Monday, July 21, 2014

“Do I Need to Read Book 1 First?” No!

Frequently Asked Questions About GRACE AMONG THE DEAD
You Frequently Forgot to Remember to Ask

Grace Among the Dead is Book 2 in The Saga of the Dead Silencer, but written in such a way that it can stand on its own. There are references throughout Grace to what happened in Bleeding Kansas, and though it would help to read that book first, it’s not absolutely necessary.

The idea here is if you like Grace Among the Dead, you’ll want to read the book that came before it, because I can tell a tale of the zombie apocalypse like no one’s business, and you like that. Demand, meet Supply. 

I saw one blurb for the book that went,  A TALE OF LOVE AND REDEMPTION, OF THE LIVING DEAD AND A MONSTER TRUCK. There’s another tagline that goes, IN THE HEART OF DARKEST HORROR, YOU’LL FIND GRACE AMONG THE DEAD. Is GATD a comedy? A dramedy? What?

Make no mistake, Grace Among the Dead is a dark and violent book, a horror novel that transcends its genre in terms of squirm-inducing scenes. The first act, “Decision Points,” is distilled from the most brutal narrative I’ve ever written, and I worry that I might put a lot of people off with that. Derek Grace has much to redeem himself for. But there is love and redemption to be had, and it won’t give us sugar shock.

Nor is our hero’s redemption of the religious kind, although Derek Grace owes much of his rehabilitation to a friendly pastor. A megachurch settlement is the setting for most of the novel, but, contrary to that old and busted narrative cliché, the church is not evil. A megachurch, good, bad, or indifferent, has the organizational tools (e.g., small groups) to survive the apocalypse. Abundant Life has unwittingly taken in a corrupting influence, and the good people there are counting on Grace to clean up the town. In this respect, Grace Among the Dead is a classic Wild West tale.

But the living dead are very much a presence—an evolving presence, at that—and it doesn’t make the narrative any less serious, either.  As for the monster truck, I’ve said all I dare say for those who haven’t read the book yet. 

Here’s the tl;dr: There are humorous moments, but Grace Among the Dead is not a dramedy. It’s an action-adventure story involving zombies and a moral quest. There’s a good deal of outright horror. But there is heroism, too. And a monster truck.

You will be hard-pressed to find a more professionally written tale of the zombie apocalypse. This is not Guns and Ammo porn with two-legged targets (although I’d really like that police-issue Remington 700 with the bipod and scope to shoot Mountain Dew cans with). You can read passages aloud from Grace Among the Dead and not feel like you’re making fun of the developmentally disabled. 

I cross the little bridge over the creek and nearly hit three ghouls stumbling over to check out the commotion. One of them used to be a little girl, judging by what’s left of the dress hanging on her scabbed-over bones.
You don’t often see undead children, but when you do, it’s a mess. Not having a lot of mass and meat to begin with, they’re usually thoroughly gnawed over when they’re not (as is most often the case) pulled apart entirely. 
The two used-to-be young men reach out towards my open window high on the truck, moaning through their dried scab-beards in frustration. The little girl-thing, though, she’s all business. She’s zeroed in on the screams and small-arms fire of the feast ahead. 
A mile away at the main road and the gunfire is loud enough to wake the dead. Here they come, one here, three there, pushing through the littered, overgrown fields, limping up the highway, homing in on the sounds of desperate, frightened food.

Grace Among the Dead is a book written by a guy who’s read books, and has a good idea of what they should look like. It’s from Severed Press, a small, indie publisher, but I don’t own the company. Someone else thought they could make money from my story. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

So let’s roll out our Call to Action here, in case you haven’t already been clicking on the links I’ve put in with mentions of the title. This is Grace Among the Dead, Book 2 in The Saga of the Dead Silencer:

Only $4.99 in Kindle! Less than a pint!

And this is Bleeding Kansas, Book 1, which you don’t have to read first to enjoy Grace Among the Dead. It simply would be nice.

Only $2.99 in Kindle!

For those for whom it is never dark nor edgy enough, this is the controversial first edition of Bleeding Kansas, with more snark, more dark, and a questionable death in Chapter 9 that I was asked to remove by the publisher due to reader complaints. It’s only available in paperback, but it’s a neat study in creative editing when read alongside the second edition.

Only $9.49 in paperback, with one available used!
Controversial, yet rated half a star higher than the second edition, and with more reviews!

Photos from 2009 Colorado Springs Zombie Crawl, taken and
Copyright © 2009, 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken