The impetus behind Dead Summit was the combination of the initiation into fatherhood, many sleepless nights, and an already-dark mind and sense of humor.
Five-plus years ago, when my son was only seven months old and waking up multiple times during the night, I decided to write a book. I was/am a night owl, after all, and any attempts to try to sleep were futile since I knew my son would wake up about an hour after he first went down. My wife fell asleep quickly in those days so I knew I wouldn’t be a bother to her if I stayed awake a little longer and timed my bedtime with my son’s first wake-up. And so, inspired by an incredibly convenient power outage that lasted over several days and nights, I decided to begin writing my first novel.
I have long had a passion for the undead. Romero, Fulci, Boyle, Edgar Wright and others—they’ve all had a major impact on me as a creator of all things horror. However, I am not a filmmaker, so I needed to express my thoughts and ideas in a different way. Writing has always represented a way for me to create, and to release whatever aggressions I have dealt with on occasion; therefore, zombie fiction felt like a natural path.
The matters of setting and characters presented a challenge, but only a small one: my wife and I had hiked Mt. Washington several years before, so it seemed only natural to set my story on one of the most exciting, beautiful and unforgiving places I know. Enter Grace and Charlie, modeled slightly after my wife and myself, and my story had its protagonists.
The writing itself felt like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book—each time I finished a piece of the story, I did not know where it would go until the next time I picked it up. It was like reading my own book, having no idea where the story was going until I again put pen to paper (so to speak…I wrote it on a PC). Every night when I would open my laptop, I was excited to see where the next 1,000-2,000 words would take me.
I purposely made it heavy (and graphic) on gore and action, but lighter on exposition. I wanted to provide just enough detail to give the reader an idea of who my characters were and to care about them. I also wanted to take the reader on a fast-paced thrill ride that, when finished, would leave the reader thinking, “HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT???” I will caveat that last statement by saying I’m not so bold or pompous to think I have done just that, of course, but an author can dream, right?
I feel extremely fortunate to have found a publisher that believes in my stories and in me as a writer. There is a very strong possibility I wouldn’t have published a thing by now so I appreciate their willingness to take on an unproven, unpublished (at the time) author. I think it was while proofreading my third novel, Those Among Us, that I received an email from AuthorMike Ink’s CEO, Mike Aloisi, telling me, “Okay, you finally did it…you scared me.” As a horror author, I still cannot think of a greater compliment. I am also fortunate to have met Author/Artist Brian J. Orlowski, a great friend I made while doing appearances and events in support of my books. He and I collaborated on a children’s book, Spooky Train, which arrives this Halloween season, but we’ll cover that in a future blog. 😉