Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Passenger: A Preview.

I've been posting recently on Facebook about my new novel The Passenger. The feedback from you guys has been overwhelmingly positive, but there does seem to be a bit of confusion as to what what role this story plays in the Surviving the Dead universe. So I thought I'd take some time today to make it a little more clear what The Passenger is all about.

First, this is not Surviving the Dead volume four. Eric and Gabriel are not in this novel. This a standalone novel set in the Surviving the Dead universe, but features characters you may recognize from my first novel, No Easy Hope. Although it does tie in with the central plot of the main series, it is not a crucial element. You can ignore this novel and still follow the series just fine, but I think you will be missing out if you do.

As you may have noticed me mentioning before, I'm writing this novel in collaboration with Josh Guess, author of the Living With the Dead series and it's parallel, Victim Zero. Josh is a very talented writer who enjoys writing in the zombie apocalypse sub-genre just as much as I do. We first started talking about doing a collaboration about seven or eight months ago, but had to put it on the back burner while we finished other projects. After I published Warrior Within back in April, both of our schedules cleared up and we finally had the opportunity to make the collaboration happen.

There were two central ideas, one from each of us, that we ran with to create the story that would eventually become this novel. For my part, I have wanted to revisit Ethan Thompson's character for a long time, and explore what happened to him after he joined the Army and relocated to Fort Bragg. Ethan's story is interesting to me because it illustrates the difficulty of trying to be a good person in a rotten world, and lets us see through his eyes how drastically the world has changed since the Outbreak. We also get a better idea of just how dimished the U.S. military has become, and how difficult and thankless of a job those soldiers still loyal to their country have to face. These are all important themes in the Surviving the Dead series, and following Ethan's journey lets me display them from a fresh perspective.

The second idea came from Josh's fertile imagination, and I thought it was fascinating. His idea boiled down to a question: What would it be like to awake--fully cognitive just like a living person--inside the mind of a walker? To be forced to see through its eyes, hear with its ears, feel its hunger for flesh, to kill and feed, all while being completely helpless to interfere? What kind of an effect would that have on your sanity?

Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

We realized we both had pretty good ideas, and wanted to find a way to weave them together. The question then became how to do it, and after much brainstorming, we came up with the answer.


You don't know Gideon yet, but you will. And if you're anything like me, you'll quickly learn to hate the bastard. Gideon was my idea, but Josh brought him to life, which is why I now kind of think that Josh might secretly be a serial killer, and why from here on out I will only meet with him in public where there are lots of witnesses. (People of Frankfort Kentucky, consider yourselves warned.)

Once all the ideas were in place, we took these three characters--The Passenger, Gideon, and Ethan--and set them on a collision course. The Passenger is the mayhem that ensued, and it's been a hell of a ride.

Now, for long-time fans of the series, I want to set a few expectations up front. First, Josh and I have very different writing styles. About half the book was written by me, the other half by Josh. I think it will become clear very quickly who wrote what.

Second, much of the story is told from the third-person rather than my usual first-person perspective. I normally write in first-person because I like writing that way, I like reading books written in first-person, and I think it's a great way to connect with a character. However, third person gives a writer a great deal more flexibility as far as storytelling, and to be honest, I just wanted to try it. How did I do? I don't know. I think I did all right for a first attempt. I'll have to defer to your wisdom on that, dear readers. But just know that all the portions that I wrote in this novel are third-person. (Josh wrote a little in third-person as well, but mostly from first-person. He's equally good at either one, the cocky bastard.)

Also, this novel will not be quite as long as my previous work. I tend to be a long-winded storyteller, as evidenced by the length of my other three novels. (Word counts as follows: 116,000 for No Easy Hope; 105,000 for This Shattered Land; 136,000 for Warrior Within.) The Passenger should weigh in somewhere in the neigborhood of 60,000. Still novel length, but more concisely told than my other work.

(The word count isn't set in stone yet because it's still in the editing process, so it could go up or down.)

Last is the price. It will be set at 3.99, just like all my other work. I think 3.99 is a fair price that compensates me (and Josh, we're splitting it 50/50) enough to allow me to continue writing for a living, but doesn't ask my readers to bust their wallets. And considering the prices that the big publishing houses charge, I think four bucks is pretty reasonable.

So there it is, folks. I hope this clears up any confusion, and I hope that you enjoy reading The Passenger as much as Josh and I enjoyed writing it. And as always, thank you so very much for being the best readers a guy could ask for. As long as you keep demanding, I'll keep writing.

Now...where did I put the files for Fire in Winter?...that's Burn Them, that's Gladiator of Corsryn...Savages...ah-ha! Here it is.

Okay. Back to work.


  1. Great book as usual.

    I was a bit skeptical about the "mind trapped inside a zombie" idea, but it ended up being really good.

    Now I'm just waiting for the volume 4.

    Thanks a lot and keep writing.

    Greetings from Brazil.

  2. I am well into Warrior Within, and I have a question. What the heck happened to Tom, Sarah, and Brian Glover? They were prominent characters in book 2 - This Shattered Land: Surviving the Dead. But nowhere to be seen (pretty much) in Book 3. Strange, considering Gabriel was falling in love with Sarah. There was one brief mention in Book 3 of Tom Glover, and another brief mention of "the Glover family" before Eric headed off on his mission to infiltrate the Legion. It is just bugging me -- I hate to see good characters "thrown away" with absolutely no explanation. Am I the only one who feels this way?

  3. I have read the first three & am now starting The Passenger. Also, looking forward to more Gabriel & Eric books!

  4. Read the Passenger, and loved it! Yes, it felt completely different than the surviving the dead books but the writing was still top notch. This book was a collaboration well worth it!