Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interview with Martin Rose, author of Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell - October 28, 2014

Please welcome Martin Rose to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell is published today by Talos.  Please join The Qwillery in wishing Martin a Happy Publication Day!

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Martin:  Like a lot of writers, I was young. I had some obstacles, but I fell into it when I was twelve. And it's hard to say why, why writing was the thing. I just had stories inside me, and it was self-evident the only natural answer was to let them out. So I started sending out stories to print publications when I was 13. I was very secretive about it, I didn't tell anyone, or ask for help. I still have my first rejection letter from Dani D'Atillio at Death's Realm back in 1994.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Martin:  Ambidextrous. Nowadays I make a general outline, but I pantsed Bring Me Flesh something fierce.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Martin:  Time. Always time. On the surface, it's hard for any writer who starts early in their career to find time, especially if they're not in a financially comfortable place in life. But there's this whole other aspect of time involved in writing that is just not very sexy. It's learning how to deal with time when your heart isn't in it, and how, you know, you could be spending your time on all these other very pleasurable distractions that life provides you. It's not exciting to spend hour after hour in a chair, pecking at the keyboard. And there are all these days and months and years ahead of you, spent waiting for editors and publishers and agents to get back to you. You have to learn to mitigate and leverage time, because if you don't... you give up. Nothing breaks a writer with greater efficiency than Time. And I think that's true of any profession that requires discipline and mastery.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Martin:  I read it all. A lot of books have stuck with me, but it's hard to say what made an influence, because I really, really have a deep desire to innovate language, to create a voice and a style that is all its own, and not beholden to the past. When I was a teenager, I cut my teeth on Lloyd Alexander, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Robert R. McCammon, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexandre Dumas and Edith Wharton. When I got older I found Graham Greene, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, Robin Hobb, Charlotte Bronte. I read a lot of non-fiction. Economics, political science, history. These days I'm going through Laird Barron's back catalog with a great deal of enjoyment, as well as John Langan, Stephen Graham Jones. Read my first John LeCarre book, and I'm looking forward to reading more of him. Anyone can track my readings on goodreads.com.

TQ:  Describe Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell in 140 characters or less.

Martin:  Love the dead without the guilt. Blood, bullets, conspiracy, and a very dysfunctional family.

TQ:  Tell us something about Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell that is not in the book description.

Martin:  Well, without giving too much away, there's a suit of armor and a troublesome infestation of flies. There's a particular part I'd love to tell people about, but it would spoil the surprise.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell? Your publisher describes the novel as "...an imaginative spin on the hard-boiled detective genre and a new twist on the zombie novel." Why zombies? Are your zombies the classic Romero zombie or something else?

Martin:  I'd written a short story with Vitus, a few years back, I think in 2009, and that became the springboard. It was just meant to be a one off short that ended up in a zombie anthology, but Vitus had a persistent voice.

Out of the entire monster catalog a writer can choose from, zombie was not really ever on my list; but I found that a zombie of Vitus's caliber gave me a lot of play I couldn't get out of other monsters that have really come back into public focus, like vampires and werewolves. And vampires and werewolves are often spun to be very sexual, mysterious and seductive creatures, in the popular sphere. But with Vitus, there was no expectation for that kind of glamor. He's not attractive, he's not happy, he's got a lot of trauma. And rather than go with classic Romero zombie – not to say you won't find an element of that in Bring Me Flesh as well – Vitus is self-aware of his monstrousness, and the only reason he has that self-awareness is because he takes medication to keep him sentient. Zombies' continuing popularity is really a sign of a zeitgeist. It's not going away anytime soon. The BBC is running a program called "In The Flesh", about a boy who happens to be a zombie, and is being integrated back into society through medication. I expect our culture will be taking this subject farther to reflect the various social, economic, and political issues that have become too controversial, or uncomfortable, to talk about openly.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell?

Martin:  Some was accidental. I have a friend who's an officer in NYC, and I'd done some research with him about evidence rooms that inadvertantly ended up forming a particular character in the book. I ended up taking the research into some interesting spaces – for instance, I spent a lot of hours poring over materials dealing with the subject of leprosy in medieval times. When I was young, my step-mother told me about a leper colony in Hawaii, and that really began to form the basis for another character. Vitus's back story takes the reader to Kosovo, and the conflicts that erupted in Yugoslavia during the 90s, the NATO airstrikes, and I brushed up on that. Hopefully I didn't screw any of that up, but if there are mistakes, they're all mine. But Kosovo is where Vitus ends up. The recent wars involving the middle east are probably the most accessible to the reader, but I wanted to delve into an area that people would be less knowledgable about, (Kosovo, Bosnia, and Sarajevo) and unable to form instantaneous opinions on.

TQ:  In Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Martin:  They're all hard. I'm not a large fan of turning my characters into avatars for myself. That doesn't mean I don't take little things from experience and just patch them in places to bolster the identity of a character and flesh them out. But because I don't necessarily want characters to reflect my attitudes or personality, it actually can be quite a grind, to build a person from scratch and make them breathe for the reader, when you may not even like the character yourself. That's what made Vitus the hardest. His brother, Jamie, was a bit of a surprise, but still hard. I did not expect him to flesh out as much as he did. There were intense psychological scenes in the last half of the book I had to take breaks through. I think having empathy makes it harder. That quality creates an obligation to care more about what happens to everyone, even the villains.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell.


"Another man walked in my shoes. I never really got to know him, the boy that I was. At twenty years of age, he died ignobly as part of a military sanctioned, pharmaceutical experiment. In his place, I was born – as a darkling encased in rotting meat, a walking, talking corpse, still picking pieces of his wife and son from his teeth. A convenient tragedy packing heat. I was a pathetic human and I made for an even more pathetic monster."

TQ:  What's next?

Martin:  Hopefully, a follow up, if Skyhorse wants it. I'll be a tourist in the zombie universe for another book or two, if circumstance allows; and then I'll move onto other pastures. I'm always writing. Anyone interested can keep up with my commentary, observations, news, and unwanted opinions over at my wordpress, www.martinrose.org.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Martin:  Thanks for having me, and happy reading to everyone. There're amazing books coming out this month; I know I'll be reading quite a few of them myself!

Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell: A Horror Novel
Talos, October 28, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 232 pages

Vitus Adamson is falling apart. As a pre-deceased private investigator, he takes the prescription Atroxipine hourly to keep his undead body upright and functioning. Whenever he is injured, he seeks Niko, a bombshell mortician with bedroom eyes and a way with corpses, to piece him back together. Decomposition, however, is the least of his worries when two clients posing his most dangerous job yet appear at his door looking for their lost son.

Vitus is horrified to discover the photo of the couple's missing son is a picture-perfect reproduction of his long dead son. This leads him to question the events of his tormented past; he must face the possibility that the wife and child he believed he murdered ten years ago in a zombie-fugue have somehow survived . . . or is it just wishful thinking designed to pull him into an elaborate trap?

Unfolding like a classic film noir mixed with elements of a B-movie, Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring Hell is an imaginative spin on the hard-boiled detective genre and a new twist on the zombie novel. In Vitus Adamson, you will find a protagonist you can care about and invest in as he takes you through his emotional journey of betrayal and quest for redemption.

About Martin

Martin Rose lives in New Jersey, where he writes a range of fiction from the fantastic to the macabre. Visit martinrose.org for details.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting book, and what a great title! Combining B-movie elements with noir, zombies, investigators, and a backstory in Europe! The interview was also insightful and I appreciated the author's realism with how time is one of the hardest obstacles for writers in terms of things that can break writers.
    Great post!