Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"The Zombie Axiom" by David Monette

The Zombie Axiom
(In the Time of the Dead Book 1)
by David Monette

The Zombie Axiom is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A handful of survivors claw out a life amid the ruins of the world, all the while fighting the zombie hordes.
In Northern New York State, three uncommon allies lead one of these bands in this epic struggle as they learn both the strengths and weaknesses of their enemies… and of themselves.
Pushed to their limits and holed up on a remote lake island, life has taken on a new normality. That is until winter arrives and all hell will freeze over. For it is then that the open waters of the lake, the only barrier against the unrelenting dead, will freeze. And the monsters will come. By the thousands…

Book Trailer

The sudden blare of the digital clock shocked Virgil awake like a stinging slap. Eyes wild with fear, his right hand shot under his pillow and emerged gripping a loaded 9MM pistol. Sitting, gasping, the giant of a man cast about, searching for the ghosts that haunted his sleeping mind. But the weapon withheld its promise of violence when all that he could detect were motes of dust drifting in lazy swirls through the morning light of his bedroom. The gun slipped from his hand.   
“Nothing, nothing… nothing. Nothing’s there. Nothing,” he whispered to himself as his chin sank to his chest and his long brown hair slopped down to hide the blunt contours of his face. With his eyes squeezed shut he vigorously rubbed his temples and, like a man freshly pulled from the sea, deeply inhaled the stale air of his trailer. 
At length he pulled his heavily muscled frame upright and shut off the clock alarm. He threw on a pair of shorts and a folded T-shirt from the chair where he had set them aside the night before and wandered from his room and down a narrow hallway to the living room. Stifling a yawn, he maneuvered through an impressive collection of weightlifting equipment until he arrived in the kitchen, where he listlessly consumed a bowl of cold cereal while gazing at the pathetic patch of grass that comprised the front yard outside his home. 
And he tried not to think.
It didn’t work. Never did. His thoughts kept drifting back to the dark corners where the foul things lay... things he’d done, things he’d seen, things he… had….
He flipped the now empty plastic bowl into the sink with a snort of frustration and turned on his television for the noise, something to drive away the images, the memories. 
Didn’t work. Never did. So he did the one thing that always seemed to work. Walking over to his gym equipment, he hefted a forty-five pound weight and slammed it onto an Olympic weight bar that was perched on the uprights of a flat bench. Exhaustion would do the trick. Always did.
Two hours later, sweating in the heat of his home, Virgil stepped into the bright morning and squinted at the glare of a day that was promising only heat. Slipping on his dark sunglasses, he surveyed the scene around his house. It was a depressing sight for the most part. His dilapidated trailer was one among many such residences that were crammed on a strip of land that no one else would choose to inhabit other than those desperate enough for a home that was cheap. Situated as it was down a steep hill at the end of a dead-end street and with the river only two feet from flooding the entire area, which it regularly did, it was a wonder that the city hadn’t yet closed the place down. 
Noticing nothing out of place, no one watching, no one waiting for him to offer them a target when he turned his back, he locked both doors to his home and crunched across the gravel yard to his dust-coated Range Rover, which was already running, having been remotely started several minutes before. After one more surreptitious check of his surroundings, he unlocked the door to the vehicle and slipped into the air-conditioned interior. The cool air washed over him, drying the sweat from his skin. He closed his eyes, breathed deep. In this cocoon of processed air, of quietly murmuring vibration, he opened his eyes to see a fly making its ponderous way across the field of glass that was his windshield. It was of the large, hairy, slow variety… near the end of its life, but still crawling along like a ball at the end of its push. He sat transfixed, puzzled by its relentless march, its progression toward… something only it knew… or nothing at all.

Featured Review
David Monette has written a fantastic book. I can't wait for book two. One of the best features of this book is Monette's amazing gift: he is an artist and has that creative artist's mind where he can create these amazing scenes, but on top of that Monette has the added ability to translate that vision into incredibly stirring fiction. This is incredibly rare. Normally, I am not a fan of zombies; it's apocalyptic stories that I love, but Monette uses the zombie motif very well. He has an amazing story to tell and does it perfectly. This book is an emotional rollercoaster - you feel the horror, the despair, the hope, the fear....it's all here so vividly you are living it yourself. More like watching a movie but even further, I was living it. Bravo to a new author who clearly has a great career ahead of him.

Guest Post by David Monette
The Story of the Cover of The Zombie Axiom
Music is playing, the sun is filtering its yellow warmth through the window, and here I sit in my studio staring at a screen that is staring blankly back at me, waiting for me to fill it with words. It is my ritual of creativity, this mental flogging and piecing together of thoughts, and as I sit here and I do it, my mind wanders back over the fields of the last few years. It is strange. I have performed this act many times.
How many?
It’s hard to say.
It’s certainly more than I did - what? - five, six, seven years ago. Certainly more than that.
But that’s not the most interesting question, the "how many", that’s not the one that will fill this blank screen with words and wipe from it the smug and rather contemptuous attitude it bears for my skills as a writer. No, the most interesting question to me is: "why?" Why, oh why, did I decide to engage in this chore of staring at screens thinking and thinking of something to write? It’s not like I had no creative outlet and was dying for some sort of artistic release. I was, and still am, an illustrator. I make art for companies on commission, and it’s usually cool artwork that I get to create. Stuff like this:

And this:

So why?
Well, as it turns out, like most things the illustration market just ain’t what it used to be. Prices for the artists’ work have fallen, and there are more competitors than ever for those dollars. In my mind, this has come about due to a variety of factors, some of which include: the ability to use computers as a way to make art, massive piles of stock photos and stock illustrations, and a truly globalized talent pool willing to take pennies rather than the dollars I would ask for to do the same work.
It was because of these things, and a host of other more boring factors, that I felt like I needed to start creating my own independent properties. Projects that were mine from start to finish.
What would that be though?
Lucky for me, I was asking these questions at a time when I had returned to college for my MFA. While there, I received some excellent advice from a man I consider my mentor, Murray Tinkelman. Murray is an amazing professor and artist, my respect for him is boundless. When he looked at my written work and told me that I was one of the best writers he’d seen in his ridiculously long career as an educator, I took it seriously. He, and another professor, the esteemed Vincent Di Fate, strongly suggested that I combine my potential as a writer with my skills as an illustrator.
I thought, “Why not? I really enjoy writing, and maybe this is just the thing I need to make something that was mine from the beginning to the end. So that is what I did. I wrote a book, The Zombie Axiom, and I did up some interior pieces like these: 

And I put together this cover:

I then picked up an agent, and we shopped the book around for about a year before we decided to self-publish while continuing to look for a traditional publisher. To that end, I studied the above image and, though I loved the action of the piece, felt it was too bright and too graphic-novel-looking. Plus, I wanted to develop a sort of theme based on color with green being the dominant color on the first book, followed by blue on the second, and a combination of the two on the third. This line of thought led me to create this piece and to use it as the cover of the self-published book:

With this image and the ten interior illustrations in hand, I self-published the novel, and within five months, was signed with Severed Press for the trilogy. Oh, and they wanted me to redo the cover. They thought that it was too science fiction-y and wanted something with more action and zombies in it. I said, "I have just the thing," and showed them the original cover. They loved it and agreed that it needed to look less like a graphic novel cover and much less bright. Back to the drawing board! Here is how it came out:

They really liked it, and so did I. It was immensely gratifying to see it put together as one published book, one piece of art, something I had made, the story, the images, all coming together, closing the circle. Much like this essay. The music is still playing, the sun has moved higher beyond my window, but my computer screen is no longer blank and smug. Questions answered, circle closed.

About the Author
David Monette functions as an author and illustrator from his home in Northern New York State. His highly detailed fantasy and science fiction artwork has appeared on many books, magazines, board games, and collectible cards. While receiving his MFA in illustration, his instructors reviewed his written work and strongly suggested that he combine his writing ability with his talent as an illustrator to chart his own path. Hence, The Zombie Axiom was born, a compelling, terrifying story sprinkled with amazing black and white illustrations from start to finish.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five signed, limited release, first edition copies (with the original cover) of The Zombie Axiom (US only).