If you’re looking for an original take on the classic zombie-survival story, look no further than Simon McCaffery’s story in The Zombie Feed Vol. 1, “Lifeboat.” Recently separated Jack Anthony wasn’t thinking that a cruise ship would be the best bet for survival when he and his teenage son Nick decided to spend spring break on board the Mystique: sometimes survival has more to do with luck than with foresight. But when the dead do arise, a floating fortress is just about the best place to hole up. “Lifeboat” is a survival story–it’s got the blazing guns, the rushing hoard, the hapless victims–but it’s more than that. This story has very real characters you will root for, even when all the odds seem to be stacked against them, and the setting is wonderfully realized. So if you’re interested in an adventure trip with some great companions, definitely sink your teeth into Simon McCaffrey’s “Lifeboat” in The Zombie Feed Vol. 1!
You can pick up your copy of The Zombie Feed Anthology on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, or from The Zombie Feed directly. Get it on your Kindle or your Nook (or in any e-format from Smashwords) for just $2.99! Seventeen awesome zombie stories for $2.99? That’s like seventeen birds with 2.99 stones! That’s crazy efficient! :D
1. The Writing Question: If you could sit down with one author, from any time in history to today, to get a writing lesson, who would it be?
This is a difficult question, because the list is so long. I imitated the styles of Richard Matheson and Stephen King in many of my early published stories, and what wouldn’t I do to perform the Vulcan mindmeld on Tom Disch, Peter Straub and Thomas Harris? Or bring back Michael Crichton, the king of the plausible techno-thriller? But if I could sit down with a single author for some writing advice, it would be Alfred Bester. I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime, but I remember where I was and what I was doing when I stumbled across The Stars My Destination. No writer has ever equalled that novel’s thrilling blend of speculative science, sociology and pure, breakneck-paced adventure. Bester was a master of sly and perceptive commentary on society and human psychology, and his dizzying blends of SF, horror and thrillers have never been surpassed. And could he breathe life into unforgettable characters? Who has ever been able to forget Gully Foyle? My son read the novel when he was thirteen, and it’s still his favorite. It probably will be when he’s sixty.
2. The Horror Question: Blood and gore: scary or not scary?
I sold a story some years ago called “Little Men” to Algis Budrys. I had submitted several conventional science fiction stories to TOMORROW, but the story he accepted was a ghost story missing a ghost. I challenged myself to write a contemporary gothic tale of a haunted house, but it couldn’t involve any supernatural spirits. I came up with a pretty unusual, nasty premise, and Budrys commended me for not showing the reader the creatures — allowing the imagination to fill in the blanks. He was right. The more you reveal, the more you may lessen the impact. A writer also must decided when blood and gore are appropriate to the tale, but I’ve found that less is usually more. This also applied to stories I sold to John Skipp and Craig Spector for Book of the Dead 2 andMondo Zombie. If you have to dunk your readers like doughnuts in blood and gore to frighten or shock them, you need to go back and strengthen your storytelling skills.
3. The Oddball Question: What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Besides the Aurora monster and television sci-fi model kits my father brought home from his travels, my favorite childhood toy was a Corgi Toys die-cast Batmobile. Dad bought one each for my brother and I when our Icelandic Airlines plane was grounded for six hours in Iceland having an engine repaired. These toy cars were the pinnacle of late 1960s die-casts with a tremendous attention to detail, and best of all, lots of working gadgets like a chain-cutter and a thumb-wheel that fired tiny orange plastic pellets from the car’r rocket stacks. I began collecting those old cars again ten years ago. Like my old Aurora model kits, they’ve gained a lot of collectibility over the decades. God knows what happened to my childhood Batmobile, but the ones I own today rest safe and sound behind glass.
Simon McCaffery saw his first UFO at age ten and encountered the undead the following summer — it was a drunk shambling through the French Quarter at dusk, but it sure as hell looked like a zombie — so it’s no wonder he grew up to write SF, horror and hybrids of both genres. Simon’s stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Tomorrow SF, Space & Time and in anthologies such as Book of the Dead 2: Still Dead and Mondo Zombie. His latest story appears in BLACK STATIC #24, and another story will appear in the upcoming anthology Zombie Kong. He lives in Tulsa, Okla. Check out the latest news at http://simonmccafferyfiction.blogspot.com/ .