In this blog entry, the Ministry of Zombies fires some hard-nosed questions at an established horror editor and writer.
If you are interested in how this villain creates his webs of horror, then read on.
And then, save the cash you were going to spend on crappy books like The Hunger Games and spend them on some hard-hitting independent and fresh horror.
Ministry of Zombies Interview – Ty Schwamberger
[Warning – MoZ questions tend to be a bit strange so just go with it.]
We hear a knock on the MoZ bunker door. We don’t answer – it’s tea time. The knock grows louder. It is eventually answered. It’s a horror author and friend of the Ministry peddling his wares so we sit him down, with a cuppa tea & a bright light shining in his face.
Here are the questions we fire at them?
Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?
Shit! A better question yet is who the hell are you and what did you do with my dog? I saw him run towards your bunker door, then he was gone. Ya’ll aren’t performing some strange “experiments” on dogs down here in the dark, are you? Sonofabitch. I knew you people were freaky but…
My name is Ty Schwamberger. Damn glad to be here. Thank you.
[We like this young fellow but how did he know about the dogs? He knows too much...]
Can you give us a brief bio as we’re too lazy to pull one together?
I’m the author of a novel, several novellas, short stories, a collection, editor on several anthologies and have one short film (2010) and one feature-length film (coming Late 2012) adapted from my work.
[Nice, nice, this is all good stuff.]
Books you say, tell us more. What is this novella The Fields about? We demand to know.
THE FIELDS is a VERY atypical zombie tale. It takes place in the mid-1800s on a southern plantation right after the slaves were freed. There are two main characters in the novella: Billy and Abraham. Billy is the son of a deceased former slave owner. Abraham is a messenger that brings “salvation” to Billy’s dying tobacco fields. Yes, there are zombies in the story. But, the zombies are a metaphor for something bigger. In the end, Billy must choose between what’s right and wrong or saving his father’s farm. Although, digging up and reanimating the dead slaves is nothing compared to what’s in store for Billy after these slaves are undead, again.
THE FIELDS is also coming very soon in audio book format.
Are you a sprouts person?
What did you just call me? Call me sprout one more time and I’ll put this here stick in your eye!
Which book has influenced you most?
This is a toughie. I don’t think there’s one single work that’s done it for me. However, I can tell you the first two “horror” books I read right before starting to write in early 2008: Offspring by Jack Ketchum and Cuts by Richard Laymon. Anyone who has read my work (outside of The Fields) will note a strong resemblance to Laymon’s style. This isn’t by design, mind you. It’s just always come out like that.
[The correct answer was I am Legend so only half a point for you on this.]
What is HWA? It sounds like something to do with witchcraft? They still burn people for that you know.
HWA stands for Horror Writers Association. And yes, it’s a professional writer’s organization for folks that dabble in witchcraft (normally, we get together and have a grand ol’ time sacrificing small animals, putting spells on non-members, smearing blood on each other while performing sacred rituals, all while worshiping our dark lord)! No, that’s not it. Ok, it’s really a group of like-minded people that put on this thing called the Bram Stoker Awards, where it’s just an excuse to drink and raise kane. Doh. That’s not it either. Well, shit…guess I don’t know what exactly it is. Though, I can say I’ve been an active member since mid-2011.
Do you think I’m going to hell because I’m involved with a group like this? Eeek!
[That kind of talk could get you burnt in England but don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone. We can’t find the witch-finder general anyway.]
Balloon or airship? Do you have access to this kind of transport? (This is a key question we ask everyone)
Why would you need to ask this if I just told you I’m an active member in the HWA? That automatically means I’m rich! So of course the answer is that I have an airship.
We hear talk on the Ministry grapevine of movies? Are they making a movie of one of your stories and are there any roles for a hapless British sidekick?
“Cake Batter” which is a short story contained in my collection For After Midnight (Naked Snake Press, 2011) was adapted into a short film and released on DVD in early 2010 (you can actually now watch it for free on my YouTube page (http://youtu.be/PgrPCOjMjPo). Also, my still-unreleased novella “House Call” is being adapted by Little Oak Film Group and being made into a feature-length film. Filming starts this July and hopefully the finished DVD will be released late 2012.
I actually think my forthcoming novella DININ’ coming this July (in Hardcover, Trade Paperback & eBook) from Bad Moon Books in would make a classic horror film, but the story hasn’t been optioned yet. So any of you out there that make movies give me a shout!
Three words to describe your portfolio of books (no using the word twisted).
Offensive. Descriptive. Thought provoking. (Does that still count as three words?)
[We have consulted the 1911 rulebook and your answers are valid.]
Which short story should we track down & then say ‘that is soooo you?’
“Liquid Courage” which first appeared in Shroud Magazine (#9) and then reprinted in my collection For After Midnight in 2011.
[Right we are going to check this. If it does not represent your style we may consider legal action.]
What do you think is the biggest mistake horror writers make?
“There are far too many shite e-books around.” Discuss.
I think it’s an unfortunate reality given the current state of the business. I’m not talking about quality publishers and authors that put out great stuff. No. I’m referring to “writers” (and I use that term loosely) who think they can call themselves authors by uploading a piece of shit to Kindle, Nook or Smashwords. The stories aren’t edited well, the covers are cheap looking and the writing is generally of low quality. Some folks have predicted this trend will hurt the publishing world. I suppose time will tell.
[You speak wisely young Jedi.]
Writers are generally quite full of themselves – why is this?
I think it’s because of what we do. We sit, often alone, for hours on end with nothing around us but a computer and thoughts full of sick shit. The life of a writer is a lonely one. Sure we have friends in the industry and everything looks glamorous from the outside. It’s anything but. It’s damn hard work to craft a kickass story. Most of the time that takes isolation. Then after the story is written and out there for fans to enjoy, we have a feeling of accomplishment and gratification. We want to run outside naked and scream to the world “read my story, it’s the best thing EVER!” In fact, sometimes we do. Then there are other times after the book is released, we’re scared of what others will think of our tome. We secretly cower in a dark room with nothing on but our laptops and Google ourselves. “Who’s saying what now?” we ask no one but the darkness around us. Then, when a killer review is posted in a magazine or online, we run screaming from the room to tell our loved one. That usually results in a “great” and a roll of eyes. Then…
Ouch! Why’d you knock me in the head with that flashlight?! You dirty bastard!
[We are trying to get you develop Stockholm syndrome.]
Do you know something we don’t?
I do. But I’m not telling.
Twisted Tales From The Torchlight Inn – what’s this book all about? You can’t just put it out there & not tell us – that’s not fair.
Twisted Tales is a 3-novella collection between Thomas A. Erb, Dean Harrison and myself. It was released in early 2011. All the stories contained in the collection had a few common elements: town name, bar name and the characters knew each other in some fashion. It was gruesomely fun to write, that honestly, the publisher screwed up. It wasn’t edited very well and ended up hurting sales. The real shit of it? The stories contained inside the book covers are really fucking good! Look for each novella to be edited and re-released individually in the next year or so.
[We think this is your most famous book therefore we agree – novellas rocks as well.]
Please provide a definition of horror for us?
[Well-played sir, best answer yet.]
Ty, if you were a drum would you be more of a snare, a tom or a bass?
What kind of stupid fucking question is that? Ok ok! I’ll answer if you stop shining that bright light in my face.
[I ran this answer through the computer we have here. Please see an analyst. Snare drums are very dangerous people.]