Now I like my character-driven horror fiction to be dark, but in his most recent book, Craig DiLouie has taken dark to a new extreme.
SUFFER THE CHILDREN (out now from Simon and Schuster/Permuted Press) is a genuinely horrific book, extraordinarily uncomfortable reading. DiLouie takes that most precious of things – the relationship between a parent and their child – and pushes it beyond breaking point. The synopsis follows. Click the link below for some thoughts on the book from Craig himself.
“One day, the children die. Three days later, they come back. And ask for blood.
With blood, they stop being dead. They become the children they once were.
But only for a short time. Too soon, they die again. And need more blood to live …
The average body holds ten pints of blood. How far would you go for your child?”
The zombie community was shocked back in December 2009 when Z A Recht – author of Plague of the Dead and its sequel Thunder and Ashes – passed away unexpectedly. I’d only been corresponding with Z a week or so earlier, and his death shook me to the core. I was really pleased, therefore, when Permuted Press and author Thom Brannan completed the final book in the series – SURVIVORS – using the notes and drafts Z had left behind. When they asked me to provide a blurb, I didn’t hesitate. I said: “Taut and thrilling… brutal and unforgiving… Zombie fans will love this book”, and I stand by those comments. Here’s the back copy:
“THE MORNINGSTAR STRAIN WAS THE END OF THE WORLD.
In the wake of the zombie apocalypse, two separate bands of survivors journey across a decimated America, each with the desperate goal of finding the cure for the virulent plague that threatens the existence of humankind—or what’s left of it. Now it’s up to these inheritors of the future to outlive their waking nightmare, any way they can.
BUT FOR THESE SURVIVORS, IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING.
One group includes a brilliant virologist; for the other, an immune soldier proves invaluable. Battling infected and marauding raiders at every turn, the teams soon uncover the devious plans of Sawyer, an agent of the Chairman of the Reunited States of America, who believes that Dr. Anna Demilio already has the cure, and he will stop at nothing to find her. Now, with the salvation of the world and their own souls on the line, how far will the survivors go to emerge victorious?”
“The mystery virus struck down millions. Three days later, its victims awoke with a single violent purpose: spread the Infection. As the world lurched toward the apocalypse, some of the Infected continued to change, transforming into horrific monsters.
America’s far-flung military has returned home to war against its own country, engaged in a fierce battle to retake Washington, DC. Two hundred miles away, Ray Young, survivor of a fight to save a refugee camp from hordes of Infected fleeing the burning ruins of Pittsburgh, awakes from a coma to learn he has also survived Infection.
But this is no miracle. Ray is not immune. Instead, he has been transformed into a superweapon that could end the world … or save it.”
I enjoyed Craig’s monster-filled spin on the zombie apocalypse very much. Here’s my take: “a unique and startling vision of Armageddon … DiLouie takes the nightmare of THE INFECTION and ratchets up the horror to another level … It’s an excellent post-apocalyptic tale filled with horrific creatures and desperate people. He weaves the threads of his story expertly, managing to show the devastating cost of the crisis on both a human level and a global scale. Recommended!”
I’m sure plenty of you are aware of James Melzer. He’s the evil genius behind the Unleashed podcast, and the author of ESCAPE – the first book in a new trilogy of zombie novels coming later this year from Permuted Press and Pocket Books.
James got in touch with me a while back and invited me to be a part of a unique pre-order campaign for ESCAPE, and I was happy to oblige. Starting from tomorrow and running through to Escape’s release in December, everyone who pre-orders the book can get their hands on THE MOTHERLOAD a free eBook featuring never before published stories from myself (my contribution is ‘The Deal’ – a lovely little tale of perversion and greed), S G Brown, Mur Lafferty, Jeremy C Shipp, Wayne Simmons, and Matt Wallace.
As a writer, I’m regularly approached by people who want to tell me about the incredible new book they’ve just written. I try to be accommodating and look at as many manuscripts as I can, and I’m always happy to share my experiences of publishing with anyone who asks. You’ll probably appreciate though, it takes time to read a book properly and provide the author with constructive, useful feedback, and that’s part of the reason a). why I’ve got a backlog of such books right now (apologies to all who’ve sent books to me in 2010 – I will get back to you), and b). why I’ve had to start saying no to new approaches. Please don’t contact me for blurbs etc. until I post something to the contrary here: it’s not that I don’t want to help, I just can’t right now…
Another problem with agreeing to read books like this, is that you never know what you’re going to get. I’ve had long and involved conversations with writers about their fantastic sounding ideas, only to eventually receive an incoherent, uncorrected mess of a manuscript. However, that’s the exception, and I’ve read some truly great books from people who’ve started out as either readers, friends or both.
Today – very belatedly (sincere apologies, Craig) – I want to tell you about one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. If you’re a lover of zombie fiction in any way, shape or form, I urge you to pick up Tooth and Nail by Craig DiLouie.
On the face of it, Tooth and Nail looks like any one of a hundred other zombie stories. The plot sounds standard, almost clichéd: a mutated form of the rabies virus is causing chaos around the world, and a battle-hardened Lieutenant must lead his men (recently back from Iraq) across New York to protect a research facility which may just hold the cure…
Right; forget all your preconceptions. Tooth and Nailis about all of that, but it’s so much more too.
Permuted Press has announced that Z.A.Recht, author of Plague of the Dead and Thunder and Ashes, has died.
This is shocking, horrible news. I never had the pleasure of meeting Z in person, but I talked to him by email as recently as last month. He seemed like a genuinely good guy – polite, funny and enthusiastic about all things zombie. Plague of the Dead has been picked up as part of a deal between Permuted and Pocket Books and is due to be re-released later this month. Such a shame that Z won’t be here to see it.
My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends at this terrible time.
You might remember me mentioning Iain McKinnon in my post about Grimmfest last month. I said you’d be hearing more about Iain, and here’s why: Permuted Press has just published his debut novel Domain of the Dead. I was honoured to be asked to write an introduction to the book, and you can see my endorsement on the cover above. It’s a great read – an exciting, fast-moving, traditional zombie novel with a cool cast and more than enough wild moments and flashes of originality and invention to keep even the most jaded fan of the Undead entertained this Christmas. As if that wasn’t enough, you can watch a trailer for the book (and an absolutely cracking zombie-short – The Dead Walk) over on Iain’s official website, www.domain-of-the-dead.com.
But if you want to see something REALLY scary, check out this picture of Iain and myself taken at Grimmfest when Iain was kind enough to host the post-screening AUTUMN Q&A session.
Permuted Press have just released The World Is Dead, an anthology of zombie stories looking at life after the dead have risen. There are no outbreak tales here, instead we’re presented with 18 vastly different visions of a world where we’re forced to live alongside the undead.
I’ve worked my way through more than my fair share of zombie anthologies recently. This book – edited by Kim Paffenroth of Dying to Live fame – stood head and shoulders above the rest. It’s bloody good. Recommended reading for any zombie fan.
This is absolutely great news. Jacob Kier (owner of Permuted) and I started out around the same time and we first crossed paths when my story ‘Home’ appeared in the first Permuted title – ‘The Undead‘. For several years we ran reciprocal adverts for each other – I carried PP ads in my ‘Infected Books’, Jacob carried adverts for the ‘Autumn‘ books in PP titles.
I’m absolutely thrilled for him and all the authors involved because they’ve shown yet again how independent publishing can and does work. It’s fast becoming a viable alternative way to market for a lot of authors. In fact, my US publisher Thomas Dunne Books is now taking pre-orders for ‘John Dies at the End‘ – another book which was initially self-published on-line before being released by Permuted. Movie rights to the book have been sold to Don Coscarelli, director of ‘Bubba Ho-Tep‘ and the ‘Phantasm‘ films.
Congratulations again to Jacob and all the Permuted authors involved in this deal. I’m stoked for all of them!