We’re all busy gearing up for Easter and that means coloring eggs, filling baskets and planning family dinners – there’s nothing better! It’s one of those times each year when we take a step back and give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
Today’s guest does that every day. After surviving an illness, Julianne Snow went on to write ‘Days with the Undead’, a 5-star read in either paperback or Kindle.
Please help me to welcome Julianne Snow…
JS – Thank you, I’m happy to be here.
IDI – Let me ask you, everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years? Where did you see yourself five years ago? Did you make it there?
JS – In five years I see myself writing and publishing what I write. I do see myself having a respectable amount of success, which I define as people enjoying the books that I write. I’m hoping that success lets me stay at home and write full-time but we’ll see about that when five years rolls around. As for five years ago, I never thought I would be here. I thought that I would be married and living the life of a wife and mother with a full-time job in an office somewhere. There are a few things that prevented me from getting there but I don’t feel bad about them. It’s our life events that shape who we are. I conquered a life threatening illness and it showed me what it was that I wanted to do with my life.
IDI – How did surviving an illness change you?
JS – Well for one, it proved to me that each moment of every day is precious. As a result of my illness, I lost about ninety to ninety-five percent of my sight for almost two years. It also reminded me of how much I loved to write. I had stopped for such a long time to pursue other avenues but once I couldn’t read the words of others, the hollowness of that sunk in. I wanted to write and not being able to became akin to pain for me. When the blackness started to recede and the world came back into view, I sat down and started to write. Days with the Undead is what came tumbling out of me.
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
JS – What I write is character driven. I want you to connect with them and then the story as I find that is a better way to create a compelling read. Having said that however, there are scenes within everything that I write that are plot driven. It’s a nice balance and allows for the reader to experience the story in different ways.
IDI – Everyone has their own style/voice – if we’re doing our jobs right. What author would you say your work most resembles?
JS – To be honest, I think my writing amalgamates all of the stylistic bits and bobs that I have picked up throughout my reading lifetime. Even as a younger version of myself, I can remember reading passages or entire books and thinking that I could use similar styles to highlight certain types of scenes or help shape a character. Recently I saw an interesting website (I Write Like) featured on Facebook which stated it could determine who you write like. I entered two passages from different stories and after the analysis, it told me that I write like H.P.Lovecraft and Dan Brown. After seeing that, I have to admit that I was flattered.
IDI – I know I have ideas for stories that cross over the lines of my usual genre. Do you have any such ideas wandering around and if so, what’s your outlook on genre-crossing?
JS – I have ideas all of the time that cross genres. Sometimes I get a chance to flesh them out on paper and others get shelved for another time. I’m a fan of genre crossing – there are so many new readers that may find your writing to their liking that you never would have had access to if you only wrote in one genre.
IDI – They say to know the rules first and then y ou may break them. Which rules do you find yourself breaking most often and does it work in your writing?
JS – I find that I write in short, staccato sentences when I want to convey tension or hammer home an important point. It happens. I like it. Do I think it works in my own writing? Heck yes! What better way to build tension then to give a reader just a little bit at a time!
IDI – When reading another author, do you find yourself taking in what you read or are you more likely to critique as you go? And if so, what is the one thing mistake you see the most?
JS – While I’m reading, I tend to immerse myself in the world that they have created. I find reading to be such an escape that the last thing I want to do is mess that feeling up by noting a spelling mistake or a grammatical error. I do see them fly by but I’m not actively looking for them nor does it take away from the enjoyment of what I’m reading.
IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?
JS – If I’m not writing I’m probably catching up on things like reading, laundry, or sleeping. Or perhaps I’m at work…. Yeah, I’m probably at work thinking about what I’m going to write when I get home.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
JS – That it’s an easy nut to crack. When you’re about to publish your first book, you think that everyone is going to love it because you do. That’s not the case sometimes. In addition, I think that quite a few new authors believe that having lots of followers and friends on social media will equate to instant sales. That’s not the case either; you need to market yourself and become an active part of the community. Another really helpful tidbit is to realize that you don’t need to have a publisher behind you to reach an audience. There are quite a few independently published authors that have gained substantial success over the years. You can do it – you just have to try.
IDI – Is there anything about the world that you’ve created with ‘Days with the Undead’ that resonates inside you?
JS – Most definitely. Days with the Undead is a story of survival. Ultimately, I’m a survivor. While the subject matter may not be the same, the overall theme is. It’s about never giving up and realizing that even when your world is ending, there is always something to fight for. I believe that wholeheartedly.
IDI – Is it possible for us to get an excerpt of ‘Days with the Undead’, Book One?
It was a close call today. We’ve been travelling west, trying to get in front of and then outrun the Undead for almost two days now. Trying to stay off the roads but keeping close enough to use them if the need arose was getting more and more difficult. And then the inevitable happened.
We came across a horde of the Undead just mulling well not even mulling – just standing in a clearing early this morning. As far from them as we were and as silent as we were being, something or someone in our group caught their global attention and the collective of milky white eyes that turned in our direction was positively bone-chilling.
As we stared dumbstruck in horror, drawn to the sight as one becomes to a horrific accident, we soon realized that we would need to move. Our frozen tableau continued though, even as the ballerina-like synchronicity of decomposing limbs turned and started to move in our direction. Our ridged limbs not comprehending the commands to take flight from our terrified minds.
I don’t remember quite when we started to run or what broke the reverie we were all experiencing. I just know that we ran and were thankful that we had a path to travel. The Undead are unconcerned with such things, and the thick foliage and uneven ground would help to slow them down.
Our escape was narrow but our lesson important – never stop to stare.
The truly scary thing about the Undead – besides of course the fact that they are what they are – is their unwavering ability to pursue you. They don’t get tired, they don’t stop to rest and the only thing that stops them is a swift second death.
The trouble with trying to put them all down is that fairly soon you can end up being overrun by their masses, or too tired to fight the ones in front of you. All you can do is keep moving and hope that something catches their attention to divert their ravenous intentions.
To be perfectly honest we had assumed that we had left most of the Undead behind us in Toronto and the surrounding Greater Toronto Area. In the past few days however it’s become increasingly apparent that anyone fleeing the city and suburbs has spread things farther afield than we had dared to anticipate.
Stupid, I know; in any situation one should always prepare for the worst possible outcome, it has the tendency to keep you alive. Planning for the worst or in fact planning for any contingency has a way of keeping you on your toes.
Unfortunately we were all still a little shell-shocked; shocked that the world appeared to be disintegrating behind us. While we had tried our best to prepare for this possible yet improbable eventuality, it was still something that none of us had actually thought would happen. The events of the past one and a half days have left us all a little frazzled, lost, and feeling alone even though we are in the physical sense together.
Putting some distance between us and the horde from the field felt good. In an instant that feeling was robbed from us as we came to the crest of a steep ridge. We were now face to decomposing face with a group of our Undead pursuers. The surprise elicited a shocked, scared little cry from Barbara, one of our group, but it was quickly squashed as we reacted. And there wasn’t much time to do anything but react; our primal, instinctual selves took over.
The sound of the first shot ricocheted off the surrounding foliage in the relative silence of the early morning. Before my eyes the pimpled face of what was once an adolescent boy exploded, shards of bone along with infected brain tissue flying out like they were searching for their next victim even in death. I quickly turned my face, hoping to shield it from the spray of grey matter and connective tissues. Thank heavens I was just out of splatter range as the Undead kept coming at us in what felt like increasing numbers.
In all truthfulness there were only twenty-five to thirty of them and they were spaced out and slow-moving. Unwittingly, they had made themselves easy targets; having to come up the opposite side of the ridge made our task of their death relatively uncomplicated.
We each had our own firearms along with other back-up weapons in the event that a gun jammed on us. It was moments like those that I appreciated the fact that my husband had been so meticulous when teaching me to shoot. I could hit both stationary and moving targets at a number of distances. That knowledge made me feel somewhat safe and comfortable in what I had to do. I don’t know how each of the others felt in that moment but I could read the resilience in their faces.
Given our knowledge and perseverance, we made it through that encounter and plan to make it though many more to come. Survival is what we have chosen and we are all geared to success.
You have to be.
This is a fight to the death and none of us want to think of the consequences of what death will mean for us. I know that each and every one of us would rather die than become one of them. Of that I’m one hundred percent certain.
It only took us a few minutes to quickly dispatch all of the Undead coming up the hill at us. They came at us in all shapes and sizes. Most of them were still fully intact and had barely started to decompose. It’s only been three days since this all started and what I would have expected to see as a pathologist was normal; some bloating and a little skin slippage, even some discoloration of the skin. Their faces were all slack and carried the expression of vacancy.
It made it easier to kill them if you happened to look at their faces. You knew that there was nothing left of the human soul that once thrived inside the shell.
I tried not to make eye contact with any of them. It was unnerving to catch a glimpse of the dead eyes. Eyes that had likely once held such promise. Now they were just limpid milky pools of emptiness. Stare too long and you can get lost.
It happened to Ben the other day as we were just leaving Toronto. He happened to stare a moment too long and ended up mesmerized by the sheer austerity of those eyes. That moment we had to rescue him as the Undead toddler got closer than any of us would have liked. It was another lesson that we needed to learn. Staring is bad in any form when it comes to the Undead. Unless of course you happen to be behind a barrier that’s impossible for the breach. After all, observation is key; you need to observe in order to understand…
IDI – Thank you so much for that excerpt. It sounds like a book I would like to read. And thank you for appearing here with me today. I’d like to wish you much success with your writing and tell you how much I admire your strength and courage.
Would you like to contact Julianne:
Would you like to purchase ‘Days with the Undead’?
Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of the award-winning novel, ‘Lily White Lies’. (Paperback or Kindle)
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Here are a few recommended readings. The first novel by James Patterson isn’t due out until July of this year, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it and think it’s one worth looking forward to.
Coming next week:
And here’s a classic that still brings a tear to my eye (While you wait for the other two!):
Next week, join me when I talk with Xavier Axelson!