Series: Zombie Attack #2
Published by Permuted Press on 5-27-2014
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Xander MacNamara’s adventure continues when he is placed in charge of a civilian colony outside Barstow. He and his young wife, Felicity Jane, are forced to deal with the daily grind of reconstruction, the constant menace of zombies, and an equally hungry cannibal tribe known as the Alphas.
Things heat up fast when Sonya, a mysterious stranger sent by a secretive benefactor, frees him from enemy captors. Once again, Xander and Felicity find themselves fleeing for their lives from a never-ending series of new threats as well as old ones. A hidden enemy within the military is hell bent on creating a secret weapon: genetically engineered super zombies! Friends and soldiers are pitted against each other, as one side races to spread the cure while the other battles to gain ultimate control over the fate of mankind.
‘Zombie Attack! Army of the Dead’ is filled with pulse-pounding undead action from the very first chapter until the bitter sweet end. Child celebrities, reality television stars, nightmarish zombie clowns, bikers, ninjas, warlords, and more -- this book has it all! The story takes off like a bullet and doesn't slow down until the last sentence. You won't be able to put it down!
Interview With Devan Sagliani
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Zombie Attack Army of the Dead is the sequel to Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde. We follow sixteen year old Xander Macnamara and his band of teen survivors as they battle their way to the military base in Port Hueneme to find his enlisted older brother Moto. It’s a young adult series about zombies, obviously, but it also highlights the other dangers that await individuals who survive the apocalypse. In fact between the bikers, paramilitary guys, cannibals, and murderous religious cult leaders we quickly learn that in the fight for survival the living pose a bigger threat than the undead.
What makes your book unique?
The Zombie Attack series is for readers 13 and up because it is a YA series. There is no sex, no bad language, but people rarely notice that because they are so caught up in the action. It’s one of the few series that tells the story of the zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of teenagers. It showcases and highlights their issues, including learning to take on responsibility, dealing with complicated emotions like anger and jealousy, and what it means to become an adult in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Each chapter is designed to leave the reader wanting more and to keep the pages turning, so there are a lot of cliff hanger moments. It’s also a thriller, a coming of age story, and a travelogue that covers the action, horror, adventure, romance, scifi, and dystopian genres.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
Like most of the things I write the idea started growing in my head until it got to be too big not to put down on paper. I’d just finished writing a zombie movie (Humans Versus Zombies) and I wanted to try to write a novel again. I knew that I didn’t need anyone’s approval since I could just publish it myself on Amazon, and that took a lot of the pressure off. I wanted to write something that was fun and accessible, something kids could easily relate to with characters they could cheer on. Once I started writing the characters, and the storyline, took on a life of their own.
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
If I were to say Zombie Attack has one central theme it is the importance of family, both those we are related to by blood as well as those we become attached to along the way and end up calling family. It’s about relationships first and foremost but it’s also about standing up for what you believe in and doing the right thing no matter what the cost. I did my best not to make the books sound like an afternoon special but that doesn’t mean Xander doesn’t teach well by showing us how he manages to hold on to his values despite the world going to hell in a hand basket.
How long did it take to write the book?
It only took three months to write the first book but it took over six months to write the sequel. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started writing Rise of the Horde. I had just reread On Writing by Stephen King and was all fired up. By contrast when I started working on Army of the Dead I had the weight of expectations to contend with, from readers, critics, and my publisher Permuted Press. I knew that I wanted to wrap up the story of the Macnamara’s as well and that I didn’t want to leave readers with any unanswered questions. That’s why Army of the Dead is significantly longer than Rise of the Horde. I took great care once the story was done to make sure the reader wasn’t left scratching their heads.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Wow. That feels a bit like a loaded question. I imagine this is how parents feel when someone asks them who their favorite child is. I honestly never play favorites when it comes to characters. I love the villains just as much as I love the heroes.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I did extensive outlining on both books. It’s funny because some of the ideas for the new book, Army of the Dead, never made it in to the story, including a scene where the characters race expensive sports cars through Malibu Canyon to the old Paramount Ranch where they have a show down with rogue military forces. I’m a firm believer in outlining the story but I almost never stick fully to the blueprint. Stories and characters have an interesting way of evolving beyond what you imagine. I often find my characters surprising me with the unexpected things they do, as odd as that sounds.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
There isn’t anything I would change. I put a lot of thought into how I crafted this series. Whether readers see it or not there is a great deal of intentionality, as well as playfulness. Each time I sat down to write I put myself in Xander’s shoes then allowed myself to have fun with it. I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.
How did you come up with the cover?
For the original cover art of Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde I hired Rob Sacchetto to bring the climactic scene of the book to life in cartoon form. He’s a famous zombie artist and I was excited to work with him. After I sold the series to Permuted Press they took over the cover design. I’m absolutely in love with the new cover they gave Army of the Dead. They really captured Xander.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
The desire to be a writer came at an early age. I spent my birthday money when I was five on a toy typewriter from Toy’s R Us. I just knew early on that it was something that would always be with me.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
I was in fifth grade. It was a class assignment. I wrote a grisly tale of a man trapped on an island being stalked by an unseen killer, full of psychological terror that ended with the man being eviscerated. I remember getting an A on the assignment but with that came a parent teacher conference to discuss my predilection for the macabre. In the end it was decided that I would grow out of it. I’m glad to say that I haven’t.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
I’m an equal opportunity reader. I am happy to read anything with a great storyline, no matter what genre it might be in. These days I’ve been reading a lot of horror but I also enjoy crime dramas, thrillers, science fiction, literary fiction, and action books as well. For example right now I am reading Time of Death Asylum by Shana Festa while I anxiously await the release of the new Harry Bosch novel from Michael Connelly that comes out later this year.
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
The list is long but a few notable ones that pop to mind are the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, White Noise by Don Delillo, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.
What are you working on next?
Right now I am working on the sequel to The Rising Dead for Permuted Press. It’s an adult horror zombie series with lots of action and plenty of snark. I’ve been taking my time and playing with it, having as much fun as I can with the characters and the storyline. I’m also working on the batch of short stories for my Undead L.A. series. Last but not least I’ve been working on an anthology I’m putting out later this year called At Hell’s Gates. I’ve gathered a bunch of horror writers who’ve agreed to create a new short story for the anthology from their most beloved characters of previous novels they’ve written. All the proceeds will be going to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an independent not-for-profit organization that provides support for the families of military personnel lost in service, as well as for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Take the time to learn your craft, to hone your skills and your own unique voice, and learn to trust it. In the end you will have to stand by your work and defend it. Avoid trying to write what you think is popular at the moment and give yourself the freedom to write the kinds of stories you love. That way your work will feel authentic and readers will come to you.