Our interview today is with David Forsyth author of Voyage of the Dead (4.3 stars, 29 reviews, FREE on Tuesday 5/22) book #1 of the Sovereign Saga series and book #2 Flotilla of the Dead (4.5 stars, 15 reviews). I personally have read both of these zombie books. They are a little different than many of the normal zombie books. The survivors are trying to reclaim and solve the zombie issue that covers the entire earth. We will have to wait until book #3 to find out the answer. Remember it is FREE on Tuesday 5/22.
Author interview with David Forsyth
Q: Voyage of the Dead and Flotilla of the Dead are your first novels. When and why did you decide to write them?
A: I’ve always been an avid reader of science fiction and always harbored a desire to be an author, but never had the drive and persistence to write a novel until recently. My mother was a journalist and author of young adult fiction in the 1950s, so perhaps writing is in my blood, but I also saw how much trouble she had dealing with agents, editors and publishers. Writing sounded like fun, but not the headaches of getting published.
I actually have to credit Amazon’s Kindle as the impetus for getting me to write. I downloaded the Kindle AP to my laptop last year and started reading 99 cent science fiction. It soon became clear that there were many good, and some not so good, new books being released by independent authors. After reading a particularly disappointing eBook I remember thinking, “Darn it! I just paid a buck for a story I could have written much better.” That was the day I started writing Voyage of the Dead.
Q: What is unique about the setting of the book and how does it enhance the story?
A: Whereas most zombie stories take place in a land overrun by the undead, Voyage of the Dead revolves around survivors aboard a luxurious mega-yacht, the Sovereign Spirit. The ship is a safe haven from which they watch the rest of civilization collapse. They have access to satellite television and phones, as well as the internet, so they can watch events unfold around the world and contact other survivors. The ship even carries a helicopter which allows them to rush to the rescue of friends and family ashore. The Sovereign Spirit is also a vehicle to move the characters and storyline along through space and time.
Voyage of the Dead is the first book in the Sovereign Spirit Saga and, as the name of the series implies, the ship will be a centerpiece of the storyline. It carries the characters to different places in each book, where they will face new threats and challenges. Some readers have drawn a parallel with Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. I was very pleased with those reviews because that is the type of impression I was hoping to make. I wanted to introduce the same type of plots that work for space adventures into the setting of a ship sailing through a zombie apocalypse on earth.
Q. What specific themes did you want emphasize throughout the novel? Was there a message you wanted to impart to the reader?
A: Yes. There are underlying themes in the book. It is as much a morality play as it is a horror or adventure story. The lead characters are survivors who can take care of themselves but also choose to help others along the way. It’s not an “every man for himself” type of story. On the other hand, there is another theme that discourages reliance on government to solve every problem, or count on the authorities to come to your rescue. Big Brother can’t save you when the system collapses. You are left with few choices, to run and hide or to stand and fight. If you choose the latter course, your chances improve if you don’t stand alone. The Sovereign Spirit Saga is about people who choose to stand together and try to retain as much civilization as possible in the face of terrifying and seemingly insurmountable odds. At its core, there is a theme of self-reliance coupled with helping others in need.
Q: What made you want to write zombie books? Isn’t the market flooded with them? What sets your books apart from the rest of the genre?
A: I’ve always been a fan of apocalyptic fiction and, yes, zombies are one of the most popular apocalyptic themes these days. I knew it would be a tough market to enter, but I think my books offer enough original ideas to stand out. The focus on the ship is only one of them. The zombies in my books suffer from a form of “super rabies” that has some unique side effects. Also, the style and tempo of my writing follow a model that is more common in action-adventures than horror stories. The story is full of high tech weapons and “toys” that the survivors make full use of. These people are not hiding in a basement or holed up in a shopping mall. They are out to reclaim as much of the world as they can.
As for the choice of zombies as the agent of destruction, I think they make the perfect villains. They engender feelings of fear and revulsion, but more than that, it is actually fun to kill them. The audience doesn’t feel sorry for them, at least not after they turn into zombies. The reader actually wants to see them blown away, or cut to pieces, because the gratuitous violence is not being directed at anything that can be referred to as human anymore.
Q: In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view?
A: That’s a good question. I have a masters’ degree in international relations, so I am certainly interested in politics and world events. However, I try not to let much of my personal political views seep into the storyline. My characters have a life of their own. I write what I think is needed to make the plot flow in the proper direction. Maybe I do it too well. For example, a few of the reviewers on Amazon seem to think I am a Right Winger writing a GOP propaganda pamphlet masquerading as zombie fiction because of one scene that is critical of the unnamed current President. What they don’t realize is that, if I had written the book four years ago, I would have made the previous President look incompetent too. I simply can’t imagine how my book would work if I described a competent President who could actually handle the zombie apocalypse. It’s fiction. Forget about politics. Think about survival when the system fails you. If a reader can handle gory zombie horror, they should be able to handle a page or two of political satire and conflicting thoughts by fictional characters.
In the real world I live in Malibu, California. I’m a moderate independent voter. I do follow politics and I like to be exposed to all points of view, liberal and conservative. My masters’ thesis was titled “Collective Security in the Post-Cold-War-Era: Expanded Definitions and Commitments.” Written in 1994, it argued for a larger role by the UN and other international organizations in peace-keeping, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian interventions. Those were not exactly conservative mantras.
Q: You have released Voyage of the Dead and Flotilla of the Dead in the last few months. Where will the Sovereign Spirit Saga go from here?
A: It took me eight months to write Voyage of the Dead and I must admit that I rushed Flotilla of the Dead in order to release it on April 1st. That was a self-imposed deadline because the plot in the story starts on that date and I wanted people to be able to read it in “real time.” I stand by the plot and storyline, but only had time for minimal editing on Flotilla. I’ll be releasing an updated edition that corrects some typos and editing issues. Flotilla is still being well received, but I won’t make the mistake of rushing to publication again. I want to offer my best work.
The next book in the series will be Deluge of the Dead. I hope to release it before the end of the year. I will also be looking for an editor, and possibly a publisher, to compile all three books into Volume One of the Sovereign Spirit Saga for release in both digital and physical formats. Will the saga stop there? I hope not!