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The Undertakers 5: End of the Word by Ty Drago
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
The Corpse War is over. Or at least Will Ritter thought the war was over. But Will quickly changes his mind when he is led through a doorway in time and finds himself in a future where the Earth has been all but destroyed. The Corpses, alien invaders who wear the dead like suits of clothing, have returned in horrific numbers. In the wake of their destructive onslaught, a rag-tag group of survivors with some of Will’s now grownup friends among them is all that’s left of mankind. Will must take part in a desperate, last ditch effort to rewrite history, prevent the Second Corpse War from ever happening, and defeat this evil that has consumed mankind once and for all. But victory, if such a thing is even possible, carries a heavy cost.
When did you start writing?
Well, that’s a complicated question. The simple truth is that I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write stories, or at least tell them. According to my folks, I started storytelling when I was three-years-old. What’s that look like? Well, I’ve seen the photographs, and apparently it looks like a fat little kids with no clothes on sitting on his living room rug with a piece of paper and a crayon. My hair is sticking straight up, my tongue is hanging out the corner of my mouth, and I’m scribbling like a madman. Then (I’m told) I would hold up my masterpiece and declare something like “Cow!”
At which point, my father would turn to my mother and remark, “There’s something wrong with this child…”
But in my head I was telling a story.
So I guess that’s about when I started writing.
What makes you want to write?
The voices in my head command me to.
Okay, just kidding. Maybe. The truth is I walk around all the time with stories roiling around between my ears. I guess most fiction writers do. I put them down on paper for the simple reason that a good story needs to be told. Period. Writing is as natural and necessary to me as breathing. I can’t remember a time in the past when I didn’t feel that way and I can’t imagine a moment in the future when I’ll feel any differently.
Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it?
I’ve never had writer’s block, per se. But I do sometimes get stuck, usually in the middle of book, when I realize I want to get from Plot Point A to Plot Point B but have no real idea of how to make the trip. At those times, I usually listen to music. The right music. In my experience, every story has the “right” music that, for whatever reason, whispers to me about the plot and gets my juices flowing.
For the Undertakers Series, I have a lot of such songs, mostly anthems. For example, some great stuff by Muse and Thousand Foot Krutch, among others, have kept me going through five books and one novelette.
Do you have a special way of going about writing?
Well, once I find the music, I just start thinking. I have a day job and it has a long commute, and I often spend that commute thinking. But while some folks think about politics, sports, or the weather, I think about stories.
I often put entire plots together inside my head while cruising up the New Jersey Turnpike.
Then, when I’m ready, I start writing. I’m a “pantser,” not a “plotter.” I don’t make outlines, not unless a publisher insists on one. And, even then, I tend to pretty much ignore them. I prefer to just start typing and see what the story and the characters take me. I’m forever surprised.
Do you have any works in progress?
I’ve just penned a YA dystopian and my agent and I are currently polishing. It needs revision, but I’m proud of it and have high hopes that it’ll mark the beginning of my post-Undertakers career.
I’ve got two other novels currently in development. Both are YA horror.
Annnnd … I have this idea of one more Undertakers story. It’s a novelette like Night of Monsters, that would take place between Books 3 and 4. I’m not sure if it’s going to come to life yet, but the muses keep whispering in my ear. So, we’ll see.
What are your hobbies?
My wife, Helene, and I love to travel. This May we’re off to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The plan is to have lunch on the exact day in Rick’s Café in Casablanca!
We also hike, bike, and kayak. Not bad for a couple of fifty-somethings.
Who is your favourite character in Undertakers: End of the World?
In the series as a whole, I’d have to say Tom Jefferson, Chief of the Undertakers. I first invented him (and his sister Sharyn), when I was a kid drawing comic books for my neighborhood friends. Bringing them both to life in the Undertakers novels has been a dream come true.
As for my favorite character in End of the World … well, I can’t really answer that without revealing a major spoiler. So, let’s just say I really enjoy William, and leave it at that.
How did you get the idea for the Undertakers series?
I’ve told this story so many times. But what the heck… :)
When I was a child, I used to draw comic books … badly. These I shared with the kids in my neighborhood because it was the sixties, and we didn’t have the internet or video games yet. Most of these comic books were centered on a group of kid superheroes that I called at the time “The Kid Kadets,” mainly because I was eight didn’t know how to spell “cadets.” The Kid Kadets had all the usual superhero powers. Some could fly. Others could control the weather, or move things with their minds, or fire Ironman-like blasts of energy from their fists. That kind of thing. Their secret base was a huge building deep below the ice of Antarctica (I have no idea why), and whenever trouble brewed anywhere in the world, this entire building would crash up out of the ice (again, no idea why) and the Kid Kadets would sally forth to right all wrongs.
This went on for years. Hundreds of badly drawn comic books.
Until, eventually, the Kid Kadets faced a villain they couldn’t defeat. I grew up. I grew up and I forgot about them for about thirty years. Until one day in the mall, my 12-year-old son asked me, “Dad, why don’t you write a book for me, for my age?”
So I chewed on that for a while before suddenly remembering those Kid Kadets. Not the superhero/Antarctica nonsense, but instead the notion of a child army, an army of just kids, fighting a war that only they can fight because only they know it’s happening. Eventually, I settled on the concept of zombies as villains. But they needed to be intelligent zombies. I didn’t want this to be another “run around in the Post-Zombie Apocalypse world, trying not to get eaten” story.
I wanted my zombies to be different. Original.
And that’s how the Corpses, and the Undertakers, were born.
What was your favourite part of writing Undertakers: End of the World?
I love the last scene. It’s the final scene not only in the book but in the series as a whole, and I’d been chewing on it for years. I was going for just the right mix of “this is the end” and “nothing ever really ends.” Bittersweet but triumphant.
I only hope it resonates with the fans the way it has with me. :)
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin. Also, ever since our honeymoon, my wife and I have had this habit of me reading to her at bedtime. It settles us both down. Or current selection is “Ashley Bell” by Dean R. Koontz.
What is your favourite book?
Easy. “Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel.
Who is your favourite author?
I have a lot of them. I especially enjoy Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher Series. I’ve turned both my kids onto his books and even had the pleasure of briefly meeting the man once. I’m also a huge fan of Jackie Kessler, Zac Brewer, and A.S. King.
What is your favourite film?
Tough call! I’m a movie buff and have a lot of favs. The Lord of the Rings trilogy I suppose is at the top of the list. But I also love old classics like “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Citizen Kane.” On the comedy front, nothing beats “Young Frankenstein” and “Hot Fuzz.”
What is your favourite TV show?
That depends on what’s currently available for viewing. Right now, I’m all about “The Walking Dead.” Next month, it’ll probably switch to “Game of Thrones.” Then, at Christmas, it’ll turn to my all-time winner, “Doctor Who.”
Chocolate or ice cream? Ice cream.
Paperback or ebook? Paperback.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Go out or stay in? Both.
Summer or winter? Summer.
About the Author
Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place. In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer's Digest. He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.