Today I’m thrilled to have horror author Russell James back for an interview. Here, he discusses his latest book Q ISLAND, a zombie genre infection thriller in the tradition of fun movies like Romero's The Crazies and Boyle's 28 Days Later. I had a blast reading Q Island. James delivers a rocket-paced scary story with compelling characters quarantined on Long Island, New York. This is Russell James' best book to date.
1. BM: Russell, it’s great to have you back on my blog. Can you give us details of what the story of Q Island is about?
RJ: An ancient virus that turns the infected into psychotic killers surfaces on Long Island, NY, and the government quarantines the island. Society breaks down, hard. Melanie Bailey’s autistic son Aiden get infected, but instead of getting sick, gets better. He may represent a cure, and she wants to get him off the island. But the government won’t let them go, and Jimmy Wade is another survivor of the infection who also wants him to stay. But Jimmy and his criminal gang have a pretty unwholesome reason as to why.
2. BM: I love the concept to Q Island. I really enjoyed the prologue with the backstory about the Ice Age mammoths being overtaken by a deadly virus. I thought the diseased mammoth was a refreshing way to introduce a zombie/infected outbreak into the modern world. How did you come up with the idea?
RJ: I remember watching those Russian scientists excavate a whole baby wooly mammoth from the frozen Siberian tundra. They chopped it out like a big ice cube with an elephant in it, and then an old Soviet helicopter flew it off as a slingload. My first thought was, “No way that isn’t getting cloned.” My second thought was, “What killed it?” Viruses can live almost indefinitely frozen. What might these scientists unleash? The storyline just went south from there.
3. BM: I totally missed the news about the Russian scientists excavating a full mammoth. There are so many different thrillers you could write from that news story. What made you choose Long Island, NY as your setting?
RJ: I remember watching horrified as New Orleans imploded during Hurricane Katrina. Within hours of isolation, society unraveled like a cheap suit. I wondered what would happen on a bigger scale, and how you could get more people isolated. I grew up on Long Island, where a few bridges, a tunnel and a couple of ferries are all that give people access to the outside world. It seemed like just the right spot.
4. BM: I’ve never been to Long Island, but sounds like a great spot to quarantine a mass of people. What authors influenced your writing style and in what ways?
RJ: Stephen King is amazing, and his big canvas, multi-character stories are a definite influence. Lately I’ve read a number of Samhain authors who have elements of style I wish I could do as well. Benjamin Kane Etheridge’s surrealism, Jonathan Janz’ amazing, surgically-delivered vocabulary, Hunter Shea’s mastery of making monsters scary as hell. All these guys give me something to shoot for.
5. BM: Yes, being a Samhain author myself, I’ve read several of Samhain’s authors. They’re introducing the publishing world with fresh and unique horror stories. You seem to hammer out at least one new book a year. Can you share your writing schedule and what you do to remove distractions so you can stay focused on your book in progress?
RJ: I have no life. My day job puts me on the road a lot, so I have a lot of nights in hotel rooms with nothing to do. So I go visit Q Island, or Dreamwalker’s Atlantic City, or Dark Vengeance’s Moultrie, Tennessee and see what’s going on.
6. BM: Awe, yes, I know what it’s like to live in two worlds, your real, everyday life and the fictional fantasy world you travel to and live vicariously through your characters. Of course, in horror fiction there are monsters and bad people in these worlds. Out of all your previous books, which one has been the biggest fan favorite?
RJ: I polled my six fans and they each picked something by Dean Koontz.
Seriously, Black Magic has sold the most copies, and also garnered the lowest Goodreads review ratings. The glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly cast it as horror meets Lake Wobegon because of its emotional impact, but Garrison Keillor fans were not happy with some of the book’s more gruesome aspects.
7. BM: I personally enjoyed Black Magic. Although, Q Island is now my favorite of your books. Any new horror on the horizon?
RJ: A new novel called The Portal will be out from Samhain in June 2016. I’m working on another story from the world of Q Island for some time after that.
I’m part of a benefit anthology called Forever Out of Time, a collection of time travel short stories, that will be out at the end of the year and a time travel novella will probably go live with that one as well. I’m going to need more hotel room time.
BM: Well, it’s been great having you back. Thanks so much for doing an interview for Dark Lucidity. I wish you much success with Q ISLAND and your previous books.
RJ: Me? I’m looking forward to a new Brian Moreland book called Darkness Rising. The buzz on that one is amazing!
BM: If you haven’t yet discovered the horror fiction by Russell James, you’re in for a treat with his latest novel Q ISLAND, now available everywhere books are sold.
All formats can be purchased through Samhain Publishing Store
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, The Portal, releases in 2016.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."
Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or drop a line complaining about his writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.