As an author, hold that thought while I have a little chuckle about calling myself an author. While I have written a few books, it’s still a strange to refer to myself as an author.
Enough of that shit, we’re here to look at the Up From the Depths series and understand why it just had to be written. The first book ended up being torn, shredded. mutilated, bent, folded, stapled, and chewed up into 6 books. It started out as a book. It’s a series now but it was just one book to start out with.
Maybe you’ve heard of the series?
When I first started writing, and now you’re thinking, holy shit, this guy is going to go on about his first memories of writing something like from kindergarten. I won’t unless someone really wants to hear about the first thing I ever wrote.
Seriously, I never set out to write a novel let alone a series. Like some other authors, I set out to write a novel about survival in an apocalyptic world. And zombies. Maybe that last part isn’t what all authors set out to do but I did, so there. And there’s zombies.
When I started writing Up From the Depths it was pretty raw. The core storyline was a detachment of Navy SEALs on an aging Ohio class ballistic SSBN testing out deployment methods. That was it, the whole plot. I can remember the idea hitting me like a Mack truck on an icy, downhill road with no brakes.
Too much of a visual?
I’ll tone it down some.
Years ago, like almost ancient history, we harken back to a time of no cell phones, no smart phones, no streaming video and Amazon wasn’t even thought of. This was shortly after the dinosaurs had died off and man was still wandering out of the primordial ooze. This was the days of drive-ins, Atari, Coleco, and Pac-Man. Way back in that time frame, I can remember watching some black and white film titled Night of the Living Dead. I had never watched something like that before and found it somewhat entertaining.
Years later, I watched it again but this time, I was older but probably not all that much more wiser. It was a boring night, I was in the military and we were having a training holiday. Those of you that are prior service know about these days. There was literally no one on post and here I was pulling duty. It happens. So I ended up watching the original Night again followed by Dawn of the Dead and then the remakes for both and started thinking about it. Interesting concept. Zombies, a joint police and military response, survivors, shopping malls, biker gangs, etc. Pretty much what every apocalyptic story needs. And there was plenty of raspberry meatloaf.
Years after that event I was now out of the military and in the real world. Didn’t really think back to those films at all. Then one day, about 2004, I saw the remake of Dawn and realized after watching the opening montage that there were several stories to be told just from that 4+ minute scene. That got me thinking, never a good thing as some will attest to, that I could write a zombie novel. That leads us to the original version of Up From the Depths.
Why did I feel I needed to write this novel? I ask myself that still today. After watching the remake of Dawn, I started writing the outline for what was to become the series that it is today. Of course, I had no idea it was a series then, it was just words and plots and characters, some raspberry meatloaf, automatic weapons, preppers, hot chicks, fast cars, and snappy dialogue.
Then something happened. I started talking to another author in the genre and he pointed me towards a review site that focused on reviewing zombie apocalypse novels or zompoc. This connected me to more authors and their works and eventually led me to several zombie film and book fan sites including the now name changed former Zombiefiend.com. Over the course of reading and watching these works, I was referred to a site that did nothing but review that genre, how awesome is that? Connecting with that site’s owner and manager, I was then exposed to some really good books and some truly awful books. It’s a bit of hit and miss when it comes to the zombie genre, in fact, any genre for that matter. Some authors write well and some are just Oh My God awful, that’s true for all genres.
Then there’s the hype for some books and authors that is just way overdone. I recall one book series that I had heard a lot about and when I was finally able to read it, I couldn’t believe just how poorly written it was and how bad the plot was. There were so many plot holes and cardboard cut-out characters that it was a cliché and stereotypical ridden load of shit. If it was made into a film it wouldn’t even be a B-movie. It would be lucky to make it to a Direct to Video release and even then it would be pure fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000.
After being subjected to some truly awful novels and equally horrible films, I made the decision to go back and write a novel that didn’t have those issues. Yeah, like I could do that? Away I went, reviewing my notes from years prior and then banging away on the keyboard to create what I thought, and what I’m sure all author’s think, was a masterpiece.
It’s a piece all right. A piece of sh*t (you can fill in the blank)
Months went by. Years went by. Several years went by. Like 10 years ( I have, and still do have, a busy schedule) before the day came that I finished the novel. Yes, the novel not the series it is today. The novel was over 800 pages in length, a true coffee table book. Or a doorstop depending on how you look at it. I gazed lovingly at it, amazed that I had made such a huge pile of shit. But, like a new parent, overlooked the obvious problems. Like that third eye in the middle of the forehead or those millipede legs, and decided that this was the novel that would solve what I had perceived to be what others had left out.
Reality hit soon afterward. What I mean is if I were to convert that steaming pile of excrement into an ebook it would be like War and Peace Volume 1. Huge, encompassing, gigantic, and dare I even say it? Potentially epic? Once I realized that no one would want to download a novel of that size, I broke the book into 3 sections, a trilogy. That trilogy was still too large once converted to e-format. That led to breaking the book into smaller, more easily digested sections that led to 6 books. But, that also meant I now had to fill in the gaps to make sure that each book was approximately the same length and that each group of survivors had ‘face’ time. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Up From the Depths has no real Main Character. Oh no, that’s just too blasé. Anyone can make a Main Character. There’s an ensemble cast that comprise the core element of main characters. That’s plural, characters. That means more than one main character.
After doing that, the whole break down into 6 books, fill in the gaps, etc, I started entertaining the idea that I could publish the series and people would actually pay money to read it. I self published the first book in the summer of 2013. It had some good reviews. Something happened shortly after that. Several reviewers and authors I knew started telling me that I should find a publisher and get that series out there. What was I thinking? Apparently, I had created something that the masses would read and might even enjoy. That led me to search out publishers of the genre and eventually to Permuted Press. Jacob Kier was still in charge at that time and he looked over the manuscript. He liked it enough to let me know he was interested but held off on accepting it as Permuted was in the process of changing ownership.
Shortly after that change, I re-submitted the manuscript and it was accepted. Alas, things were not all that good with the new owners of Permuted. They were adding in services, cutting others and doing some strange things. Basically, Permuted was doing some kind of massive ‘reorganization’ but they wanted my books. They even sent me a contract and I was like, wow, that was easier than I thought.
Then, in January of 2015, I was contacted by the new owners of Permuted and told that there were changes coming. By February of that same year, I was notified that I was being released from my contract and Permuted was no longer interested in publishing my series. The world did not end. Sure, I was disappointed. Permuted Press had, for years, been the premiere small press for apocalyptic fiction and zombies in general.
Shortly after Permuted sent me the paperwork releasing me from their contract, I was contacted by another publisher who had seen my blog post about what Permuted was doing. You can find that post here:
This new publisher was very interested in my work. In fact, they were so interested they offered a decent advance and an ‘escape’ clause that if my books didn’t hit the top 100 for their genre in 6 months; I’d be able to get out of the contract and keep the edited manuscript and the cover art.
It was tempting for sure.
But, maybe I was egocentric or just a little soured on publishers so I declined their offer. I’m still hesitant to this day to sign on with a publisher. There are good publishers and bad publishers and I just don’t feel like finding out. My time is a bit more valuable then to waste it on searching for publishers who might take on my work or might not. That time can be better spent working on the series instead of taking hours out of my day doing searches for who might or might not be a good publisher.
Up From the Depths is currently published through a self-publishing outlet, Amazon KDP. There are pros and cons to self-publishing as there are pros and cons being signed by a publisher. Far too many horror stories out there about publishers and some of their tactics not to mention hidden clauses inside contracts that allow the publisher to retain rights for 70 years after the author’s death. To me, that’s wtf? Really?
Enough of me whining and bitching about publishers and attempting to justify why I self-publish. The basis for this topic was to tell what had to be told about Up From the Depths.
Remember, zombies, raspberry meatloaf, hot chicks and cow bell. All those ingredients are core to a good apocalyptic novel/series.