Today I’m fortunate to present Andy Zach, author of Zombie Turkeys and My Undead Mother-in-law, the first two volumes of the Life After Life Chronicles.
Hi, Andy, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and lived in a couple of suburbs there until I was 32. I left Cleveland for a job in Peoria, Illinois.
Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?
Fast action, dramatic plot twists, and realistic characters you care about and want to meet. Oh, and humor.
Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?
I always loved writing since I was a child. Going into college I realized it would be hard to make a living as a writer, so I became a computer programmer, then a Six Sigma Black Belt, and a project manager. As soon as I retired, I wrote “Zombie Turkeys”.
Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Start working at 9:30-10 am, clear off work related email and social media posts, then start writing by 10:30 am. Lunch at 12, then back to writing by 1 PM and keep at it until 5 PM. In the evening, I’ll write blog posts and answer emails, check on book sales and read for education and entertainment.
Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love researching my books. If I’m writing about a locale, I’ll get photos from the area and detailed maps. I’ll check distances and compute times it takes for my characters to move about. I love digging into a subject such as ICBM missiles silos or superyachts and getting diagrams and layout of them, both of which appear in “My Undead Mother-in-law.
Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.
My Undead Mother-in-law is what I call comic urban fantasy or humorous fantasy. Although it has violence and horror, it’s shot through with ridiculous situations, satire, and irony
Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
How real life is often like fiction! I had a scene in Manhattan Kansas and I wanted a National Guard base and an ICBM missile silo nearby. Researching these, I found them both within a half hour of Manhattan! Later, I had a scene in New Orleans and I wanted a Navy and Marine base and an Air Force base there. Again, they were all there in real life!
Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
Always! How many minutes do I have? I have a 10-minute excerpt and a 5 minute one.
As soon as he hung up, Sam’s cell phone rang. Noting it was Lisa, he said, “Hi, sweetheart!”
“No time for that romantic crap. We’ve got another zombie turkey outbreak!”
“Not far from you. It’s a small private turkey farm near Gary, Deviled Turkeys. I’ve sent you the address.”
“They’re bedeviling the family, who’s surrounded. They called our turkey hotline. I’ve already notified the local authorities and the Indiana National Guard. Get the story, Sam! We’re dying for news here. I may have to cut our staff back again.”
“You’ve got a hot story in your in-basket from Gary already, about the zombie family. I’ve got Dr. Galloway getting DNA samples from them.”
“Great! You always pick me up, Sam.”
“You’re turning into a mushball.”
“You have that effect on me. Now, hurry up and get going!” She hung up.
“Bye, Lisa.” One tradition hadn’t changed since their marriage. She still hung up abruptly, leaving Sam talking into a dead phone.
Sam arrived at the Deviled Turkeys farm in the dark winter evening. Sam could see the National Guard trucks and a couple of police cars along the snowy drive to the barnyard. They had distracted the flock of perhaps a thousand turkeys from attacking the house and were now barely holding their own position.
Sam heard the BANG of shotguns, and the pop, pop of rifles and pistols. Why did the police waste their time and ammunition? Those weapons proved ineffective against the zombie turkeys last November.
Grabbing his trusty Flaming Turkey brand flamethrower from the backseat, he approached the line of soldiers.
“Stay away, mister!” an officer yelled over the crackle of gunfire.
Sam noticed he had a skinny neck and a shock of red hair.
“You should have a flamethrower!” Sam yelled back.
“We do! We can’t use them this close to the buildings. There’s a family in there!”
Good thing Lisa isn’t here, Sam thought. During the zombie turkey apocalypse, she’d flamed first and asked questions later.
Another car pulled up in the drive. The officer yelled, “Get away, ma’am! This is a dangerous situation!”
“I’ve come to reason with the turkeys,” Diane Newby yelled back, her red eyes gleaming.
“You can’t reason with crazed killer turkeys!”
“You watch me!” She leapt past the officer, past the line of soldiers, directly toward the mass of turkeys. The soldiers ceased firing, for fear of hitting her. The mass of turkeys washed over Diane like a tsunami. Sam reluctantly filmed her last moments, for her family’s sake.
The mound of turkeys burst apart, revealing Diane throttling a tom. She ripped off its head, legs, wings and then smashed the body into paste on the ground.
“Listen up, you turkeys!” she yelled. “I’m the boss turkey now! Follow me!” Obediently, the turkeys followed her into the barn. She led them back into their cages and shut them in. Where the turkeys had burst doors and wire fencing, using her bare hands Diane wove the tough steel wire into a tight net, holding them securely. “Good thing I’m handy with macramé,” she said to herself as she wove.
Diane’s clothing was shredded and bloody like she’d been through a wood chipper, but her skin showed pink and unbroken through the many holes in her pants and coat. Sam ran to her.
“Are you OK, Diane?”
“Never felt better! I told you I could reason with the zombie turkeys!”
“How did you find out?”
“It was on the zombie turkey Twitter feed on the Midley Beacon page, where I was reading your story about us!”
“Ma’am, I have to thank you for saving us from a difficult situation,” the officer said. “I’m Sergeant Coxcomb.”
“How appropriate,” Sam murmured. Louder, he said, “I’m Sam Melvin, investigative reporter for the Midley Beacon.”
Smiling broadly, Diane said, “I’m Diane New—er—Sydney. I came here as soon as I heard of the attack. I just knew I could control the zombie turkeys. They’re quite easy, compared to children!” She laughed.
“Diane, I filmed your battle. Do I have your permission to broadcast it?”
“By all means! Be sure to say a zombie human came to the rescue! Just call me anytime you have a zombie animal outbreak!”
“I’ll testify to that!” Sergeant Coxcomb said.
“OK, let me interview you then, Sergeant, and I’ll add your testimony.”
The interviews with Sergeant Coxcomb and Diane, combined with the thrilling video of human zombie versus turkey zombies, burst across the internet like a nuclear bomb. Once again, the Midley Beacon plowed new ground in the zombie news business.
Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?
The third novel of Life After Life Chronicles is in research mode right now. It’s working title is Paranormal Patriots. It’ll be out in 2018. I also plan an audiobook version of Zombie Turkeys and a graphic novel for it in 2017.
Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
That’s an easy one: the money I spent on my editor Dori Harrell. She helped me with line and developmental editing and made my books clearer and clearly better.
Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Snail mail: PO Box 10705, Peoria, IL 61612
My Undead Mother-In-Law:
Kindle edition: Coming out August 5, 2017: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0743FQ3QC/
Zombie Turkeys, front and back covers: