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Interview with Michael Logan, author of Apocalypse Cow - May 20, 2013


Please welcome Michael Logan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Apocalypse Cow, Michael's debut, will be published tomorrow, May 21, 2013. You may read Michael's fantastic Guest Blog - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - here.



Interview with Michael Logan, author of Apocalypse Cow - May 20, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Michael:  Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be allowed to waffle about writing.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Michael:  I believe I wrote my first short story when I was nine. It was called My Push-Button World and essentially revolved around me being able to call up whatever I wanted, such as a full-size football field complete with 21 robotic players to accompany me, at the push of a button. My mum still has it on a wrinkled piece of A4 paper somewhere, and says it proves I must have been a lonely child. I’m pretty sure I had real friends as well, though.

Since then then I’ve always written, at varying degrees of intensity, to provide an outlet for my over-active imagination. With an underdeveloped brain-to-mouth filter, I have a tendency to blurt out whatever odd idea pops up in my head. Without writing this would be a lot worse, and I would draw a lot more odd looks than I already do.



TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Michael:  I’m not sure I have any quirks. I know that some writers have very set processes, such as only being able to write in their wife’s underwear, but I tend to be able to write anywhere at any time in whatever clothes I happen to be wearing. Then again, years of journalism have taught me to do most of my writing in my head, so I keep a voice recorder at hand to capture the ideas I have while in the car, the bath or in bed. Then, when I sit down at the computer, it’s usually ready to come out – at least at the early stages.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Michael:  I’m a bit of both. I always draw up an initial plot outline, usually on flip-chart paper, with timelines, character arcs, key scenes, etc. However, this changes as I go and I can never summon up enough energy to go back and modify. So, I will always start out with a plan but then let the story go where it has to go. I am a compulsive editor, though, and every story goes through countless drafts. I always want to change something, and even when I’ve hit ‘send’ I have to force myself not to go back and tinker some more.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Michael:  Two things: deciding which particular story to develop and finding the time. I currently have a list of 17 novels and as many short stories, all of which are clamouring for my attention. I have a dreadful habit of flip-flopping between several projects at once and it can take me a long time to settle on one. Even then, I always want to zip off to something else. I’ve had to teach myself to stick with a project once it’s started, even if I am bogged down and tempted to go to another project that is at an easier stage.

In terms of time, I have a full-time job, two young children, a wife I very much enjoy spending time with, a hectic social life, a serious reading habit, a sporadic addiction to exercise and love of playing and listening to music. When I am in a project, I will usually get up at the crack of dawn and get an hour in before work. Then I will snatch a quick lunch and do some more. When I can, I will grab an evening. The problem with this is that I often find I am have to stop writing when I want to keep going for hours, and it can be challenge to keep the flow with such fragmentation.



TQ:  Describe Apocalypse Cow in 140 characters or less.

Michael:  Social and political satire through the scandalously neglected medium of zombie cows.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Apocalypse Cow?

Michael:  Back in 2006, I was writing a lot of literary short fiction and trying to find the headspace to work on a very serious novel that had stalled. I decided I needed to do something that would be outright fun, for me at least, so I could look forward to writing after a long day at work. I had always loved zombies, and knew that I wanted to do something a little different. After a night of imbibing wine with some friends, we came up with a list of zombie angles that hadn’t been pursued. I did think of writing a book in which only pre-pubescent children were infected, forcing parents to kill their progeny, but that seemed just too horrific. Zombie animals, on the other hand, gave plenty of opportunity for silliness. I never actually expected it to be published, particularly since I started this way before the zombie craze got back into full swing.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Apocalypse Cow?

Michael:   It is set in my hometown of Glasgow, so locations weren’t a problem. I did, however, watch a lot of videos of abattoirs to really understand how it all works, read up on the UK’s planned responses to terror attacks and/or viral outbreaks, and researched how viruses works. My job as a journalist meant I’d had a lot of experience of chaotic situations, such as riots and refugee camps, so that helped a lot when it came to certain scenes.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Michael:  Geldof was probably the easiest, since I was also a ginger geek with a crush on my maths teacher as a teenager. I wouldn’t say any of them were particularly hard, but perhaps Terry was the most difficult as I gave him rather an odd hang-up, which I had to present without making it too obvious where it came from.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Apocalypse Cow?

Michael:  I am very fond of Geldof being stuck in the middle of the first interaction between Fanny, his vegan mother, and David, his meat-obsessed neighbour, in chapter two. There is also a scene that satirizes UK minister John Selwyn Gummer’s disgusting PR stunt in which he fed his daughter a burger on TV during the height of the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) crisis. Quite a few readers found this scene disturbing, as they should. I suspect the reference may pass many people by, as it happened in the UK over 20 years ago.



TQ:  What's next?

Michael:  My second novel, Wannabes, is now complete. It’s darker and more ambitious, and revolves around Heaven and Hell tussling for humanity’s soul through music. I am now writing the follow-up to Apocalypse Cow, entitled Cruel Britannia. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but Geldof will definitely be making a return, as will another character from the first book that may surprise the reader.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michael:  You’re very welcome.





About Apocalypse Cow

Apocalypse Cow
St. Martin's Griffin, May 21, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
(US Debut)

Interview with Michael Logan, author of Apocalypse Cow - May 20, 2013

If you think you've seen it all -- WORLD WAR Z, THE WALKING DEAD-- you haven't seen anything like this. From the twisted brain of Michael Logan comes Apocalypse Cow, a story about three unlikely heroes who must save Britain . . . from a rampaging horde of ZOMBIE COWS!

Forget the cud. They want blood.

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain's livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn't recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers.
Overwhelming odds.
One outcome . . .

Yup, we're screwed.





About Michael

Interview with Michael Logan, author of Apocalypse Cow - May 20, 2013
Michael Logan is a Scottish journalist, whose career has taken him across the globe. He left Scotland in 2003 at the age of 32, has lived in Bosnia, Hungary, Switzerland and Kenya, and reported from many other countries. His experience of riots, refugee camps and other turbulent situations helps fuel his writing.

Apocalypse Cow is his first novel. His short fiction has appeared in literary journals and newspapers such as Chapman and The Telegraph, and his piece We Will Go On Ahead and Wait for You won Fish Publishing’s 2008 international One-Page Fiction Prize.

He currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is married with a young daughter and son.

Website  ~   Blog  ~  Twitter @MichaelLogan







Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 2013


Please welcome Michael Logan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Apocalypse Cow, Michael's Debut, will be published on May 21, 2013.




Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 2013




On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows

Apocalypse Cow, as the title suggests, contains zombie cows. It contains Zombie sheep. Hell, it even has a few zombie squirrels chucked in. Pretty ridiculous, right? Well, yes. But is this any more ridiculous than the concept of a zombie human, which people seem to have no problem swallowing?

Apocalypse Cow is not intended to be particularly serious, as the title and cover may have suggested. However, a few people have assumed that the whole comedy aspect of the book is based on the assumption that sex-crazed zombie animals are intrinsically funny. They aren’t, or at least not beyond a brief initial titter. It’s certainly not enough to sustain a whole book, so I played this aspect pretty straight. The humour in Apocalypse Cow comes from the human reactions to the crisis, both in terms of social interaction and government response.

I do find it noteworthy that some people think my maniacal cows are a dafter idea than zombie humans. I would actually argue that the zombies (more correctly just ‘infected’) in my book are less far-fetched than your typical human undead shuffler.

Let’s take a look at the traditional zombie, which has permeated modern culture to such an extent that people are holding serious debates over whether there could really be a zombie apocalypse in the works:

  • They come back from the dead, where they have often spent decades rotting, so their entire system of movement is compromised, if not entirely broken down. Yet they still manage to shuffle about in search of tasty brains (is there something about becoming a zombie that enhances one's taste for French gastronomy?);
  • They have no apparent fuel source to sustain them, as their digestive systems aren’t working, making it unclear where all that ingested meat actually goes;
  • Their wounds don’t heal, what with them being dead and all;
  • They still have rudimentary brain function, despite all the decomposition, and follow basic instincts or retain vague memories from their previous lives (see the mall scenes in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, with zombies aping the shopping experience along to ditty Muzak);
  • They can only be killed by destroying the brain, which means that all the other organs that support human life and create movement are defunct. In fact, they can often comprise nothing more than a head, a chunk of torso and maybe an arm or two and continue to crawl around trying to bite people’s ankles like the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail;
  • They will continue to attack a victim until it he or she is ripped to shreds, which may make for some titillating scene of intestines being slurped down like spaghetti, but does not serve the purpose of passing on the virus that infects them.

So, they are driven by a mysterious, never explained, virus that somehow takes a system with the component parts vital to its function utterly decimated, and makes it move and act in systematic way without any apparent source of energy. Sound feasible to you?

Now, take the infected in my book:

  • The dead stay dead, although in all fairness most cow corpses tend to be slathered in ketchup rather than buried in a quiet little graveyard;
  • They continue to eat, shit, breathe as usual, and their bodies are not compromised beyond the sniffles and a few sores;
  • They can be killed in normal ways, although it may take a little longer for them to realize they are dead;
  • Their behavior is driven by a virus with the sole goal of propagating itself, therefore forcing the host to behave in a way that encourages this;
  • They only attack long enough to ensure the virus has been passed on, thus ensuring the survival of the victim as a new host.

In summary, they are normally functioning biological organisms – just with a new agenda driven by the virus. Now, I’m not saying my book is entirely scientifically accurate. However, the basic idea of an organism taking full or partial control of a living host in the interests of survival of the species is based in nature and science. The flu virus, for example, prompts sneezing and coughing as its host tries to expel it. If it didn’t do that, it wouldn’t spread. Animals get colds and flus too. Nature even gives us a perfect example of ‘zombie ants’, which are taken over by a fungus that directs them to die in a cool, moist place where the fungus can flourish. There is no biological reason why such a ‘zombie’ virus could not infect animals rather than humans. We've just never really considered it before.

An idea only seems far-fetched until we’ve had time to get used to it. Let me start my final point with a tangentially related example. Recently, I was editing a huge report written by a non-native English speaker, in which a made-up word featured at least 70 times. At first, I replaced every instance, shaking my head in irritation. Halfway through, I found the word slipping through the editing net, because it started to make sense through repetition. My brain was beginning to amalgamate this ridiculous word into my vocabulary after just a few short hours.

The same thing applies when we are exposed to a concept in popular culture. Give us films, TV shows and books about zombies or vampires or ghosts for long enough, and we begin to accept these ideas as a possibility, no matter how unfounded they are in reality. Human zombies have been around for long enough to become so accepted that their future existence is being taken for granted by some. Witness the articles last year talking about the feasibility of zombies and the CDC having to issue a statement saying the zombie apocalypse is not upon us after a spate of weird incidences of cannibalism.

So, there you have it. In twenty years’ time, after a hundred zombie animal books and films, I fully expect everybody to accept the premise without batting an eyelid. And, of course, I expect to receive the Nobel Prize for outstanding services to zombie animal science, a field that is currently sadly overlooked.





About Apocalypse Cow

Apocalypse Cow
St. Martin's Griffin, May 21, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
(US Debut)

Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 2013

If you think you've seen it all -- WORLD WAR Z, THE WALKING DEAD-- you haven't seen anything like this. From the twisted brain of Michael Logan comes Apocalypse Cow, a story about three unlikely heroes who must save Britain . . . from a rampaging horde of ZOMBIE COWS!

Forget the cud. They want blood.

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain's livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn't recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers.
Overwhelming odds.
One outcome . . .

Yup, we're screwed.





About Michael

Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 2013
Michael Logan is a Scottish journalist, whose career has taken him across the globe. He left Scotland in 2003 at the age of 32, has lived in Bosnia, Hungary, Switzerland and Kenya, and reported from many other countries. His experience of riots, refugee camps and other turbulent situations helps fuel his writing.

Apocalypse Cow is his first novel. His short fiction has appeared in literary journals and newspapers such as Chapman and The Telegraph, and his piece We Will Go On Ahead and Wait for You won Fish Publishing’s 2008 international One-Page Fiction Prize.

He currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is married with a young daughter and son.

Website  ~   Blog  ~  Twitter @MichaelLogan





2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013


I'm pleased to announce the 3 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.


M.L. Brennan

Generation V
Publisher:  Roc, May 7, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-451-41840-1 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Reality Bites

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…





Betsy Dornbusch

Exile
Series:  Seven Eyes
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, February 5, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-59780-452-3 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen–and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior . . .

Exile is the beginning of an ambitious fantasy saga by an acclaimed new author.






Michael Logan

Apocalypse Cow
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, May 21, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-250-03286-7 (print)
(US Debut)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Forget the cud. They want blood.

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain's livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn't recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers.
Overwhelming odds.
One outcome . . .

Yup, we're screwed.



Animal-ify a Title and Enter to Win Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan - June 9, 2013Interview with Michael Logan, author of Apocalypse Cow - May 20, 2013Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013

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