Tag Archives: literature

This Plague of Days: Influences on Season Two (and me!)

Want a hint at what happens next? Okay.

The Sutr virus is still evolving.

This isn’t a complete list of influences, but when I think of who and what influences the development of This Plague of Days, here’s what pops to mind:

1. After reading Blake Crouch’s Run, I wrote two fast-paced crime novels (Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus.) Season One was a slower build and burn. Season Two is closer to that pell mell pacing.

2. William Goldman (Marathon Man, the Princess Bride et al) influences all my writing. He’s the master of the surprise reversal. I’m telling you there will be plenty of surprises in Season Two of This Plague of Days. Knowing in advance won’t help.

3. Neil Gaiman. When you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the realm you’re about to enter, that which is named is manifested.

4. Your reviews. I won’t lie. I’m exhausted. Typical days run sixteen hours at least, especially in the last month as I prepare the new season. On those busy days, the work continues even into sleep with lucid dreaming. Those happy reviews kept me excited to keep going and push through to make my deadline. Thank you!

5. My Chemical Romance. The Black Parade is on a continuous loop. If you don’t know their scream-o music, how I envy you. “Mama” is especially appropriate. (I listen to Everlast while writing crime novels.)

6. Podcasts and Kurt Vonnegut’s nerve. I listen to The Young Turks, The Best of the Left and dozens of other podcasts. So, yeah, I believe the military-industrial (and corporate) complex is the devil President Eisenhower warned us about. Do I get preachy about it? I don’t think so. Vonnegut let his worldview slip into his books. I believe I cram it in sideways without being too intrusive on the story. Heck, it’s part of the story and many viewpoints are expressed. The world as it is informs the plot. Kurt Vonnegut was a disappointed humanist. He believed in human potential and noticed when the world fell short of those ideals. Put that label on me, too.

7. Comedians. I love them. Even amid the horror, perhaps especially in horror, there’s room for jokes.

8. Movies. I have an eidetic memory for movie quotes and if you’ve read my crime novels, you’ll spot the obsession. I grew up working in a video store and I’ve seen more movies than the average bear. In the character of Aadi, it pops into TPOD. Also, the visuals in This Plague of Days are very cinematic. Yes, I’m considering a screenplay.

9. Kale shakes. I think clearer on kale shakes.

10. Mom. My mother is dead now, but I inherited her obsession with words early on. My mother had hidden talents. Besides brilliant stock analysis, she was a code breaker. Every day we’d crack the newspaper’s cryto-quote together. She was unnaturally fast at pattern recognition. Also, the house was full of books. That’s where I got my love of reading, through her osmotic obsession. I still read dictionaries for fun and can lose myself in them for hours at a time. My quirky hero in This Plague of Days understand each other.

11. Pathology. I studied it. It comes up a lot in details. When I studied human anatomy, I was in awe of the organic machine. When I studied pathology, I got freaked out about all that can go wrong with our bodies. That’s how I studied my way into becoming a hypochondriac.

Season Two launches October 1. The complete season will be available then (at a discounted price) For those who prefer to take it in week by week, it will be available as a serial starting October 7. 

If you aren’t already on board the crazy train, check out the sample of Season One of This Plague of Days at the link.


Writing Against the Grain: B Movies. A Treatments and the Deceptive Familiar

I just received another happy review of Season One of This Plague of Days! (Dance of Joy ensues. Look away!)

On Writing TPOD

TPOD season 1 ecoverYou know, I made some artistic choices with TPOD that challenge the genre. For instance, the zombies don’t show up immediately. The hero is an autistic boy. I show the beginning of the crisis and how it evolves instead of waking someone up from a coma after civilization falls (a la Walking Dead and 28 Days Later.)

I’m pleased to report those gambles are paying off. (Great new reviews in the UK, too!) I’m getting extra points for doing something different. I wanted to give what some think of as a B movie idea an A treatment. I have a hero who is more in his world than ours. While things fall apart for his family, he’s obsessed with words, their meanings and roots and Latin phrases. It doesn’t sound very sexy in a submission letter to an agent, does it? However, horror fans are flexible readers who want to see something familiar made unfamiliar. To an agent, unfamiliar is not good at all. Readers are more forgiving because there are too many books out there that are clones of other books.

On Writing the Hit Man Series

When I wrote Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus, I ran into the same…problems? Opportunities? Challenges? I have an anti-authoritarian streak so I set myself up to fail and wrote the books I wanted to read instead of what an agent might get excited about. Don’t get me wrong, there are many very well-written hardboiled books out there. However, I pushed the boundaries and conventions of the genre with Jesus Diaz. I also tell the Hit Man Series stories in present tense and in second person. (AKA Agent Repellant.)

But there’s more. I made a hit man loveable and pitiable. I love the character of Dexter, though Jesus Diaz isn’t a psychopath in the same way at all. Unlike Dexter, Jesus Diaz is crushed by his regrets and guilt. I made my anti-hero the funny hit man with Chili Palmer overtones, a horrific childhood and the gift of gab. He’s made a more complex character due to a neurosis around women. He blames circumstances for his problems, but really the poisoned root of his abuse as a child informs the character and so the story. You won’t find another hardboiled hero who is afraid of women, but Jesus really is afraid.

Mr. Diaz just tapped me on the shoulder with the muzzle of his Sig Sauer to inform me I should change that from afraid of women to “worshipful”. I told him to buzz off. Kill me and he won’t see himself in the third and fourth novels of the series. He’s sulking in the corner, pretending to play Angry Birds on my iPod.

Books and their shelves

Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_KindleBigger Than and Higher Than are unusual novels that defy convention so hard, I’m not even sure they are properly called hardboiled. Maybe they’re action adventure or, despite the childhood sexual abuse, their also damn funny. It’s a rich palette, I guess. Agents hate that in genre novels.

Some so-called experts would suggest I’m making stupid choices. Maybe so. I’m singing “I gotta be me” while yanking the wheel and steering hard toward the ditch with the blinking warning sign that reads: Obviously Non-commercial!

I felt self-conscious about those gambles. Those choices are just as much about me as anything. See, I write for me. Readers come later. Sorry, but it’s true. That’s selfish considering I’m trying to contribute to the family budget with my writing instead of sucking it dry.

And then I read Stephen King’s Joyland yesterday.

Oh my god! It’s coming-of-age and funny. It’s Summer of ’42. It’s so damn charming it doesn’t even need the murder mystery. In fact, though it has a climactic scene worthy of JoylandHitchcock, I really would have loved it just as much without the mystery and the ghost story.

Traditional publishing didn’t know what to do with Stephen King. Even though the cover is terrific, the book is packaged as if Joyland is a hardboiled mystery. I don’t think it is. I think it’s good, easy storytelling that rolls along and you’ll be sorry the ride ever stops. It’s also high literature in a cloak that could appeal to anyone no matter how it’s classified or what shelf it’s on. 

I hope you’ll feel the same about my books because no matter what I do, that defiant streak is a mile wide and made of granite and diamonds. Some things I can’t change so I hope you like the view from my ride. 

And, not for nothing, thanks for the nice reviews, folks. I’m not for everyone but when those who get it leave a happy review, I push the accelerator harder and sing louder for our little club who are in the know.

Sure, I might hit the ditch, but we’ll go down screaming and laughing and grokking what it all means in the end. Let’s all grit our teeth and dare to be what we are while we can.


My Dic Pic (with apologies to Anthony Weiner)

My dic pic is huge!

Jaimie Spencer’s dictionary from This Plague of Days is real. If you’re reading my apocalyptic serial, you know that Jaimie has a dictionary obsession. That’s an obsession that, conveniently, I share with my young, autistic friend.  I have slang dictionaries, rhyming dictionaries, quotation dictionaries and dictionaries about poisons, fables, mythology, imaginary places, Latin, Spanish, French, Modern Thought and more.

Yes, I use online dictionaries sometimes, but I’m one of those people who browse from one word to the next and get lost in discovery. I love to find something I didn’t know I was looking for. That’s why the main dictionary I use for This Plague of Days is the one pictured.

Of all my dictionaries, this one is special. I picked up this dictionary at a yard sale. It was falling apart so I duct taped the binding. It’s the unabridged Webster’s Twentieth Century Edition from 1939 (original edition 1904). It’s packed full of words no one uses anymore. And just like Jaimie Spencer, I can get lost in it for hours. It’s the one book that contains all the others.

Some read This Plague of Days because they love zombies, twisty suspense and autistic heroes. People who are word nerds grok it, too.

If you’ve read any of the episodes or the complete first season, please do leave a review on Amazon.

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This Plague of Days: Linkapalooza

cropped-tpod-header-words-and-letters.jpg

Latest excerpt from revisions of Season 2:

Mrs. Bendham called from the back of the van. “The man who warned you the epidemic was coming — ” 

“Uncle Cliff, Dad’s twin brother,” Anna said. 

Jack glanced in her rear-view mirror. “Cliff told us to get ready when people were still laughing at those of us who took the pandemic seriously.”

“That’s nice. Though what kind of preparation can you do against the Sutr Virus except take your vitamins, live in an aquarium and hope for the best?” asked Mrs. Bendham.

“We were better off for longer because of my brother-in-law,” Jack answered.

“Until everything was taken away.” Anna said. Jack heard something new in her daughter’s voice. That wasn’t self-pity. Anna hated the old lady. 

Good, Jack thought. Self-pity drains energy. Anger pays it out.

Mrs. Bendham seemed oblivious to Anna’s anger. “Where is he now? Do you think he got out of the way of it all?”

“I hope he’s waiting for us in Maine.”

Grab This Plague of Days, Season One here.

Get all the books by Robert Chazz Chute here

(I write crime, suspense, horror, non-fiction, general tomfoolery.)

Want to hear excerpts from my crime novel, Higher Than Jesus?

Check out the All That Chazz podcast here.

Overdosing on Chazz? Learn to love me. Hear my interviews with cool people on the Cool People Podcast.

 


My zombies aren’t dead. They’re sick, angry and hungry.

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

When I worked in traditional publishing, author Anne Rice made vampires huge in popular culture. It seemed everyone was reading Interview with the Vampire (and then all her other books). Soon after, many agents and editors burned out on vampires. Vampires were done to death. The professionals were ready to put a stake through the heart of the phenomenon, so it must be so, right?

Foolish humans.

After the pros declared vampires were finished, the next wave came: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Twilight series, endless graphic novels, fan fic and True Blood.

If you live long enough, you begin to see patterns repeat. It happens in products and news cycles and franchises. Interesting things don’t go away. They get made anew.

The challenge in resurrecting any subject is to make it fresh: Cheerleader versus vampires in a world secretly packed with demons; vampires that sparkle in sunlight, more sex and whatever else it takes to make the old seem new.

Today I ran across an interesting blog entry. The author is tired of zombies. Good news! Zombies are still undead, too. Whether it’s new fans discovering old material in new forms (e.g. the World War Z movie), zombies as love interests, or my new serial (This Plague of Days), fresh takes abound for new fans and for those who think they’ve seen it all.

Innovation doesn’t stop with George Romero, or any other artist no matter how gifted.

If we’d stopped because the genre seemed to be running on fumes, we wouldn’t have 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead or The Walking Dead!

My zombie serial features a hero on the autism spectrum, eco-terrorists and more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells.  It starts with one terrible virus (as if that wasn’t bad enough) that mutates into something more deadly.

What interests me most about dangerous situations is how they bring out truth.

The bad brings out both the Evil and the Good to shed light on the human condition. In This Plague of Days, you’ll often find you have more to fear from the  uninfected than the zombies. Check out my take on zombies. If you like it, please don’t forget to review it. Thanks!

~ Robert Chazz Chute is an award winning writer and the author of nine books. 


My GoodReads review of This Plague of Days: I wouldn’t believe it. You’ll have to read it.

This Plague of Days, Season 1This Plague of Days, Season 1 by Robert Chazz Chute

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote it so, yeah, five stars from me. It’s like two books in one where two groups of interesting characters are on a collision course. The stakes? Human extinction and the lives of people we care about. But since I wrote it, I wouldn’t believe me, either. I guess if apocalyptic fiction with more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells intrigues you, you’ll have to read it to see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

View all my reviews

 


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