Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Post | WEIRD THOUGHTS (Or, Where the Spooky Stuff Comes From) by Jonathan Maberry

I'm very excited to welcome Jonathan Maberry to Book Den today!

Writers are a little weird.

This is a news flash to no one.

I’m not a composer, choreographer or painter, so I can only speak from the perspective of a storyteller, but I know that I’m weird. And I’m very cool with that. It’s the way I am, the way I think. To me it would be weird to think differently than the way I do. I tried it a few times, when I was trapped in the 9-5 grind of corporate America. I have friends who love that world, who crave it. I hated it.

I know that a lot of the folks who read this blog are readers rather than writers, so I wanted to visit the Book Den and talk about little about how the books you read get written.

For a lot of writers, it started when the voices in our heads start talking. My novel, DEAD OF NIGHT, was like that. One day I in an airport waiting for a plane, heading from one leg of a book tour to another. As I sat there, people started talking in my head. Characters. I didn’t yet know who they were or what they were talking about. But they were definitely talking.

Understand something…if you’re NOT a writer, then this is pretty much a cry for help, and maybe a good time to break out the Thorazine. However if you ARE a writer, this is a typical day on the job. It’s something you hope for.

So, while my characters chatted, I broke out my notebook and started writing it all down. It turns out that a bad-tempered female redneck cop from rural Pennsylvania was having an argument with her liberal news reporter ex-boyfriend. They were having this argument at an incredibly inopportune and inappropriate time (zombies were closing in on all sides). I had no idea what story they belonged to, but the argument was intense and it was real and I wrote every word of it down.

Later, I eavesdropped on a couple of other conversations the lady cop –I found out that her name was Desdemona Fox, known as ‘Dez’—was having with her ex-boyfriend (Billy Trout) and her long-suffering partner (JT Hammond). By the time my flight landed I had three or four of these short conversations recorded in my notebook. Over the next few days I started getting fragments of the circumstances in which Dez, JT and Billy found themselves.

After I got back from that part of my tour, I sat down and began organizing these notes into some kind of a story. As often happens, there was a lot of story there, sewn through the fabric of those conversations. I mapped it out, filled in the blanks, and outlined the research I’d have to do to transform the idea into a novel.

I pitched it to my agent and she sold it to St. Martin’s Griffin as DEAD OF NIGHT. It became the tenth novel that I’d written since 2005. I’m now writing my thirteenth.

The only one of these books that didn’t start with me eavesdropping on the voices in my head was THE WOLFMAN, which was adapted from a screenplay.

I already hear the voices for my next book. And I’ve jotted down conversations and scene fragments for books that don’t yet have a name and haven’t yet become clear in my head.

So…the voices in my head? Yeah, they’re friends. Every writer has friends like them. You’ve probably caught a glimpse of a writer sitting, not typing or writing, just sitting there with his head cocked, a bemused expression on his face. Haven’t you ever wondered who he’s listening to?

What we writers all hope is that while reading the stories we write, you’ll catch a whisper of those voices. And that those characters will be as real to you as they are to us.

-Jonathan Maberry

DEAD OF NIGHT –a Zombie Novel by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin) is available in print, for your e-reader and on audio (read by William Dufris).

DEAD OF NIGHT: Amazon | Kindle | BN | Audible | View Trailer | Bonus Scenes

Thank you so much for sharing your weird thoughts, Jonathan!


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  1. I don't think you're weird at all Jonathan! I loved this post and reading how your characters came to life.

  2. Great post! I'm reading Rot & Ruin in a few days for zombie months!

    Xpresso Reads

  3. Excellent post! I can totally relate. Thank God we have an excuse. Haha.

  4. I LOOOVE Jonathan Maberry!!! I need to read Dead of Night... I suck for not having grabbed it yet, because Jonathan ROCKS my face off!

  5. Amazing post. And so... Well, so familiar. The voices. The hope that we'll hear them, that they won't shut up when we need them most.

    Thanks for sharing! I need to read Dead of Night now.

    Ron @ Stories of my life


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