Stranded and alone in a zombie apocalypse, Breht is searching for someone. Like a lone wanderer in a western, he arrives in town with an ulterior motive, a mysterious stranger with a hidden past. But the town’s full of zombies, and the few survivors think he’s crazy. Breht has a story to tell, however, and it’s a tragedy that will only have one ending. And that ending ain’t happened yet.
Today I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Rob Lopez, author of the post-apocalypse novel ‘Remember Me Dead’.
Rob, thanks for setting some time aside today for us to discuss your writing. In ‘Remember Me Dead’ your lead character Staff Sergeant Breht is searching for truth in a post apocalyptic world. What germinated the underlying seeds of the quest that you’ve sent Breht on?
Most post-apocalypse novels are westerns in disguise, and I wanted that iconography. There’s definitely a western theme running through the story. Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West is my main influence here. The other influence, however, is Othello, with the theme of paranoia, emotional manipulation and betrayal. I think that’s a pretty good mix for a zombie horror novel.
That is a great contrast of inspiration. I haven’t read ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, but Shakespeare strongly integrates motifs into the story thread. Did you set out to incorporate these into your own work to reflect the style of Othello?
No. I don’t plan my stories really. My characters write the story, and I just hang on, seeing if I can predict where they’re going. Themes may or may not appear, and I notice them more (and decide whether to embellish them or keep them) in the editing stage. But I’ve been reading books since I was seven, so I have most of the classic themes in my DNA by now, just itching to sneak out.
Do you also have aspects of the characters in your DNA alongside those themes, or where the characters birthed from other sources of inspiration?
Emma Thompson inspired one character. Iago from Othello inspired another. The rest just appeared.
And from everyone who appeared, who was your favourite?
Breht has been a character I’ve had in mind for a long time. He was just waiting for a story to appear in. And I’m sticking with him for future stories, because he’s got a lot more to say and do.
Are Breht’s latest adventures already in the development stage?
Of course! I have several books planned for the UNDEAD UK series, and I’m keen to hammer them out.
That’s great news for readers. Does it take you long to complete a novel from conception to completion. For example, how long did it take for you to write ‘Remember Me Undead’?
Managed it in less than a year, but a hiatus meant that I had to cease working on it for a while. All told, I think there’s about six months of work in this book.
And I’m assuming that that timeline includes research?
Plenty of research, with interesting trips to Conwy Castle in Wales and various places around Shrewsbury (which serves as the semi-fictional town in half the story). The rest was about survival techniques and the usual medical research.
Did you have many things from your life that you added to this book?
Would have been a pretty grim life if I had, what with zombies and all. But I did use some knowledge I gained from working on farms many years ago.
So, I’m guessing that you don’t dream about Breht challenging the zombie wilderness?
Nope. I sleep like a log.
That’s probably for the best. Would you want to meet Breht or one of your other characters in real life?
Probably not, but I’d like to nurse a beer and observe them from a distance. I guess that’s why I’m a writer.
And you’re a writer full-time?
Being able to write full-time must really change how you tackle the job. Do you have any rituals that you use to help prepare you?
I write every week day, at my desk at home, aiming for at least a 1000 words a day. Depends on whether my kids let me, though.
Kids can be like that. Do they at least give you a chance to edit in peace?
This was my seventh published novel, so I’ve established a set routine: Writing the story, doing the structural editing, then the proofreading. I have particular techniques for each that have been proven to work well, and I’m proud to say that nobody’s ever found a typo in one of my books. Whether they like the finished product is something else, but I aim to offer the best quality. I can’t stand poorly prepared books, and I certainly don’t want to put one out like that.
And your work does look very professional. The book cover really does make the readers first impressions that the book is going to be good. How did you go about getting the cover done?
I do all my own book covers, but it’s been a steep learning curve. I get a lot of satisfaction from it, though.
Wow, that is impressive. You really seem to have the whole process bedded down. Do you have tips for other authors?
I wish I did, but sometimes I feel as if I’m still at the learning stage myself, so I’m not the best guide for anybody. So many different types of writers that it’s impossible to offer advice that would suit more than a few, anyway. So I’ll pass on that. I’m no guru.
Do you at least have a top tip?
Keep writing. Never stop. Never die.
That’s a pretty solid top tip. Is the process of book creation what you find the most personally fulfilling aspect to you about writing this book?
This is the first novel I’ve set in places I’ve actually visited and know well. It was great to walk through them and view them from someone else’s perspective.
And you kinda get to see them in the perspectives of your readers when they review your book. What did you remember feeling about your first review?
I can’t remember, actually. Seems so long ago, and I was probably concentrating on my next project.
Do you think that the future of reading, writing and self publishing helps you as an author concentrate on your project? Or is the future of this hold another meaning for you. What is your prime viewpoint?
Curiosity. The death and decline of self-publishing has been predicted many times, yet it’s still growing, and the market’s getting crowded. I think it’s just going to become the new normal (like pulp fiction and the idea of paperbacks), and it won’t be such a big deal anymore.
That’s an interesting perspective. Do you feel that your favourite authors have influenced your reading and writing views?
My favourite authors from way back are Eric Van Lustbader, Michael Moorcock, Len Deighton, Martin Cruz Smith and Stephen King. There are others, but these guys have crept into my writing style the most, though I don’t claim to be their equal.
What are you currently reading?
Surviving the Evacuation: London. And The Islamist.
Who is your favourite literary character?
Harry Niles from Martin Cruz Smith’s Tokyo Station. And Nostromo from Joseph Conrad’s story of the same name.
Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. A masterpiece. If I could write with such beauty, I would never write again, for fear of spoiling it.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I was enchanted by the Famous Five, by Enid Blyton, for a while. Five Go Camping was probably my favourite.
And now we’re at my favourite section of these interviews the Quick Fire Question round. What’s your first thoughts about the following:
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Do What I Want, Live How I Want. Tougher than it sounds, actually.
What is your favourite quote?
“A professional writer is an amateur who never gave up.” – Richard Bach
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
I would mesh a Horse and a Dog, creating a Hog. Oh wait…
You just need a better name! Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Of course I can. Anything else you’d like me to lie about?
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
A new copy of Photoshop, the professional edition. I’m dying to unleash that on my covers.
Can you curl your tongue?
Read the answer about standing on my hands.
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dinosaurs, obviously. First thing I ever remember studying at school, and Triceratops was my favourite.
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
In this neck of the woods? My own. It’s not common in the UK.
Well, Rob that’s the last of today’s questions. Thank you very much for setting aside time for this interview, and I wish you the best of luck with ‘Remember Me Dead’.
Want to connect with Rob? You can find him here: