Author Stant Litore has a busy second half of 2015 ahead of him. From August 14 – 16, he’ll be the author Guest of Honor at the annual Myths and Legends Con. He’ll be there all weekend on panels, appearing alongside other artists and authors. In addition, he keeps an active Patreon page. A recent surge aims to reissue his five book series, The Zombie Bible, with silver editions. Litore looks to independently release the Silver Editions through support, providing unique rewards to his supporters. Last year, Litore and I started a conversation with the release of the fifth installment of The Zombie Bible series, I Will Hold My Death Close. Now, our conversation continues as Litore closes out a frenetic, and successful 2015.
What compelled you to release these Silver Editions of an already published series?
I’m mostly excited to issue this series, which has gathered a warmly loyal following, the way I and the readers have always wanted to see it. In the past, these novels have often been marketed and described as pulp zombie horror, and that’s really held them back. The pulp horror audience hasn’t really enjoyed them, and nearly every one of the many positive reviews the books have received begins with some variation of “I never read zombie books, but…”
When I came up with this series, I thought of it as dark, character-driven fantasy. The premise is that the epidemic of the flesh-eating dead has recurred, generation after generation, throughout our history. The fact that our dead rise to devour us has shaped our religions, our cultures, our ways of looking at the past. I’ve described the series to people as “The Walking Dead 3000 years ago” or as an alternate history in which the dead are hungry. It isn’t mainstream horror. It’s fantasy with a deep affinity for the New Weird. And the reviews confirm that’s those are the readers who love these books. I’ve heard the books compared to everything from Annihilation to The Dovekeepers and The Red Tent. No one compares them to King or Koontz or Barker; it’s a different audience.
So the biggest thing that compelled me to re-issue the series, newly edited with new cover art and a whole different way of presenting them to readers – is that I want to take a series that has been well-loved and introduce it to new readers, who may just be the readers who have been looking for something like this all along.
What will be in the Silver Editions that readers haven’t seen yet?
They are still the same books, but here’s what’s new:
- The fifth book, I Will Hold My Death Close, will be available in paperback for the first time ever.
- The first two books are freshly edited; there are many roughnesses, inconsistencies, and errors that have always bothered me and that I now have the rare opportunity to address. The first book in particular will be a much smoother read, though the story itself is unchanged.
- New art by the wonderful Lauren K. Cannon – if you haven’t seen her work, you can at navate.com; she is my favorite dark fantasy artist, and I am deeply privileged to have her on the project.
- New maps by Roberto Calas.
- Audiobooks by Amy McFadden (who is absolutely wonderful; her reading of the stories makes me cry).
- In several cases, new afterwords and appendix content.
- Available in new formats (epub).
These are the books as I always imagined them. They are sleeker, fiercer, more beautiful, than before – and I think you will really love them. They will have intensely emotional covers but not “scary zombie” covers, so you can gift them to the people who would most enjoy reading them without frightening them off. And when Amy McFadden reads the books to you on audio, I promise you will be deeply moved.
You can pre-order the kindle edition of Volume One here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B012R7PFU8. The cover reveal will be in a few days. The hope is to release the other volumes throughout the fall.
My previous publisher, 47North, and I parted on friendly terms. The reality is that they invested quite a bit in marketing this series to a mainstream horror audience, and they weren’t prepared to make the new investment to re-envision the series the way I had been asking for. We both agreed it would be better for me to take the series from here. I began the series originally as an independent release – it was acquired afterward – so I feel that I’m coming home. But I certainly am glad of the time I had with 47North, too; I met so many wonderful writers and editors there.
How close are you to reaching your milestone for the Silver Editions?
We are very close to fully funding the new editions. I connect with my readers nearly daily through a Patreon subscription membership – they subscribe to get all the books and behind-the-scenes coverage (and votes, sometimes!) on the process of creating them, and the membership fees fund the books. Right now, this is a community of 130 readers funding my work at $1,320/month. When we reach $1,500/month, the print and ebook formats of the Silver Edition will be fully funded. And then we’re going to finish funding the audiobooks. And then we’re going to work on funding a graphic novel adaptation – another independent project, that Siku (of The Manga Bible) and I are excited to tackle over the next couple of years.
What do people gain by being a Patreon supporter of yours?
Wow, so much. It’s like a book club – you get all the books sent to you – but it’s a book club where you get to brainstorm with the author as well as other readers. You get to read the stories first – before anyone else. If you want, you can see drafts – including early sketches of the covers and all the art. It’s incredibly rare for even the author to see drafts of the cover and the art for a book, but I have arrangements with my artists to share every thumbnail, every sketch, with my readers, and I listen to what my readers have to say along the way.
Higher-level members get porfolios of my notes and sketches, chances to interview me personally… it’s a really revolutionary way for writers and readers to connect, and for readers to make it possible for a writer to create more of the stories they love, for the price of one venti-everything-in-it-latte per month. Which is incredible. It’s unprecedented; there’s never been anything quite like this before. It frees me to spend less time marketing and more time telling stories and conversing with my readers. Before working on the Silver Edition, we funded the entire first season of Ansible through Patreon – and those stories are freely available to all members. We funded a shipment of books to a school for troubled teens. We’ve done amazing things together, and we’re going to do a lot more.
Shifting gears, you’re going to be the Author Guest of Honor at the upcoming Myths and Legends Con (Malcon). When did you hear you’d be there this year in a featured role?
I don’t remember for certain; Nikki Ebright, the organizer, and I have been talking about it since last summer. I don’t remember when we officially decided, but certainly it was a while back. I’m very honored, and looking forward to it. Besides the panels you mentioned, we have a class for writers planned, an interactive fantasy-world mapmaking activity that local artist Chaz Kemp and I will be co-leading, and there will be fireside chats with late night readings of my stories. It’s going to be thrilling.
It’s a very small con, and has an intimate, laid-back atmosphere that I really like. People come there to discuss their favorite books and shows—often at a pretty sophisticated level—and they kick back and play tabletop games, they cosplay, they nerd out. These are my people, and they’re both celebrating and relaxed at the same time. I love the big cons, but I love this, too: it’s quieter, it’s more like going out with a ton of friends and having an enthused conversation about the stories you love most, and gaming a little in the middle of it. It’s a good place to tell stories, and to hear new ones. I believe passionately that storytelling is a communal act – I’m not a hermit-writer – so I’m drawn to events like this one.
For those not able to attend Malcon and meet you face-to-face, how can readers connect with you?
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to talk with readers.
Check me out on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/stantlitore. Become a member, and you’ll be in touch with me a lot, and get some great stories into the bargain – and help fund the creation of some amazing creative projects.
You can also befriend me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stant.litore. As I said, I’m no hermit. I’m always posting a video or tossing out ideas to see what you think. I’ll be glad to meet you.
Keep up with the latest by subscribing to The Writer’s Conquest, the conversation is always live on my Twitter machine.