Today I’d like to welcome Devan Sagliani to the Land of Illustrious Peeps!
Venice Beach! Have you run into any of the dark horde there?
I haven’t seen any zombies yet but I’ve had my fair share of encounters with monsters here. Venice has gotten really dark in the last few years, crime has spiked, and no one seems to care all that much about fixing it. It’s like all the crazies seem to land here. I use a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright to open my new book Undead L.A. 1. “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” What he doesn’t tell you is that they land in Venice Beach.
We get shoot outs, stabbings, crazy homeless ax murderers, people driving over pedestrians on the boardwalk, serial rapists and chainsaw killers. One week some disgruntled homeless guy is setting everyone’s street on fire, the next a mentally ill man who has escaped from the psych ward carjacks someone and drives two States down from Washington onto the beach a block from my apartment, threatening to kill himself on national television. We even had a mass shooting in nearby Santa Monica this year. I’m convinced it’s just a matter of time until the zombie outbreak happens here. I’ve already got a plan too. I reveal a little bit of it in the last story of Undead L.A. 1, Dogtown Locals Union.
Knowing that we’re both social media users, have you developed any useful techniques for extending your audience? Does one channel work better for you than another?
I have built wonderful relationships with people on Twitter and Facebook, but I believe Twitter works better for me. It’s unbelievable that this simple program has allowed me to meet all these amazing people from all over the world. It’s why I love technology, being able to connect with people just like me I would never have met before. What’s worked really well for me is seeking out other zombie fans and starting conversations with them. People don’t realize that it’s not a complicated formula for growing their social media. All you have to do is be yourself and update regularly. I’m online so much anyway it’s not all that difficult. Plus I love meeting new people, especially zombie fans. I honestly believe they are the greatest people in the world.
How long have you been writing, and has it always been horror?
I’ve been writing my whole life, since as early as I can remember. It’s funny because I went through my stuff recently, baby books and stuff, and I found a written entry explaining how the birthday money I got when I was five went to buy a toy typewriter I insisted on getting. I wrote my first short story in 3rd grade. It was a horror story about a guy on an island getting stalked and killed by some unknown monster. From what I recall my teacher wasn’t all that happy about it either. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a parent-teacher conference over it. I should have known then I would write horror novels one day.
I’d like to think I can write in other genres, that eventually I might write a romantic comedy script or a crime novel. Sometimes I think I might even go back to writing more literary fiction like I did when I first started trying to build a name. I used to be obsessed with outlaw fiction, stuff like Chuck Palahniuk and Harry Crews and Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson wrote. All my early work was aimed at creating those kinds of raw, gritty stories with despicable and unforgettable characters.
It’s when I first started getting published and how I got nominated for the Million Writer’s Award and the Pushcart Prize. Ultimately I needed more. I wanted to go further, to go much darker but at the same time put more emphasis on storytelling than character alone. I put out a handful of them in a collection called A Thirst For Fire that’s available on Amazon now.
The truth is for right now I just love horror and I am having way too much fun with it.
What weapon would you prefer: a sharpened surfboard or an MP-5?
A surfboard isn’t much of a weapon, sharpened or not. After you’ve run down a few kooks in the break who’ve dropped in with no warning you learn just how easily those things snap. I’ve broken a couple just wiping out in heavy surf as well. So definitely the MP-5.
Truth be told I’d rather rely on something sharp and strong that doesn’t need reloading. (My kind of guy!) If I absolutely have to choose between one or the other I’d take two machetes to one MP-5 in almost any situation.
Where do you hope to end up (as an author) in the next ten years?
When I close my eyes and dream of the future I see what I imagine any working writer fantasizes about, mainly a comfortable level of commercial success and a dedicated readership. In my heart of hearts I fantasize about becoming a wildly popular bestselling author whose name is recognized all over the world, as I’m sure most writers do, but I’d gladly settle for being able to make enough to keep doing this for a living full time.
My goal for the moment is just to write out all the novels that I have planned in my head. I’ve got the next four or five books already decided and at least basic outlines for all of them. I get up every day and try to write at least 2,000 words like Stephen King suggests in On Writing. I want to be sure to get my next 3 books edited and published by or before next summer.
Have you got an upcoming project that you’re excited about?
I’m working on the sequel to Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde for Permuted Press right now and I am really getting into it. I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses from friends and readers and critics and even family members about book one. I’ve known what I wanted to do with book two since I had the original idea for the series but now that I’m actually devoting all my energies to it I am having so much fun. It keeps changing and getting more intense. It’s going to be longer too, for sure. It’s funny because there are limitation involved with writing Young Adult fiction but by the same token you can also play around a lot more. Some of the highlights of book two so far include a circus full of deranged zombie clowns, a brothel in the middle of a outlaw biker paradise, and a Ghost Town theme park full of actors trying to recreate the Wild West. I can’t wait to finish the 1st draft and show it to my editor.
What advice do you have for up and coming writers?
Take time to learn your craft and then treat it like a job you love doing. Read as much as you can, and write on a daily basis if at all possible. Don’t get discouraged by bad reviews. Instead see if you can use any of what was said to improve your writing, then let it go. And don’t compare your successes to the successes of other writers, especially more established ones that have been doing it longer than you.
That’s the fastest way to drive yourself crazy. Instead try to give yourself time to grow as a writer, to develop your own unique voice. Find a good friend who reads fast and will give you good edit advice.
Hire an editor before you submit or self-publish.
Have you read anything by another author that has given you a serious case of the chills?
I can remember when I was in college reading The Witching Hour by Anne Rice and not being able to sleep. That may sound silly but I was so invested in the world she’d spun and totally freaked out I couldn’t close my eyes for fear of being attacked by evil spirits. I’ve had similar experiences reading any number of Clive Barker novels back in my teens. I’ve found as I get older that it’s getting harder to freak me out like that. Then again after some of the stuff I’ve been writing the last two years I’ve become really desensitized.
You can find Devan Sagliani all over the place, but I’d recommend:
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