Sorry for the delay! I’ve had no Internet today.
Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with the characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you E.E. Isherwood!
E.E. Isherwood has been a storyteller for over 30 years. As a young teen he would create elaborate imaginary worlds as a Dungeon Master for many Dungeons and Dragons adventures. He kept them all in spiral-bound notebooks. His wife often wondered why those bins of notebooks kept following her from house to house. He began to wonder about that too. But three decades and several careers later he realized they were stories, and he could put those storytelling skills to good use again by writing books. A life-long enthusiast of apocalyptic fiction, writing about zombies was his first passion. He has other book ideas based on those old notebooks. He lives in the St. Louis, Missouri area, where his series of zombie books takes place.
I love reading author bios. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? Not by a long shot! I started writing for fun in 2014 after my 104-year-old grandmother passed away. I was at her funeral talking to my sister and she mentioned she was writing a book. I thought to myself I should write a short story to commemorate my grandmother. That first effort was a 6,000 word story about an elderly woman who shares a flat with her live-in nurse. When the nurse becomes a zombie, she has to save herself. I liked the story so much I made that chapter one of a book. Then I enjoyed writing the book so much I wrote two more. Only after I had three books done did I consider trying to sell them.
Why did you choose to write your genre? I’ve always enjoyed reading post-apocalyptic fiction. Some of my favorite books are Earth Abides, The Stand, Lucifer’s Hammer, and One Second After. More recently, I’d been reading a book series called Zombie Fallout by a then-new indie author named Mark Tufo, and he was the inspiration for me to be a “Joe Average” independent author, as opposed to a would-be author seeking a publisher. [An interesting way to phrase that.]
What are you currently working on? I’m just about to publish book 6 in my Sirens of the Zombie Apocalypse series. It releases Sept. 17, 2016. It’s called Zombies Ever After. As I mentioned, the series starts with an elderly woman based in part on my own grandmother. She is later joined by her great-grandson Liam and his girlfriend, Victoria. Together they begin a series of adventures to escape the zombie hordes in the city, and later they try to figure out why strange organizations keep trying to kidnap and conduct testing on the old woman. Here’s a hint: very old people hold a genetic clue to the cure. Too bad old people were the first to die in the zombie attacks!
What process do you use to plan your novels? I like to outline my stories in the most general sense. I usually do about fifteen chapters, and each chapter has five or six scenes. I just do a line or two about what’s happening in each scene and then I let the characters take it from there. Once I get into the story the trajectory usually changes and I have to redo the outline to match. It is very organic. [I like it!]
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I have three main characters throughout most of the books. The matriarch of the family is 104-year-old Marty Peters. Her great-grandson Liam is the teen hero who takes it upon himself to rescue her from her home while the zombies invade her neighborhood. The third main character is a 17-year-old girl named Victoria. The story takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, but she is from Colorado—so she’s totally out of her element as the zombies pour out. Over the course of the six books I’ve come to enjoy writing in her POV. She isn’t a damsel in distress, but she isn’t invincible either. She draws strength from Marty because of her age and wisdom and from Liam because he’s a bit of a shoot-from-the-hip teenager. I think that makes her one of the strongest characters as she goes along.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I tried to avoid having main characters that anyone could identify as me. In fact, I pretty much wrote myself in as a minor character so that I could sock that guy with all my foibles in one safe container. But, one of the underlying themes of the book is the teen boy’s belief in God. He matches my own religious inclinations in that regard, and a lot of the series explores what role God would have in a planetary disaster. I think that is most directly a facet of my own personality. The quest for the meaning of life!
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve gone “OMG, I don’t know if I can write anything today,” but I have reached a level of exhaustion from time to time. Writing is more than a full-time job. I write during the days, I edit in the evenings, I work on book covers, blurbs, etcetera on the weekends. I spend my Friday nights formatting print book interiors. All the while I’m on social media and engaging fans with newsletters. It can, and does, lead to burnout. But I’m never short on ideas of what to write, thankfully.
What novel would you read multiple times? The novel I’ve probably read more than any other is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. It was written in the late 1940’s and was the inspiration for end-of-world disease books such as Stephen King’s The Stand. It is one of those rare books where the voice of the main character sounds exactly like the voice in my head, if that makes sense. When I read that book, it feels like the author was describing me and my thought process. The main character is named Ishwerwood Williams, which is where I got my own pen name.
What is your favorite quote? I’m a fan of General George S. Patton. He said something to the effect, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” I think that is appropriate to writing a novel. You can spend hours or days getting the wording or dialogue perfect, but those are details. I try to focus on a good story and I worry less about the minutia. [Mmmm….]
What do you do when you’re not writing? Right now, I’m trying to make it as a full-time writer. I was downsized from my IT job in the summer of 2015 and I’ve been writing furiously every day since then. I’ve got six full-length books done, 2 novelettes, and plans for many more. I’ll hang my hat on this career when I get to a point where I don’t feel compelled to spend my weekend editing!
Thanks for joining us today E.E. and good luck on your next release!
Next week’s featured guest will be H.M. Sholander.