Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Author Interview and Giveaway: Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot & Ruin

Today I have the privilege of having Jonathan Maberry, the author of the new YA novel Rot & Ruin, stopping by my blog for an interview!

This post is a part of my 10 Days of Halloween celebration.

JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. His books have been sold to more than a dozen countries.

His novels include the Pine Deep Trilogy: GHOST ROAD BLUES (Pinnacle books; winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel in 2006), DEAD MAN’S SONG (2007) and BAD MOON RISING (2008); the Joe Ledger series of action thrillers from St. Martin’s Griffin: PATIENT ZERO (2009, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Best Novel Award and is in development for TV by Sony Pictures), THE DRAGON FACTORY (2010; now available), THE KING OF PLAGUES (March 2011), THE OTHERS (March 2012), VISITORS (2013); THE WOLFMAN (NY Times bestseller from Tor, based on the Universal Pictures film starring Benecio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Sir Anthony Hopkins); the Benny Imura series of Young Adult dystopian zombie thrillers from Simon & Schuster: ROT & RUIN (Sept 2010) and DUST & DECAY (2011); and the forthcoming zombie thriller DEAD OF NIGHT (June 2011)

His nonfiction works include: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006), THE CRYPTOPEDIA (Citadel, 2007 –winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer), ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (Winner of the Hinzman and Black Quill Awards and nominated for a Stoker Award; 2008), THEY BITE! (2009 co-authored by David F. Kramer), WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (2010 co-authored by Janice Gable Bashman), and THE VAMPIRE SLAYERS FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD (2001, written under the pen name of Shane MacDougall).

He writes a variety of projects for Marvel Comics involving CAPTAIN AMERICA, BLACK PANTHER, DOOMWAR, WOLVERINE, DEADPOOL, THE X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, the NY Times bestselling MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, and THE MARVEL UNIVERSE vs THE PUNISHER. All of Jonathan’s comic book collections are released as Graphic Novel collections within a month or two of individual comic publication.

Recent short stories include “Pegleg and Paddy Save the World” (HISTORY IS DEAD, Permuted Press 2007), “Doctor Nine” (KILLERS, Swimming Kangaroo Press, 2008; and reprinted in THE STORIES (in) BETWEEN Edited by Greg Schauer, Jeanne B. Benzel, and W.H. Horner. Fantasist Enterprises, 2009), “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Greenbrier Ghost” (LEGENDS OF THE MOUNTAIN STATE 2, Bloodletting Books, 2008), “Clean Sweeps” (AND SO IT BEGINS, Dark Quest Books, 2008), “Family Business” (THE NEW DEAD, St. Martin’s Press, 2010), “Like Part of the Family” (NEW BLOOD edited by Patrick Thomas and Diane Raetz, Padwolf Press, 2010)), and “Zero Tolerance” (THE LIVING DEAD 2, Night Shade Books). Jonathan also created several Joe Ledger short stories for the Internet: “Countdown” and “Deep, Dark”, available through his website.

Jonathan is the co-creator (with Laura Schrock) of ON THE SLAB, an entertainment news show in development by Stage 9 for ABC Disney / Stage 9. He is also a ‘blog correspondent’ on Sony’s zombie-themed web show ‘WOKE UP DEAD’; and a recurring character on ‘IT’S TODD’S SHOW’.

Jonathan’s Big Scary Blog (www.jonathanmaberry.com) focuses on the publishing industry. Jonathan’s interviews include Sandra Brown, Gayle Lynds, Alafair Burke, James Rollins, Harlan Coben, Jeff Abbott, John Saul, Jonathan Kellerman, Barry Eisler, CJ Box, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jack Ketchum, Tom Piccarilli, Dale Brown, Kevin J. Anderson, Joe Lansdale, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Carrie Ryan, and many other best-selling authors.

Jonathan is a Contributing Editor for The Big Thrill (the newsletter of the International Thriller Writers), and is a member of SFWA, IAMTW, MWA, SCBWI, SFWA and HWA. He is a frequent guest at genre cons, writers conferences and publishing industry events, including ThrillerFest, San Diego Comic Con, Sisters in Crime, BackSpace, PennWriters, Dragon*Con, PhilCon, Horror-Realm, Boucher Con, HorrorFind, Monster Mania, New York Comic Con, Philadelphia Writers Conference, Balticon, The Write Stuff, Hypericon, Hypericon, KillerCon, NAIBA, LunaCon, and many others.

Jonathan was the Executive Director of the Writers Room of Bucks County (2005-06) and co-owner of the Writers Corner USA (2006-2009). Jonathan regularly visits local middle schools, high schools and colleges to talk about books, reading, publishing and the writing life.

Jonathan is a founding member of The Liars Club, a group of networking publishing professionals that includes celebrated authors L. A. Banks, Merry Jones, Gregory Frost, Jon McGoran, Ed Pettit, Dennis Tafoya, Keith Strunk, Don Lafferty, Kelly Simmons, Marie Lamba, Solomon Jones, Sara Shepard, William Lashner, and Laura Schrock. The Liars Club works to support booksellers, raise awareness and support for public libraries, and cultivate a joy of reading and books.

On the last Sunday of every month Jonathan hosts the Writers Coffeehouse, a free three-hour open-agenda networking and discussion session for writers of all genres and levels of skill. The event is held at the Barnes & Noble in Willow Grove Pennsylvania.

Jonathan has been a popular writing teacher and career counselor for writers for the last two decades. He teaches a highly regard series of classes and workshops including Write Your Novel in Nine Months, Revise & Sell, Experimental Writing for Teens, and others. Many of his students have gone on to publish in short and novel-length fiction, magazine feature writing, nonfiction books, TV, film, and comics.

In 2004 Jonathan was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame largely because of his extensive writings in that field. His martial arts books include Self-Defense for Every Woman (Vortex Multimedia, 1985); Introduction to Asian Martial Arts (Vortex Multimedia, 1986); The Self-Defense Instructor’s Handbook (Vortex Multimedia, 1990); Judo and You (Kendall Hunt, 1991); Ultimate Jujutsu Principles and Practices (Strider Nolan, 2002); The Martial Arts Student Logbook (Strider Nolan, 2002); Ultimate Sparring Principles and Practices (Strider Nolan, 2003).

Visit his website at www.jonathanmaberry.com or find him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Library Thing, Shefari and Plaxo.

The Goodreads summary for Rot & Ruin:

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

-Interview- (Bold=Ava, Regular=Jonathan Maberry)

Tell us a bit about your novel, Rot & Ruin.

ROT & RUIN is about a teenager, Benny Imura, growing up in a fenced-off town fourteen years after a plague made the dead rise. There are only a few thousand people left and everything else is the great Rot & Ruin. Now that Benny is fifteen he’s required to get a job or lose his rations. So, he winds up apprenticing with his zombie hunter brother, Tom. Problem is…Benn hates Tom and blames him for the deaths of their parents during ‘First Night’ –the night when the dead rose.
Benny has a lot to learn about his brother, about his world, and about what it means to be human –alive or dead.
ROT & RUIN is a character-driven action novel. It has a lot of humor, adventure, romance, heartbreak, and strong male and female characters including the legendary Lost Girl –a beautiful teenager who has been surviving on her own out in the Ruin.

Rot & Ruin is your first Young Adult novel. What made you decide to start writing YA?

This started off as a short story, “Family Business”, which I wrote for an anthology, THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden. That antho is definitely not for teens. However my story had a fifteen year old protagonist and my agent liked it enough to suggest that we shop it as the opening of a much larger story. I agreed and we got a wonderful two-book deal from Simon & Schuster.
During that time I was immersing myself in as much YA literature as I could find –and I was delighted to see that the books that are being published for teens show a great deal of respect for their intelligence, savvy, and maturity. We didn’t have books like these when I was a teenager.
One of the things I love about writing for the YA market is that the books are categorized by age groups rather than genre, which allows for a lot of cross-genre writing. My adult novels, particularly PATIENT ZERO and THE DRAGON FACTORY are cross-genre, and when I wrote ROT & RUIN I set out to write the best novel I could and didn’t have to worry if I was crossing a genre line.

What inspired you to write about zombies? Was there any particular movies that you based some of the zombie lore on?

I was in the movie theater the first time NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was shown in Philadelphia. Oct 2, 1968. I was ten. I snuck in and watched it twice. Scared the bejeezus out of me and left me with an undying love of the zombie genre.
Since then I’ve seen virtually every zombie movie and TV show available; read all the comics, like THE WALKING DEAD and MARVEL ZOMBIES; and my library of zombie fiction and nonfiction is huge.
My favorite all time zombie flick, by the way, is the unrated director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Runner up is SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

Can you share any tips on the writing process? Do you have any particular habits?

First, learn the craft. Most writers are born with some kind of storytelling ability (maybe it’s a gene), but good writing is the result of storytelling plus learned skills. Take the time to learn about voice and point of voice, about figurative and descriptive language, about action and tension. Learn how to construct a sentence and a paragraph.
Next, write an outline. Know where your story is going to go so that you don’t waste time writing scenes which don’t contribute to that goal. That said, once you have an outline allow the story to grow organically so that you don’t force it to fit. A technique that works for me is that I write the first and last chapters of a book; then I write an exploratory synopsis –which is an essay written for myself in which I work out the story and the narrative logic; and then I write an outline.
One crucial thing is: NEVER revise until you are finished a first draft. Never. Ever. Revision of that kind is a momentum-killer. It’s a quicksand pit. Write it down fast and ugly and then fix it in the rewrite.
The second part of that piece of advice (and the reason most people step into the revision quicksand) is that you shouldn’t try to write a perfect piece. No one has ever done it, and no one can. Write a solid piece, pretty it up in the rewrite, and then send it out. Then work on something else. Perfection is by definition impossible for humans to attain. Stop wasting good writing time on it.
And last…and maybe most important of all…be relentless. If you love to write, then keep writing and keep sending it out.

Are there going to be more books in a Rot & Ruin series?

I recently completed DUST & DECAY, the second book in the Benny Imura series. That should be out next year, and we’re in the early stages of discussions about continuing the series.
And, there are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available by following this link: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Rot-Ruin/Jonathan-Maberry/9781442402324
ROT & RUIN will also be released on audio in early 2011.

What are some of your favorite books?

I’m such a book geek that I not only have a list of favorite books, but I have top ten favorites in dozens of categories. That said, there are two books that I read every year, and both were given to me by the authors when I was fourteen. One is I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson and the other is SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury. Brilliant novels.
Some recent favorites include BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest, LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER by Dan Wells, the anthology ZOMBIES VS UNICORNS by Holly Black, Suzanne Collins’ trilogy; and of course the Harry Potter books, which I’ve read and re-read.

If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?

Read with an open mind. It’s what I do. If I find that I don’t like something just because I develop some preconceived notion of what it is (or might be), then I make myself go and check it out. A good example of this was Steampunk. When it first came out I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t like the term ‘steampunk’. But when I realized that I was being prejudicial just because of a word, I went out and bought Jeff Van Der Meer’s excellent anthology, STEAMPUNK, and read every story. That book also included a superb history of the genre, and it turns out I’ve always liked Steampunk…but I didn’t know that that label fit books by Jules Verne, H G Wells, and others. Since then I’ve read a lot of the genre and have absolutely fallen in love with it.
So, yeah…read with an open mind.

Thanks so much for the interview! Also, enter the giveaway for a personalized, signed copy of Rot & Ruin, generously donated by the author.

  • I'm making this one simple again- NO EXTRA ENTRIES. Only one entry person.
  • Enter by filling out the form. Please only fill it out once.
  • You must be at least 13 years old.
  • This contest is open to US only. International followers- enter my other international giveaways!
  • I'm not requiring that you become a follower to enter, but it's much appreciated!
  • This giveaway will end in one week- Tuesday November 2nd.

EDIT: If you want extra entries in this contest, go here! There is another form there. You can fill out this one or just that one, your choice.


  1. I've heard such great things about Rot & Ruin. It sounds like you are truly writing about something you love. Thanks for the interview.

  2. I just saw "Rot and Ruin" in the bookstore! This was a great interview. I really liked his advice about writing. Honestly, going back to revise before I've got a complete draft is what *always* keeps me from finishing. That and lack of plot. xD


Thanks for the comments! I read every single one and try to reply, either on your blog or another comment! They make my day!

As of 1/17/11, Book Infinity is an awards-free blog. My schedule is busy as could be, and I don't have time to follow all the rules to pass them on. But I really do appreciate the thought, thanks so much for thinking about me!