Author Interview with D.A. Roberts – Missouri Zombies Take the City

This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?

Think on THAT a while…

 

Welcome, DA Roberts! You’ve just released Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing.  Tell us a little bit about your story. 

ragnarok rising

Well, that might take a bit of set-up. Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing is actually the third book of my Ragnarok Rising Saga. My series is a Zombie Apocalypse tale, set in the Mid-west city of Springfield, Mo. Although the farther along you get in the series, the farther they branch out of the area. The saga really focuses on a core group of people who are doing their best not only to survive the apocalypse, but trying to save as many people as they can along the way. It shows the best and worst in us all against the backdrop of the living dead. A reviewer on Amazon once called it a Roller Coaster ride through the Zombie Apocalypse. I think that’s a great way to sum it up. Fast paced and dangerous, you get to follow these men and women through hell and beyond. The concept of Ragnarok is from Viking times. Ragnarok is literally the end of the world. A Viking Armageddon, if you will. With a Norse twist on the genre, the Ragnarok Rising Saga is unique in that it approaches the Zombie Apocalypse in a different way. Grab your ticket and get on the roller coaster, and then buckle up. I think you will enjoy the ride.

Do you consider your book(s) urban fantasy, paranormal or something else? What attracted you to the genre?

I consider my series to be Paranormal / Apocalyptic fiction. Although it is a zombie story, there’s more going on there than you normally see in the zombie genre. As the series progresses, you will find more twists to the genre. I like to think of my books as being horror, but they may be something more…or at least different…by the end.

Let’s talk beasties. Do any monsters make appearances in your novels? If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does. Spill it. If not, what makes your book paranormal, urban fantasy or science fiction?

Well…there are zombies. I mean a lot of zombies. Initially in book one, I broke them down into five basic categories but as the series progressed there were more. Book three introduced a new type of zombie that I am particularly fond of. I call them Stalkers. Without spoiling too much, they are something new. Not only have the characters never encountered anything like it, but I think the readers will see something new here too. As one of my Beta Readers put it when she called me in the middle of the night, “I loved your first two books, but book three is going to give me nightmares.” I really knew I was onto something when she told me that. I hope you all feel the same way.

Is this a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN!

The Ragnarok Rising Saga is definitely a series. The Crossing is book three and I plan to have book four finished and released by end of summer. If everything goes as planned, that is. I plan to do six books in the series before I move on to my next project.

What else are you working on?

I have several projects in the works. I’m not sure where to start. I have a Werewolf series in the works as well as a fantasy novel that could become a series of it’s own.  I have other projects that I’m not quite ready to announce. Needless to say, I have a full plate at the moment.

Of all the characters in your fictional word, which one or couple would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie?

I think I would like to spend some time with the two main characters, Wylie Grant and Cassie “Spec-4” Wilder. I’d like to have a few drinks and talk about where they feel the story has taken them. I’d also like to see if they are upset with some of the things I’ve put them through. Wylie, in particular, might want to have a few words about just that. I’ve put them through the ringer, more than once. If they were to make a movie out of my series, I think I’d like to see Karl Urban play Wylie. I love Urban. I think he’d bring so much depth to Wylie. As for Spec-4, I think I’d like to see someone like Scarlett Johansson take that role. She has a wonderful depth as an actress and can really be convincing on the action sequences. I’d love to see the ideas my readers have, as well. Heck, come on over to my facebook page or website and tell me your fantasy casting choices. I’d love to hear it.

Let’s talk about craft. Are you a plotter or pantser? What are the first steps you take before diving into the writing of the next book?

I’m a plotter, definitely. I plan out the direction of the story, but I leave enough room that things can change as I write it. Sometimes even I’m surprised how far things have changed from my original plan. I know well in advance where I want the story to go, but sometimes the characters have other plans. Sometimes they write the story and I’m just recording it all in print. To me, that’s half the fun. I have always loved writing and I dreamed of one day being an author. It’s such an amazing feeling to see that dream come true. The first things I usually do is research the elements I need for the story, then I bring up as much information as I can to keep it in tabs to fall back on as I write. I even like to us Google Maps as I write to keep me focused on the actual locations that I am describing. That will work for my horror stories, but I’ll have to take a different approach for my fantasy writing. I’ll have to play that by ear, I suppose.

How long does it typically take for you to write a novel?  Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world?

I don’t write short books. I average about 500 pages, when it seems the average download on the market is only 200 or less. I think that the story is just getting started at 200 pages. Still, I can do the 500 pages in about six months, if everything goes well. Sometimes less, if the muse really flows. Editing can take anywhere from one to two months, depending on re-writes and fixes. That’s almost daily work on the editing. I like to work directly with my editors, as much as possible, so all the changes, fixes and edits can be done quickly. So, start to finish, I think I can do two books a year. If my writing ever takes me to a place where I no longer need my “day job”, then who knows. If I could be a full-time writer, the sky might be the limit.

Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction?

Absolutely. I love to help other writers, any way I can. I’ve never felt that writing was a competition. There’s room on our bookshelves for multiple authors and books. I don’t know anyone who only owns books by one author. I’m more than happy to encourage and help writers become authors. It’s only good for us all to encourage more stories to be told and people to read them.

I think that the best advice I can give an aspiring author is to do your research. Getting the details wrong can kill your story. Know your facts and it will show through in your work. Readers will tear you to pieces if you get it wrong. Do your research, no matter what the topic. The more you know, the more depth you can bring to the story.

I’m always happy to exchange ideas and advice with other writers. Check out my blog. I have posts that deal specifically with author tips. Send me an e-mail or a message on facebook, too. I’ll be more than happy to give you any help that I can. By sharing our experiences and knowledge, we help not only the aspiring authors…we help ourselves too. I’ve learned new things simply by researching an answer to a question from another writer.

Can you give us a taste of what to expect?

Excerpt from book three of the series, Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing

Slipping into gear, I started slowly towards the edge of the water. Just as I reached it, I stopped completely. I thought I had seen movement out of the corner of my eye.

“Wilder,” I said, “hand me the binoculars.”

“What did you see?” she asked, handing them over.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “I just caught a glimpse of something moving.”

I took the binoculars and started sweeping the area where I had seen it. It was right near the restrooms, so I focused in and swept slowly from left to right and then back again. I still didn’t see anything, but the knot in my stomach had doubled in size. It was still and quiet, with no sign of movement whatsoever. Not even so much as a squirrel.

Handing the binoculars back to Spec-4, I turned back to the water ahead of me. It looked no more inviting than it had before, but now I was looking for anything at all that might be out of place. Nothing seemed wrong and nothing was moving. With a heavy sigh, I took my foot off the brake and started into the water.

I felt my way in, slowly. Water was coming steadily up the sides of the Humvee and starting to splash up onto the hood. I knew we would be fine so long as I didn’t let off of the gas. The raised air intake on the Humvee would keep us running as long as I didn’t let the engine flood out.

We made it across without incident, and I was glad to see that I had been high on my estimate of the depth. Although we were in over the wheels, it never made it over the doors. It was less than three feet deep across the concrete bridge. As we safely pulled out of the other side, I reached for the radio mic.

“All clear, Chuck,” I said, keying up. “Take it slow and steady. Stick to the right.”

“Copy that,” he said, and began his run.

Less than two minutes later, we parked side by side in the parking area next to the bathrooms. I decided that I wanted a closer look at the bullet holes along the walls, just to see for myself. When I climbed out of my Humvee, Spec-4 followed me and readied her weapon. Becca stayed inside the vehicle, but watched us intently. Southard and Elliott climbed out of their vehicle, weapons in hand.

“What’s next, dad?” asked Elliott.

“I want to take a closer look at the bullet holes on the wall,” I said, pointing. “Something about it just doesn’t seem right.”

The four of us headed around to the side of the building, away from the entrances to the bathrooms. Behind us, I heard the door of a Humvee open and close. I turned around to see Jensen standing beside the vehicles, adjusting his weapon.

“Don’t wander off,” I said.

“I won’t,” he replied. “I just wanted to stretch my legs.”

We headed around the corner and I could see the numerous bullet holes that pockmarked the wall. There was also quite a bit of blood on the wall and the ground beneath it. In the grass, I could see expended brass. Kneeling down, I picked up a piece and examined it. It was 5.56mm NATO. That meant it came from either an AR style weapon or the military. I selected a number of other rounds to check, just to be certain.

“Multiple shooters,” I said, looking at Southard. “Firing squad deployment. Military, I think.”

I was about to say more when I heard the scream. It came from around the corner in front of the buildings. We all spun and sprinted around the corner. Jensen was on the ground right in front of the men’s room entrance, his legs still inside the door. He was lying on his stomach, clawing at the ground trying to drag himself out of the bathroom. Before we could reach him, something dragged him back inside and the screaming began, again.

Read more in the Ragnarok Rising Saga!

Where can we find you and your books online? 

Facebook | Twitter | Linkdin | Amazon  

da roberts bio pic

Author’s Bio:  D.A. Roberts

D.A. Roberts was born in the small town of Lebanon, Missouri. Growing up on the farm gave him plenty of opportunities to cultivate a fertile imagination. Encouraged by his mother, he dreamed of one day becoming a famous writer. An avid reader, D.A. enjoys reading more than watching television.

A diverse career path has given him a unique view of the world. From soldier to factory worker, from bouncer to lab technician, and from Security Officer to Corrections Officer.  Having worn many different hats evolves a very different perspective. He draws on all of these experiences to bring his writing to life on a very human level.

He married Annette in the summer of 1993 and has been happily married, ever since. Three teenage sons keep them both busy. Nathan, Nic and Noah are his pride and joy. They have an English Mastiff named Xander, who is a big part of their lives.

D.A. loves to camp, hunt, fish, hike and Geocache. He also enjoys old-school pen and paper role-playing games. When not writing or on duty as a Corrections Officer, he enjoys spending time with his family. A good cup of coffee, a warm fire and a good book are his guilty pleasures.