Today, as many of you doubtless know, film critic and American Pundit-at-Large Roger Ebert died.
Like a lot of people, I “knew” Roger from those halcyon days of yore, when he ran a subforum in the universe formerly known as CompuServe. While we had some interesting exchanges and I grew to admire the man’s intellect and keen insight, I wasn’t one of the forum participants who knew him the very best. But my Showbiz Media Forum pal and indie screenwriter W.C. Martell did, and he wrote a fantastic eulogy over on his blog, sex-in-a-sub. (The blog is clean; the title stems from Bill’s success in the 1990s writing submarine movies.)
So without further ado: RIP: Roger Ebert.
I’m sure Siskel saved him a seat.
Here’s some of what Craig has to say about Earthfall:
[Knight] raises the technical and military detail in his books completely off the Michael Crichton scale and to the point of fetish, which is good for me as a reader, because I love a tense, action-packed apocalyptic story told with extreme realism. On every page, you know you are being told a story by a guy who knows his business. The all-terrain fighting machines the Harmony explorers use to cross the wastelands are virtually characters in the book, and I loved every minute of screen time they had. They’re fantastic–the ultimate ROAD WARRIOR vehicles. Knight’s attention to detail and realism also means his characters don’t do anything that has you slapping your head in disbelief. From the steady Captain Andrews to the haunted veteran Mulligan, they’re stark, likable, tough.
Thanks a million, bro!
Will hopefully have some new stuff to talk about next week, folks. Stay tuned!
Heh… McDaniels, Gartrell, and a few million dudes named Zed are gaining some (small) notice internationally. After all, it’s not often that I would expect a German reviewer to proclaim the works are “Exciting, exciting, exciting.” (“Spannend, spannend, spannend.”)
Nice to see! Now all I need to do is sell the foreign rights.
Perusing the ever-erstwhile blog The Passive Voice, I came upon this particular post, which in turn led me to the original article, located here at LouisvilleKY.com. It’s an interview with Sue Grafton, she of the Letter Mystery Novel Fame, and I want to alert interested readers that Ms. Graftom was interviewed by none other than the irrepressible Red Tash, who also had the misfortune to interview me last year.
Of course, Grafton’s interview was much more polarizing than mine, likely due to surely well-intended but needlessly incendiary bon mots like this:
Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?
Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.
(Bold by me.)
Ms. Grafton then apparently went on to ignore the lifeline extended in the following question while simultaneously shutting down her internal censors so she might continue with:
In light of our Louisville neighbor John Locke’s blockbuster indie sales, and the growing percentage of each best-seller list being filled out by “indie” writers, do you still feel that advice is solid? I know it was the standard advice a few years ago, but is it still good advice?
If so, what hard work are indie success stories too lazy to complete?
Is it possible that indie publishing is more effective than querying agents & publishers, for the new writer? More and more agents and publishers seem to be treating indie books as the new slush pile.
Good questions. Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. [Knight Sez: Yeah, because EVERY trade-published writer breaks out... right?] The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Don’t get me started. Oops..you already did.
(Again… bold by yours truly.)
Sometimes, I just can’t contain my annoyance at folks who can’t read the writing on the wall… especially when they’re supposedly writers. One presumes reading would be an important implement in their writerly toolkit (or perhaps “trollkit,” in this instance), but apparently I’m farther out of touch with the whole “us versus them” matchup than I’d thought.
As one of the unwashed hoi-polloi, I hang my head in sorrow… until I remember the income projections from my writing this year, then I perk up and I haz a happy.
And oh yeah, my reviews are better than Grafton’s. I guess I can smirk about that one, as well.
Wow, what an honor… The Gathering Dead stands at 99 reviews on Amazon! And even better, most of them are positive.
Who will write #100? I hope it’s a good one, but even if it’s not, it’s surprising to make it this far. I swear, sometimes I think I’m dreaming!
EDIT: And the 100th reviewer is: Steve Green! And it was a five star review, too. Thanks so much!
…get all giddy when I get reviews like this one on The Gathering Dead:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read with more to come,June 14, 2012Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)This review is from: The Gathering Dead (Paperback)
I finally write this review after reading this book and then the two & half others that follow (the half being a novella coming directly after this first book.)
I’ve been following zombie genre based books for the past ten years. Up until the last three or four years, the selections have been limited. Nowadays, it seems that everybody and their brother are producing books in this genre. What was then my scrounging for something new to read in my favorite genre (often with long waits) has now been swamped with countless books (literally hundreds). So many authors are now in the fray
You would think it would be great as a reader with so many options. Well, not really. There have been many disappointments in the long list of authors I’ve tired out… some self-published and others just jumping into the game after this genre found general popularity (too many who really don’t get what this genre is really about… just looking to cash in on the “next thing”.) While I have enjoyed many of the “new comers” in terms of authors, there have been a larger number that just fell flat. It has felt that I’ve sifted through many that have jumped on the bandwagon.
I guess where I’m getting at is that there’s now just a huge influx of books in this genre, literally too many to pick from. I happened across Stephen Knight’s book, “The Gathering Dead,” last fall and gave it a chance. From the first pages, I realized that this book was different, it was good!
The action was fast, the writing was crisp and polished, the plot was riveting and the characters intriguing. This book was the real deal. So I immediately got the next book in line which was a novella that focused on one interesting character in particular… God, how that even went back to make my memory of this first book more enjoyable (as well as making the next two in line that much more enjoyable… this was a kick-ass character on so many levels) These are characters that I as a reader thought about even after finishing a book. And that’s a mark of a good book… you as a reader winds up thinking about the characters as real people and then reflect upon them as someone you actually knew. Their being lingers long after you have read the last page.
More than that, these characters are soldiers. In my experience, having read literally hundreds of books in this genre, I have found that so few authors have been able to write military types beyond the cliched. Hell, most authors seem cartoonish in how they portray the military. Not Knight, either in this book or the others to follow. His military characters are well crafted and throrougly believable. They are real people.
Now, I haven’t told you much about the story in this review. That is on purpose. I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I will just say that this is an excellent read and you WILL find yourself getting the rest of the books in the series. This will be as close as you will get to an addiction if you don’t have one already.
Hell, I liked this series enough that after I was done I wound up seeking Knight’s other works in different genres of which I don’t usually follow… Had gotten his “City of the Damned” which is about vampires… a subject I’m not too enthusiastic about. But, hell that was a good read too (not to mention I hope for a sequel on that score too). So this says that Knight is a good writer. He knows how to tell a story. He has a style that draws you in.
If you decide to try “The Gathering Dead” go ahead and preorder the rest in the series. Have them waiting on hand. You won’t want to wait to find out what happens next.
Now, this series starting with “The Gathering Dead” is a complete story. But there is an opening for a sequel.
God, I hope Knight has plans for one. If not, start something else. But make it quick. I can’t wait!
As we all know, the zombie subgenre is generally overlooked by the vast majority of readers and filmgoers, and it wasn’t until The Walking Dead came to life on AMC that people have begun to take greater notice of the subgenre’s flexibility. While being surrounded by thousands of carnivorous corpses is very likely going to ruin your day, as things progress they become less of an adversary and more of an obstacle. The real conflict comes from the relationships between the survivors, be it between the rather grisly menage a trois illustrated by The Walking Dead‘s Rick, Lori, and Shane, or that between McDaniels and Gartrell in The Gathering Dead.
At any rate, it’s really a kick in the pants for me to see The Gathering Dead and the rest of the books continuing to receive such good marks. Surprising, actually. I always knew I had the ability to string words together, but not with enough… ah, mastery?… to spur folks to write reviews like this one.
Thanks for everything, folks. I’m glad you like the stuff, and there is more to come…
Continuing to prove they have simply great taste in zombie apocalypse fiction, the crew over at Bricks of the Dead have reviewed my “Gathering Dead” novella, Left with the Dead. Happily for me, they gave it a general thumbs-up. You can check it out at:
For those who may be curious, LWTD picks up pretty much right where The Gathering Dead left off. 1SG Dave Gartrell is alone in New York City, cut off from the good ship Escanaba. The only way he’s going to survive in the city is if he pulls himself together and resources every ounce of skill he’s accumulated over his thirty year career as a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret. But hey, this is Gartrell we’re talking about. Of course he can survive!
Well, until he picks up a young mother and her autistic son. Then the mission essentials kind of change for him…
From the review, there’s this little snippet which pretty much sets the tone:
Our protagonist starts off surrounded by zombies in a giant city, short on ammo, and without any real resources other than what’s on his back. Things don’t really improve for him from there. Instead, they just get tougher. Not only does he have to try to extricate himself, he also becomes responsible for two other people: a mother and her severely autistic seven year-old son.
That young boy is what really made Left with the Dead work for me. It takes our über-masculine special forces soldier, and humanizes him in ways most books like this could only dream of. He also makes for some interesting challenges throughout the narrative. Not only must the boy be protected, he must also be kept occupied and calm so as not to draw in the army of zombies prowling the streets.
Kind of a raised bar there if ever there was one, if I do say so myself. Interested parties can find this little zombie apocalypse sojourn at the following sites:
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to check it out, now would be a great time. And yes, I am using Jedi mind control…
You just have to love pre-release press coverage! The Rising Horde is reviewed over at Bricks Of The Dead!
Five stenches out of five, baby! And notable comparisons to World War Z (which I’ve read) andDay By Day Armageddon (which I haven’t). Here’s to some more good press in the coming weeks!
The Gathering Dead has been reviewed again, and it’s another good one. Check it out over at NecroScope! (I always did like Australia…)
And if you’re wondering just where you can get your hands on this gem of zombie apocalypse tale, where the hungry, reanimated dead have a go at an Army Special Forces detachment, here are the requisite links:
The Gathering Dead for your Kindle
The Gathering Dead for your Nook
The Gathering Dead from Smashwords
The Gathering Dead for your favorite Apple device
The Gathering Dead in print, from Amazon
The Gathering Dead in print, from Barnes & Noble
And coming soon: Left With The Dead in print, from Severed Press!