Sunday, October 20, 2013

Author Interview: Glyn Gardner

I’m Glyn Gardner.  I’m an Emergency Room nurse, former US Army medic, husband, and father of two boys.  I grew up in Grand Prairie Texas, a suburb of Dallas.  I grew up playing basketball and football in the front yard, running through the neighborhood and getting into trouble like any other boy in America.

After I graduated from high school, I left home for Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos Texas.  I graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice.  Unfortunately, I have pretty bad eyes, and I couldn’t find work as a police officer.

Eventually I ended up in the office of my local Army recruiter.  I spent seven years in the Army, mostly in Germany, but deployed to the former Yugoslavia three times.  While in Germany, I met my wife Erin.  She was in the Air Force, and I decided it was time to get out of the Army and become an Air Force spouse.  I’ve been following around the world ever since.

I went to nursing school when we got back to the states.  I graduated with a BS in Nursing in 2008 from South Dakota State University.  During nursing school, Erin got orders for Alaska, and I spent 18 months away from my family while I finished.  We currently live in Northwest Louisiana.

How long have you been publishing?

About 41 days now (It’s August 6th)  I tried to do the traditional publishing thing, but it’s a tuff business to break into if you don’t have an established name.

Tell us about your latest book.  

APEX is a zombie-thriller set right here in Northwest Louisiana.  The main characters are a couple who witness one of the first zombie attacks.  Soon their neighborhood is overrun by the walking dead.  They watch as neighbor after neighbor succumb to the ever-growing hoard of undead.  Some neighbors band together, some try to flee.

In the mean time the Louisiana National Guard Cavalry is sent in to quell the violence that has spread throughout the area.  SSgt Brown and a pair of his troopers manage to survive the slaughter that ensues, and escape the hoard.

Soon the two groups find each other and attempt to flee. Survivors are rescued, some are devoured by the mass of walking dead. Join them as they struggle to survive in this new environment, an environment where Man has been replaced by a new APEX predator.  This predator never sleeps, doesn’t feel pain, hunts in packs, and doesn’t ever quit.

Who are your major influences?

Just about anyone who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s and is writing anything with zombies  has to pay homage to George Romero.  Some of my favorite movies are the Living Dead movies.

But, there are others:  Max Brooks for one.  The Zombie Survival Guide laid out the rules for zombies.  He expanded on the Romero zombies and gave them a back story.  As a nurse, I have some troubles with a few of the explanations he gives, but let’s face it; we’re talking about a fictional creature.  The back story has to be believable, not scientifically accurate.
Mike Scott and W E B Griffith are also influences in my writing.  I grew up reading their war stories.  How they made you feel the terror of bullets zipping by a character’s head, or the horror and helplessness their characters felt when one of their buddies was injured, killed, or separated from the rest of the unit.  Their books really illustrated how people under stress come to not only rely on each other, but love each other.

What drew you to the horror genre? 

APEX was born over a year ago with just a kernel of an idea.  I’ve always been a fan of Zombie and Apocalypse books and movies.  It took me about 5,000 words to get my original idea on paper.  I realized that the story was pretty good, and nowhere near finished.  The characters literally had a story to finish, and I needed to let them finish. 

One year later, I realized that the characters weren’t finished, but they had given me a place to stop.   The second book is currently in the works.  I have no idea how long it will be, or how long it will be before it’s released.  The characters are still making up their minds.

I hope you enjoy APEX, the first of (hopefully) several more books.

Do you invent your own types of characters, or rework the standard vampires, ghosts, etc?

Na, I didn’t invent anything.  I took zombies; worked out in my head how the zombie plague would begin in my world, and how it’s spread, all those little details in my own mind.  Then I just started telling a story.  That’s what I’m good at.  I’m an old soldier.  It’s what we do is tell a good war story.

Are you a fan of horror movies, as well?

Yes.  I just watched the Conjuring at the movies a few weeks ago.  I like anything horror.  As a kid I was really into the slasher movies; Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween.  But as I’ve grown older I like the horror movies that are more thrilling.  You know; the ones that make you think, the unexpected plot twists, the characters who look sake and then BAM, not safe.  

If so, which ones are your favorites?

I really did like the Conjuring.  I didn’t find it as scary as my wife did, but it was a VERY good ghost story.  I also like the Crazies.  I love the zombie that’s not really a zombie, just a sickness that drives people to murder.  I’m an avid fan of the Walking Dead on AMC.  I can’t wait until it starts back in October.

What’s the difference between horror books and horror films?

The writer has to be so much more vivid in his writing, especially in horror.  It’s one thing to say “Patty walked around a corner and is eaten by a zombie.”  That’s boring.  There’s nothing there to make your heart race.  No emotion.

Patty rounded the corner, looking back over her shoulder at Bob as she did.  Bob’s eyes went wide.  What, she thought to herself?  As she turned her head, she bumped into something.  It was cold, and solid.  It grabbed her shirt, pulling her closer.  Her brain finally realized what was happening; what her eyes were seeing.  ZOMBIE! Her mind screamed.

Her hands shot up in an attempt to push the monster away.  It was strong, very strong.  The creature’s mouth closed in on the young girl.  It’s breath smelled horrid of death and rot.  She let out a scream in terror.  Her muscles continued to struggle against the deadly embrace.
She felt a shock of pain as the monster’s teeth bit into her neck.  She tried to scream as her flesh was being ripped from her throat.  All she managed was a week blood splattered gurgle.  Her vision began to go dark.  Her strength faltered and her arms fell to her side.  She went limp as the life drained out of her.

See the difference?

Why has the genre enjoyed resurgence in popularity over the past few years?

Everything comes in waves.  I’m not sure why horror has had resurgence.  I’m not one of those who analyze things too deeply.  I know many folks talked about Night of the Living Dead was a protest to the government conspiracies and military-industrial complex.  
I think people always like to be thrilled.  That’s why people ride roller coasters and bungee jump.  I think the right stories have come out, and people like them.  But, hey I’m just an ER nurse.  I love the thrill.

What’s the best part about being a horror writer?

It is such a thrill writing horror.  There are several parts of APEX that my heart rate climbed as I wrote it, and I knew how it was going to end.  Plus, my ten year old is a big zombie fan.  He hasn’t read APEX yet. I’m going to wait a few years I think.  But, he is so excited about the book. 

What’s the worst?

Editing.  I’m the world’s worse speller/ typist.  I swear I had to read APEX six times to edit out all the mistakes I was able to find.  (I’m sure there are some I still missed).  I wish I could just talk into a microphone and the story would just come out the way I want it.

Do you think fans of horror are more devoted to genre?

You know, as a horror writer I hope so.  But, I think fans are fans.  By that I mean I think people find what speaks to them, and they tend to stick with that.  Try to talk poorly about Janet Evonovich to one of her fans.  They can get kind of rabid about her.

Is there a difference in the type of stories you are telling, or the way you are telling them, than traditionally published horror writers?

APEX is told with the eye of a soldier.  One of my friends read the book, and called it a cross between Walking Dead and Blackhawk Down.  I try to convey not only the horror of getting eaten by a zombie, but also the terror of watching it happen, as well as the hopelessness and despair of seeing it happen to someone you love.  I also really like to build a character up and then squash them when you least expect it.  One of my author friends sent me an e-mail half way through the book saying “I can’t believe you killed…”

I love that kind of response.

What does your family think of your writing career?

Well, right now it isn’t a career, but more like a hobby.  As I’ve said, I’m an ER nurse by day, and a writer by day off.  My oldest son is stoked about APEX.  My youngest is only 4 and he just knows that the “monkey book” is scary.  (The cover has a picture of his sock monkey lying next to my oldest son’s pale “dead” arm)

My wife, she’s another story.  She doesn’t have a problem with my writing.  She doesn’t like the fact that I don’t help out around the house much on days I’m at home writing.  She also really didn’t like the fact that I self published, and had to put money out up front.  To me it’s an investment to her it may be money thrown away.  Hopefully book sales will bring her around.


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