A Short Guide To Joe McKinney
I didn’t set out to become a writer. Growing up, I used to write the occasional spooky tale, drafting it out longhand with a cheap ball point pen on a yellow legal pad. Once the story was finished, I’d tear out the pages, staple them together, and leave them on the corner of my desk for a week or so before throwing them away. I never placed any significance to what I was doing. I never had any intention of doing anything with my stories.
Writing wasn’t something I saw myself doing one day. It was just something I did.
And then, in the winter of 2003, I became a father. I remember leaning my head against the glass, looking in on the nursery, watching my baby sleep. Proud as I was, I felt this overpowering need to preserve the essence of the man looking in on that nursery, because I knew that one day, the little girl sleeping in there would want to know something about her father that growing up with him and living under his rule would never teach her.
Sometimes a thought like that is merely an impulse, a momentary thing that slips away like a dream upon waking.
That wasn’t the case with me. Over the next few months the thought continued to gain traction, until I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I took up my pen and my legal pad and got to writing. Eventually, I did about eighty pages of an SF novel called The Edge of the Map. It was high space opera in the classic 1950s vein. And it was pure crap. Every time I started writing I wondered what in the hell I was doing. I wondered why I bothered. Not a word of it felt genuine. And even worse than that, I wasn’t doing a thing to answer the original impulse that made me want to start writing in the first place.
Briefly, I considered taking up painting.
But then I realized that if I was going to do this thing right, I needed to be true to what I loved. Love, after all, was what this was all about. I grew up on a steady diet of monster movies and horror fiction. My first literary infatuation was with horror, and it occurred to me that if I had any chance of doing this thing the way it ought to be done, I needed to write what I loved. Dead City, my first published novel, sprang from that decision.
I was lucky Dead City landed when it did. It put me on the crest of the zombie revival that began around 2005 with Brian Keene’s The Rising, and because Dead City came out through a large publishing house, I was able to get some good exposure. The book sold well, which in turn led to a career in writing.
Dead City has since grown into the Dead World series, which to date includes four novels and half a dozen stories:
The novels are easy to come by, the stories less so. At least for the time being. But even if you haven’t read the stories, or in case you missed one of the novels, there’s no need to worry. I wrote each and every entry in the series in such a way that a reader can come to any novel, any story, in any order, and still feel like they’re caught up with the overall storyline. And, if the Dead World series grabs you, you’ll be happy to know there’s more zombie goodness to come. I plan on writing several more books in the series over the next few years.
Also, to tide you over in the meantime, in September 2013 I’m releasing a standalone zombie novel called The Savage Dead. And after that, I’ll be starting a new series called The Dead Lands. So there’s plenty more on the horizon…