News: Interview with Christopher Buecheler, Issue 2: By Zombies; Eaten
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
* "By Zombies; Eaten" -- where did it come from, what were you thinking? Were you trying to say anything? What's your favorite part? If applicable, what's your favorite part that you had to cut out during editing, either because it didn't work or you wanted to use it elsewhere, or because you were up against some sort of word limit?
Mainly I was thinking that the premise for most zombie movies seems to be the immediate impact: the “OMG zombies!” moment and maybe a week or two after. I started thinking about what a person who’d been dealing with them for more than a year would be doing. That led me to the idea of a small-town sheriff who’s basically just trying to keep the last threads of his life together. The story mostly wrote itself once I decided on the narrator. I didn’t have to clip anything major for editing, although the first draft had more of a downer ending. I decided I didn’t really like that, changed it, cleaned it up, and called it done.
* Have you written anything like it before? Same setting, same characters, same tone, same intent?
Well, this is the only piece I’ve ever written with zombies in it. The tone actually was a divergence for me as well -- I’ve done first-person stories in the past, but usually the narration is more straightforward. The narrator in this one is more of a character actor than most of my other leads.
* What was the process of its creation like, and how does that compare to your norm? Do you tend to schedule your writing time, have specific daily goals, etc?
Short stories, for me, tend to just come. More often than not the first draft is done in one sitting or, in the case of Zombies, over the course of two nights. Longer works usually get scheduled - I’ve found that it’s easier to keep the creative wheels going if you work on them every night until the project’s done. On the longer works I’ve completed -- three novellas and two novels -- I wrote basically every day until they were done. I shoot for a thousand words a day, but it’s generally more a case of doing five hundred, and another five hundred, and then having a day where I get cranking and do two thousand.
* Has it been rejected much, and if so what sort of criticism did it engender?
Zombies was rejected by Weird Tales and then sat for a bit until I heard about this new magazine coming out called Greatest Uncommon Denominator that sounded like it might be a good fit. Obviously, they liked it! So that’s its whole rejection history; Weird Tales said they liked it a lot but were full up already. It was actually pretty nice, as far as rejection letters go. Encouraging.
* Tell us, what makes you think you can write?
I type really fast. No, like ... REALLY fast.
Also, I’ve been involved in all kinds of creative projects since my early childhood, and finished a 400-page novel by the time I was fifteen, but this is my first publishing credit ever (for fiction). I’ve always written for myself, because I like writing, and it was only recently that I’ve become comfortable enough with my work to pursue any kind of publication. I figured that since I like my stories, and the friends who’ve read them like my stories, maybe someone else will like them too.
* What's the strongest reaction "By Zombies; Eaten" has gotten, from friend, enemy, workshop, editor, or busboy?
Honestly, GUD accepting it for publication is probably the most favorable reaction it’s gotten, although the friends who’ve read it all said they enjoyed it, too.
* What would you say is the favorite piece of writing you've ever created? Has it been published?
By a land-slide, my first real novel (the one from when I was fifteen doesn’t count) is my favorite thing I’ve written to date. It’s the most polished, I like the characters a lot, I think it’s a fun take on the vampire genre ... it’s not remotely a horror book, and the only complaint I have with it is that it inspired a much longer sequel that I’m still slogging my way through! It’s not currently published. I sent it out to TOR, they rejected it, and I haven’t sent it back out since because I was working on the sequel and needed to update a few things for continuity purposes. Those updates have recently been finished, so I’m thinking about shopping it again, but I guess to break in with novels you usually need an agent, which I do not have.
Anyway, second place would go to my poorly-illustrated novella “Persephone’s Fall” which is a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone, set in Manhattan. I can’t draw as well as I’d like, but I think it’s one of my better written works.
* Do you read short fiction, in general? Poetry? Do you subscribe to any periodicals, fiction or otherwise?
I subscribe to the New Yorker and read their fiction every week. I sometimes buy anthologies and other short-story collections, as well. I also read writing that friends have done, participate in an occasional story group online, and periodically find short fiction on the web. Overall though I probably read more novels than short fiction.
* Have you read a copy of GUD? If so, what was your favorite piece? If not, what made you think of submitting to GUD? Did you know we offer a free PDF copy of any single story or poem for the asking? ;)
I was going to bring up GUD in the last question! I found GUD on the Writer’s Market website just as they were closing submissions for issue zero. I bought that issue right when it came out and was really impressed with the overall quality of the work. Picked up issue one as soon as it hit the stands also, and am looking forward to issue two and beyond. I’m really pleased to be published with other writers of this caliber.
How do you plan to spend your advance from GUD; and if royalties eventually meant GUD was cutting you a million dollars for "By Zombies; Eaten", how would you spend those?
My girlfriend and I are going to turn the advance into dinner at our favorite sushi place and a nice bottle of champagne. Or we’re going to turn it all into one dollar bills and head to the strip club to “make it rain” ... we haven’t decided.
A million dollars would allow me to fully finance the company I’m currently starting with a friend, so uh ... if you guys have any secret plans for world domination, by all means enact them!
* If you could change GUD's website in any one way, what would it be?
I’d probably try to find a way to get the latest news update on to the front page. That’s usually what I’m looking for when I hit the site.
And if it were up to you to single-handedly save "short fiction", what would you do?
I think the best way to “save” short fiction is to embrace the internet and its capability for delivering content to a much broader audience than even that enjoyed by the largest of print publications. Obviously I’m not the only person who feels that way, as more and more magazines are going online, but I think there’s still something of a stigma there, so I guess I would work to reduce that as much as possible.
* To wrap up, what else do you have going on, what would you like to pimp?
This is where I spam people with links! There’s DartPublishing.com which is the aforementioned business I’m getting started -- we make fun little websites like FilePope.com. Check ‘em out! Then there’s my web design portfolio at http://www.onepageportfolio.com/u/cwb. I make my living as a freelance designer, so it’s always important to get that link out there. And finally, if people would like to read more of my writing ... see the next question. :)
* And really, where should people go to find out more about you and your projects?
CerebralDebris.com is my personal website. It’s about to undergo a redesign, but along with some general info and links, it holds several of my short stories, a couple of novellas, Persephone’s Fall, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s all free, no ads or anything. So yeah, that’s the best place to go. Oh, and I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year so you can check out my profile!
That’s about it. Thanks for the interview!
* Thank you, and thank you for trusting us with this first interview. We've got a redesign of the site "in the works", and getting news up and front seems like it's going to be a priority; also, making it easier for non-users to comment on a post (quick-creation of accounts) and "comment subscriptions" to be notified of new comments on a post you're interested in. Also towards the top of the list so far is making the vault's TOC pages less daunting/more inviting. Best of luck with NaNo this year!
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