I’ll admit, when I first started writing the original AUTUMN novel back in 1996 (I think), I wasn’t too bothered about trying to work out what caused the horrific infection that wiped out most of the human race (then made millions of them them get up again). As I’ve always said, the books are more about the human stories that followed than anything else. But by the time I got to AUTUMN: PURIFICATION in 2004, I’d spent quite a bit of time thinking about what might have happened. You sort of get a hint of an explanation in that book.
It was much, much later when I decided to come clean and write about the chain of events that triggered the AUTUMN apocalypse. The story – JOE AND ME – was written, but as far as I was concerned the AUTUMN series was done and dusted and I had no immediate plans to publish it. Enter my friend MICHAEL WILSON of THIS IS HORROR. Michael asked me to write the first THIS IS HORROR chapbook, and I saw an opportunity to release JOE AND ME into the wild. I was thrilled with the reception the story received, and that inspired me to re-write and expand the companion collection, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION. JOE AND ME also features in that book.
I’ve thought a lot about JOE AND ME since the coronavirus pandemic began (you’ll understand why if you read it), and I decided to share it again. I thought the best way of doing that was to link to the episode of the THIS IS HORROR podcast when I narrated an audiobook version. Forgive my rough around the edges Brummie delivery – I’m very much an amateur when it comes to audio – but here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
This week is READ AN EBOOK WEEK – a long-standing initiative that I’ve been pleased to support for a number of years. The debate over the merits of print books versus ebooks versus audiobooks will never be settled – I believe each format has its plusses and minuses, and what suits one reader (or listener) might not suit the next. I just try and make my books available in as many formats as I can, and I also try not to exploit my readers by asking them to buy the same book many times over. Never forget – if you buy a signed copy of a title published by Infected Books from www.infectedbooks.co.uk, you’ll immediately be able to download a complementary ebook version. Similarly, buy a print Infected Books title from Amazon, and you can claim a Kindle copy through the Kindle Matchbook programme.
My career was built on a foundation of ebooks. If I hadn’t been able to give so many copies of AUTUMN away (somewhere in the region of half a million by the time the free download disappeared in 2008), then I doubt anyone would have ever heard of me. So please, download and read an ebook this week. And when you’re done, please review and share. Recommendations are invaluable for authors and are always appreciated.
I’m looking forward to returning to the world of AUTUMN in the near future. It’s been five years since the release of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION and in those years the zombie sub-genre has changed completely. No one was talking about zombies when the first book hit the shelves in 2001, but now they’re everywhere!
Not read the AUTUMN series? This gives me a great opportunity to point you in the direction of www.lastoftheliving.net which will give you all the information you need, along with more than 40 short stories, including HOME. Many of the stories were illustrated by some very talented folks. A gentleman by the name of Michael Dick provided several sketches for HOME, such as this:
So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the AUTUMN series a lot recently. AUTUMN was the first of my books which really took off. As you may recall, I gave it away free online between 2001 and 2008 (when, strange as it now seems, eBooks were rare and very few people were giving them away), and it was downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times. I wrote a series of sequels which were well received, and the first book was even adapted as an online full cast audio drama which you can still listen to.
But then HATER came along and my focus shifted. I then moved onto other books and projects, and it’s now a sobering five years since the last book – AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION – was released. Yet even now people still get in touch regularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the series.
When I wrote the very first draft of the very first book, way back in 1997, no one was writing about zombies. Very few people were watching zombie movies, either. In fact, no one was paying zombies any attention in any way, shape or form. But in the years which followed, a totally unexpected thing happened and, for the first time, the living dead became mainstream. In films, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER was a huge hit (which sparked endless pointless debate about whether zombies should run or not, and whether or not his infected were zombies at all), and Zack Synder’s remake of George Romero’s ground-breaking DAWN OF THE DEAD bucked the trend and proved that not all remakes were worthless cash-ins. THE WALKING DEAD comic was launched and a number of writers including myself, BRIAN KEENE and DAVID WELLINGTON precipitated the flood of zombie fiction.
And despite hearing rumours to the contrary every few months since then, the bubble hasn’t burst. People still love the living dead.
I’m going to write two more AUTUMN novels. There – I’ve said it out loud and in public now. I have an idea which I can’t stop thinking about and that, for me, is the acid test. If an idea for a book won’t go away, then that book needs writing. I have a couple of other projects to wrap up first, then I’ll dive straight into what I’m currently calling AUTUMN: DAWN. I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I think the time’s right for these new books. As I’ve already said, the world has changed dramatically since I first wrote AUTUMN. To my mind, zombies have always been the ultimate story-telling device for allowing writers and film-makers to study the human condition. By turning people into something so similar yet inherently different, it enables us to look back and consider what makes us human in the first place. Socially we’re in a vastly different place now to where we were in 2001, and I think it’ll be fascinating to imagine how we’d react to the events of AUTUMN if they took place today. The new books won’t replace the original novels, nor will they undermine them. Same dead world, different people. Not a rehash or reboot. It’s funny… one of the rules of zombie fiction and movies when I first started writing was that the characters had to have an unspoken innocence and couldn’t know what a zombie was. Given the pop culture explosion I’ve just been talking about, there’s no way I could get away with that in the new AUTUMN books!
So what about the movie?
It was released in 2008 to a torrent of abuse and ill-feeling. It creaks and it groans. It was made on a shoestring budget and it shows. People either loved it or hated it (mostly they hated it). I stopped trying to defend it and used the backlash to try and promote the books, working on the dubious premise that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Tellingly, none of the publishers of the series around the world mentioned the film in their marketing, though an editor who worked on the books did once tell me that ‘it’s always better to have a bad film made of one of your books than no film at all’. And with hindsight, I think I agree. But how bad a film is it? Was all the negativity justified? This week I took a deep breath and watched AUTUMN from start to finish for the first time in a decade. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. I’m under no illusions, it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it’s the absolute car crash that most people assume.
Here’s a trailer, and my thoughts follow. And yes, that is me on the DVD cover above.
It’s the 9th annual READ AN EBOOK WEEK. It’s an event I’ve posted about numerous times before and I’m pleased to continue to support the initiative. I’ve been an advocate of ebooks right from the beginning – those pre-Kindle days where I’d email Word, pdf, Mobipocket or lit (remember Microsoft Reader?) copies of AUTUMN to anyone who showed interest. It worked a treat, with more than half a million free copies of AUTUMN being downloaded between 2001 and 2008 when the series was acquired by Thomas Dunne Books.
Ebooks haven’t proved to be the print killer that everyone initially feared. To me, they’re something that compliments but doesn’t replace the physical version. I travel a lot at the moment, and my trusty Kindle has been a godsend on many recent plane and train trips.
So please join me in celebrating the humble ebook by sharing this post and other READ AN EBOOK WEEK articles. To mark the occasion, I’ve got a number of titles on special offer:
UPDATE APRIL 2017: Bitlit (which went on to be renamed Shelfie) sadly closed its virtual doors in January 2017. The service has since been acquired by Kobo. Visit www.shelfie.com for more information.
By now I guess you know my philosophy – I only want people to buy the same book once. If you buy a paperback, I want you to be able to download the ebook version for free. Similarly, if you buy an ebook then wish you’d bought a print edition, I think you should only have to pay the paperback cost less the price you originally paid for the ebook.
Economics and practicalities sometimes make achieving these aims difficult, but I’m always on the look out for ways to simplify the process. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Bitlit.
Bitlit is an app, available for iOS and Android. It’s beautifully simple: you take a shelfie with your camera (ie a picture of your bookshelf), and the app scans the titles you’ve got, identifies them, and directs you to free or low price versions of the books you already have in print (where available). I’m pleased to say that we’re making Infected Books titles available free via the service, and you can now download STRAIGHT TO YOU, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, TRUST and STRANGERS for free from Bitlit (as long as you own a print version, of course).
I posted a while back to tell you about THE ULTIMATE UNDEAD COLLECTION – an incredibly low price ebook collection of zombie stories. It’s out tomorrow, so here are all the relevant links and a full list of contents. Enjoy! You’d be hard pushed to find this much zombie goodness elsewhere for such a crazy price.
Quarantined by Joe McKinney
The Last Survivors by Bobby Adair and T.W. Piperbrook
The Colony: Genesis (Book 1) by Michaelbrent Collings
Autumn: The Human Condition by David Moody
Trudge: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by Shawn Chesser
Until the End of the World by Sarah Lyons Fleming
Zombie Wilson Diaries by Timothy W. Long
100 Days in Deadland by Rachel Aukes
Dead Hunger: The Flex Chronicle by Eric A. Shelman
Joe is anything but an ordinary eight year old. His father’s a stay-at-home dad and his mom’s going to save the world.
Forced to live in cramped quarters after the military pull funding on his mother’s research, Joe is thrown into the midst of a race against the clock to save mankind. As tensions rise and the family disintegrates, they must face an uncomfortable ultimatum.
Do they save each other or humanity?
We’ll be following up this release early in 2015 with a unique LIVE This is Horror podcast. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer on air, please email them to Michael@thisishorror.co.uk.
Finally, as this will probably be my last post here for a while, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and enthusiasm over the past year, and to wish you and your families all the best for the holiday season.