Mutterings from the cave

Dear cloud of 1s and 0s floating around my head:
It has come to my attention that I haven't said a word to this lonely blog in almost a year. I have said many words to Twitter and Tumblr but some of you are serious professionals and rely on actual Web Logs for your information and to you, I apologize. Here are some words.

I'm still alive (barely.) I'm still writing (madly.) It's almost done (really.)

More words soon.

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Warm Bodies sequel update--but real this time!

For publisher pitching purposes, I was asked to write a detailed synopsis of everything that's going to happen in Book 3, which is kind of like writing the whole book in Cliff's Notes. Everything's there, it's just simpler and shorter. For example, instead of several chapters describing Frodo's journey from Shelob's cave through the Orc fort and into the Cracks of Doom, you'd get, "Frodo simply walks into Mordor."

The end result is a compact little model of the story that you can hold in one hand and examine, and many thoughts occurred to me as I examined it. One was holy shit, this is a weird book. Not only for its contents, which are pretty weird (zombies, semi-zombies, maybe-zombies, ghosts, goats, boats, gaps in reality, and trippy philosophical pseudo-magic) but for how it functions as a sequel. Warm Bodies was essentially about one person's struggle with himself; the sequel is about several people's struggles with themselves, each other, and the wider world and all its broken systems (cultural, political, cosmic). So I always knew it was going to be a bigger book, but now that I stand back and look at it...wow, this is a lot bigger. Not just in length (I'm 200 pages in and predicting around 500 or 600 by the end, compared to Warm Bodies' 230) but in scope. As a sequel to Warm Bodies, it's so disproportionately ambitious, I might be trying to build a space shuttle on the frame of a hang glider. It probably would have been more sensible to start from scratch and tackle these ideas in a whole new story, but...this is where R took me, so fuck it, I'm going in. I hope when the time comes (I'm guessing mid to late 2015) you'll be crazy enough to go in with me.


P.S Just to be super clear, my last post was very definitely an April Fools prank based on all the goofy theories I've heard about what's going to happen in this book. The sequel will not, in fact, be a grotesque mashup of every known YA cliche. Thanks.

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Warm Bodies SEQUEL UPDATE! (April Fools prank)

April Fools prank!As some of you know, Warm Bodies is not a stand-alone novel. I've already written and released a prequel novella and I'm currently working on the conclusion to this asymmetrical, chronologically wrinkled trilogy--a full-blown sequel of foolishly epic proportions.

I've been working on this book for over a year and a half now, but I've still revealed almost nothing about it, not even a title. I've been keeping the story under close guard, waiting for the molten parts to cool before I let anyone touch them, but I'm happy to announce today is the day I'm ready to show it off.

Are you ready? Here it is:

April Fools prank!HEATED HEARTS, the third and final entry in the Chronicles of Warm Bodies Saga.April Fools prank!

April Fools prank!Love can bloom in the most unlikely of places--like the rotting heart of corpse! It's the day before R and Julie's wedding, and all of Citi Stadium is preparing to celebrate their union. But can Julie really go through with it? After all, her dad just died a week ago, her fiancé still craves human flesh, primal forces are bent on dragging humanity back to the self-serving savagery of nature--and on top of all that, she's behind on her homework!April Fools prank!

April Fools prank!But when she learns a startling truth, all these urgent global conflicts suddenly become irrelevant--because Julie is pregnant. But when the mysterious Quinn shows up at Undead Academy, she begins to feel the stirrings of feelings that have nothing to do with the child growing in her belly and everything to do with the fact that she may have a destiny she never imagined as the prophesied Girl Who is More Special Than Everyone Else and also Quinn is cute. Will Julie be able to choose between steady, reliable, but dangerous R and mysterious, passionate, but dangerous Quinn? And what about funny, quirky, but dangerous Marty, her childhood friend who has always been there for her? Or weird, dandruff-sprinkled Bertrand, a guy she met at a party last night? How will Julie navigate this tangled web of romance while also fulfilling her destiny and still find time to raise a cute, passionate, but dangerous zombie baby and update her sarcastic gossip blog?April Fools prank for the love of God!

HEATED HEARTS is an enjoyable, pleasant, and thoroughly readable yarn of bloodless adventure and sexless romance that will capture the hearts of teens and movie studios alike.


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Send Me Stuff (Again!)

Remember how I used to have a PO box where you could send me stuff? During that time, you sent me so much stuff. It was good stuff. Funny stuff. Touching stuff. You sent me stuff you wanted me to sign--mostly books but sometimes cards or photos or pizza-stained napkins--and even better, you sent me letters. Some of them were dumb and said stuff like, "I haven't read ur book or seen ur movie but I like zombies can you sign this wad of toilet paper thnx" and I didn't understand why you wrote them. But most of them were sweet and wonderful and made me feel really good, and I probably wrote you back, and I hope my replies made you feel good too.

I closed that PO box last summer because I moved out of my Portland apartment and into my RV and since I was in a different neighborhood every week, I didn't know where to open a new box. It was a dark, strange time, and if I had received your letters and replied to them, my replies might have been grumpy. So I remained boxless, feeling sad as I imagined all the cool stuff I was not receiving from you.

This year, things are looking brighter. I bought my first house, a tiny little 1-bedroom hut in Seattle where I live in domestic bliss with my hairiest friend, Doctor Watson the Cat. I am still a deeply unstable person and will probably run away in my RV soon and disappear for a very long time, but now I at least have a permanent base to come home to. What this means--and what all this drivel has been leading up to--is that I HAVE A PO BOX AGAIN!

The address is:
PO BOX 31548
Seattle, WA, 98103

Send me ANYTHING. I love every object that appears in that box. If you want something signed, remember to include a pre-postaged return mailer.

Also remember that I can only return packages to US addresses. It's very sad, but international shipping requires a tedious process of filling out customs forms and waiting in line at the Post Office and I just have to draw the line somewhere. LETTERS, however, are no problem!

In conclusion, I love you all very much. I am constantly surprised and amazed that you continue to care about Warm Bodies even now that there are no TV commercials advertising it to you, and I hope you will stay with me long enough to read this big, weird, and in my opinion, kind of awesome sequel that I am writing.

Your friend,


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Book 3 Update

I'm chuckling today because everyone assumes that the Warm Bodies sequel is going to revolve around R and Julie having relationship problems. Like this story is about dating. Like there isn't a vast and utterly insane world around them waiting to be explored, survived, and saved. I'm so excited to burst your bubble.

Current progress: 170 pages.

Approximately 1/3 finished.

Yes, when I said this one's going to be "bigger" I wasn't just referring to its scope. Warm Bodies was petite. The New Hunger had an eating disorder. This one's gonna be curvy. But despite it being the length of a fantasy novel, I promise that less than 10% of it will be spent describing food and clothing and the carpet in every room.

You guys I'm so excited about this book. I will now run out of this coffee shop and high-five a stranger in the face.

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FAQ Update

Despite the existence of my FAQ I am constantly being asked these three questions, so I think it's time to do some clarification and reiteration of these Greatest Hits questions.

Q: When does the WARM BODIES prequel come out?

A: You mean The New Hunger? It came out months ago, fool! But there's a catch: it's only in ebook form, and only available from Zolabooks.com  That's right, it's NOT ON AMAZON. Or iTunes, or anywhere else. Just Zolabooks.com for reasons having to do with anarchy and raging against the machine and supporting intriguing new platforms with great potential for innovation, and so on. This exclusive arrangement will change at some point, because I myself am a paper purist and eventually there will be a physical edition which will probably spread into digital editions on other platforms, but for now: Zolabooks.com

YES, you can still read it on your Kindle, iPad, even your desktop if you don't own a tablet. You just have to download the epub from Zolabooks.com

Q: When will THE NEW HUNGER come out in paperback?

It's of utmost importance to me that physical copies exist, because I know many of you don't read ebooks, and I actually don't either. I want the book on my shelf, sandwiched between Warm Bodies and Untitled Isaac Marion Zombie Novel. ("Book 3" for short.) But the fate of The New Hunger is intertwined with the fate of Book 3, so I won't know exactly when a paperback of TNH will be published until I know exactly how and when Book 3 will be published. I can promise TNH will be published before Book 3, because it will be essential to understanding Book 3, but that's about all I can promise. So if you're in any hurry, I'd suggest learning to love ebooks and heading on over to Zola

HOWEVER: If you're lucky enough to live somewhere in the British Isles, you can get your hands on a paperback from Vintage UK on October 29th, 2013. I know, it makes no sense, I can't...I can't even try to explain it, so just accept this reality, fill your saloon with petrol, check the air in the tyres, drive to the supermarket and buy the book, throw it in the boot, go home to your flat, get a bag of crisps, and read it in the loo while taking a shite.

Q: When will the WARM BODIES sequel come out?

A: It's really hard to project a completion date for a book like this. If I were writing one of those books with the phrase "A [Character's Name] Novel" on the cover, some kind of episodic franchise thriller with a clearly predetermined path, or even a traditional sequel designed to simply repeat the patterns of the original while expanding them slightly, maybe I could meet a specific deadline. But this is a weird book, expanding on the foundation of Warm Bodies in a lot of brain-straining ways and presenting me with a lot of intellectual, philosophical, and ethical challenges that I've never encountered before. It's a sequel to Warm Bodies in the way that Lord of the Rings was a sequel to The Hobbit, and with that kind of expanding scope, there are a lot of potential pitfalls, so it's hard to fathom a timeline.

But, with that said, my possibly naive hope is to finish it mid to late 2014.

That is all. Enjoy the remainder of your life.


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Life Isn't Worth It

All America's crimes in the name of security stem from the belief that our lives are very, very important and must be protected at all costs. This is a narcissistic delusion. Our lives are important, but sometimes bad things are going to happen and some of us are going to die, and this is not a shocking affront to the natural order, it's an inevitability that mature human beings learn to accept.

When you go camping, you accept the possibility that you could fall off a cliff or be eaten by a bear. You don't kill all the bears and blast down all the cliffs in order to guarantee your safety. You take reasonable precautions and then you go out and hope for the best, because although you enjoy your life, you know it's not that important. It's not worth flattening the world.

But America is obsessed with safety. We insist that no one must ever die, and we trample over our principals in an absurd attempt to ensure it. If we could relax our grip on this planet and accept that being here is a privilege that can be revoked at any time, if we could let go of the notion that preserving life, no matter how sorry the state of it becomes, is the great mission of society that trumps all other concerns, then maybe the madness of doing bad things to prevent bad things could finally end.

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OOPS 2: Oops Harder

Hey friends. Seems I screwed up my postal life again. Seems I forgot to pay for my PO box, and seems the box got closed, and seems all your letters and packages were sent back to you.

Oops oops oops oops.


When it comes back to you, please keep a firm grip on your package until I get the box open and receptive again. Then, if you're still feeling any love for me after I wasted all your shipping money...please try again?

Sorry. My life has so many loose threads, it's pretty much a ball of raw hemp fiber.

I'll notify you here when everything is sorted out.

Absentmindedly yours,


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Mind-Writing (and the Warm Bodies sequel)

When I write a novel, I write it twice. The first time, it's in my head. I call it mind-writing. I walk around, run around, sit around, I listen to music and look at pretty things and just think my brains out. I solidify what the story is and how I'm going tell it, and then I write it down in quick, loose sketches. When I'm finished, I have an outline of every scene in the book. Not an outline like the utterly useless kind they taught you in school.

I. Useless
   A. Fucking
   B. Bullshit
        1. Seriously

It's more like a storyboard. You know, those comic-book sketches that eventually become movies? I describe everything that happens and explore the mood and atmosphere and ideas of every scene without stopping to actually "perform" the scenes with prose. What I end up with is essentially the book itself, as written by an idiot.

The second time I write the book is when I take these storyboards and convert them into actual prose. Writing prose is hard. It takes a lot of care to craft a good sentence, even more to connect that sentence to another one, even more to transition from one paragraph to the next, and a whole hell of a lot more to tune the flow of dramatic tension so that each chapter builds into the next all the way to the end. You've probably heard of "pacing." It's hard. So is rhythm, emotion, and thematic coherency. All this stuff is hard even when you know exactly what happens in each scene, so imagine doing all these things WHILE making up the story. Even though I always know the basic elements of a story long before I start working on it--especially in the case of a sequel--there is still a lot of detail to fill in, connecting point A to point B, and doing that and writing the prose at the same time is like walking off a cliff and then trying to build a bridge under you. Aka, suicide.

Mind-writing the story before type-writing it frees me up to focus on the prose and makes the whole mountainous undertaking slightly more approachable.

Anyway, this is my long-winded, faux-academic way of telling you that I started writing the sequel to Warm Bodies today. For the last 8 months, since the day I decided I was going to do a sequel, I have been fiercely mind-writing it. (Well, that and finishing up the prequel novella, The New Hunger--which by the way, you are required to read if you want to understand the sequel.) In many ways, mind-writing is the hardest part. It requires the most sheer creative muscle, ripping ideas and images and emotions out of thin air, and it's by far the most perilous, because you can FAIL. You can't truly fail at writing itself; you can just keep editing and revising forever until it's as good as it can possibly be. But you CAN fail to come up with a good story. You can drive your ideas into an inescapable dead-end and give up in despair. That's a very real danger, so the fact that I made it all the way to the end is actually the biggest news I'll have for you until I announce a publication date.

I finished mind-writing last week, every scene from epigraph to epilogue, and after taking a few days to wipe the tears out of my eyes and regather my courage, I'm now diving into the main event.  I wrote the opening scene this morning. It's pretty good. So, please smash a champagne bottle against my hull and toss your hats in the air. This ship is launched.

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I'm curious how new writing technology--from pens to typewriters to computers--has affected literature over the years. The typewriter allowed us to write faster and with less physical strain. The computer allowed us to edit and revise with a level of ease and fluidity earlier writers could never have dreamed of. Even the laptop changed things, allowing us to break free from the office and desk and write wherever we felt most inspired.

All of these also came with their own drawbacks. The typewriter introduced new distractions to the peaceful repose of handwriting--the noise of the keys, the loading of the paper, and the constant wrangling of the carriage for each and every line. The computer eliminated mechanical distractions while introducing a whole buffet of digital ones. And the laptop put us in writing environments with the potential to distract us even more--noisy coffee shops and the too-hot, too-cold, too-bug-infested outdoors.

Despite the costs, it's hard to argue with the benefits. Today's writers have a vastly more direct, more efficient and more flexible path from brain to page than the writers of antiquity did. But what are the effects? Because there have to be effects. It's impossible that such a radical shift in writing method could fail to alter the nature, style, and perhaps even quality of the writing itself.

As a modern writer raised with computers, the idea of writing a novel by hand--a massive pile of paper covered in wrist-breaking, barely legible scrawl--is unfathomable. Even the thought of typing one makes me collapse in despair. If I knew that deleting this sentence would require a laborious process of markups and notations, and that I wouldn't be able to hear how the paragraph sounds without it until I'd retyped the whole manuscript, would I still delete it? Or would I sigh, "Good enough," and leave it in?

Or--would I be more careful with my words? Would I plan further ahead? Would I approach the chapter with a stern clarity of intent that's foreign to my modern "let it flow" mindset? The completely paralyzed Jean-Dominic Bauby wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking one eye when a nurse spoke the letter of the alphabet he wanted--his only method of communicating. He had no way to edit once he had delivered his words, so he was forced to "write" and "edit" entire chapters in his head before the nurse came to take dictation. It's hard to imagine a less efficient, less fluid writing method than this, and yet The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a gorgeous book, showing no evidence of the difficulty with which it was written.

When I read a book, I like to imagine the writer writing it. Did he scratch it out with a feather quill in a lamp-lit study with six screaming babies in the bedroom? Did she tap it into an iPad in a busy coffee shop with Maroon 5 in the background? I want to be more aware of the machinery my thoughts pass through on their way to the page. I want to understand my tools and the hands that wield them and someday master both.

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