Friday, October 3, 2014

Taking a Break from my Ebola Paranoia to Remember this Awesome Review (warning: contains spoilers)

Book Review:
Michelle DePaepe
Permuted Press, 2012
By Andrew C Schlett
Editor, Rivethead Magazine

“…Less than a week ago, she had been working in an insurance office, daydreaming
about her Caribbean honeymoon plans with Mark. Now, she was effectively widowed,
holed up in a cabin with three strangers, wearing an oversized combat uniform and a
butch hairdo, holding a powerful rifle and mentally prepared to blow the fucking head off
of anything that tried to harm her. Life had truly changed on a dime.”

Welcome to the world of Cheryl Malone … survivor of nothing less than the
apocalyptic destruction of civilization as we know it by flesh-eating zombies. In this
just-released novel by author Michelle DePaepe, a new life is breathed into the zombie
genre through vivid imagery and DePaepe’s stunningly graphic depictions of the horrors
that Malone comes to face as her regular life is destroyed, replaced instead with an
unimaginably perilous new one. The author takes us along on Cheryl’s ride as the plague
spreads all around her, the days turn into weeks, and the world turns ever nastier as more
and more infected await in her path. At no time does DePaepe relent in the telling of this
tale or ease up at all on the throttle.
Set in Colorado and, as the story progresses, Arizona, we witness the devastation
that the zombies have wrought through Malone’s weary, bloodshot eyes. The author, a
longtime resident of Denver, uses her topographical and geographical familiarity of that
area to great advantage. She describes street corners in places like Golden, Idaho
Springs, or Silverthorne with precise accuracy but paints them as deserted, destroyed,
only the Eaters wandering about through the bodies and body parts that litter
pavement. Her attention to detail and her ability to draw pictures with words are
DePaepe’s most powerful tools in this far-reaching end-of-the-world scenario, and she
spares no gore along the way. The horror of zombie doomsday is made real on these
pages through flowing passages of well-composed literature so the entire effort comes
across as a smashingly blood-drenched success for this author and for everybody who
reads this book.
Besides writing a fascinating zombie novel, DePaepe has accomplished here an
almost unnoticed re-definition of the entire genre, if you will. Zombies have typically
been portrayed in a very George Romero Night of the Living Dead style, being slow and
cumbersome, not very agile or fast, and reasonably easy to elude. DePaepe’s zombies,
though, are quick. They are affected, yes, the skin hangs in gray flaps from their bodies,
their flesh is rotting away from their bones, they reek of total death, and they do walk or
run with a lurch, perhaps with their head hanging limply to one side. But they are fast
enough to chase living humans and reflexive enough to put up physical battle or traverse
distances in pursuit of prey. At times these zombies almost come across as somewhat
athletic. It should also be remarked upon that DePaepe has coined an entirely new name
for these creatures. They are always called zombies, or the Walking Dead, but in my
entire life of being a horror fan I have never heard them called ‘Eaters’ before. She even
goes so far as to offer a very believable 21st century explanation to the origins of this
widespread epidemic which turns regular people into flesh-gnawing fiends within days or
sometimes even hours or minutes. It’s a by-product of biological manipulation. She
explains that in Afghanistan, from where Malone’s fiancĂ© Mark had just returned, they
had done genetic engineering on dogs to make them sniff out cancer in patients – makes
sense, because cancer is rotten tissue anyway and the first sign of infection is to crave
rotten foods – and then somehow the virus jumped species and magnified its effect,
essentially killing people and then reanimating them into the living dead with an
insatiable hunger for human flesh.
Some of the more traditional well-known zombie lore is upheld in this work. The
best way to kill them is still a direct gunshot to the head, and they are like all other
zombies in that they are mindless dead things, stripped of any free will or intelligent
thought, simply the eating machines they’ve always been, but DePaepe’s twist on the old
familiar done-to-death format is a welcome and refreshing change.
DePaepe keeps everything real in this novel. Saying such a thing about zombie
fiction is in itself unreal, but once the reader accepts the premise that these creatures
exist, DePaepe makes it easy to keep rolling along with the narrative. Only at one point
in the story does she stretch believability, that when Aiden, a helpful stranger whom
Cheryl has befriended along the way, is pushing his out-of-gas Harley Davidson through
the burning midday Arizona desert for miles, but that’s only hard to believe because I
know how heavy motorcycles are and I know how hot the desert really is in Arizona.
Other than that, there is no time at which readers are likely to roll their eyes in disbelief.
Like any good horror novelist, DePaepe leaves open the possibility of sequel,
where her heroine goes from here, since the fates of both the world itself and Cheryl
Malone personally remain unresolved at the end of this story. She also never does
specifically pinpoint the actual origins of the zombie virus or how it spreads, but these
details stand secondary to the non-stop action portrayed in this book and could easily be
explained in the next installment, should DePaepe choose to write one.
reviewer’s real hope that she does, because in a market flooded with vampires, ghosts,
and other supernatural beings, not enough people are writing zombie novels.
Eaters is not Michelle DePaepe’s first effort. She is the author of 2010’s much acclaimed
The Gardener, available from, which is the best damned ghost
story I’ve read since I read Ghost Story. She also penned the recently-released Vampire
Music and is no doubt hard at work upon some other literary project at this time. You can
visit the Permuted Press website at to score your own copy of
this soon-to-be classic piece of horror fiction.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crazy Summer of 2014

Long time no write. What's been happening in my life since my last post?
This year, I've had a jam-packed schedule.
*I finished the manuscript for Eaters: Resurrection (Book 3 in the Eaters series) and sent it to Permuted Press at the end of June. (Look for Eaters: The Resistance (Book 2 in the Eaters series) to come out in early 2015!)
*My parents and younger niece visited in July along with the wild and terrifying Freddie, my mom's self-assured poodle. So we had a crazy, fun, full house for most of the month.
*I took a wonderful cruise to the Bahamas with my husband and daughter, spent a couple of sweltering days at Disney World, got to see an old friend in Cape Coral, Florida, and braved a lightning storm on Sanibel Island to scoop up some pretty shells (I was Determined (with a capital 'D') to complete my quest to get on that beach despite the pouring rain.)
*I've been working out more, partially to stave off Father Time but also because being fitter just feels good and the exercise keeps me partially sane.
*I have to say reading has really taken a backseat this year. I've just been too exhausted at night flip the pages and concentrate on a story before zzzzzzzzzzzzz.... I did manage to read a few books this summer: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crighton, The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner, and The Volsung King by Alexander Renault (a richly detailed, self-published Viking fairy tale written by a colleague that hasn't been released yet). I hope to read more Permuted Press books in the next year.
*Now, I am super busy at work. There's never any down time in the seed business. You always gotta be planning ahead for the next season.

I don't have any more fiction writing planned right now. I always need a breather between books, and since I've been in a more introspective, spiritual mode lately (if you're following  current events in the world these days, it's hard not to look towards Heaven and get a little pensive), I'm not even sure my next book will be fiction. My new website needs to be populated with information, so that's the next task at hand.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thank You Kiefer Sutherland

Sometimes when you're working on a plot, there's a sticky place--a tar pit that you get mired in so you have to sit and stew about your plight for a bit before you can figure a way out. Occasionally the solution comes in a dream. A couple nights ago, Kiefer Sutherland appeared in my post-apocalyptic dream and gave me an insight on what happens next in Eaters: Resurrection (tentative title for the third book in the Eaters series). The dream had a similar setting to my story, but went off on a tangent.

I was a reluctant leader of several thousand refugees in the southern U.S. after a zombie apocalypse. Things were going from bad to worse, and someone suggested that we should consider going south of the border, because things weren't as dire in Mexico. I either volunteered to check out the situation down there or was voted to go. (Maybe I'd slipped that I knew a little Spanish?)

There was a long line at the border checkpoint. Many people ahead of me were wearing hoodies over their heads and dark sunglasses, an obvious attempt to thwart the facial recognition cameras at the front of the line. I threw my hoodie over my head and checked to make sure my document was in order. What were they so worried about? I'd heard it was easier to get over the border, but not so easy to get back into the U.S. once you crossed. When I finally reached the front of the line, I didn't even have to show my document--the border agent was so busy in a discussion with some other people that I simply walked on past them...into Mexico.

On the other side, I stepped into the midst of a sunny resort. There was a white sand beach, a swimming pool, lounge chairs, and people walking and laughing as they carried their drinks past me. one seemed worried over here. They were all partying and having a good time. Now...where to find the man? I spotted the building that I was looking for and made a bee line for it.

There was a window overlooking the resort in Kiefer Sutherland's office, but it was obvious that he rarely had a chance to enjoy the view, because was a very busy man. Stacks of papers covered his desk, and his phone rang nonstop. I waited patiently in the seat across from him thinking all the time: Dude, I just can't stop thinking of you as the vampire in The Lost Boys, and knowing that I would blow all credibility if those words slipped out of my mouth. When I finally had his attention, I told him that I had a large group that was interested in crossing over and joining his camp of survivors. "How many?" he asked. I wasn't really sure of an exact number. I suspected there were upwards of 20,000 in my group now, but I just told him, "A few thousand." His phone rang again. He ignored it and began shuffling papers on his desk. There were a few more questions between us and some awkward moments of silence. What he didn't say told me what I needed to know...

Now, this is not what is going to happen in Eaters III, but it did give me some inspiration. So, thanks Kiefer! I appreciate you stopping by my dream and helping out with a plot issue. Best of luck for continued success with 24: Live Another Day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Ya'll...........................................................................(You can take the girl out of Texas but...)

Need a little Christmas cheer? How about an angel photo? (See more about this image at The Truth.) I've spent so many years obsessing over the potential existence of ghosts, demons...and zombies that I've neglected the celestial realm. Now, I think angels are way more interesting than things that go bump in the night. I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed 2014.

Look for Eaters: The Resistance (the sequel to Eaters) to come out in late 2014.
Meanwhile...check out some new releases from Permuted Press.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Zombies are Still "Alive and Kicking"!

After the movie of World War Z was released, I wondered if that was the peak of the zombie obsession. Au contraire...according to what I'm seeing in the media. Now, I know it's October, month of all things monster and ghoulish, but it seems that zombies still have enough fans to keep them "fresh" in the minds of popular culture above all the other dark beasties of the world. A co-worker recently told me about a local event of some curiosity--"Bicycling and the Zombie Apocalypse". It's a workshop at that teaches you which bikes are the best for escaping the grabby hands of the undead as well as tips for survival in a zombie-ridden world. In the Denver area, there are all sorts of zombie-related events this month, including the eighth annual Zombie Crawl, zombie theater at the Adams Mystery Playhouse, "Night of the Living Dead" at the Bug Theater, a zombie fashion show at the Shoppe, and of course lots of Walking Dead parties this weekend as the Walking Dead series on AMC is about to begin its fourth season. For more about these events, check out Joanne Ostrow's article in  the Denver Post.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review of Demons by John Shirley

In Demons by John Shirley, sheer terror develops as varied sorts of demons invade the world and begin to devour humanity like a hungry teenage boy attacking a bag of potato chips. The fact that they cannot be killed seems to lull much of the populace into a catatonic numbness as they continue their daily routines with death lurking around every corner. The Gnashers were almost comically interesting—talking their victims' ears off like a Chatty Cathy with a long, rambling monologue, before consuming them.  The story continues as Shirley leads the reader down a slow, winding path towards the explanation for the appearance of the demons and the beginning of the next invasion. That section (Book Two: Undercurrent) felt a little like wading through molasses in comparison to the horrific invasion in the earlier part of the story, but I was more satisfied by the time I got to the ending. Shirley's theme of mass sacrifice as a vector to bring more evil into the world by a power-hungry few is food for thought in our post 9/11 world that doesn't seem to be able to halt the advance of chemical and GMO suicide.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fall 2012 Issue of From the Depths Now Available in Print

Some stories are big. Some stories are small. Some stories haunt you in no time at all.
Last year, I took on the challenge of writing a 13 word flash fiction story. My little diddy appears on page 33 of the Fall 2012 issue of From the Depths, published by Haunted Waters Press. This quarterly literary journal has an artistic, graphic format and contains plenty of haunting tales to send shivers down your spine.