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Interview with Gregory Lamberson, author of Carnage Road

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Gregory Lamberson has published five horror novels and an additional book about independent filmmaking.  He is a two-time winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror and a three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist.  A member of the International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association, he has a following as a cult horror film director and is best known for Slime City and Slime City Massacre.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I’ve written 95-page screenplays, 90,000-word novels, and a 100,000-word instructional filmmaking book, but I’ve never written a short story, and Carnage Road was my first novella.  I wanted to write a zombie tale that was really a sprawling road trip about friendship, and I worried throughout most of the writing that I would be unable to accomplish my goal in the 30,000 or so words dictated by the form.  I could have gone longer, but I would have ended up with a short novel, which would have defeated the point of the experiment.  My wife and some of the advance reviewers cried after reading it, so I think I succeeded in what I set out to do.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish?

I wrote the whole thing in a few months, but I was working on other projects at the same time.  I’m used to juggling screenplays and novels simultaneously, but writing a novella and a novel at the same time meant writing prose all the time, which was a new experience for me.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (if any)?

My first novel, Personal Demons, won a fiction contest with a small press publishing deal attached.  The contest was judged by T.M. Wright, a hero of mine.  I remember the book lost a previous contest, and the sponsor said, “But we’d still like to publish you – as an e-book!”  This was back in 2004, when “e-book” was still a dirty term.  I’m glad I held out for something better.  So getting the book published as a small press trade paperback wasn’t too difficult, but getting reprinted as a mass market paperback was. 

Carnage Road is published by Print Is Dead, the zombie imprint of Creeping Hemlock Press, but my novels are published by Medallion Press.  After Personal Demons came out and disappeared, as small press titles so often do, I submitted it to all of the houses, and nobody wanted to reprint it; I doubt it was even read. 

So I wrote a book called Johnny Gruesome and promoted it as I would a movie, hoping that I could get a mass market deal for it, then convince the hypothetical publisher to acquire Personal Demons as well, because I wanted to write an ongoing series based on Jake Helman, the protagonist of that book.  Medallion acquired Johnny Gruesome, I pitched Personal Demons, and now Tortured Spirits, the fourth volume in “the Jake Helman Files” will be published in October.

Have you written a book that you have not been able to get published?  If so, can you share a little about it with us?

I’ve been very fortunate: every book I’ve written for publication has been published, and I’ve never had to self-publish.  I’ve sold one novella, seven novels, and one nonfiction book, and I’m currently contracted for two more novels.

How did you come up with the title?

Although Carnage Road is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel, it’s about two bikers traveling across America, like Easy Rider, and deep down it’s about a tender friendship between two tough hombres, like Lonesome Dove.  I didn’t want to use the word “zombie” or “dead” in the title – I find that pretty unimaginative – so I looked for something that suggested violence and the open road, and the title came to me quickly.  Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I have three books being published in 2012: Carnage Road just came out; The Frenzy War, book two in my werewolf series, has sneaked into stores at the same time even though its official publication date is June 1; and Tortured Spirits will be out in October.  In 2013, Medallion is publishing my novel The Julian Year, which will launch a cutting edge new platform for e-books.  And I hope to write another novella for Creeping Hemlock before long.

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