. “Who is it?”
“Ha.” Ambrose stood, draping bed sheets over his white scrubs. The days of being stuck in this small room seemed to have sapped his strength. He leaned against the wall, too tired to stand on his own for long. “Nice to see you on your foot.”
“Funny. I could say the same for you. I hear you got one hell of a hickey. Didn’t your mother teach you to stay away from strangers?”
“I never did mind her like I should have.”
I tried to get a good look at him, but the lack of light made it impossible. “They said most people don’t last a day after being bitten. You’ve made it four. I guess I should congratulate you.” Surviving this awful disease longer than most. What a terrible silver lining. I bet he wished the virus would get it over with and turn him.
“Yeah, lucky me.” Ambrose coughed into his bed sheets. “Maybe they’ll give me a prize, like some bacon or something.”
“What… what does it feel like?”
Ambrose shrugged. “Kind of like being sick. Had a fever at first, then some numbness over part of my body.”
“Is it getting any worse?”
“No.” Ambrose sniffed. “Some parts still feel like me, others… like these gray parts, nothing.” He pointed at his arm where the skin had turned a sickly gray. “They’re dead, I guess.”
Nancy loudly cleared her throat. “We need to get you back to your room. They patrol this place pretty regularly, especially when we have… guests.”
I nodded to her, then turned my attention back to Ambrose. “I have to go. I’m sorry. I wish it was me in there, instead of you.”
Ambrose stepped up to the window. The light from the hallway revealed his face. For the first time, I got a glimpse of what his loyalty to me cost him. I froze, unable to take a breath for a long beat. One of his eyes remained normal, but the other took on that awful redness. Patches of dead skin were all over his face. The guilt rising up seemed almost too much to bear. What kind of hell had I sent my friend to?
It seems like everybody is writing about zombies these days. What sets yours apart from the herd?
DEAD NEW WORLD is full of large action sequences, thrills readers expect from a zombie novel, and even some hand-to-hand combat between humans and zombies. DNW also has one major caveat: a select few people can survive a zombie bite. These survivors become human-zombie hybrids, capable of communicating with and controlling zombies. The book also does not feature Brad Pitt running around in a scarf.
What is the novel about?
Holt, a seventeen-year-old soldier, must save the woman he loves from a cult leader bent on turning everyone into a zombie. Born shortly after the zombie apocalypse, this hellish world is the only one Holt knows. Before it’s over, he’s going to learn that zombies may not be the most dangerous thing in this… dead new world. Dun-dun-dunnnn! You like how I worked the title into my answer.
Sure. It was awesome. Moving on. Would you touch a zombie on a dare?
What if you were offered a dollar?
Hm… is there a chance it could bite me?
Let me think… yeah. For a buck, I can roll with those odds.
Were you inspired by any zombie tales when writing DEAD NEW WORLD?
Can you elaborate? Please?
Fine, if you’re going to press…
Ryan, YOU are the one making up these questions. You’re only being difficult with yourself.
Answer the question!
The one about zombie influences?
*slaps forehead* YES.
Actually, every zombie book, movie, or television show I’ve come across influenced me. I love a well-told zombie tale, and I’d sometimes find myself wishing they’d stretch the limits of the genre. Some people don’t like Isaac Marion’s WARM BODIES, but it’s certainly a unique take on the genre. For me, the biggest thing was “Why is the zombie virus, or whatever it is, 100% lethal?” I wanted to explore the possibility of someone surviving. Yes, 28 WEEKS LATER has some people who survive, but aside from an eye changing color and their fluids becoming contagious, what’s different about them? Nothing. I wanted to dig deeper into that idea, while also writing a story that had epic action and fun scares.
Is there anything else you’d like to see in the genre?
Honestly? I wish they hadn’t made a film adaptation of Max Brooks’s WORLD WAR Z. It’s by far the best zombie novel ever written (mine is a somewhat distant second), and while the film isn’t bad, it’s not WORLD WAR Z. That novel needs to be turned into a 13-15 episode miniseries for HBO, with each chapter being a different episode. It would be the greatest zombie story ever filmed. It can still be done too. Maybe if enough people buy DNW, I can go up to Brad Pitt and his scarf, and offer to put up the money to make it for HBO. It can happen.
No it can’t.
You’re right. But a guy can dream, right?
Sure. Have your dream. Is there anything else you’d like to say about DEAD NEW WORLD?
DNW is the first in a trilogy. The second novel is DARK NEW WORLD, and the finale is THE NEW WORLD. Each novel will dig deeper into this world I’ve created. They will also further explore the psychological and emotional impact of surviving the zombie virus. It’s all quite exciting!
Handling Negative Reviews
The rule of thumb for writers is to avoid reviews at any cost. Just don’t look at them. If you’re Gillian Flynn or JK Rowling and get thousands of them, it’s easy to do that. For those of us who haven’t sold a few million books, reviews can be important. They help get the word out about your work, exposing it to people who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of it. This is HUGE. On Amazon, if a book gets enough reviews, it gets bumped into an algorithm that exposes it to more people. Reviews can be great. Sadly, they can also be negative.
Negative reviews can hurt. A lot. A writer spends so much time slaving over a manuscript, making sure it’s ready to submit out to agents or publishers. If accepted, the writer then is faced with several more months of editing. When it’s all said and done, a writer may spend almost two years working to get just one novel published. It’s hard to put that kind of commitment into something, and then read a review where someone says “This is drivel. Terrible writing. This stinks. Blah blah blah.” To dismiss something as if it were nothing hurts. A lot. At least, it can hurt.
Negative reviews are a fact of life. People are going to know a writer’s work for an infinite number of reasons. Maybe they’re jealous. Maybe the book touched a nerve in the reviewer that made them uncomfortable. Or, maybe they genuinely disliked the book. It happens. And it’s not up to a writer to worry about it. Most writers can be insecure (myself included), which makes a bad review that much more difficult to get over. But it can be done.
When I get a negative review, the first thing I do is laugh. Period. I laugh at the review. Sometimes, if I think it’s an especially ridiculous review, I’ll copy and paste snippets to my friends, so they can share in the laughter. Then, I put it out of my mind. What’s one bad review among, say, ten? That means 90% of the people who read your book really liked it. That’s a pretty good number, don’t you think?
Also, to even get to a point where your work is published, a writer has to go through an endless amount of rejection. Agents, publishers, contests, etc. will have all told a writer no several times before they reach that elusive yes. Even Harry Potter got rejected 32 times (or so. Too lazy to look it up.). So, as a writer, you should be used to rejection. Yes, it’s a little different, since this is the public trashing your novel, so more people see it, but the principle remains the same. Even during edits with a publisher, a writer will have to deal with criticism (at least constructive criticism). It’s okay. And here’s why:
- People can say whatever they want about a book you wrote. They’ll NEVER be able to take away the fact that YOU WROTE SOMETHING A PERSON LIKED ENOUGH TO PUBLISH. That is a massive achievement!
- Some people may leave a negative review without reading the entire book. This is extremely bad form, and not worth anyone’s time, especially the writer’s. The others… well, on the bright side, THEY READ YOUR ENTIRE BOOK. That’s a good thing!
- Haters gonna hate. That’s what they do. It’s a part of life, accept it, and move on. Nobody needs to dwell on negativity in their life.
- YOU’RE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR AND WHOMEVER WROTE A NEGATIVE REVIEW PROBABLY ISN’T. In short…YOU WIN.
- So… smile! While you’re working on getting another book published, that person is working on another negative review. Ask yourself this: which person would you rather be?
Behind the Scenes: Writing DEAD NEW WORLD
DEAD NEW WORLD had an interesting journey towards publication. I’d actually written it before my “debut” novel, THE BOOK OF BART. After BART was picked up by Curiosity Quills, I dusted off DNW and asked if they were interested. They were. And the rest is history.
That’s not a very interesting journey.
Let me back up a bit.
I feel most comfortable writing fun, silly stories in the vein of Christopher Moore, like BART is (it’s a twisted buddy cop tale about a demon forced to work with an angel to find a powerful relic). I don’t just want to write those kinds of tales. I want to write a little of everything. For me, writing one particular genre over and over can lead an author to become complacent, unwilling to venture outside of their bread and butter. Sadly, that’s not going to help an author expand their skills. In my opinion, you need to write all sorts of different things to stretch their muscles. DNW was the first exercise in that.
After abandoning a silly manuscript (several parts of which were retooled for BART), I wanted to do something different. Something dark. Scary. I’d never tried to write something like that before. I also wanted to do my take on the zombie genre. There were so many things I dreamt of seeing in a zombie story, but never saw them. This was my chance to put those things into a story myself. Once I was able to put those two ideas together, DNW was born. I spent almost a year writing and editing the manuscript, then set about trying to find a home for it. I’d submit the manuscript to agents and publishers, many of whom liked the book, but didn’t think they could sell it (this happens A LOT, so get used to it). At one point, I traveled up to Connecticut for a writer’s conference to pitch DNW in person. Again, I got some nibbles, but nothing concrete. During this time, I did get some interesting feedback on the story.
I wanted DNW to be dark. Like… really dark. I also wanted it to end on a massive cliffhanger, leaving the reader with this feeling that they have to read the sequel (there will be three) as soon as humanly possible. It was great. Only… it wasn’t.
The ending, which couldn’t have been more pitch black if I’d tried, had to be lightened up. Not a lot, just enough to where the reader wasn’t left feeling like the world was a terrible place. The changes were made, and to make it work I even went back and created a new character to help with the ending. When it was all said and done, I still had a dark ending, just one that didn’t leave readers in a place where they’d want to listen to a lot of music from The Cure. I also pulled in part of what was supposed to be the start of DARK NEW WORLD (the first sequel) and tacked it on to the end.
Everything was worth it in the end, as the retooled and improved DEAD NEW WORLD was picked up by Curiosity Quills, and now my zombie epic is being unleashed upon the world!
About the Author
Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.