An Interview With Bryan Way
Stephanie Lunsford, Promotional Representative of Monique Happy Editorial Services, interviews Bryan Way, author of Life After: The Arising!
Bryan Way: It’s called Life After: The Arising, and it centers on Jeff Grey, a first-year college student and a massive zombie fan. Coincidentally, he’s among the first to notice the undead while attending a marching band competition at his former high school, so he acts fast to round up his girlfriend and make it to a safe place, only to discover that he’s being followed by a group of people he barely knows. In short, a self-proclaimed zombie expert gets put to the test!
SL: Can someone use your books as a guide for prepping for the ZA
BW: That’s actually something I examine in Life After: The Arising! After seeing Dawn of the Dead as a kid, I gathered 2x4s, nails, hammers, water, and crowbars to store in my shed, much to the chagrin of my parents, I’m sure. Eventually, something struck me; what if I’m not home when it happens? What if I’m close to my car but there’s a horde of zombies in the way? What if the events that transpire wipe out my plans? Life After: The Arising is a zombie story, but it’s more about survival, and mental preparation is the most important tool to surviving an apocalypse. Jeff recognizes that he isn’t perfect, so he asks people for opinions, generates plans three steps in advance, and is always ready to improvise.
SL: What types of research did you have to do in order to write your novel?
BW: My best friend was in the National Guard, so I still pick his brain relentlessly, and I spent a long time reading up on firearms as well. Rather than presuppose an earlier model of the undead, I studied medical documents and wrote a 60-page CDC report on zombies, called Life After: Undeath Syndrome Surveillance and Diagnosis Report. It’s written in medical prose and fits into the world of Life After, and I’ve put it online for anyone to read free. I obsess over the accuracy of little details, but honestly, those details would be meaningless if my characters weren’t three-dimensional, so trying to figure out people is the biggest and most important type of research.
SL: How important do you feel research is when writing books?
BW: It really depends on the type of story you want to tell! Personally, I love a story where the world is represented as an extension of reality with one or two tiny details changed, which is where Life After came from. The story is set in 2004, before cell phones and social media really took off, so I needed to be wary of anachronisms. That meant doing a lot of important research!
SL: What do you want to achieve with your writing?
BW: In terms of personal goals, I’d like to make writing a full-time career. My dream for Life After is to make it expansive. In addition to the CDC report, I write short stories that I upload on Homepage of the Dead for free. Life After: The Arising is written in first-person limited from Jeff’s perspective, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. For example, his group goes to a police station to find it abandoned with a few dead officers, no guns, and several zombies locked in a holding cell, but Jeff can only guess at what transpired. My next free short story, Life After: Upholding the Law, will reveal what really happened!
SL: Does anyone else in your family write?
BW: My brother and I are in a band together, Amnesty Harrow, and we’ve written most of the songs. We don’t play much anymore, but it’s fun when we do! He’s got a journalism degree and has written some short stories and one-acts, but I don’t think he has any desire to be published.
SL: What is your favorite time of day for writing?
BW: The witching hour! There seems to be a strange sort of tranquility that allows me to focus when everyone else is asleep. Strangely, it’s harder to write in general when I’m in an empty house. I start to get paranoid!
SL: Where did the inspiration come from when you started writing your book?
BW: Resident Evil 2 and Dawn of the Dead got me onto zombies in 1997 and I started writing undead fiction shortly after, most of which is on Homepage of the Dead. When my best friend came back from basic training in the winter of 2003, he started reading those stories and expressed interest in co-authoring one. I thought it would be interesting to write stories from our differing perspectives; I was in college, my parents were paying for everything, and I grew up in a stable, loving environment, while he came from a broken home, got kicked out after high school, and joined the National Guard. I wrote Life After: The Arising, finished the sequel, planned for more, and wrote five short stories. He’s still working on his half!
SL: How important is a good editor to you?
BW: I took the inadvisable route of self-publishing with no editor! Fortunately, my beta-readers were top notch; my sister-in-law’s uncle is an agent and my girlfriend has a degree in professional writing, so I let them go after me with a hatchet. Plus, occasionally re-approaching the same material over ten years toughens it up considerably, but that’s not something I intend to make a habit. I’ll just hire an editor next time!
SL: Who would you say is your muse for your creativity?
BW: That’s a difficult question! I’m able to write because of the endless support of my friends, family, and loved ones, but my inspiration comes from ‘what-if’ scenarios and my brain takes it from there. The CDC report is a great example: While editing The Arising, I realized that the zombies made sense in my head, but not on paper, so I turned the USSD Report into a three-month project. I was explaining why the zombies of Life After are both fast and slow, charting average death/reanimation times, and coming up with an explanation for how the first zombies came literally from the grave. Suddenly, I was inspired to tell a story about the first zombie bite victim, which became Life After: The Cemetery Plot. So, I was editing The Arising when I decided to follow my ideas down the rabbit hole for the USSD Report, which in turn spun off into The Cemetery Plot! It seems my muse is a deep-seated desire to tell stories.
SL: Where do you see yourself five years from now? Ten years from now?
BW: It’s so hard to project, but in five years, I’d like to have at least two more Life After books published. If I’m successful, I have a feature-length romantic comedy screenplay that I’d like to get produced. I also have a few scripts I might be willing to sell. If that goes well, in ten years I’d like to be writing scripts and novels full time. I understand these might not be realistic goals, but I’ve been relentlessly chasing them for years, so I don’t know how to do anything else!
BW: Thanks! Well, I’ve known the Zombie Pop site runner Curtez since May when he asked if I needed any publicity help, and I replied I needed all I could get! From there I started contributing articles and conducting interviews, and once we talked about getting me more involved, I quickly became editor-in-chief! Basically, I’m responsible for the look and feel of all the content on the site. I edit articles for formatting, spelling, grammar, and SEO compatibility. I contribute writing regularly and update contiguous links to encourage a strong internal community. As time goes on, I’ll try to identify problem areas, assign tasks, and handle questions or concerns from the staff. I also intend on developing a style guide for formatting and review ratings to get our content standardized so the staff can start compiling grades. SyFy Pop is just getting up and running, so soon a lot of my attention will be focused on doing the same there!
Thanks for the questions, Stephanie, this was a lot of fun! Please follow Zombie Pop on Facebook for the latest news, reviews, and interviews about the undead, and remember to check out my free stories on Homepage of the Dead to get more on the story of Life After: The Arising!
This interview originally appeared on: http://moniquehappy.com/author-bryan-way