Question: You broke into novel writing by self-publishing your first books, like 33 AD, Saying Goodbye to the Sun, and now 61 AD, earning wide-spread acclaim. Can you tell us a bit about what that experience has been like... and what you have learned from it?
David McAfee: I didn't start off self publishing. I don't think many writers try that route initially. (Some do, of course, but they are the minority.) But after several years of publisher rejections I just decided to go it alone. I felt I had a quality product that could do well if given the chance. It worked out much better than I could have imagined. I think I got into it at exactly the right time, what with the advent Amazon's Kindle and their e-publishing platform. I've often related self-publishing to being a castaway on Gilligan's Island. What I mean by that is, when you are on the island, you have enough of everything you need to keep yourself alive-Giligan and his friends had plenty of food, water, shelter, etc.-but you still want to be rescued. In this case, being rescued would mean a huge contract from a NYC publisher. Since that hasn't happened, I'll just keep helping myself to the island's food for a while.
One thing I have learned over the last year and a half is that you have to stay positive and be willing to accept criticism. No one likes to be criticized, but it happens. In this business, it happens a lot, and you have to learn to use that feedback to make your work better. I was (and still am) very proud of 33 AD and its success, but that doesn't mean I consider it perfect. You take your lumps, especially as a self-published writer, and learn as you go. And someday, hopefully, you'll get a great email from someone like Lee Goldberg who wants to work with you.
Question: Most of your writing can best be described as "horror"...what attracts you to that genre?
David McAfee: I love horror. It's so visceral. Or it can be if it's done properly. One of the things that attracts me to the genre is the reaction of the readers. I'm not Nicholas Sparks, I'm not trying to make anyone cry or fall in love. I want people to read my books and shudder, but in a good way. I know I've done my job when a reader emails me to tell me they had a nightmare about the Lost Ones (which has happened more than once). I love that, because I know I got inside that person's head on a subconcious level. Because of that, I know the reader will remember me for a long time. There is nothing better than that feeling. Not to me, anyway.
Question: The field is so glutted. Isn't it hard to find a fresh way to write about vampires and zombies?
David McAfee: The vampire field is glutted, but mostly by teen angsty vampires like Edward Cullen and his ilk. I tend to refer to them as "neutered" vampires. Don't get me wrong, they have their fans and there is nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion they have no edge, no bite, no reason to fear them. In too many contemporary vampire novels, the vampires appear as moody human beings with a mild skin condition and selective diet. They have lost the part of them that makes them monsters. My take on vampires is nothing more than a return to the pre-Twilight vampires. The ones who were more interested in the blood in your neck than your feelings.
The real freshness of my work comes in the setting. In 33 AD, a vampire in Biblical Jerusalem is sent to assassinate Jesus of Nazareth. Ha! Have you ever read anything like that before? Probably not, and that's why I like it. Add to that the fact that the vampires in my books are blood-hungry, evil monsters who would just as soon tear out your throat as to look at you and you have quite a yarn.
Question: What attracted you to The Dead Man series and how did you get involved in it?
David McAfee: I'm going to answer the second part of that question first, because one leads into the other. Lee Goldberg, longtime television writer and author of the Monk series of books (and many others), read 33 A.D. and really liked it. He even left a fantastic review on Amazon in which he stated that (I'm paraphrasing here, but only a little.) "David McAfee is the real deal." For a small time self publisher like myself, who could never gain acceptance from a publisher, that was huge! Lee has been in this business for a long time, and to have someone of such experience and talent praise my book represented a tremendous validation of my work. It made me think I really could do this, after all.
So, a few weeks later when Lee emailed me and asked if I would be interested in working on a project he and his longtime writing partner William Rabkin had cooked up, I jumped at the chance. As I learned more about the project, I came to love it. Matt Cahill, dead but not dead, able to actually see the evil in people. He was presented as kind of a nomadic savior, of sorts. The traveling gunsligner in the white hat who goes from town to town saving people from evil, even their own evil. Like a modern day Kung Fu if the original had been written by Stephen King. Honestly, who could resist the chance to work on such a project? Not me.
Question: What sets The Dead Man series apart from the other horror you have written?
David McAfee: The books are a lot of fun. They are gory and fast and a kick in the pants to read. But there is more to it than just blood and gore. With Matt Cahill there is a sense of a higher purpose. In The Dead Man series, you know there are forces of good and forces of evil, and you also know they are warring with each other. Their weapons in this war? Why, people, of course. Ordinary people who might or might not even want to play a role, but are forced by their circumstances to participate.
To me, that puts Matt's story on a whole different plane from anything else out there. This is a story people are going to want to read, and keep reading. From Book 1 (Face of Evil) all the way to the final installment, whenever that may be.
Question: What was it like writing in a book in a series that you didn't create?
David McAfee: I was nervous about it at first. I wanted to make sure I did the characters justice as well as the series, and I also wanted to turn in a good story. When Lee approached me about joining the team, he and William Rabkin had already hammered out some possible plots. All of them were great, but I had a story in my head about Matt meeting up with a woman who shared his ability to see evil in people. I knew I could probably write any of the ideas they had presented, but I also knew I could really sink my teeth into this idea, so I asked Lee what he thought of it. He and Bill were behind it 100%, and so I set off. I put Matt in the tiny fictional town of Crawford, Tennessee and let him run. It was a blast. I have to say that working with Lee and Bill was a real pleasure. Up until then I'd never had a real editor. I never would have believed how much easier a good editor can make things, but now I'm a believer.
Question: What are you working on now?
David McAfee: At this moment I am working with friend and fellow author Jeremy Robinson on a short novel featuring one of the characters from his Chess Team thrillers. It's a new genre for me. I've never done a thriller before, but it's been fun. Once that is finished I will be splitting my time between working on the next Bachiyr novel, editing a horror story called The Gallows Tree, and finally setting up print versions of some of my other books, which are currently only available as ebooks.
But I can definitely see another Matt Cahill book in my future. Provided Lee and William will have me, of course.
It sets up a plot deviation that could bring quite a bit of fun in future entries...by fun, I of course, mean blood-stained mayhem! It really delves into what it means to be The Dead Man or The Dead Woman as the case may be. --Permission to Kill
"David McAfee takes the ax and runs with it... What really makes these horror novels so enjoyable is how quickly they can be devoured, leaving readers wanting more. " Bookgasm