"Stephen King says that in order to be a successful writer you need to write a lot and read a lot, and that’s about the best piece of writing advice you’ll find anywhere." (J.J. Zep)
Jolie du Pre: J.J. Zep, welcome to Precious Monsters. Please tell our readers a bit about your background.
J.J. Zep: I was born in Cape Town, South Africa to Scottish parents, and grew up in a number of different countries including Scotland, the U.S., Turkey and South Africa (my father was an engineer working on projects all over the world). In my working career I’ve been a musician, a soldier and a senior executive for a Fortune 100 company. These days I’m fortunate enough to earn my crust as a full-time writer. I live in Sète on the Mediterranean coast of France.
Jolie du Pre: I love post-apocalyptic stories. So much so, I plan to write a zombie series later this year. It's always fun for me to meet authors with similar interests. How long have you been interested in post-apocalyptic story telling, and what drew you to it?
J.J. Zep: I’ve been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction for as long as I can remember. I guess the book that veered me in that direction was Stephen King’s, The Stand, in particular, the early chapters. That sent me on a quest to read as many post-apoc stories I could lay my hands on, Swan Song, Lucifer’s Hammer, and I Am Legend among them. And I started developing my own "end of the world" stories around that time, too, destroying the world in as many fun and creative ways as I could dream up. I guess I must have some kind of god-complex!
Good luck with your series by the way. I look forward to reading it.
Jolie du Pre: What is your answer to horror authors who say there's too many zombie tales, and therefore, horror authors should write about something else?
J.J. Zep: I say write what you love. If zombie tales are what rattle your key chain then keep on writing them. The problem is that zombies are hot right now, so there are plenty of bandwagon hoppers getting on board the train for a quick buck. These are the same folks who will quickly jump to the next popular trend that comes along (50 Shades anyone?).
If you genuinely love zombie tales keep writing them. It does help though if you can come up with something fresh, rather than churning out the same old-same old stuff. Mmmm, something fresh and zombies, those are two terms you won’t often find in the same sentence.
Jolie du Pre: What are some of your recent works?
J.J. Zep: My focus over the past year or so has been the Zombie D.O.A. series, currently comprising twelve books (plus a prequel), with episode 13 out soon.
Zombie D.O.A. tells the story of Chris Collins, a professional boxer preparing for the biggest fight of his career when the zombie apocalypse happens. Without wanting to throw in any spoilers, the story involves him crossing America to find his daughter and then on the run from the people responsible for releasing the Z-virus.
Originally this was going to be a standalone story, then a series of four books. However, it seemed that every time I tried to wrap things up, I’d get a deluge of e-mails from fans of the series wanting more. Eventually, there were twelve books and I’m now writing a fourth series. But I’ll definitely end things there. I’ve got too many other ideas that I’m just itching to develop and write.
Jolie du Pre: What are your writing plans for 2013?
J.J. Zep: First up I’ll be finishing series four of Zombie D.O.A., then I have another project with the working title Pestilence which I can best describe as a "historical zombie story," set in medieval France. I’ve actually already started this one (currently writing two books at the same time, crazy as that sounds), and it’s been an absolute blast, really fun to write. I also have a few other story ideas in the works, not all zombie tales, some fantasy, some post-apoc. Let’s just say I have more ideas than time to write them.
Jolie du Pre: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?
J.J. Zep: Stephen King says that in order to be a successful writer you need to write a lot and read a lot, and that’s about the best piece of writing advice you’ll find anywhere.
To that I’d add, love to write, love what you write and love how you write. By that I mean, you should love the act of writing, of creating with the pen or keyboard. You should love the kind of stories you write, they should be the kinds of stories you enjoy reading yourself. And you should write in a way that feels comfortable for you. Some people are plotters, others are pantsers (and various degrees in between), some prefer writing in complete silence, others with blaring music in the background, some produce 10,000 words a day, others 1,000. Find what works for you and then write. But do write, and write every day.
Visit J.J. Zep at JJ Zep.com.
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