Dave McCluskey recently sent us a copy of his novel to read and we were lucky enough to get a chance to interview him as well! Check out Dave’s review below of Z: A Love Story and then the interview where McCluskey and I chat about his influences and what he’s currently reading!
What happens when a man finds the woman of his dreams in a world of nightmares?
Kevin keeps to himself mostly. He has a good job, a nice flat, and a quiet life. Of course, it is not perfect. He finds this existence lonely and longs for companionship. Enter Rachael, a co-worker with a history of failed office “relationships.” One day, Kevin gets the courage to ask Rachael out for drinks, which she surprisingly agrees to. Is this the start of a beautiful, budding love affair; or will it end in tragedy?
Across the Atlantic, a government accidentally unleashes a virus on the world. Unable to be contained, this virus spreads quickly soon becoming a pandemic. With a cure unavailable, civilization is threatened with extinction.
Z: A Love Story is a zombie story that reminds the reader of movies like Sean of the Dead. The dramatic irony is strong in this story as our main characters are unaware of the existential crisis that has begun 4000 miles away. Even when it lands on the shores of their own country, our lovers know only of their budding relationship. The awkwardness of starting new relationships is clearly depicted, making readers possibly relive some of their own personal experiences, reminding them what it was like at the beginning.
The transformation of the infected is covered and described in great detail for those zombie fans out there. From the accidental Patient Zero to the last person introduced to the contagion, the progression of the virus is relayed in all of its zombification glory. The disease is tracked from its beginning to end, all with the lovers unaware of the world crumbling around them. Once the characters make the grizzly discovery of what is happening, important choices have to be made. Sometimes the most difficult of choices are the easiest to make for love.
Horror Bound highly recommends checking out this love story set within a zombie apocalypse environment. Fresh, original, and a lot of fun!
What was the main inspiration behind the story?
The inspiration behind this story was…in my back catalogue I wrote and produced two comics called Interesting Tymes. These are anthologies of short horror stories, but the difference is, that they are written from children, AND they are written in rhyme. Well, one of the first stories in the anthology is a Christmas tale called The Good Behaviour Act. Its all about what happened to you if you get on Santa’s Naughty List (not a place you want to be if you want to make it to Boxing Day). Anyway, there used to be a delightful e-zine called Underneath the Juniper Tree that was a macabre publication, but aimed at children (in a nice way). I sent the tale off to them and they loved it… publishing it in their Christmas edition as the main piece.
Then they asked me if I had anything for Valentines Day!!!
I didn’t… so I wrote Z: A Love Story as a rhyme (or The Ballad of Bernard and Sue) and sent it to them. Once again, they loved it, and wanted to use it a center piece for their Valentines Day edition. Only, it never happened. The publication folded and it was never used. So, I scripted it and got it drawn up and put it in Interesting Tymes X 2… There it was, done and dusted.
About eighteen moths ago I got involved in a group on Facebook called Good Morning Zompoc, they do podcasts and interviews and stuff. They were doing a ‘Flash Fiction Fortnight’ where they asked authors they knew to write and record themselves reading their tales…so I dusted this story out.
Everyone loved the fact that it rhymed but was also a great zombie story…so I decided to flesh (excuse the pun) it out a bit. And that is where Z: A Love Story the novel comes from…
I think I need a drink after all that… but you did ask!!!
How did it feel tackling the zombie genre, a very well covered genre, with your own unique story?
Zombies are always fun to write. But, they can be a bit depressing. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of The Walking Dead, or Day of the Dead, good as they are. I wanted a bit of fun. I love Sean of the Dead and Zombieland, and I wanted to bring something like that into my book. Other books either take the depressing route, or the ridiculous route (falling in love with Zombies and stuff), I wanted to show something nice, something that would probably happen to me… fall in love for the first time and the whole world goes to Hell… Literally!!!
What's your favorite genre to read outside of horror?
I read anything… I love sci-fi, mystery, thrillers… I have even read 50 Shades of Grey!!! (I hated almost every word of it… but I wanted to write a romance/erotica story [to prove to my sister I could] and I needed to know how they went. Its probably not something I’ll go back to.)
I also love anything to do with serial killers, Fred and Rose West are a passion of mine (only reading about them, honest). Also anything historical… I hate history in school… can’t get enough of it now!!! Odd eh?
Do you watch horror movies, if so what are your favs?
Love Horror movies.
My all time favorite is The Blair Witch Project. I love the fact that we have to use our own imagination to get to the bad guy. I hate anything where BIG BAD is too obvious and sloppy. I hate the fact that a lot of horror these days is written for jump scares and very little is thought about the actual story.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading Stephen King’s The Outsider (you can check out Horror Bound’s review here)… I almost never. Just recently, King’s books have been awful. Revival was quite possibly the worst book I have ever read, and Sleeping Beauties was a half decent novella wrapped up in nearly 1000 words. So I wasn’t going to read it, BUT… this one is almost classic King.
Mostly I read indie authors these days… I like stories where a publisher has had minimal to none impact on the story. They think they know what the public want… they are just as bad as film producers these days. Its all about ‘MARKETS’ and stuff, and not about the story.
We love to promote indie horror authors at Horror Bound. Is there any authors you'd like to give a shout out to? Maybe some that don't get the recognition they deserve?
One of my faves is a guy I know called Ian McKinney… he has written three books called Scouse Gothic. It’s about a Liverpudlian vampire, there are three brilliant stories and they all merge towards the end. The three books are all continuations of each other. They are not all horror, but there is definitely horror in them.
What's next? Anything you can tease?
My next project is tinged a little in sadness. It's a collaboration called The Contract. Its a supernatural cat and mouse FBI tale about a serial killer. The reason it is tinged in sadness is because, rather unexpectedly and tragically, my partner in the story has very recently died. A lovely guy called C William Giles. He has a number of books out, most recently an anthology simply called BLACK.
The book is almost ready to go and it breaks my heart that he won’t get to the see the final version.
We had fleshed this out to be a trilogy… but the story hold well on its own, although I think that I will finish the series, with his name proudly emblazoned on the front.
Other than that I have a historical, sci-fi thriller based on the Jack the Ripper murders.
And I just finishing a comedy/grindhouse project called… ahem… here goes:
Mutant Superhero Zombie-Killing Disco Cheerleaders from Outer Space (with Uzis)
You can check out all of Dave’s books HERE
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