Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview with Stefan Petrucha and Giveaway - November 15, 2011

Please welcome Stefan Petrucha to The Qwillery. Stefan's latest novel is Dead Mann Walking (Hessius Mann 1), which I loved. You can read my review here.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Stefan:  Probably the same thing that makes it a little tough to market me – I tend to write between genres, a little of this, a little of that, something old, something new. I think it provides a great ride. Hell, I’m fascinated even if no one else is. But sometimes it’s hard to peg exactly where it belongs on the shelves. Dead Mann Walking, for instance, is part detective story, part horror, part science fiction, part noir, part social satire, but at the same time very much its own thing.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Stefan:  Some writers like to make things up as they go along, they say they enjoy surprising themselves about where the story goes, but to my mind that abdicates a lot of important writing tools, like foreshadowing and characters arcs. So, I do always work with an outline.

That said, my outlines aren’t written in stone, and I’m always improving it as I go along, so, in practice, the process is more like a dialogue between the outline and the book. For instance, I’d completely plotted the second Mann book, Dead Mann Running, but, as I wrote the last scene, stumbled upon a great final twist that changes everything.

I think it’s the best of both worlds, really.

TQ:  Describe Dead Mann Walking (Hessius Mann 1) in 140 characters or less.

Stefan:  Zombies! Noir! What more could you want?

TQ:  What inspired you to write Dead Mann Walking?

Stefan:  Zombies have been in the back of my mind for ages, but I never had an idea for a story about them that I thought was worth pursuing until I happened to be listening to a conversation on NPR about the death penalty. A speaker was saying something to the effect that the main reason the death penalty is so controversial is that you can’t take it back. And I thought, well… what if you could? And of course the revival process wouldn’t be very good.

Past that the cynical world of the noir detective and the fatalistic cosmos of the classic zombie seemed like a perfect mash-up.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do to create Hessius Mann's world?

Stefan:  I steeped myself in two things – zombies and detectives. I read a few zombie histories, watched a bunch of zombie and noir films, then went back and re-read things like The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and Monster Island.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Stefan:  In some ways, the main character, Hessius Mann, was easiest. That hard-boiled voice always came readily to me. In college a friend and I did a satire of Casablanca. Later on, I did a few graphic novels, Lance Barnes: Post Nuke Dick and Boston Blackie -- so it’s a voice of which I’m fond. I enjoy sticking in the darkly philosophic one-liners.

With Hess, it was tough, at times, finding a balance between his zombie-distance from life and the romanticism inherent in any detective, but I think it works. Cynics are only cynical because they still believe in something after all. The dead moreso.

Hardest was probably Hess’ former boss, Tom Booth, the current chief of detectives in Fort Hammer. He’s a guy who slept with Hess’ wife and now hates chakz and Hess in particular. His angry emotions were such a knot, it was difficult to hit the right tone with him and avoid being cliché. He’ll have a bigger role in the sequel, so I’m looking forward to teasing him out some more.

TQ:  Which character surprised you the most in Dead Mann Walking?

Stefan:  Probably Hessius’ fellow-chak and informer, Jonesey. A former motivational speaker, he tends to be too enthusiastic given his condition and the world he’s living in. At times he’s comic relief, but there’s a sadness and danger to him. If you’re optimistic about your car flying, you can drive off a cliff. I feel about him the same way Hess does, I find him irritating, but feel obligated to hear him out.

TQ:  How are the zombies in Dead Mann Walking different from Romero type zombies?

Stefan:  Romero zombies are rabid cannibals, basically like a plague – and you really can’t have a main character who only moans, claws and chews. While the Dead Mann chakz are walking dead, they retain some, but not all, of their original personalities and capabilities, depending on how quickly they were brought back. Essentially abandoned by the living, they form a sort of underclass. They spend their days worried about their bodies rotting, their memories failing and the ever-present danger of falling into such a deep depression, they go feral. Then they’re pretty much like the Romero zombies, but they don’t crave human flesh so much as they’ll eat anything.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Stefan:  There are a lot of scenes I’m very happy with, but one stands out, maybe because I just like the idea of it. In Dashiell Hammet’s classic detective story, The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade attempts to explain himself to femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy by telling her this incredible story, a parable really, about a man named Flitcraft. As an homage to that, when Hess attempt to explain death to his client Turgeon, I have him tell his own Flitcraft story – and that tickles me endlessly.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Hessius Mann series?

Stefan:  After Dead Mann Running, I’d like to do Dead Mann Standing, since I figure Hess will be tired after all that walking and running. Realistically, I’m currently contracted for the one sequel, and future books will depend on sales. Too early to tell, but I’d be happy to keep Hess going for years.

TQ:  What's next?

Stefan:  As mentioned I’m currently working on Dead Mann Running, which won’t be out until late next year. But this March, I’m very excited to have a young adult hardcover coming out from Philomel Books, entitled Ripper. It’s been going over great in-house, and already has some substantial film interest. I like to describe it as sort of like Harry Potter, except without magic and with a serial killer. The cover alone is fantastic.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Stefan:  Thanks for having me! Come visit at www.petrucha.com!

About the Hessius Mann Series

Dead Mann Walking
Hessius Mann 1
Roc, October 4, 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages

After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife's murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned-too bad he was already executed. But thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of.

Now that he's joined the ranks of Fort Hammer's pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a "living" as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone's giving him the run-around-and it's not like he's in any condition to make a quick getaway...

Dead Mann Running (Hessius Mann 2) will be published in 2012.

About Stefan

photo by Sarah Kinney
Born in the Bronx, Stefan Petrucha spent his formative years moving between the big city and the suburbs, both of which made him prefer escapism.

A fan of comic books, science fiction and horror since learning to read, in high school and college he added a love for all sorts of literary work, eventually learning that the very best fiction always brings you back to reality, so, really, there's no way out.

An obsessive compulsion to create his own stories began at age ten and has since taken many forms, including novels, comics and video productions. At times, the need to pay the bills made him a tech writer, an educational writer, a public relations writer and an editor for trade journals, but fiction, in all its forms, has always been his passion. Every year he's made a living at that, he counts a lucky one. Fortunately, there've been many.

Stefan's Links


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a signed copy of Dead Mann Walking (Hessius Mann 1).

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Favorite novel, short story, movie, TV show with zombies? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. At the moment, I'm diggin' AMC's The Walking Dead series. I just can't get enough of it.

    This Hessius Mann series is something I want to read and I'm adding Dead Mann Walking to my must have list.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  2. I like the novel Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  3. my favorite the walking dead.. and movie.. zombieland.. and book.. you are so undead to me :p
    thanks for the giveaway..
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: blackwolf
    +1 tweet:https://twitter.com/#!/PandoraSWolf/status/136519480737136641


  4. Feed is my absolute favorite zombe novel, and Shaun of the Dead as movie ;)
    Thank you for an awesome giveaway!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 shared on my blog:

    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  5. I have been fortunate in being able to read a couple of posts about Dead Man Walking and definitely would like to read it. Thank you so much for sharing today and for the lovely giveaway opportunity. As of today my favorite zombie show, as zombies are fairly new to me this year, is The Walking Dead. In fact I have to say that after watching season one, I was intrigued enough to start looking into this "genre".

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweeted = https://twitter.com/#!/ZDz59001/status/136538465121730560


  6. Right now I would have to say The Walking Dead. Love that show!!! Thanks for the chance.

    I am a follower
    sariahwalters at gmail dot com

  7. warm bodies by isaac marion ,love that book and curious bouth yours

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  8. I adore Carrie Ryan's zombie series "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" :) Thank you very much for the awesome giveaway, edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    GFC Krystal Larson

  9. I do remember Beverly Hills Body Snatchers. It was intriguing.

    debby236 at gmail dot com

  10. I love Rot & Ruin and Walking dead is great!!!

    GFC follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  11. For zombie stories, I prefer book than movie. My fav is The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
    Oh, and I love Michael Jackson Thriller's music video^^

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 share on twitter


  12. I have not read many zombie books. SHAUN OF THE DEAD stands out movie wise.

    I follow.


  13. I love new book by Diana Rowland - "My life as a white trash zombie"
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower as Sofija Kapranova

  14. i like resident evil ^^

    gfc: yto
    tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/Yto77/status/136810482773397505

    witchvela at web dot de

  15. I really enjoy the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  16. I love all kinds of zombie fiction, but it doen't get better than movies from the original Living dead sequence by G.Romero. Especially the Dawn of the Dead.


    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  17. To be completely honest my favorite Zombie Movie is Zombieland... that movie cracked me up so much lol.

    megnate at telus dot net

  18. I follow you on GFC (same name)

    megnate at telus dot net