Nano Interview: Thom Brannan

DD: Thanks for plugging in, Thom! You're working on the sequel to your excellent novel LORDS OF NIGHT - first off, tell us about the original book.

TB: Thanks for having me! I'm not welcome just anywhere, hah.
The first book, Lords of Night, is a post-apocalyptic ah, fantasy, I guess. An ancient evil from the dawn of Man is awakened by its offspring, the seven titular Lords of Night, and it raises all the dead, ever, all at one time. Zombies, skeletons, what have you. It also releases another set of offspring, the Locust People, who are to the zombies as we are to drones. They aim the zombies, give them purpose. The purpose? Claim all the living.
In this story, though, is one person—Jack, a teenager—who might just be an aberration, a fly in the ointment for the Ancient Enemy's plan, and he's got to retrieve an artifact from when the Ancient Enemy was imprisoned the first time. He is accompanied, of course, by the last group of American Special Forces on the planet. Well, that we know of.
Lords of Night is my love song to everything which shaped my view of how fiction ought to be. From Stephen King's Dark Tower series to the 70's cult classic The Warriors, and everything in-between, if it shaped my tender brain, there's an homage to it in this novel.

DD: What turns can we expect in the sequel?

TB: The sequel, tentatively-titled Plague of Locusts, is set a good twenty years after the main story in the first book. Society is putting itself back together, with regions split off from how they were before. This is set in America, because I'm from here and I don't want to have to do too much homework while I'm writing, so there's the Western Empire, California and the Pacific Northwest, the Unclaimed Territories, the Kingdom of Texas, so on and so forth.
The bulk of the story is kicked off and sustained by how regular people have been living on with everything which happened during the Long Night, as it's called, and how we've put ourselves back together. And, of course, how we co-exist with the Locust People, who didn't just go away when the first book ended. For this, I did do some reading, mostly about witch hunts of the 1800's. Good times.

DD: You also make music. Do you find that your writing & musical projects lend inspiration to one another?

TB: The music and the writing, from time to time, collide. I've found that the best time for me to make music is after I've finished a story or novel, in that dead time between typing THE END and going back to revise. The creative juices are still flowing, and I'm keeping a little bit of distance from the work I just put to bed, so I turn to the music to keep things going.
That's not to say fiction doesn't drive the music. Long ago, I toyed with an idea of writing a concept album to go with one of my books, but the process got a little... I don't know the right word. It was like, there was too much of an inside joke there that only I would get.
So instead, I turned to some works of fiction which were particularly inspiring or enjoyable to me. Sooner or later, the final mix will be finished for this album, Enjoy the Apocalypse, and it'll be released. It contains songs which were all inspired by or dedicated to some of the masterpieces in our common publisher's back catalog.

DD: Do dreams and nightmares inspire you? Do you keep track of dreams?

TB: I don't often remember dreams and nightmares long after I wake. There are a few of each variety I can keep a hold on, but only if I write that stuff down right away. There isn't much dream journaling happening  over here, though. I'll email myself, or someone else, and fix the dream that way for later mining. There hasn't been a lot of mining, though. Only two dreams have ever turned into anything literary. One song, I think? It's fuzzy now, hah. See? Dreams, man.

DD: Lastly, on the zombie front - is there anything you'd like to see more (or less) of in zombiedom?

TB: More of, less of. I know from looking at my publication history, it seems like I'm really a zombie guy, but I don't feel like a zombie guy. Is that weird? I've enjoyed my share of zombie fiction, but I think I only really enjoy the stories which subvert everything we think of as a zombie book. I mean, I've seen Dawn of the Dead, both versions, and I'm pretty well happy with never, ever again seeing or reading versions of what happened on That Day. To me, the interesting zombie fiction is the stuff which brings us to what happens ten, fifteen, a hundred years after That Day. How much has changed? How much has stayed the same? Have we overcome, somehow? A really good example of this, at least on the cinematic side of things, is Land of the Dead. I really like that.
The zombies themselves, I can take or leave the classic Romero zombie or any of the new and improved forms of horror technology. Bleeding runners, shape shifting messes, giant conglomerate zombies (think Vehicle Voltron, but revolting) smart zombies. Whatever you've got, I'm not a purist, because the story isn't about them, it's about us. (Unless it is about them, or one of them, like The Reanimation of Edward Schuett. Then I take it back.)
All this isn't to say I don't think you or anybody else shouldn't write your version of what happened on That Day. Write your hearts out. But know, if you're writing That Day, it's been done a lot. If you want to stand out, you'll have to be extraordinary in your storytelling. My 2¢, hah.
Thanks for having me, Dave. You're an excellent person, and I hope association with me hasn't tarnished your three-toedness in any way.

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