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Indie Author 20 Questions: Jack Wallen

18 Aug

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

At this point I would normally start of by saying something pithy about being strange, but unfortunately everyone seems to have taken the “strange” label – and I’m not one to follow trends. Oh wait, there ya go… back in high school I was voted most likely to start a fad (also most likely to appear on Broadway – which I did). I was notorious in high school for doing the strangest things just to see if I could get others to do them. As soon as whatever it was I was doing caught on, I’d stop doing it and watch everyone continue on.

Packed like lemmings into tiny metal boxes (as it were).

I’m the underdog’s underdog and go out of my way to support and root for the little guy (I’m 5’4” – I kinda have to root for the little guy).

——and since I top the ruler at 4’10″ I’m glad you root for the little guy! :D –MS

2.) How long have you been writing?

I’m not one of those that came out of the womb with a pen and a cup of coffee in hand. I came from a small town in Indiana where reading wasn’t nearly as encouraged as dribbling a ball – so I didn’t start really reading for pleasure until college. It wasn’t until I discovered Clive Barker that books pimp slapped me in the face and said “You must make us part of your life!”

——My dad loves Clive Barker books! –MS

I started really writing in grad school. It was a strange turn of events. I was involved in a pretty serious, on-going game of Vampire: The Masquerade. When we finished the game I wasn’t done with my character and decided to write a story. Oh how hooked I was!

Flash forward a few years. I was working very steadily as an actor and in between gigs I started writing books to keep my artistic muse happy.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I write and read horror. It’s my passion. Though two of my series venture outside of that genre, even Shero and the Fringe Killer books grace the gore now and then.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

All of my books can be found at the usual spots ( Amazon,  Barnes & Noble,  Smashwords,  Createspace – and a few other spots). The books are (as of this writing):

Fringe Killer Series: A Blade Away, Gothica, Endgame

Shero Series: Shero, Shero II: Zombie A GoGo!

I Zombie Series: I Zombie I, My Zombie My, Die Zombie Die, Lie Zombie Lie

I’m about to complete the first book in a new series called Screampark.

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Let me just take the first book in the I Zombie series (I Zombie I):

Journalist Jacob Plummer chronicles his traumatic transformation into one of the undead.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

I seriously woke up one morning wondering what it would feel like to turn into one of the undead. The question became a sort of obsession for me and I realized the only way I could answer it was in book form.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

It’s been a while, but I believe from the moment my pen first hit paper to the day of publication was around six months. I write much more efficiently now. In fact, I will have the first draft of Screampark done in under two months!

——WOW! Congrats! –MS

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

I write without a net. I used to write with an outline but I found that process to be too restrictive. I was trained in grad school to trust my instincts and I have come to fully depend upon them in my writing. So I just start and see where it goes. That process has the added benefit of me getting to experience the book as if I’m not only writing it, but reading it!

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

I’ll just say this – I fully appreciate the relationship between a writer and an editor. Without an editor, I can only hang my head and watch as the , . … ; – : and they take absolute control over my work.

I’m also dyslexic. Because of that I repeat words a lot. My editor has become really good at spotting “the the”.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

The creative process and dialog. I think because of my acting training I can do dialog really well. And I never have a problem twisting and turning my plots until they become something worth presenting to the public.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

Truth. I go to great lengths to try to bring to life a truthful environment for the apocalypse. Sure there is technology that might not exist at the moment, but I make sure my characters deal with those unrealistic situations in very realistic ways. I also have some very interesting main characters. A hot red head that is also incredibly brilliant. A detective who is partnered with a very flamboyant gay man, and a transgender superhero. Where else are you going to find such characters? ;-)

——Why, in one of your books! –MS

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

Shero takes place in the time of Fabulousness. ;-) The I Zombie series assumes the virus was released in 2015-ish, and the Fringe Killer series takes place right…about…now!

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

There are so many of them! Bethany Nitshimi is the real main character of the I Zombie series. She is one of the most brilliant hackers on the planet who just happens to become irrevocably involved with ridding the planet of not only the Mengele Virus (that which drop-kicked the human race into undead-land), but taking down the Zero Day Collective (those the brought the virus to life). She is a fierce red head who fell in love with Jacob Plummer and has vowed to do everything she can to avenge… oh, that’s really all I can say about that. If I say more, Bethany just might do very bad things to me.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

In paperback form my books are about 6 inches by… oh, that’s not what you want to know. Let me tell you something about my books I don’t tell many people. When I write my books, I always do so with film in mind. I fully intend on seeing some of my books give birth to film projects. My goal – to have Rob Zombie direct the I Zombie series and to have the Fringe Killer books turned into a TV series. Shero? Well, I don’t have much control over him – he’s too fabulous for film or TV.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I want my readers to know there is always hope for the persecuted. There are so many wonderful people out there who can’t seem to catch a break because they don’t fit the standard mold society has decided to use to judge if you are worthy. To those people (of which I have always been) I say stand up, believe in yourself, and know that you are insanely special and the world simply would be a vapid, boring place without you.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

Puhlenty more! I am going to write the I Zombie series until that point before I jump the shark – at which point it will bridge to a new series (The Book of Jacob). The same goes for my other series. I also plan to make Screampark a series as well as write a steampunk series and who knows what else.

17.) Where can readers find you?

Blog: Facebook: Twitter:

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

The Kilt is my “pants” of choice. I’m a vegetarian going on twenty-five years. My real name is Jackie Lee Wallen, Jr. I dumped the “Jackie” when I was in elementary school thanks to a school bully harassing me about having a girls name. I wish I would have never done that. Be loud and proud!

——First of all, let me say a man in a kilt is sexy as hell!! And where are the pic’s? –MS

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

My wife and I race mountain bikes and cyclocross, so we’re on bikes year round. That’s my other passion.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

From I Zombie I:

The following is a transcription of the written journal and audio recordings of Jacob Plummer

Chapter 1: It begins

The blast ripped through the air, stopping all time and thought. Even from within my hotel room, I felt the concussion deep within my cells. I felt it in my gut, my eyes, my brain. It rang in my skull and burned my skin. The sensation and sound were everywhere and everything. And then it was nothing…which was the strangest part of it all. I expected the sounds of chaos―alarms, cries, screams―but there was nothing. I was confronted with an all-encompassing nothing. For an instant, I felt as if someone had lowered me into a deprivation chamber, where all was lost save some scattered randomness in my brain. At first I thought maybe the concussion had blown out my hearing, but the sound of breathing and the rustling of sheets neatly tucked away the fear of going deaf.

The blast and the shaking room were enough to make me worry that something serious had happened. Against my personal moral code, I decided to turn on the television in hope that it would have some explanation. Surely the local news would interrupt whatever reality-trash was broadcasting to instruct citizens on what to do in case of an emergency. The television brought me nothing―nothing but static and white noise. The snow-filled screen was hypnotic. I have no idea how long I sat and stared. It felt like forever, but with the fear that gripped my gut, the black and white of the static was soothing. I wanted to hear some fifties-era tones echo from the speaker informing me to get to my nearest bomb shelter, anything that would give me some indication the world hadn’t finally managed to destroy itself. Instead, the noise of the static did its best to lull me into some semblance of comfort. I wanted to stare into the void until everything just disappeared.

After I managed to pull myself away from the hypnosis of the empty screen, I decided that maybe the front desk would have something to offer. I was wrong. I let the phone ring, and ring, and ring…nothing. No “Front desk, how may I help you?” Not even an answering machine.

I tried the radio. Static.

I checked the hallway. Empty.

I opened the curtains only to be greeted by a thick, grayish fog preventing me from seeing anything a foot beyond the glass.

Even without the fog, I was too high up to see the streets clearly, so I couldn’t even assume the city was awake and reacting to whatever had happened. Wonderful. I was in a strange city, I knew no one, and I couldn’t reach anyone. I was afraid the world had ended and left me behind. Me. Why me?

~

I think I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I should probably fill you in on who I am before I write another page. At least then you can decide if you care enough to draw your own conclusions to the question “Why me?” Of course, I’m being presumptuous in assuming there is still a ‘you’ left out there to be reading my words. After what shocked me out of bed…

Anyway. My name is Jacob Plummer. I’m a writer. Actually, I’m a reporter, which was probably even more fitting for someone trying to chronicle what might be a cataclysmic disaster. Another presumption. I keep writing as if I know for a fact that something tragic has happened. Maybe that’s the reporter in me desperately hoping for a story. Okay, okay…focus.

I work as a political, world news, and events correspondent for a newspaper owned by one of the largest media umbrella companies in the United States. It’s a good company, and I get to travel a lot. Unfortunately, most of my traveling places me right in the middle of war. This time around, however, I was assigned to Munich for an unveiling of an epic scale. Why me? Because I’m one of the few reporters on staff with absolutely zero family to keep me tied down. No wife, no girlfriend, parents dead, only child, and no real friends to speak of. All I have is my job. It defines me. It is me, in a sense. There really is no “Jacob;” there is only “Reporter.” Therefore, good old Jacob can roam the planet in search of the next great story for the paper. Speaking of which…

A physicist, Dr. Lindsay Godwin, allegedly developed a device that would solve the world energy crisis. The device was supposedly of the nuclear fission sort which would promise a “greener than solar” and “safer than standard nuclear” renewable energy source. No more dependency on oil, no more need for gasoline. No more OPEC. No more price gouging. No more pollution. The global economy would be salvaged and the epic depression, suffered world-wide, would disappear. These were bold promises at a time when any promise, no matter how small, brought about both hope and doubt in the same breath.

So on the day this salvation was to be handed to the planet, I planned to wake, lie in bed, gather my research, and write a few notes when, before I could even get started, something must have gone horribly wrong. Or so I presume.

So here I am, in a hotel room unable to make contact with another human being and surrounded by an implausible silence…a silence so consuming it seems there is nothing left outside the walls that stand between me and whatever lies beyond. But I will go. I have to go. And like a typical journalist, I will document everything I see and do. But I do hope my fear and musings are all for naught. I hope to step out of this room into some bizarre practical joke where the unveiling goes off without a hitch, and I can head back to the States to my loft in Manhattan, where the sounds of the city completely consume me.

But know this, if I don’t write another page, then one of two things has happened: whatever lies in wait outside of this hotel has silenced me, or there is nothing else to report. That’s not completely true. I do have a rather important event to cover, and with that event comes a crucial deadline. So if I’m not dead, I will continue writing; only the subject will have changed. Enough about me…back to chaos.

I’d also like to have a picture of you and a picture of your book. No bigger than 200×200 pixels please.

Thanks!
Melissa

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