Monday, April 30, 2012

Interview with V.M. Zito and Giveaway - April 30, 2012

Please welcome V. M. Zito to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Return Man was published on  April 1, 2012. You may read V.M. Zito's Guest Blog - Logic for Dead People - here.

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

V.M.:  I probably shouldn't admit to this. Last December while I was writing THE RETURN MAN, I'd watch Christmas specials every night with my daughter, and a song from an old Rankin Bass show lodged in my head: "Put One Foot in Front of the Other," sung by cute claymation characters. Somehow its lyrics became my anthem for writing a novel. It's about taking things a little bit at a time, how small steps help us cross vast distances and achieve seemingly Herculean tasks. At night as I'd sit down at my desk to write, feeling overwhelmed by the hundreds of pages ahead of me, I'd sing this song. If you're looking for some quirky inspiration, search it on YouTube.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

V.M.:  My list of favorites is so long that you might wonder if I understand what the word "favorite" means, since I seem to include everyone. I'll give you a shortened version: Ray Bradbury, John Banville, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Paul Auster, Shirley Jackson, William Styron, Jack Ketchum. In terms of influence, I think I've absorbed a healthy dose of Jack Ketchum into my story-telling, with a few dashes of Bentley Little, David Morrell and Ray Bradbury, too.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

V.M.:  I consider myself more of a plotter. For me, writing a novel is like a long road trip. Before I begin, I unfold the map and plan out my major stops along the way --- all the important plot points and decisions awaiting the characters. But what happens between Points A, B and C isn't really predetermined. I try to just let those smaller moments, like character thoughts and reactions, occur organically. Unexpected ideas inevitably pop up like hitchhikers, and sometimes I pull over to pick them up. Or at least slow down for a closer look before I speed away terrified.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

For me, it's the constant challenge to my self-esteem, the temptation to judge myself too harshly and compare myself unfairly to other (better) writers. Did I mention I'm an insecure mess?

TQ:  Describe The Return Man in 140 characters or less.

V.M.:  Post-apocalypse. Is your wife/husband a zombie? Hire Marco to end their misery. Oh no! Gov’t sends Marco on suicide mission. Wu! Corpses!

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Return Man?

V.M.:  THE RETURN MAN began with idle daydreaming about what it would be like to survive a zombie apocalypse --- but what if my family didn't? How would that feel, knowing that my wife or child was out there somewhere as a tortured zombie? That emotional twist interested me, and I wanted to write a zombie story that I hadn't seen before.

As a long-time zombie fan, I have very defined tastes when it comes to what I enjoy in zombie stories (and what I don't). So while I wanted to be different, I also wanted to adhere to the classic zombie mythos, avoiding the pitfalls of avant-garde zombie novels that inadvertently squelch the basic enjoyment of good ol' zombie horror.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Return Man?

V.M.:  Most of my research focused on the Arizona setting --- the landscape, the animals and plants, the general vibe of being in the desert. The science was a big part, too. I debated all sorts of diseases and pathogens before choosing my "culprit" for the zombie outbreak, and then I read articles in science journals for clues to possible treatments. The most surprising amount of research was actually needed for the Sunset Limited train that plays heavily in the story. I searched train aficionado websites, digging for information and routes, trying to get the details right.

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

V.M.:  I enjoyed the character Wu --- ostensibly the "bad guy" but really more of a sympathetic foil to the main character Marco. The chapters told from Wu's viewpoint were the most fun to write; I liked exploring his side of the story, understanding him as a man. But he was also the hardest, since he comes from a foreign culture; entering his mind required a greater shift in thinking, as well as greater attention to details of life in China. (More research!)

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Return Man?

V.M.:  My favorite scene comes near the end, and I can't think of a way to comment on it without spoilers! So... my second favorite scene comes in the middle, a quiet moment in a church between Marco and Wu, in which we gain some insight into each man's personal theology.

TQ:  What's next?

V.M.:  Another novel, I hope! I'm just breaking ground on a new idea, a supernatural/dark fantasy set in the spooky backwoods of Vermont. No bloody zombies, but there will definitely be maple syrup.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

V.M.:  And thank you very much for having me! I hope everyone enjoys THE RETURN MAN, and I'd love to hear from you. Visit and feel free to send me a note any time!

About The Return Man

The Return Man
V.M. Zito
Orbit, April 1, 2012
Premium Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

The outbreak tore the US in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.

But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you.

About V. M. Zito

V. M. Zito resides in Connecticut, USA with his wife and daughter. When not writing, he spends his weekdays working as Creative Director at a New England ad agency and his weekends running on trails. THE RETURN MAN is his first novel.

V.M.'s Links

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of The Return Man from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Favorite novel, movie or TV show featuring 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. You MUST 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 Monday, May 7, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. Movie: Shaun of the Dead
    Novel: hmmm.. probably Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
    Tv-series: The Walking Dead

    +3 comment, follower, retweeted

  2. My favourite Zombie-series is Walking Dead and as a novel it's a tie between Pride And Prejudice & Zombies (because it is absolutely hilarious) and the Necropolis series by Tim Waggoner.

    Thank you for the interview & giveaway!

    +1 entry
    +1 follower


  3. My favorite novel is the Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan....really the whole series.
    Resident Evil movie/game
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: Vivien
    +1 tweet:!/deadtossedwaves/status/196980984959336448

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  4. My favourite zombie film is Dawn of the Dead - a classic horror genre film with great social undertones about consumerism and human behaviour. And plenty of guns and brains-eating of course...


  5. My favorite tv series is Walking Dead of course and movie...either Dawn of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead. I have been wanting to read this book so I am WAY excited for the opportunity!!!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower GFC as Traci Loya

  6. Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower

  7. I like Night of the Living Dead. I want to see the Walking Dead series but I can't get it on television. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest.

  8. i loved warm bodies by isaac marrion
    +1 comment
    +1 follower GFC//rogier
    +1 twittr // rocapri



  9. I love The Forest of Hands and Teeth =) edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    GFC Krystal Larson
    Twitter Icecream1891
    thank you!

  10. My favorite zombie movie is Night of the Comet, and my favorite book featuring zombies is Sophie Littlefield's Aftertime.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC: Barbara E.

  11. I enjoyed the zombies in Rosemary Laurey's books.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  12. My favorite zombie movie is "White Zombie" starring Bela Lugosi.

    I am a follower of The Qwillery.

    My tweet:!/russc98/status/197149470067130368

    russc98 at gmail dot com

  13. I like the Walking Dead.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  14. Has to be SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Simon Pegg is a favorite of mine.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  15. I have not read any books featuring zombies, though I'm interested to do so.

    My favorite zomie series is The Walking Dead.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  16. OOO, undeeniably Feed by Mira Grant is my favorite book and Shaun of The dead is a favorite zombie film! :)
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 blog mention
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  17. Favourite book....Warm bodies and Rot&Ruin. Loved them both!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  18. Walking Dead is a given for many right now with its success on TV. I'd say my favorite movie is either Shaun of the Dead or the remake of Dawn of the Dead. I'm not an aficionado and have never seen the original.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower Spaz

  19. I like the emotional aspect you chose for this zombie book, a different way to look at it. And I am curious to see what comes next with that maple syrup.
    Zombie land is my fave, humor galore with some zombies thrown in.

    GFC Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail

  20. Hmmm... Zombie movie faves: Shaun of the Dead and Night of the Comet. Book faves, Mira Grant's Feed series, Mark Henry's Amanda Feral series, Diana Rowland's White Trash Zombie series, and Rachel Caine's Revivalist series. (Well, at least the 1 that's out & I've read, that is.) No TV faves come to mind...

    +3: comment, follow, retweet ;)

  21. Favorite TV Show: The Walking Dead
    Favorite Movie: Resident Evil, Night of The living Dead, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead
    Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Zombie Survival Guide, Pet Sematary

    +1 follower
    +1 comment

    tjahaira at gmail dot com