IndieReads: When did you start writing?
William Todd Rose: I started seriously writing when I was in the ninth grade or so. I’d always had an interest in it and loved creating stories for class projects and what have you, but I’d never really considered it anything more than just something I did for fun. Then I began to realize that other people enjoyed reading what I wrote as much as I enjoyed creating it and threw myself into it with sheer abandon. By the time I was in my sophmore year of high school, I’d completed two novels and represented my school in various writing contests. What’s funny though is that I struggled for years to get published and then, after my first acceptance in my early twenties, I simply quit writing all together. I put down the pen and didn’t take it up again for over fifteen years. So I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for.
IR: Are you self published or did you use an independent publisher?
WTR: Both. I initially started off self publishing, but a few of my works caught the eye of some indie presses. Living Dead Press picked up my short story collection Sex in The Time of Zombies and Library of the Living Dead Press will soon be releasing The Dead & Dying. In addition to this, the expanded second edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People should be available from Permuted Press later in the year.
IR: What genre do you write in the most?
WTR: I try not to limit myself to a single genre, preferring the broader term “speculative fiction”. That being said, most of my work is pretty dark. There are elements of horror and scifi, but it’s also tinged now and then with somewhat surreal passages.
IR: What is it about that genre that attracts you?
WTR: As far as speculative fiction goes, I look the openess of it. I’m just as much into cyberpunk and scifi as I am horror and the apocalypse and I like the freedom of being able to write about whatever subject catches my attention.
IR: How many books have you published?
WTR: Counting ebooks and novellas, eight. As I mentioned earlier, however, two of them won’t be available until later this year.
IR: Which one should people start with?
WTR: Normally, I would suggest The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People, but the second edition won’t be out for a while. So I suppose it would really depend on what you’re into. If you like zombies, then you should definitely check out Sex in The Time of Zombies, which is an exploration of the roles sex and sexuality might play in an undead uprising. If you like your apocalypse zombie-free then Cry Havoc or Apocalyptic Organ Grinder. And Shut the Fuck Up and Die! would be for anyone who might like a brutal, grindhouse inspired tale.
IR: What was the prime motivation in publishing your work through independent channels?
WTR: Freedom. When I decided to self publish Shadow of the Woodpile, I liked the idea of having full creative control over the project. With that book, I was trying to blend the horror genre with the narrative style of 50s Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. I definitely didn’t want someone telling me I couldn’t use a run on sentence or that many conjunctions. It was stream of consciousness stuff that I just wanted to flow with.
IR: What were your early experiences like?
WTR: All in all, they were pretty good. I may have been a bit naive going into self publishing and not realized at first exactly how much work is involved. But it’s definitely worth it.
IR: What did the process teach you?
WTR: Not to give up. To believe in yourself and your work. And that the old adage “measure twice, cut once” can also apply to the book publishing world as well.
IR: Have you seen a change in the independent publishing community?
WTR: I definitely feel the community is becoming more cohesive and that, as a whole, our voices are getting louder. More and more people are starting to take notice. And that’s what I really want to see … a change in the reading community. There’s so much talent out there that most people will never hear about because they stick with “brand names”. And it’s not entirely their fault. For a long time, the indie author has gotten an unfair rep. We’ve been called everything from vanity writers to hacks and it’s sometimes implied that we self-publish only because no one else is willing to publish us. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Writing is the only medium I can think of where the independent artist is , by many, disdained. Indie filmmakers and indie bands are both held in high esteem, so why isn’t that same courtesy extended to authors? After all, I can’t imagine anyone calling Tarantino a “vanity director”.
IR: Do you read other independently published authors works?
WTR: It’s really about all I read anymore, other than the books which inspired me to write to begin with and never get old no matter how many times I read
IR: Any favorites you would like to plug?
WTR: Where to start? David Dunwoody, Tonia Brown, Carl Hose, Eric S. Brown, Jonathan Moon, Timothy Long, Rhiannon Frater, David Moody . . . I could just keep going and going, so feel free to stop me at anytime.
IR: Where are you most likely to purchase indie works?
WTR: The internet mostly. It’s harder to find indie works in brick in mortar stores, at least where I live. My wife and I have actually discussed, at some point down the road, opening a small bookstore that only stocks indie authors. No bestsellers, no pablum. Just pure, creative goodness.
IR: Where can people find your books and which source has been the must successful for you?
WTR: Right now, my books can be found at most online retailers and e-books also available at Smashwords. Smashwords, in particular, has been really good to me. It’s a great vehicle for getting your work into the hands of people who’ve never heard of you. I like to release freebies every so often and Smashwords is perfect for that. Sex in the Time of Zombies actually started out as a free download before it caught the attention of Living Dead Press and right now I’m offering Apocalyptic Organ Grinder for free as well. Not only have I picked up new fans through that venue, but a few of them have turned out to be really good friends as well. So it’s a win-win, no matter how you look at it.
IR: Do you have books in print? Where can we find them? What was that experience like?
IR: Do you have any advice for some one who would like to be an Indie author or publisher?
WTR: Don’t underestimate the power of networking with other indie writers. They’re a great bunch of people and, as a general rule, are usually more than willing to give advice to those who are newer to the game. When I went to my first convention as a vendor, David Dunwoody and Machina, in particular, were godsends. They helped explain the ropes to me, what I could expect from the convention goers, marketing techniques, that sort of thing. We can all benefit from one another’s experiences and that not only builds a strong community, but stronger writers as well.
IR: Do you do your own cover art or do you have some one do it for you?
WTR: When I self publish, I do my own art. That ties in with what I was saying about full creative control. I want everything — from the story itself to the formatting to the cover — to be a unified piece of art. It also helps keep me focused. If I reach a part of the plot where I need to think things through, I’ll pull up Photoshop and work on the cover while I turn things over in my head.
IR: Do you have any new works coming out soon that you can tell us about?
WTR: Very, very soon I have The Dead & Dying coming out from Library of the Living Dead Press. I kind of consider this to be an existential zombie novel. Like the majority of my undead themed work, the story isn’t so much about the zombies as it is the people who find their worlds turned upside down and are just struggling to survive. Later in the year, will see the re-release of The 7 Habits of Highly Infectivge People, which is a tale of contagion, drugs, time travel, and the living dead. Further down the road, I’ll be releasing a print version of Shut the Fuck Up and Die! and I’ve also got three or four other books I’m currently working on, but none of them are close enough to completion yet to really count.
IR: Is there anything you would like to share?
WTR: Links to all my work, including free fiction are available on my website, www.williamtoddrose.com I’m also on Facebook and love hearing from my readers, so feel free to hit me up with a friend request and drop me a line.
William Todd Rose is a speculative fiction author currently residing in Parkersburg, West Virginia. His short works have appeared in a various magazines and anthologies, as well as having been featured on several podcasts. To date, his full length novels include the experimental horror novella “Shadow of the Woodpile”, the apocalyptic thriller “Cry Havoc”, and “The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People: A Novel of Contagion, Drugs, Time Travel, & the Living Dead”. A second, expanded edition of “The 7 Habits” will be released in 2011 by Permuted Press as well as the Library of the Living Dead Press publication of his novel “The Dead & Dying”.