Then around 2009 I’m pretty sure I had a flash of inspiration at the horrible dental insurance phone bank that I worked at about what, precisely, the universe of a zombie detective would look like. I more or less wrote the entire worldbuilding rules during smoke breaks on a Steno pad in a single day.
Stephen Kozeniewski – 20 October 2013
The Back Flap
Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.
But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.
As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.
Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.
About the book
What is the book about?
In a nutshell it’s Night of the Living Dead as Dashiell Hammett would’ve interpreted it. In slightly less of a nutshell, it’s the story of a man who wakes up facedown, naked, and dead in a swimming pool. He learns that despite it apparently being Prohibition he must drink copious amounts of booze to stay undead and he sets out to solve his own murder.
When did you start writing the book?
How long did it take you to write it?
One month. (Yeah, you guessed it. This was a NaNoWriMo entry.)
Where did you get the idea from?
It came to me in a dream. Then I forgot it in another dream. No, but seriously the name Braineater Jones has been with me for a loooooong time, ever since watching the German colonel yell “WO IST JOOOONES!” in a TNT version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I just started yelling “Braineater JOOOONES!” in my head once every couple days. Around 2003 or so I realized he was a zombie detective and that was about it. Then around 2009 I’m pretty sure I had a flash of inspiration at the horrible dental insurance phone bank that I worked at about what, precisely, the universe of a zombie detective would look like. I more or less wrote the entire worldbuilding rules during smoke breaks on a Steno pad in a single day.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Hmmm…not…especially. There were times when I felt like maybe I was juggling too many plot points and red herrings, but I think in the end they all pulled together pretty tautly.
What came easily?
The voice. It’s fundamentally my uncensored, thoughtless, reckless voice. At the time I started Braineater Jones I had just finished writing a novel with the stated goal of avoiding anything extraneous: adjectives, adverbs, descriptions, anything like that. So with BJ I just cut loose and attempted to write the purplest prose imaginable.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
I’m going to say…entirely fictitious. Honestly, I’m struggling to think of anything that comes from real life in any of the characters. Ummm…well, I guess Jones’s penchant for Old Crow and Lucky Strikes comes from me, but I’m hardly a fish/chimney metaphor, so…yeah, I think that might be about it.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Well, Dostoevsky is the king. (Or Tsar.) I like to think I get some of my thump-thump from Conrad. Ah…I don’t know. This is a tough question. I’d like to think I read so esoterically that my style is more of a bouillabaisse of random authors than a hash of any specific few.
Do you have a target reader?
The ones with a heartbeat. But I won’t discriminate.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Urm…I’m not sure exactly what to say here. I think Keith Moon, the legendary drummer for The Who put it best: “DRUM SOLOS ARE BORING!” (That was a metaphor. That was my way of saying, “WRITECRAFT IS BORING!”)
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
Generally I’ll wait until I’m finished, but you know, something may niggle at me or, for instance, if I’m going through doing a “replace all” to change my main character’s name from “Ben” to “Clancy” I may fix an off-keel sentence here or there. (Oh, pro-tip, kids: never actually just click “replace all,” even if there’s, like, 300 instances of whatever you’re replacing. Always check every instance or you’ll end up with a whole lot of “Clancyding over.” That’s about as deep into writecraft as I like to wade. You’ll thank me for that one someday, though.)
Did you hire a professional editor?
I did not hire, so to speak, anyone. It was all included in my publishing contract. Nevertheless I would be remiss if I didn’t give shout-outs to “Mama” Michelle Rever and Cassie “Brassy” Cox, my editing team extraordinaire. Vous avez été incroyable,mesdames! I’ve actually tried to have it written into my contract that in the future I will work exclusively with those two, but my publisher told me that apparently my work is SO beloved that all of the other editors and editrices over at Red Adept are clamoring to work with me. Apparently (this is according to my publisher, mind) it would be unfair to deny them the gift that is me. Popularity is just my cross to bear, I suppose.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I…do, yes. I tend to listen to whatever I’ve most recently pira…er…legally downloaded, so it kind of varies. Actually, right now I’ve been listening to the Zombies Can’t Dance musical, so that seems pretty apropos. Of course, naturally I’m not working on a tale of the shambling dead right now, so, go figure.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
Ah…none of the agents wanted it? Sorry, I wish I could say it was a deliberate choice or a moment of revelation or I was sticking it to “the man” or something, but I basically just went down the list of agents, and when I was done getting ignored or rejected by all of them I started going down the list of small publishers. Then the lady, the myth, the legend Elizabeth Corrigan recommended Red Adept to me. Can’t say I’ve regretted a second of it, so in a way: thanks, agenting world, for all the rejections?
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
Nohoho, no. No. That was done by the brilliant folks at Streetlight Graphics who, I’m not sure if my publisher has some kind of contract with them or maybe they just really prefer them. But, no, you could fit my artistic talent into a pack of matches without taking the matches out first. I actually did do up a mock cover on paint which will give you an idea of my skillz. You can see it on my Facebook author’s page.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
Well, my publisher has a marketing plan, including going on a blog tour and doing interviews like these. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, too, but they mostly consist of hiding under some coats and hoping that somehow everything will work out.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
I mentioned earlier in this interview my general attitude towards writing tips, so I’ll just give you the advice my Jedi Master gave me on my wedding day: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Where did you grow up?
Where do you live now?
Pennsyltucky. Specifically, of the mid-state variety.
What would you like readers to know about you?
As a veteran of the United States Field Artillery Corps I was a pioneer…a trailblazer, if you will…in the use of guided munitions in modern counterinsurgency operations. Strangely, this talent has been in minimal demand in the civilian world, hence, you know, zombie detectives and all.
What are you working on now?
Hooo-eee, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? As a rule I never talk about my WIPs because WRITECRAFT IS BORING (see above) but, what the hay, you asked and this is no doubt a receptive audience. Right now I’m working on a very old idea, a space opera series called THE HYENA. Just recently Melpomene, that shrewd old devil, stopped by my brain and mentioned I ought to relocate the whole thing to earth and make it a sort of a first contact situation, but with every alien species ever. Also, there is a ballerina. My publishing sister Mary Fan and I are attempting to usher in a new age of what we have deemed “balletpunk.”
End of Interview: