Sean K. Gall, the author of “Twisted Angel.”
Mike Esser, the author of “The Deadz” series.
Miner Staff Reporter
It's that taste of fear, the surprise of the unexpected and those "a-ha" moments that hooked local author Mike Esser on the horror genre when he was 7 years old.
Whether it was Freddy Krueger's deadly claw or all-out creepiness of "The Twilight Zone," Esser has always found the genre fun.
"I like the twisted side of it," he said. So strong is his love for the genre, he's made a side career out of it by writing a series of books called "The Deadz," creating the all-zombie website TheDeadz.com and even drawing a series of comic strips about a family of sarcastic zombies called "Meet the Deadz."
Esser, along with Sean K. Gall, who wrote horror/thriller "Twisted Angel" and lived in Kingman at one time, will be appearing at the Mohave County Library, 3269 Burbank St., from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday for the Halloween Author Panel.
Gall grew up watching horror movies as well. He was really in to Stephen King movies, such as "It." He doesn't know why, but the film "Critters" stuck with him for years.
"It really got to me," Gall said. "The creativity and pure imagination of these movies really stands out."
Gall said he tries to use the techniques he's learned from horror movies to bring his writing to life.
"With my writing it's more like watching a movie than reading," he said. "If I can't see it, then how can my readers?"
"Twisted Angel" is the first book in a four-book series about mercenaries, nightmares and parallel realities. The series itself is one of five that take place in the same world. The first four will each have a main character who readers follow through the series, but the fifth group of books will connect the main characters from the previous four series, Gall said.
The main character of "Twisted Angel" is Seth, a mercenary who protects the innocent and lets the guilty face the consequences coming to them.
Gall is big on character development, and in his travels across the U.S. he meets tons of people, learns all he can about them and uses what he's gleaned to create the characters for his stories.
"I use what scares people to my advantage," Gall said. "It keeps readers on edge, and there's something happening in every chapter."
Esser has already published parts one and two of his "The Deadz" series. Book one is "The Deadz" and takes place in Kingman, and book two is "Vegaz Apocalypze." Book three, which he expects to release in January is titled "The Deadz Won't Rize."
Imagine a world where one scientist nearly perfects a cure for cancer. This cure kills cancer but it also kills the body, turning the people who take it into zombies. This scientist dies, but before he passes he releases the formula to governments all over the world in hopes of someone perfecting it, Esser said.
In this race for the cure, the Russians create crawlers, the slow and stupid types of zombies; the Chinese create runners, the "28 Days Later" types of zombies that are fast and ferocious; and the Japanese create talkers, zombies with the ability to speak and think.
During this time, the U.S. shows no signs of working on the cure, and the other countries start to think America has cracked the code and has a cure for cancer. They end up banding together and using the zombies as biological weapons.
The method of delivery is America's train system. First stop: Kingman.
At the Halloween Author Panel, Esser plans to give a short synopsis of his stories, answer questions about writing and talk about his side projects. He hopes to bring Twinkies with TheDeadz.com stickers on them in order to direct people to his zombified website, which happens to have a Monday through Friday section devoted to the top zombie-related news from around the globe.
Esser said to get his books, which are available in hard copies and e-form, it's best to visit his website.
"The Deadz" is approaching 1,200 book sales, and "Vegaz Apocalypze" is approaching 1,600 mixed format sales, Esser said. He is self-published and started his zombie empire with a zero-dollar investment.
Gall took a different route.
He posted each chapter of "Twisted Angel," which he started in 2009, on Fictionpress.com as he completed them. People were able to read his work while the book was still in progress and provide criticism and encouragement.
"That's where I got my first fans," Gall said. "It helped me out a lot and gave me a lot of confidence to continue."
Once he reached 1,000 hits and had multiple reviews to show, he approached a small publishing company in Oakdale, Calif. called Shalako Press. Though the publisher told him that the company tends to steer away from horror stories, they gave it a look, and about five days later gave called to say they liked it and were willing to publish it.
More than 180 copies of the story have been purchased and it's made its all the way over to the United Kingdom as well, he said. It's available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble's websites.
In high school, Gall was working on a different story. He posted portions on Fictionpress and his aunt became his first critic, and in many ways he attributes what she said to him changing the way he writes.
"She read through the first paragraph, stopped and told me, 'Redo it, it sucks,'" Gall said. "Criticism is always kind of brutal, but it's needed."