Name: Zach Sweets
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm 25 years old and I'm Deaf. I grew up moving a lot and finally settled in Arizona with my partner. I've only started reading just about three years ago and I was introduced to M/M by my partner's co-worker a little over two years ago. I fell in love with M/M books and found a desire to write. I've always wanted to share the readers with deaf characters in my books.
“Luscious Love” was the first short story that I've actually shared with other readers. It was a first step of my writing career. The next few months after “Luscious Love,” I wrote Zombie Rain. Zombies in general have always been my favorite since I was a kid and I finally got to write them with a romance between two men. When I found out my Zombie Rain had been accepted by Less Than Three Press, I was beyond thrilled. Other than being thrilled, it kept giving me the motivation to keep writing.
I eventually wrote a short Valentine's Day story called “Rusty's Surprise.” Both of the main characters were Deaf. Other than my exciting writing career, I practice designing websites. Also, I enjoy participating in the running events from five kilometers to marathons.
Describe your writing style(s) using just one sentence.
My writing styles are random, because characters tell me the story and then I write them.
Complete this sentence: I write [insert genre or subgenre here] because…
I write sci-fi and horror with some man-to-man love thrown in for good measure, because I grew up watching several sci-fi/horror films and how can I resist not including gay love in the stories? It had been my passion to write horror as much as I can.
You're here to promote your new novella from Less Than Three, Zombie Rain. Tell us a little bit about it. Why are you excited about it, and what make it a "must read" for us all?
Zombies are popular nowadays, and I can assure you Zombie Rain is as original as possible. I've been told by a couple of beta readers that it scared them while reading Zombie Rain. Can you imagine a zombie that has a power? A magical power? Well, it is happening in Zombie Rain. I'm extremely proud of my work and the time I've devoted in writing it. There is a mix of romance and action throughout the story. One of the reviewers describes this boo “fast paced and intriguing but it's kind of Mission Impossible type of story buildup. Forget raising your eye brows, just read for the fun of it!”
That, in my opinion, is a great description of my book. I truly hope you will enjoy the book.
Publication Date: April 18, 2012
Buy Link: $3.99 at Less Than Three Press
Will you give us a sneak peek inside, perhaps a short snippet to whet our appetites?
Sure! Everyone deserves a sneak peak, don't you agree?
Snippet number one:
The zombie shook its head then it turned around and saw me. It moved toward me and I scrambled backward, unable to figure out what to do next. Without realizing what was behind me, I tripped over my bike. It saved my life since the zombie flew over me when I fell.
I got up and ran so fast it was as if my pants were on fire. I didn't know where I was going, but my instincts took me back to the room Rex and I had just left, and the zombie chased me. Once inside, I ran straight to the bathroom and locked myself in. The banging continued and I started to cry, thinking I was doomed.
Snippet number two:
A loud roar bellowed from that enormous man, like the bellow of a dinosaur. It vibrated the floor like an earthquake. We slowly peeked to see what he was doing. I saw a light come out of his eyes and it blasted Rex, throwing him through the door into the house with a crash. I screamed for him then jerked back to the king.
One look at the monster's eyes and I was frozen, completely unable to move; it felt as though I was paralyzed. I battled with my body, trying to get it to cooperate. Nothing worked. My muscles wouldn't respond, although I managed to shed a tear. So, it was over for us. We survived all of it for nothing.
Snippet number three:
Rex pulled out his gun and held it in a defensive stance, then seized the doorknob and twisted it. He pulled the door open slowly and I shined the light through the crack.
We both yelled and nearly ran back up the stairs when an avalanche of sports balls fell out right onto us. When we realized what had happened, we started to laugh together. "Those scared the shit out of me." Rex continued laughing.
What motivated you to write this story, and what do you hope readers will take away with us having read it?
Zombies haunt my dreams. They scream me to write about them already. So, I put my fingers on the keyboard and let my characters communicate in my head, and BAM I wrote a novella of zombies. It was a fun write, too. Mostly, I hope this book will scare the readers when they read it, but they should eventually enjoy the ending when they realize love can exist anywhere under any type of circumstances.
Tell me a little about the cover to this work. What does it say to you?
I remember when Less Than Three Press first accepted Zombie Rain; the owner asked me what I'd like for a book cover. I told her as long as it wasn't some common model on the cover. Something related to zombies. I was very flexible, and LT3 has been extremely friendly and helpful when it comes to that. When I opened my email and saw a subject that said Cover, I immediately open the email and saw the most awesome cover that it was beyond my expectation. It described my book perfectly. Everything about it made me feel creepy by just looking at it. Also, the way zombies looked in the background easily described how my characters ran for their life away from them. I showed it to several of my friends, and one of them said, “Good, strong cover! The spark of red from a torch just makes it sing!” And another one said, “I'm kind of scared of your cover. Which is probably as it should be.” I was only too proud to see that kind of a comment about my book cover. Aisha Akeju has done fantastic job on my book cover. She also did another zombie book cover for Piper Vaughn's Zombie Wonderland.
Zombie themes have been very popular in fiction lately. Why do you think this is so? What do you think our obsession with zombies stems from?
I believe they became even more popular after the debut of one of my favorite TV shows called The Walking Dead. Zombies have been in existence way before I was born. Everyone wants to see what authors come up with in their head about how they would describe the zombie's characteristics and what caused them turn into the infected people. I've read several, and one book convinced me to write my own, because this book is very original in my own opinion. That book was Autumn by David Moody. It was a fantastic book. I know the fact that I became obsessed with zombies was because they are interesting creatures and because I sort of wished they actually exist. I don’t know why but they excite me in many ways.
When you were researching and writing this book, did you face any particular challenges? What did you learn that you perhaps didn't know before?
I mostly write with my fantasy mind and often research minor stuff that would support my story. I researched to find the right model of motorcycle that has a highest mile per gallons so it would make sense for their travel lengths. I also researched how the characters would steal the gas from abandoned cars because I've never done it myself. The rest was all in my head. It's fiction, and it's supposed to be fun to think of anything that could happen.
Things I couldn't research to make sure it fit factual information were the zombies' characteristics. It doesn’t exist (hadn't because I think it could happen in future :D), and I had to make it up out of my head to describe the zombies the way I would like them to be. I've watched couple of zombie films and read a couple of them. I think my zombie is a bit different and a bit original.
Tell us about your upcoming work. What's next?
I've just completed a first draft of a sequel to “Rusty's Surprise.” In “Rusty’s Surprise,” I ended with a huge surprise that caused several of readers' jaws to drop. I owe them a sequel to it. Since I've completed the sequel, I've been plotting inside my head to write book two, since “Rusty’s Surprise” is technically book 0.5 in the series called Unheard Destruction because the main characters are deaf.
I still plan to expand “Luscious Love” into either novella or novel length after receiving a lot of feedback from the reviewers that they felt the ending was too abrupt. I write for fun, and it's mainly to please the readers.
Additionally, I've put a trilogy on hold for a while and intend to come back to it. It'll be a horror trilogy titled Hear No Evil, and it will be divided into three books. The main character is deaf and being chased by a killer. I started it a year ago and haven’t yet come back to it though I'm determined to get back to it as soon as possible.
There are tons of WIPs on my list, and I need to get busy. Hopefully my muse will cooperate with me.
Any last words for us?
I just want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to answer your questions. I hope the readers will learn something new about me.
Blurb: Jake's world is torn apart when his son dies, killed by a little girl who has infected him with a strange disease. Soon, Jake's entire hometown is overtaken by the disease. A disease that turns them into flesh-craving monsters. The combination of tragedy and horror is almost more than Jake can take, but then he meets Rex, a man who has been struggling through the horror in search of more survivors. The two men travel together, searching for answers and other survivors, the growing bond between them the only bright light in their dark world.
But then that light is taken brutally away, and Jake is left struggling to find it again, fighting against insurmountable odds and growing despair ...
Buy Link: Less Than Three Press for $3.99
Zach, an army brat, was born in El Paso, TX, and has lived in North Carolina, Germany, Kansas, California, and the District of Columbia, before graduating from University of Baltimore in May 2010, with a degree in Applied Information Technology. He now resides in Arizona, where he moved to start a new adventure with his partner and dog.
In his spare time, Zach enjoys reading, mainly horror. He enjoys doing outdoor activities, and he runs on a daily basis. He participates in charitable running events, from 5k up to marathon distances.
Zach writes as often as he can and likes to push himself with writing challenges. Joining the M/M Romance group on Goodreads.com has immensely boosted his motivation to become a successful Deaf author, writing about man to man love, with some horror thrown in for good measure.
When he is not writing or reading, Zach likes to practice his web design and development skills. He loves to hang out with love of his life as often as he can, finding things to do inside and outside the house, whether it be yard work, hiking, bike riding, walking their dog, eating out at a cozy diner, or just loving.