ABOUT LAST SIEGE OF HAVEN (THE UNDERTAKERS #4):
Title: Last Siege of Haven (Undertakers #4)
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Ty Drago
While away on an undercover mission, Undertaker Will Ritter has made an unthinkable alliance...with a Corpse! But though Robert Dillin (aka 'The Zombie Prince') is indeed one of those alien invaders who animate and possess the bodies of the dead -- unlike the rest of his kind, Dillin isn't evil. In fact, he wants to help. And Will needs that help, because the Queen of the Dead has learned the location of Haven, the Undertakers' secret HQ, and is planning a massive and deadly assault.
With the last day of the Corpse War finally upon them, Will and his friends find themselves in a desperate race to close the Rift between worlds and forever kill the Corpses. But can they do before Haven is overrun?
For that matter, can they do it at all?
1. Where/how did you come up with the idea for your story? Did it suddenly pop into your head or were you brainstorming?
I was in the mall with my son, Andy, who as twelve-years-old at the time. He’s nearly twenty-two now, which give you an idea of how long it’s been since the Undertakers were born!
I’d been looking for a new project for a while by then. It had been a few years since I’d published anything substantial and, frankly, I needed a win. On this particular day, as we were leaving a bookstore, Andy said to me, “Why don’t you trying writing a book for my age?”
I kind of liked that notion. So I started up what I think of as the Idea Machine. That’s the part of my brain that takes notions and chews or them and churns at them until they turn into something I can use...or not. Well, in this case, the Idea Machine ended up spitting out a winner.
2. Did you start with the main character, the world or the overarching concept?
I liked the concept of a child army, a fighting force composed entirely of teen and pre-teens. The way I saw it, they were battling an enemy that only they could see. Once I had that, it was just a matter of coming up with a good villain. Vampires? Been done to death (pun intended). Werewolves? I’ve always liked them as good guys. How about ... zombies? But not your moaning, shuffling idiot kind of zombies. My zombies had to smart, fast, and organized. They had to have some means of disguising themselves, of hiding the fact that they were dead. So that, to the rest of the world, they were normal living people: teachers, bus drivers, policemen.
And the only ones capable of penetrating this illusion, of seeing the truth, were members of the aforementioned child army.
That’s how the Undertakers, and the Corpses, were born.
3. Panster or Plotter? Or in between?
Panster, I suppose. I don’t like outlines. I think they stifle my creative juices. Most of the pre-work I do, I do entirely between my ears. I drive a lot, listen to music a lot, and think. Then, when I’m ready, I write it down. That’s honestly my process.
4. Are you a fan of writing contests?
Of course! Anything that gets anyone’s work in front of judges – be they editors, agents, or other writers – is fine with me. I’ve had the honor of judging a few writing competitions, most recently on TentSquare (www.tentsquare.com), a really great crowd-sourced content/social media site. Included in the prize was a thirty minute consult with me, which was flattering and, as it turned out, a great experience for all concerned.
5. How did you find your agent? How many query letters did you send?
My first agent I found by networking. But my second, the amazing lady who has sold five Undertakers books for me, I found the old fashioned way. I went onto AgentQuery.com and searched their database for agents who (a) accepted YA and MG fiction, (b) were actively seeking new clients, and (c) didn’t charge reading or mailing fees. Once I had a list of sixty names, I checked each of them out individually and whittled the list down to about forty.
Then I submitted to all of them at once. I know, I know. Some agents don’t like simultaneous submissions. What can I tell you? I wasn’t getting any younger and I was tired of waiting! J
Two of the queried agents responded favorably, asking to see the entire manuscript. Of them, one offered to represent me, and she’s been my partner and one of my best and most loyal fans ever since.
6. What's the best marketing tool you've found so far?
School visits, hands down! Since 2011, I’ve visited more than sixty middle schools in six states, speaking in front over more than 25,000 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. They’re a great audience and its wonderful venue for self-promotion and selling books. I’ve quite literally sold thousands of copies at such visits, and intend to keep doing them!
7. What do you like best about your mc?
Will Ritter is the hero I always wanted to be but, in the real world, could never quite manage it. When we meet him, he’s scared and confused, terrified by the new and awful world into which he’s been thrust. But by the end of RISE OF THE CORPSES, the first Undertakers books, he’s a force to reckoned with. And by Book 4, the newly released LAST SIEGE OF HAVEN, he’s described as the Corpses’ “boogeyman!”
The series is all about empowering children, and that theme is epitomized in Will.
8. What do you like best about your main antagonist?
Lilith Cavanaugh, the Queen of the Dead, was described by one reviewer as combining sophistication with a certain savage monstrosity. I’ve always liked that. Lilith is more than just an alien who possesses and animates the bodies of the recently dead, the way all Corpses do. She’s a true despot, which a soul so black it would frighten Hitler. To give you some idea, Lilith covets the body of Susan Ritter, Will’s mother, and is always plotting to kill her and then wear her cadaver as her next host.
Doesn’t get more evil than that!
9. Anything else you like to share about your journey or your upcoming launch, including links to giveaways or ways people can help spread the word?
Anyone who wants to know more about the Undertakers and their adventures can check out www.jointheundertakers.com. There, they’ll find background on the series and its characters, as well as links to the book trailers and, from time to time, special promotions and giveaways.
If you’d like to follow me more personally, you can check out my blog at www.tydrago.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. So reach out! I love hearing from folks!
Link to Goodreads:
ABOUT TY DRAGO:
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.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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