When I first met writer Edward J. Russell, I knew him as "Lord Dward," one of the co-hosts of the podcast Plan Nine From Cyberspace. He's since retired from podcast production, and in early 2011, he released his first novel The Dead Infested: Second Bane. (And if you ever meet him at a con, you'll have to ask him about Golden Corral.)
Plan D:We're about to meet Edward-J.-Russell-the-writer. Before that, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Edward J. Russell: My background? Well, I was born and raised in Indiana, and joined the Army straight out of high school. In fact I left for basic training four days after graduation. I some how lucked out and spent most of my time in the Army stationed in Florida and Hawaii. When I left the service, I lived in Arizona for a few years before feeling the call to come back home to Indiana.
D: What led you to first put pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard?
E: Dissatisfaction with some of the things I was reading. I read constantly as a kid and while I am a slow reader, I have devoured tons of books. Early on in school, I enjoyed making up my own stories, most of which ended up with the main misunderstood character getting the girl. Mainly I just have that inner need to create and that is something that builds up and has to be let out from time to time.
D: Describe The Dead Infested: Second Bane.
E: Second Bane is the poorly-titled first book in a trilogy that follows the struggles of various survivors trying to cope in a world where the zombies have taken the upper hand. I skipped right past the outbreak and initial fight for survival, and focused on a few groups or factions and how they try to maintain some sense of traditional society in a world where law and order no longer exist.
D: Why zombies?
E: Because zombies are so much more fun to play with. You have a little more freedom to make your own rules without just instantly turning off the readers. I like zombies because they are an all over menace that can function any time of day in almost any habitat, yet it still remains plausible that pockets of humanity could still survive. To me, you cannot really have that with mass numbers of vampires or even werewolves.
D: What is your zombie background? Favorite books or stories? Favorite movies?
E: I started with Night of the Living Dead, which was shown countless times as a Friday night or Saturday afternoon monster movie and I still enjoy that movie to this day. I still love Return of the Living Dead along with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Book-wise, I have found something to enjoy in just about every zombie book I have read. I really enjoyed David Wellington's series and I am currently getting a kick out of John A. Allen's Fried Green Zombies and Tony Faville's Avery Nolan: Private Dick of the Dead. (D: We just interviewed Tony Faville here.)
D: How have these favorites influenced your writing?
E: That's a little harder to say. I am certain that there has been influence but not sure I would recognize it.
D: You're an independent author. What lessons have you learned producing your book and making it available for purchase?
E: Writing the book is the fun and easy part. The difficult part is getting people to notice and, with luck, read the book. As you know there is so much media out there that books are competing with that getting anyone's attention takes a lot of work and time.
D: You've also sold your book at conventions. How has this experience been?
E: For the most part that is a lot of fun, although you have to be prepared for a lot of rejection. Most people are very nice and some will take a few minutes to look at the book but no one comes to a convention to see me. They are there to see the celebs and icons they are already familar with so if they stop and say, "Hi," to me, I count that as a win.
D: What is the strangest reaction you've had to The Dead Infested: Second Bane?
E: A lady bought my book at a HorrorHound Weekend, and then came to my table at the Days of the Dead convention later that year and told me her son loved the book. She told me it was his favorite and he even wrote a book report about that. That made my day!
D: What are you currently reading?
E: In addition to Avery Nolan: Private Dick of the Dead and Fried Green Zombies, I'm reading Scott Sigler's The Starter.
D: And what's next for you writing-wise?
E: I have two projects I am bouncing back and forth between. One is the second book in the Dead Infested series and the other is more of a young adult zombie book that I am trying to make more funny than scary.
The Dead Infested: Second Bane is available online in both print and e-format by going to the book's website at http://www.thedeadinfested.com. The Dead Infested: Second Bane also has a Facebook page. The Dead Infested: Second Bane can also be found at/ordered through some traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores. (Edward can sometimes be found at Golden Corral restaurant.)