An Interview With Wayne Simmons
Hello folks for your reading pleasure today, I would like topresent an interview with Wayne Simmons. Belfast born, Wayne Simmons, has been loitering with intent around the horror genre for some years. Having scribbled reviews and interviews for various zines, Wayne released his debut horror novel, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, through PERMUTED PRESS. The book was received well by both fans of the genre and reviewers alike. In April 2010, the rights to DROP DEAD GORGEOUS reverted back to Wayne. An extended version of DDG will be released through SNOWBOOKS in 2011.
GNOH – Hi Wayne, how are things with you?
Things are great, Jim. Thanks for asking. Just been working on my latest manuscript so I’m pretty wired! Ha!
GNOH – What is the horror scene like over in Ireland?
It’s getting better. Like everywhere, horror’s still a niche market in Ireland, but we’re starting to see some interesting things.
One of my favourite z-flicks, DEAD MEAT (written and directed by Conor McMahon – whom I interviewed some years back: http://zagginterviews.blogspot.com/2006/02/conor-mcmahon.html is set in the south of Ireland, starring an indulgently Irish cast.
More recently, Hammer’s return to film-making, WAKE WOOD, was filmed in Donegal, starring Aiden Quinn and Timothy Spall amongst others.
And then we have George Clarke, the man behind low-budget Belfast z-flick, BATTLE OF THE BONE. George set up a distribution label for horror titles, YELLOW FEVER PRODUCTIONS (http://www.yellowfeverproductions.co.uk/). He also hosted a film and gaming festival over the last two years.
So we’re getting there.
GNOH – Can you give the readers a rundown of your career? What inspired you to first pick a up the pen, and in particular why horror?
Sure. Like your good self, I started off doing interviews and reviews, back in 2004, mainly with online mags, concentrating on zombie and apoc-horror. Through that, I got to talk with and interview folks like David Moody, Andre Duza and Bowie Ibarra. I connected with what these guys were doing in a big way, soon wanting to have a pop myself. One year and 80K words later and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, my debut novel, was born. I submitted DDG to Permuted Press, who liked it, suggested a few changes, which I made, and we were in business. The book was released in November 2008.
In April 2010, I released my second apoc-horror novel, FLU, through Snowbooks. FLU took off in a big way, selling out not one but two print-runs within its first six months. Over a year later and it’s still selling strong.
February 2011 saw me re-release DDG through Snowbooks.
I’m very proud of both novels. They’ve both recently been picked up for publication in Germany and Spain, which is just fantastic. A sequel to FLU (entitled FEVER) is due in Halloween 2011. DDG’s sequel, DOLL PARTS, is due out in January 2012 – again through Snowbooks.
GNOH – Your debut novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous was initially put out by Permuted Press. Was this a conscious decision to put it out with a zombie specific publisher?
It sure was. DDG is probably best described as a bizarro take on the zombie apocalypse. I was reading a lot of Permuted’s output around that time, as part of my interview and review work, and they seemed to be the main player in zombie and apoc-horror. It made sense to try them first.
I respect Permuted a lot, even now. As a press, they have grown from strength-to-strength boasting a stable of very fine authors, including JL Bourne, the late Z Recht, Craig DiLouie, James Melzer and, of course, Bowie Ibarra who I’ve already mentioned.
GNOH – It has been re-released by Snowbooks, is there a reason for a switch in publishers?
Yep. Basically, I was locked into a contract with Permuted for all sequels to DDG. While Permuted thrive with trad z-horror, I didn’t think they were best placed to sell a more offbeat pulp title such as DDG. So, I bought the book back from them and sold it to Snowbooks who were doing great with FLU and only too glad to take it. It was a risky move but one that I believe has paid off.
GNOH – Are Snow books a new publisher?
No, they’ve been going since 2004. They publish all kinds of titles from genre fiction right through to non-fiction. They’ve a strong list of genre authors including George Mann, Thomas Emson, David Wellington and Mark Hodder. I’m very proud to be with them.
GNOH – They are doing a great job of getting your books into bricks and mortar stores. I have seen your books in nearly every book shop I’ve been in.
Yeah, they’re great! Despite the current climate in publishing, Snow is still able to get books out there. Kudos to Emma, Rob and Anna for all their hard work, and to their sales team, Alison & Busby, for effectively promoting their titles. Snowbooks is a solid press. In the current climate, where publishers like Dorchester are crumbling before our very eyes, it’s great to be with an honest, hard-working and transparent publisher. I’m very grateful to them for all their hard work on my behalf.
GNOH – It appears as though you haven’t embraced the E-Book revolution, is there a reason why your books aren’t available on Kindle?
Snowbooks are working on that and hope to have all their titles in various e-book formats by Summer 2011.
GNOH – Drop dead Gorgeous is set in Belfast, was it important to you that you set it there?
I think I just wanted to write what I knew, to be honest. I continued that theme with FLU. For me to set stories elsewhere at the time felt wrong. Some folks have kindly commented on how the Belfast setting makes my writing quite fresh, but for me it’s just a matter of convenience – I’ve lived in Belfast for a long time so it makes perfect sense to set my fiction here.
That said, my most recent completed manuscript, a sci-fi thriller called PLASTIC JESUS, is set outside Ireland. I hope to write across the board from now on, maybe even bringing the story arcs of both DDG and FLU worldwide.
GNOH – Did you use the fact that it is set in your home town to settle some old scores?
Haha! Not intentionally…
GNOH – Do you try and provide a scientific explanation for the zombies, or do you for a leap of faith in the reader?
With z-horror you either have to go down the occultic route or scientific route when it comes to the ‘What gives?’. For DDG, I decided on the occult. With FLU it’s more scientific.
It’s been fun to explore both.
GNOH – The zombie apocalypse is upon us, you have a double barrelled shotgun, only two shells left. If you could blow the head of any celebrity who would it be and why?
Ha! I don’t really have any beef with celebrities. They do what they do and there’s a market for it. Fair play to them, I say…
Instead, I think I’d give chase to pretty much anyone who calls themselves a politician. Bloody charlatans, the lot of ’em!
GNOH – can you tell us about Flu, your second novel? How does it differ in style to Drop Dead Gorgeous?
Sure, FLU is more of a trad zombie-horror. Very much post-Romero. It’s kinda like a cross between DAWN OF THE DEAD and TRAINSPOTTING, only set in Belfast. It’s pretty high tempo with zombie action from the prologue right through to the epilogue. There are twists and turns throughout, the focus always firmly on the characters, a fairly ragtag bunch including an ex-IRA gunrunner, a young punk, a taxi-driver and a rather lethargic military.
I intend both FLU and DDG to be the start of two new series. I’ll keep writing books set within these worlds as long as folks keep reading them!
GNOH – I see, from your blog, that you have a number of works in the pipeline. Do you jump between the, or do you finish one draft then move on to the other?
I tend to jump between projects. Maybe finish the first draft of one before jumping to the second draft of another, then returning with fresh eyes to my first draft. A lot depends on deadlines, of course – that’s what really dictates how and what I write!
GNOH – What kind of writer are you, do you methodically plot each novel, or do you go with the flow?
I go with the flow. I like to do a lot of free-writing to get to know the characters; maybe have two people bouncing off each other in a scene, see how that drives the story. I’ll plot then as I go. That can take a lot more time as there’s no real methodology in place, so I usually end up doing a lot of rewrites in the second and third drafts. I’m not afraid to change the direction completely if an idea hits me…
GNOH – Other than writing what are your other passions?
Getting tattooed, running, music (loving Sixx A.M. and Backyard Babies at the moment), reading genre fiction (lots of pulp horror and 40s/ 50s dime detectives) and watching movies (loving French horror, Asian horror and the new line from Hammer).
GNOH – So what can we expect from you in the future?
I’ll try to keep writing good, accessible genre fiction that people enjoy reading. I’ve the DDG and FLU books (flooks? Ha!) to belt on with. I’ve also a couple of ideas for thrillers that I’m quite excited to get motoring on. My sci-fi thriller, PLASTIC JESUS, is with my agent being shopped, so hopefully that will see release soon.
GNOH – Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions Wayne, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
Thank you, Jim. Very kind of you to take an interest in what I do. And thanks to anyone who’s taken the time to read this interview – much appreciated!
You can purchase Wayne’s books in all good high street book stores as well as from all the usual online sources