Interview – Javan Bonds – Still Alive Series

Book Name and Description:

The Still Alive Series is a Zompoc series with a slight humorous tilt following southern boy Mo Collins and his band of survivors as they fight off hordes of blue naked yellow-eyed infected former humans that are now monsters called “peevies” who are hell bent on biting or eating them. Not to mention the standard villains, dictators and crazed maniacs that appears in almost every post-apocalyptic story trying their best to kill or enslave them. There’s all this plus they live on a pirate ship.  Fun Times!

Book One- Zombie Lake

Book Two – Zombie Island

Book Three – Zombies On A Plane

Book Four – Zombie Oasis

Book Five – Zombie River Run

Book Six (Soon To be released) – Zombie Paradise Lost

Free State Of Dodgeis the first in a dystopian trilogy about an America in decline and the people willing to fight for what it once stood for.

Interview Questions:

What gave you the idea for the Still Aliveseries?

Mark Tufo’s Zombie Falloutseries was my original inspiration. When I decided to write a novel styled as a journal after the zombie apocalypse, I just had to figure out where I wanted it to be. Just a few miles from where I grew up, Guntersville, Alabama was the perfect backdrop. My zombies are deathly afraid of water, so the lake around that city was a great tool. Also, the Columbus caravels travel through Guntersville every so often and I felt that they would be a great castle to defend.

What got you into writing in this genre?

I started writing my first novel, Free State of Dodge, a prepper book, in 2010. Once I finished with it, I just couldn’t keep the ideas from flowing out of my head. I would always mentally critique every book I read or think of ways I could write an enjoyable story. After just a short trip into the genre, I took my first steps and started writing Zombie Lakein 2013.

How long have you been writing?

I started my first book in 2010, shortly after going blind. Unable to watch TV, movies, play video games, or enjoy basically any kind of entertainment, audio books were my only escape. After a few months of listening to 3 to 4 books a week, my dad came to me and said “You’ve been listening to all these books; you probably have your own story in your head.” Thinking about it, I smiled. “Yeah, I do.” He said “Then write it!” And so I did.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

My original story, Free State of Dodge, takes place in a fictional Alabama and the fictional town of Dodge. A bloated, deceitful federal government takes part in a national collapse and huge cover-up. The conspiracy is uncovered by a boy thrust in the middle of it, and he just so happens to be from Dodge. The independent-minded Americans of the town stand up against a faux National Guard unit sent to keep order in the town. As the locals are fighting for their survival, a nation is born.

The Still Aliveseries follows Mo Collins, an underachieving loser from Douglas, Alabama that got a job on a replica pirate ship, the Viva Ancora. Traveling the inland river system, he coincidentally happens to be just a few miles from his hometown when the zombie plague strikes. He plans to live on the boat with his sole surviving shipmate until they die. Upon coming across another survivor that turns out to be more than just a survivor, everything changes. Soon, Mo begins a quest to save his parents and the love of his life, recruits the cast of every zombie story, defeat an obligatory antagonist, and create a safe haven for survivors.

Once the island is safe, he and Smokes fly to Birmingham, Alabama to rescue his brother, Easy. On the return trip with his rescued sibling, a group of insane, former military villains attack the island, meaning Mo again has to act.

Everything is settled and it appears the main protagonists can relax when rumors of a cure reach them. They are then tasked with traveling down the river to the ocean in search of the supposed antidote.

Simultaneously, something bad is happening back in Guntersville. Things start coming to a boil at the end of the fifth book. Only the Screenwriter knows what will happen in future titles.

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I suffer from Friedrichs Ataxia, a form of muscular dystrophy. It rendered me wheelchair-bound by the age of thirteen, diabetic, suffering from congestive heart failure, legally blind, and functionally deaf.

I am able to hear Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a speech to type program, in a quiet room using a headset. Being blind makes the writing process beyond tedious and I’ve been told watching me right is as painful as watching paint dry. What I do maybe painstaking, but I’ve been able to publish six novels since May, 2016.

Besides just Tufo, I am influenced greatly by writers like Shawn Chesser, John O’Brien, and David Simpson. I list quite a few of my influences somewhere in the body of book 2, Zombie Island.

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?

It’s hard to narrow that one down. Even to the Zompoc genre. I must say that, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypseby Shawn Chesser has to be one of my current favorites because I’m slowly but surely trying to get through that series.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I am proud to say I’m turning into more of a grammar Nazi as I write. The more books I release, the more anal I get. This is all thanks to Sheila Shedd, the teacher that gave me my first lessons on wielding the weapon that is the English language.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?        

At least for me, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Even if it were possible for me to write traditionally, I don’t know if I could do it without dictating.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

David Simpson, the Best-selling author of the Zombie Roadseries, once told me “any publicity is good publicity.” I found that to be true. Book signings usually wind up being disappointments, but don’t get discouraged. You may only sell a fraction of your books, but more people heard your name. It’s a good thing in the long run.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

It’s impossible for me to use Twitter, a blog, or promote in person. Though it’s possible, it’s difficult to interact over Facebook groups. I love talking to readers and people that enjoy my books, but pretty much the only way I can do it is over private messaging. Direct marketing works best. Not spam or some kind of mass marketing. I like getting one on one with people in the community. Hearing people tell me why my story is not the typical, run-of-the-mill zombie fiction keeps me going.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I would have to say the third book in the series, Zombies on a Plane. Some of the scenes in that book made me laugh just thinking about them. Mark Tufo called the book “damn funny” in his foreword.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

You have to start the series at the beginning, Zombie Lake. The action and the humor of subsequent books are great, but you’ve got to start at the beginning to being introduced to the peevies.

My zombies, peevies, are not the classical reanimated shamblers of your average zombie book. They are blue skinned; yellow-eyed, completely naked living infected that shit constantly. To fully appreciate the malevolent nastiness of peevies, you’ve got to start where they do.

What are you doing next?

I just released book 5, Zombie River Run, and am working on book 6, Zombie Paradise Lost. The audio book version ofZombie Lakeshould be released sometime in April. Soon after book 6, you can expect book 7, Zombie Deliverance. But don’t worry, there isn’t an end in sight as of yet.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Stay apolitical. No matter what you believe, don’t get bogged down in arguments over issues that your Facebook fights are not going to solve. You are a writer, not a pundit.

bio:

Javan Bonds is the Amazon Best Selling author of the zompoc series, Still Alive: Book One – Zombie Lake, Book Two – Zombie Island, Book Three – Zombies on a Plane, Book Four – Zombie Oasis and now Book Five – Zombie River Run.

The Still Alive series follows a group of survivors in a small southern town as they try to keep their wits about them and make a new life in a world over run by naked, nocturnal, shit spewing, yellow eyed, blue skinned zombies, called peevies, intent on chomping on them to infect or devour every last piece of flesh on their bones. Fun times!?! Think Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and WWZ just better.

Bonds has had to overcome numerous obstacles in writing as well as living his daily life. Diagnosed at the age of 11 with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), (a progressively degenerative neuromuscular disease under the umbrella of the Muscular Dystrophy Association), he has slowly been robbed of his physical abilities through the years. Bonds became wheelchair bound in 1999 but that was only the beginning of his setbacks. His sight began to diminish in 2010 to the point he is now legally blind and his hearing began failing to the point he now can’t hear individual voices in a noisy room. In spite of all of this he continues to work on his future novels with the help of his parents and a great group of beta readers.

Bonds never letting his disability rule him has lived, loved, and laughed often.

Reading and writing has long provided Bonds with both pleasure and a creative outlet. He began blogging at a very young age and has written articles and letters for the local newspaper. In 2010, he discovered a passion for writing novels and with help of Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking he continues to write every day.

In late 2015 at only 28 years old Bonds was told he may have only a short time left due to the ravages of FA on his heart. After learning this he has been hard at work to complete his other novels and have them finished before his time in this world runs out.

In mid 2016 Bonds published his first novel FREE STATE OF DODGE, the first book in a dystopian series about America in decline and its rebirth.

Javan has these words of wisdom to offer for others stricken by a life shortening illness:

“Live your life. Light your candle on both ends and let it burn. It may burn out faster but your flame will burn brighter than some who live much longer”

Bonds hopes you enjoy the Still Alive series, which he plans on writing more installments in 2018.

Keep an eye on his flame, watch it burn!

Links:

Zombie Lake: goo.gl/aBDNeh

Zombie Island: goo.gl/m74nwX

Zombies on a Plane: goo.gl/Eni1Au

Zombie Oasis: goo.gl/uTS8Sp

Zombie River Run: goo.gl/qht19N

Free State of Dodge: Free State of Dodge:goo.gl/oVuSfW

STILL ALIVE SERIES: goo.gl/eFBqvh