TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery!
Chris: Thanks for having us, and the scones are delicious.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Matt: For Chris, I’d say it’s his obsessive attention to detail. We spent hours poring over Titanic deck plans—3D models, mechanical blueprints, top- and side-view cutaways—all to make sure we were as close to spot-on accurate as possible regarding the path our protagonists took while fleeing undead passengers.
Chris: For Matt, I’ll note his ability to channel characters that are far removed from his own personality. He can trot out a child or mother’s POV with equal ease, and still serve up stuff closer to home no problem. Also, he does not drink coffee.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Chris: I especially enjoy John Steinbeck, Alan Moore, Raymond Chandler, and Hunter Thompson. They have all had an impact on the style I’m after.
Matt: I’ll take Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, and Haruki Murakami – though I’m not sure you’d see any of their influences here.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Matt: Definitely a plotter. In Deck Z, we followed the actual history of Titanic events as closely as possible—to the minute, in some cases. That made detailed timelines necessary to make sure our fictional plot points joined with actual events at just the right times. In writing, as in life, we do very little pantsing.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Chris: Making sure to realize everything a particular sequence has to offer as it relates to place, plot and character within the whole story.
TQ: Describe Deck Z in 140 characters or less.
When a scientist discovers a plague that turns victims into monsters, he steals the only sample and makes for America aboard Titanic.
TQ: What inspired you to write Deck Z?
Chris: Matt and I were both looking to work on something outside of humor, which we both had been doing a long time for places like The Onion. This was a high-concept idea that was a challenge not to make funny but instead try to realize as a legit piece of horror.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Deck Z?
Matt: We did extensive research on the ship itself—its passengers and crew, the particulars of the ship’s layout and design, the class segregation, and the historical world in which our story is set. There are amazing online forums devoted to Titanic minutiae and they became a go-to resource when we needed answers to questions like “Where was the third-class linen closet located?” Because our story turns on a mutated version of the plague, we also had to dig deep to learn about disease transmission and treatment.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Chris: I’d say J. Bruce Ismay was probably the easiest because his role in the Titanic disaster is so widely understood to be that of a near-villain. Our character of “The Agent” was the most difficult for me, because he’s cut from whole cloth and has a complicated, serious backstory that motivates his ruthlessness.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Deck Z?
Matt: One of my favorite scenes is when our lead character, trying to steal away on the Titanic, meets a know-it-all kid on the dock who helps him with his escape. With all the mayhem aboard the ship, the humorous human moments were the ones I enjoyed most.
TQ: What's next?
Chris: We’re at work on a big story set in Richland Center, a sleepy town in Southwest Wisconsin. We’re excited about it.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Chris: It has been our pleasure. I’m still blown away that you churn your own butter.
Matt: Chris never goes on about my butter this way.
About Deck Z: The Titanic
Deck Z: The TitanicChronicle Books, October 3, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 222 pages
Imagine being trapped aboard the doomed Titanic on an icy Atlantic. . . with the walking dead. This fast-paced thriller reimagines the historical events of the fateful Titanic voyage through the lens of zombie mayhem. Captain Edward Smith and his inner circle desperately try to contain a weaponized zombie virus smuggled on board with the 2,200 passengers sailing to New York. Faced with an exploding population of lumbering, flesh-hungry undead, Smith’s team is forced into bloody hand-to-hand combat down the narrow halls of the huge steamer. In its few short days at sea, the majestic Titanic turns into a Victorian bloodbath, steaming at top speed toward a cold, blue iceberg. A creepy, tense pageturner, Deck Z will thrill zombie fans and Titanic buffs alike.
About Chris and Matt
Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon are regular contributors to popular websites and national publications. They live in Wisconsin.
|Chris Pauls (l) and Matt Solomon (r)|
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