Zombie Author V. M. Zito Talks
Vincent M. Zito is the author of The Return Man and two related zombie books: Waiting Room and Border Crossing. I asked Mr. Zito a few questions the other day.
Could you describe the process of publishing your first zombie novel or story? What was surprising about that process?
The Return Man is my first novel, which began as a free online book with new chapters posted weekly. A zombie fan who happened to be an editor at a major publisher found the site and enjoyed the book, which was only half-finished.
They made me an offer (which was a surprise in itself!), and from that point on, I was rushing to finish the novel by the deadline I'd been given.
For me, the biggest surprise was how quickly I was able to get it all done, since I've always been a notoriously slow writer. I discovered that deadlines are my friend.
Which individuals have influenced or helped you significantly?
My entire family has always been supportive of me as a writer.
My wife is a fantastic cheerleader on the days when I'm convinced I suck. If I didn't have her, I'm really not sure I would have mustered the courage to keep going night after night.
As for influences, I think I've been most affected by the genre greats like Ray Bradbury, Jack Ketchum and Richard Matheson, to name a few.
What was your favorite former job outside of the field of writing?
My favorite job of all time might have been the summer I worked a volunteer job at the local Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
I got to stand around and educate visitors about otters and alligators and porcupines, and once I even got to hose down the Central American ocelot cage. Yes, I was cleaning poop, but it was EXOTIC poop.
Do you now write full time, or do you still work for the ad agency?
I still work 9-to-5 as a creative director at an ad agency. It's a great outlet for ideas and also teaches you to work under pressure, develop a thick skin and handle criticism appropriately. Someday maybe I can make the jump to full-time horror writer, but in the meantime, writing advertising copy can be pretty scary, too.
When you were younger, did you value the study of English? Or did this grow on you as you matured?
Even as a little kid, I loved writing stories.
I wrote and illustrated my first book at age 6, a short horror story awesomely entitled "Death Lurks in the Swamp," a bone-chilling tale about a killer dog-monster that eats unsuspecting folks who happen to go walking at night in the swamp.
The rights to that book are still available, if any publishers happen to be reading this.