I know some are getting tired of the zombie horror genre, but I’m just not one of them. I have always loved horror and something about zombies is like having the boogie monster crawling out of your closet or out from under your bed. They just work. And they work for good reasons, like in Robert Kent’s latest book All Together Now. There is a lot of blood, emotion, and horror. Exactly the trifecta that horror lovers like myself enjoy so much!
I’m so excited to reveal this new cover. The old one nearly made me not want to read this but I took a chance and loved it. But this new cover is awesome! Totally reveals that there is some zombie horror in this without even needed to be said!
AND if you haven’t purchased the book yet… It’s going to be FREE Friday and Saturday! Get it while it’s hot!
Thank you so much for doing this interview for Creating Serenity.
Thanks for having me!
Christina T. – How did this book start for you? Image, Idea, Dream?
It started as an idea for the author Courtney Summers. I read her debut YA book, Cracked up to Be, back in late 2009 and absolutely flipped for it. I interviewed her for Middle Grade Ninja and learned she had a passionate love of zombies (as do all the best writers). It struck me that realistic teenagers with depth (a Courtney Summers specialty) were the ideal protagonists for a dark zombie story, so I bugged her for years to write one. After she announced This Is Not a Test (already a classic of the genre), it occurred to me that the reason I’d bugged her so often was that I wanted to write my own YA zombie novel.
Christina T. – Did you have any growing pains with this novel?
Every novel has growing pains. But this one wasn’t so bad. I finally got smart and gave sections of it to my writer’s group in serial form as I was completing the first draft so that I could deal with issues before I’d written myself in a corner. The smartest thing any writer can do is join a good writers group.
Christina T. – Do you have a message you try to convey when writing a story?
I try not to. Inevitably, a theme emerges from a story no matter how hard a writer works to avoid it, so I try to be conscious of that. All Together Now is very much a story about my own fears of conformity, both in myself and in others. But worrying about a message is a secondary concern. My first concern is always showing the reader a good time. If I don’t do that, no one will investigate the work further for theme. Writers who focus too much on a message churn out unreadable sludge that is an essay pretending to be fiction, such as Atlas Shrugged.
Christina T. – What are you reading right now?
Right this moment? Sand by Hugh Howey, The Day After Roswell by Philip Corso (a good story is a good story), and Sunrise by Mike Mullin. Okay, I’m not currently reading that last one, but I have read it and wanted to plug Mike’s book as it’s amazing and soon to be available 🙂
Christina T. – Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
Every author I’ve ever read has been an influence on me. The authors I’ve interviewed at Middle Grade Ninja have made a huge impact on me and taught me a lot about writing. The author Will Allison was my mentor in college and I still think on some of the things he taught me.
Specifically, for All Together Now, Robert Kirkman was obviously a huge influence. Any time I write horror, I have to acknowledge Stephen King’s influence as I grew up on his novels (as did most of us) and I’ve read everything the man’s ever written, most of it twice. Hugh Howey’s I, Zombie inspired me and his many articles on writing have forever changed the way I view publishing.
But the author Mike Mullin probably had the most influence on this book, and not just because he gave me such an awesome blurb. Mike’s a great friend and critique partner and his revisions helped shape the book. More, critiquing Ashen Winter and Sunrise got me thinking about teenagers in the apocalypse and inspired me to write my own story.
Christina T. – What is your writing style? Do you create outlines for your writing or do you just sit and type away?
My style changes a little from project to project, but typically I create a very, very loose outline. For All Together Now, I knew the ending from inception as that was a big part of what motivated me to write the story. Like a detective, I worked backwards from my goal and that allowed me to fill in a lot of the blanks as to how I was going to get there.
But my outlines start out as a collection of notes and I fill them in as I write the story. I like to know enough about my book beforehand that I can make smart decisions in characters and tone, but not so much that I’m not curious to write the thing. Ideally, I’m writing for the same reason the reader is reading: to find out what happens next. The one book I wrote a detailed outline for prior to writing my first draft never actually got written—I already knew all the story’s secrets and wasn’t interested in bothering to write them outJ
Christina T. – What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
The story I’m working on now is a companion novella to All Together Now. It’s a hybrid prequel and sequel. I thought I’d worked zombies out of my system, but it turns out I apparently have a little more to say on the subject. The novella will be available later this year and the working title is All Right Now: A Short Zombie Story.
Christina T. – Do you write using a computer or the old fashioned pen to paper?
I usually do my writing with a computer and my editing with a pen. I used to write first drafts by pen and paper, but I lost too many chapters to coffee spills.
Christina T. – Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what’s on your playlist!?
My playlist varies depending on the story. For All Together Now, I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash and some of the creepiest old school religious songs I could find. I had five different versions of “Where No One Stands Alone” on my playlist and would’ve included some of the lyrics in the book if they weren’t copyrighted. That song is beautiful, but so manipulative, and it dovetails nicely with the theme of my novel.
Christina T. – Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Definitely video games. There are so many fine books to read and I have so much to do, I can scarcely justify the time I spent playing Arkham Origins last year. I try always to listen to audio books or podcasts when I play, which makes me feel a little less guilty. I skip most television and movies not involving superheroes or zombies, but I gotta have my violence against pixels.
Christina T. – What is your favorite word?
‘Moist.’ I like the way it sounds and I love that it makes some people uncomfortable for no reason. I try to sneak it into my fiction wherever I can get away with it.
Christina T. – What is your least favorite word?
Christina T. – Do you talk to your characters?
No, but I do listen. When my writing is going well, the characters act and speak all on their own and my job is just to write down what they say.
Christina T. – What’s your favorite time of year?
Late spring into early summer. It’s not too hot, so I can sit on my deck to write, and all the big summer movies are coming and I don’t know how disappointing they’re going to be yet:)
Christina T. – Best vacation spot ever…
I never get tired of trips to Holiday World in Santa Clause, Indiana. The lines are short, the rides are great, and they serve free soft drinks. It’s like a really big carnival, but with safety inspectors. A close second is Las Vegas.
Robert Kent is the author of the young adult novel All Together Now: A Zombie Story. He runs the popular blog for writers, MIDDLE GRADE NINJA, and lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he’s hard at work on his next book.