In 2012, I signed a contract with Severed Press for a trilogy of zombie novels. To this day, the three books in that saga are still my best selling books. I wrote two more zombie books after the completion of the series. People love zombies. People love horror novels. No way around it.
As a writer, though, I was ready to write something different.
When I started writing books in 2000, I focused on suspense novels. I landed deals with a few up and coming small presses. By 2006, I was doing very well, winning awards, and making a little name for myself.
Life stepped in, and tore my aspirations apart. My marriage was failing. My ex and I separated. It was devastating. When I moved out, my world crumbled. I’d just finished writing a mystery novel under a pen name, Thomas Phillips. A larger press had bought it, and spent good money on promoting me and the new book (The Molech Prophecy).
My heart wasn’t in it.
To top it off, in December 2008, after 19 years working at the Eastman Kodak Company, I was laid off. I’d spent the last ten years in the legal department. I worked as an Employment Law Paralegal. I spent a full year unemployed.
In 2009, I managed to land a new job. It was working for the City of Rochester as a Fire / EMS Dispatcher at 911. It was a completely different line of work. I worried I’d never make it past the probationary period.
I did. And a whole new inspiration dawned on me.
I was working again. I was rebuilding my life. I was very unhappy. Angry. My ex had, I thought, ruined my life.
The Walking Dead was just gaining momentum. I wanted to tell a different kind of zombie story. I came up with the idea for VACCINATION. The tale revolves around a divorced 911 Dispatcher. When the zombie apocalypse breaks out, he is at work. He spends the rest of the book trying to travel fifteen miles in order to rescue his children.
I continued the tale with a fourth book, DAMN THE DEAD, taking one of the main characters from the first trilogy to the next level of survival. (There will be more books in this “new” series).
I wanted something with more . . . promise. Something with more . . . hope.
I had notes stored away for a fantasy novel. Aside from fantasy short stories I had written in the ‘90s, I had never written a fantasy novel before. So I researched how to make this happen.
My energy restored. I became excited about the writing process. I had a different message I wanted to share with readers. While the zombie books focused on family, and surviving, and death, and destruction, my new fantasy series (SEVERED EMPIRE), is also about family, but it is also about hope. It is about strength in unity, and the ability to overcome. The possibility to conquer evil. Good rising above evil.
WIZARD’S RISE, the first in the Severed Empire series, let me explore me more. It allowed me to instill my renewed faith in good and in the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Do not get me wrong. WIZARD’S RISE has plenty of dark, plenty of tension, suspense, and grim . . . but there is more between the narrative I hope readers will take away from the books. (And as of June 1st, Book 2 in the Severed Empire was released: WIZARD’S WAR).
I live life one day at a time. It is not always easy, and though I smile, it is not always good. However, I sincerely hope that my books (from The Vaccination Trilogy, to the Severed Empire Series) provide more than just entertainment to readers. I hope the story in some way resonates with them, that they can see bits of themselves in the characters I’ve created, in the scenes that unfold, and . . . just want more of it.
I will write more horror novels. I am sure of it. They will just be written from a different perch than they had been written on before. I love telling stories. They mean something to me. If I am lucky they will mean something to those who read them as well.
If people are interested in keeping up to date on my work (fingers crossed), below are some ways!