My good friend Wayne Simmons is back with FEVER, the sequel to his hugely successful book FLU. Here’s the blurb:
“A deadly strain of flu has mysteriously mutated, causing the deaths of millions throughout Ireland and beyond. But the infected don’t stay dead for long, rising up to become flesh-eating monsters.
In a quarantined lab just outside Belfast, lab worker Ellis and security guard Abe fight their way through corridors of the living dead, determined to expose a gruesome truth.
Ageing conspiracy theorist Tom wracks his brain to figure out what went wrong.
Meanwhile, a young child and her two unlikely wards find themselves in the middle of a cat and mouse game involving the remains of the military, a covert government department and the ever increasing throng of dead. The fate of humanity lies in their hands.”
I enjoyed FEVER a huge amount, perhaps even more than I did FLU. It takes a fresh approach to some tried and tested zombie horror themes and it dovetails beautifully into the first book, acting both as a sequel and prequel and terrifically broadening the overall story. As always, the book is populated by a disparate cast of survivors (and victims!) and the book rattles along at a frantic pace, never outstaying its welcome.
I took the opportunity to ask Wayne about FEVER, and how things have changed for him following the huge success of FLU.
He’s very honest about how the sales of FLU and subsequent translation deals (the book’s already been sold to Germany, Spain and Turkey) took him by surprise. “I didn’t expect even a fraction of the success that the book enjoyed, so a lot of time was spent simply staring into space, open-mouthed, thinking, WHAT THE FUCK?! With FEVER, I guess there’s pressure to maintain that high, and with it, the fear that I won’t. I try not to focus on it all too much, but I would be lying to say it doesn’t matter to me: I’m not some literary dude, writing for art’s sake. I want to write books that people want to read, and sales figures are an indication, I guess, as to how many people want to read my stuff.”
“It’s incredible to think that people in Germany, Austria, Spain and Turkey are either reading or soon to be reading my Belfast-based apoc horror novels. It’s still early days, but both DROP DEAD GORGEOUS and FLU were received very well in Germany and Austria at pre-order stage, meaning further copies needed to be printed prior to each book’s release.”
Up next for Wayne (as well as a third book in the FLU series) is DOLL PARTS – the sequel to DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, his 2008 debut: a Belfast-bound apocalyptic novel in which the survivors of a cataclysmic event are besieged by the reanimated female dead. “With DDG, the focus was mostly on the human survivors, and the book could be described as very character-driven in that sense. With DOLL PARTS, the characters are still front and centre, but the tempo has been cranked up, the book firing along at a much more intense pace, with lots more focus on the reanimated dead. It’s a very different take on the zombie story to FLU. I often describe this series as my contribution to the bizarro sub-genre.”
Wayne and his partner Rebecca recently decamped to Cardiff, and the change in lifestyle is clearly paying dividends on a number of levels. As well as setting up a pet sitting business (quick plug here for Walk n’ Roll!), he’s now able to devote much more time to his writing and to promoting his work at every available opportunity. “Location-wise, I’m able to get out and about more to conventions and events, which has been great. I’ve met some cool new people, had a laugh, and couldn’t be more excited about the future.”
Great bloke, great books. Thanks Wayne! FLU, FEVER and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS are available now from Snowbooks, with DOLL PARTS to follow in April.