After reading their chilling zombie offering “Dead Meat” (you can find my 5 star review of that here) I was given the opportunity to interview the personalities behind the tale. Here they are, in all their glory.
So, I’ve just finished “Dead Meat” and I won’t resist the urge to call you bastards. That was quite the story. How did you come to collaborate on your novels instead of ‘going it alone’?
CHRIS: A long, long time ago I had an idea for a comic which after talking to Pat turned into an idea for a book. I knew he had the skills to write it. After talking about doing it for a while we decided to do a “Blook” (ongoing story blog) I had no idea that’s what it was called but we found that out after an interview or two.
PATRICK: Chris and I had collaborated on some web comics as well, and since we both have the same tastes in horror, film, speculative fiction, etc., we knew that we could work well together. Chris’ imaginative style of thinking and my writing style gel very well. Collaboration just seems to come natural to us.
Have you both always wanted to be writers? Is one helping the other realise a dream? Or was this all an accident?
CHRIS: I’ve always been into art, not writing. Though the more I work on this series or writing stuff in general, the more I’m liking it. Patrick is doing the majority of the writing, but I wouldn’t say it’s my dream to write a zombie book. It’s more of a “I have a published book with my name in it and it’s a pretty damn good book” type deal.
PATRICK: I have loved writing for a long time, though I mostly focused on poetry until this project. I had written short fiction and nonfiction, though I studied poetry mostly throughout school. I have had a lot of projects dancing around, but I never really pictured myself as a horror writer or speculative fiction writer. I want to do it all. While working on Dead Meat 2, I’m also working on a collection of historical poetry, though Dead Meat 2 is top priority.
Do you read the reviews you receive on your books? If so, how do you react to the negative ones?
CHRIS: I personally try to read every review. Good or bad I want to see what they say. We don’t get upset at the bad ones which are usually “The book was good till the end. Now I hate it. One star for you.” We just blow all the bad ones of like it’s nothing.
PATRICK: I love reading reviews. One of the best parts about the first book is that we got feedback from readers when we were posting the story online. The coolest part of reading the reviews is knowing that someone actually read the book. When it comes to the negative reviews that bitch about the end, I simply think back to Stephen King’s argument that the story should be about the journey, not just the resolution.
What is the most beneficial thing about collaborating? And the most annoying?
CHRIS: The most beneficial would have to be someone having the balls to tell you your bad ideas are bad. And them meaning it in the most loving way possible? The most annoying would be the scheduling time to work on it together. For us it’s a bit of a bitch.
PATRICK: The most beneficial, I would say, is having someone not only generate ideas with you but also encourage you during the writing process. The most annoying is time, like Chris says. We both have kids and full-time jobs (and at one point, I had an extra two jobs). Hopefully, as the kids grow a little older, scheduling more time and collaborating more in person will be a possibility.
Do you have a set process for collaborating?
CHRIS: Yes, either Pat makes an outline or we both do. We both detail the outline separately then get together and see whose ideas win out or combine them. Then pat writes it out, I read it and decide if things should be changes if at all then he makes the changes. From this process, he has taught me a lot about the ins and outs of writing, so I’ve gotten a lot better at coming up with good ideas.
PATRICK: Chris has pretty much nailed it with his explanation. One thing to add, though, is that when we get the chances to sit face to face and discuss the books, the ideas snowball and we cannot write notes fast enough. That’s when we’re the most productive.
Dead Meat was born out of your own zombie escape plan – were the two main characters based at all around your own personalities?
CHRIS: Not exactly, though each character has a bit of what I hope to see in myself in this type of event. Gavin, the human side. Benny the balls to the walls “I don’t give a fuck” side. Rickett, the leader and Henry was kind of made to be the type of person I’d hate to be paired with.
PATRICK: Chris is spot on with the explanation. We wanted the characters to represents various egos that may confront each other if this post-apocalyptic setting were to ever happen. There are a few spots of us in there, such as the Johnny Utah versus Ted Theodore Logan dialog, and there was a bit more of us in the first draft. However, we saw that some of those sections were actually a hindrance, so once we started revising, we really went with what the characters represent.
One of the things I liked the most about Dead Meat was the tone – which was very desolate, but consistent throughout. How do you get yourself in to the frame of mind to write like that? Any tips for budding authors out there?
CHRIS: That was mostly Patrick’s doing. After I read it, I loved the fact that nothing really went their way at all. We kind of used the characters Benny and Rickett to let the readers see the bright side of all that was happening. Benny always finds enjoyment out of something no matter how horrible it was and Rickett was the optimist. As for frame of mind, we actually stayed away from anything zombie so we wouldn’t be tainted by others ideas.
PATRICK: I guess the best I can say is to read a variety of literature that explores humanity and society throughout history. I personally feel that my style mirrors those texts that focus more on anxiety-inducing settings, such as the Industrial Revolution, French Revolution, the Cold War, etc. These historical periods generated a lot of literature that evaluates and analyses the loss of humanity, impending doom, collapse of society, etc. It’s best, too, to read literature from a variety of cultures as well, even if the literature is in translation.
I will admit to shedding a tear at the end – what can I say, I’m a softy. However, the ending has been left open. Can you tell me anything about Dead Meat 2?
CHRIS: It starts right at the end of the first and deals more with the remaining survivors of Lincoln. The good and the bad. Zombies play less of a role in this one and we do ask the question, “Do zombies die?” Well, we answer it too.
PATRICK: I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it will introduce some major characters and explore more of the Dead Meat world. We want to stick with the how society and people in general handle this type of situation, but we also have a lot of loose ends from the first book to explore.
I have seen you are looking to create short stories in the Dead Meat world – any other plans in the future for the Williams brothers, or for you as writing individuals?
CHRIS: That was my idea. And I still want to do that but kid stuff came up and Pat was busy and now we are doing the second book. But I do plan on getting back to it.
PATRICK: Well, I have a blast working with Chris. It reminds me of when we were little kids making up our own board games (which, might I add, were pretty rad). There was at least one sci-fi project that I have mentioned revisiting with Chris, and that was done originally as a web comic. I’ve been working on some fantasy settings/ideas for a long time for solo projects, and I’d like to get to work on those, too. I’m also working on historical poetry, as I mentioned before, and Chris and I have actually put together a detailed plot for another novel titled Degenerative Process. That has been floating around for a long time.
Your blog says you both like to party – I also like to party! What’s your favourite beverage, and would you seek it out during a ZA?
CHRIS: Mine would be Jägermeister for the grownup kind. Lemonade or chocolate milk for the kid in me.
PATRICK: Bourbon or whiskey. I’m a fan of various types (even the cheap ones which seem to be ones I can afford the most). I love Knobb Creek and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, though.
Name your top location to ride out the zombie apocalypse – and why. You can have a spot each if that makes it easier!
CHRIS: Up north where there be snow or on a boathouse. Anywhere very rural.
PATRICK: Chris and I decided that anywhere with extensive periods of low temperature weather would be best. Not to mention, I’m a fan of winter. But I guess it would all depend on what type of zombies will conquer the world; hopefully, it’ll be the slow ones.
You can find out more about the Williams brothers and their work at their blog.