Valerie Lioudis is a co-author with her husband, Kristopher Lioudis, of Aftershock: A Collection of Survivors Tales, book 1 in the Aftershock Zombie Series. She has also written children’s books under a pen name, and is trying to have them traditionally published.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I am a giant nerd/geek. When Kris and I were married we had the classiest Doctor Who themed wedding we could create. My dad even built us a TARDIS photo booth. Lately, our house has been less Doctor Who, and more Pokemon, but that will likely change in time, too. If it is sci-fi, fantasy, or a hokey disaster movie, I am in!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
We have a herd of kids here. 7 to be exact. My job around here is making sure the house runs like a well oiled machine, and then if I am extremely lucky, I get to carve out some time to write. Writing for me is my sanity saver. When not doing the mountains of laundry, or sneaking in some pages in whatever work in progress I have screaming for my attention, I love to get outside.
New Jersey is a great place to live. Especially the Jersey shore. No, not that Jersey shore, the gross one filled with creeps from up north. The real Jersey shore is so much better than that. Where we live there are beaches minutes from home, or you could head in the other direction and take a hike through the pine barrens. Once I discovered geocaching, my outdoor adventuring life was complete.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
The funny thing is that the horror genre is not an influence for me. I am way too much of a wuss to read or watch horror on my own. Kristopher is the one that introduced me to zombies via The Walking Dead. I wrote what I was really afraid of when we penned our book. My characters, especially the author from Long Beach Island, were really just extensions of my own fears.
As a reader I am drawn to fantasy, or murder mystery novels. If you put me in a library though, you will see me grab books from a bunch of different shelves. Covers are really what get me. If it has a different looking cover, or an interesting font, I am likely to bring it home. Sometimes, I think I was a bird in a past life. If it is shiny or different I have to try it out.
What are the books and films that helped to inspire you as an author?
When it comes to zombies, I have been a big fan of both The Walking Dead and Z-Nation, but Z-Nation is more my style. I read and loved World War Z. The movie, on the other hand, was meh. While I enjoyed the ridiculous action and destruction scenes, it really didn’t have anything to do with the book, which was a shame. When I write, I try to envision the scenes playing out on the TV. If it would hold my attention the way these shows have, then it is going in the right direction.
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
Most of the new authors I have read lately have come from a Facebook group that I am extremely proud to be a part of. The Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans group has a great mix of traditionally publishes and indie authors. One of my favorite finds there was John Gregory Hancock’s Roof. This group differs from other book groups on Facebook because it isn’t a spam-fest of book links. There you can chat with fans and authors alike. Plus there are a ton of giveaways, which is always a plus!
How would you describe your writing style?
As an author, I am direct and to the point. For me the story is more important than the flowery details.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Finding the time. For me to find an hour or more a day to sit uninterrupted is a miracle. Once my butt is in the chair, I am a word machine. I guess that is the blessing of being so busy. I don’t have time to sit and stare.
Is there any subject you would never write about as an author?
Anything that I feel would embarrass my kids. What that may be, I am not sure yet.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A voice recorder. Well, it is a must have for a writer with a life like mine. I constantly come up with ideas, but am far away from my computer or tablet. With the voice recorder, I can make a quick memo to myself and not lose any of that creativity.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
Just keep writing.
Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you approached this subject?
You can not be afraid to put yourself out there. Indie authors are doing the work of entire marketing teams. There is no room to be shy or afraid of rejection. It would be a waste of time to write a book, but then be afraid to share it. Right now I am doing a contest called Author vs. Author. It has a really interesting concept. Two authors ”duel” by writing chapters back and forth. Just when you think you are comfortable with where your characters are going, the other author kills them off or changes the direction of the story completely. This is just another one of those ways I am putting myself out there to get my name known in the writing world.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Aftershock: A Collection of Survivors Tales. Your first book is a very special thing. It is a dream become reality. The day I walked into our library and found it sitting on the shelf along with the work of “the greats” was the most surreal moment of my life. We went on to do a 7 library book tour. There we were able to discuss our work and zombies with strangers. It was an amazing experience, and I will always be proud of how hard my husband and I worked to get to those moments.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work?
“Looking out the rearview mirror as we pulled away from the cursed town I felt I finally knew why it was empty. Even the zombies knew to stay away from this place. It was a wolf wrapped in sheep’s clothing. A town that looked like paradise, but was really hell on earth.”
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Well, my last few books have been children’s books, so it is doubtful that this audience would transition well over to them, but my current work in progress is quite interesting. My daughter convinced me to take a shot at NaNoWriMo and even though I was unable to hit the coveted 50,000 word mark, I was able to get 30,000 words down. The working title is The Many Afterlives of John Robert Thompson.
I wondered what afterlife would look like to a mediocre man. Does he end up in Heaven or Hell, or maybe somewhere in between? Is wasting your life enough to burn forever, or would you get bliss because you never hurt anyone? Each chapter is a new death for John and a new look at his fate after death. Right now I am itching to get to my next chapter. John is going to end up in a 12 step meeting for those recovering lifers.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I bought a book at the dollar store right before our last daughter was born. It was a zombie novel, and I was hoping that reading it would put some pep back in my step towards finishing up book 2 in the Aftershock Series. My husband and I are both about 1/2 way done with our parts and life has just gotten in the way. Sadly, it was a push to get through and definitely did not inspire me to get words on paper.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a reread for me, but I really needed it. I love Adams. I loved his humor and style when i first read it in middle school, but as adult I see so many things that I missed the first time through. His work is really just enjoyment reading for me. There are times when I just want to sit and fade away into another universe of a book just to relax.
What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
How would you define success as an indie author?
If indie authors used our sales as success, most of us would be curled in the corner pathetically crying into our laptops. For me, success has been my first review by a stranger. Our first sale that came from overseas made me literally jump for joy! Hearing our words spoken by a narrator was impossible to describe. The list goes on and on. Book bloggers, library shelves, being a Goodreads Author, professional reviewers, book clubs, signing your first copy, gaining your first fan… Success is different for everyone in this business. One day I hope to add financial success to the list, but even without it, I feel as though I have moved mountains.
For the full Aftershock Book Review CLICK HERE
Aftershock: A Collection of Survivors Tales by Valerie Lioudis
Life after an outbreak is a nightmare for those who are struggling to survive. Aftershock follows several groups as they make their way in this drastically different world as they confront not just the relentless undead, but the dark side of humanity living in lawlessness. Ian, an infantryman who fought on the front line at the beginning of the end, Jessica, an author from a small town in New Jersey, and Reverend Samuel Mathis, a Methodist minister struggling with his faith after the Apocalypse are just a few of the characters you will meet and travel with as they search for some kind of existence in the wasteland that America has become.
For your copy of Aftershock CLICK HERE
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