When I was self-publishing my novellas, I came across a book called Mad Swine on Amazon but never purchased it. I’m not sure why–it might have had something to do with the massive size of my TBR list (which is, incidentally, still massive). My loss, but it ended up being your gain: Mad Swine was picked up by Permuted Press for publication, and its author Steven Pajak joined the growing horde of Permuted authors. I was given the chance to read a pre-release copy of Mad Swine: The Beginning and thoroughly enjoyed it. It hit the shelves at the end of February, and I highly recommend everyone go pick it up!
Steven was kind enough to agree to an interview here on my site, so take a little time to get to know him and pick up Mad Swine: The Beginning at an e-Retailer near you!
My readers may not be familiar with you or your work. Could you take a few moments to tell them a little about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
Sure. I was born and raised in Chicago but spent a year in a small town of Wartrace, Tennessee when I was 18 and then spent a couple of years in Dallas, Texas in my early twenties. I am an administrator at one of our state universities. When I’m not writing I do a lot of reading, I watch television, and toy with my watch collection. I love camping, fishing and shooting, as well as spending time with my two kids.
How did you decide that the horror genre was the ideal genre for you to write in? Are you going to be an exclusively horror author, or would you consider branching out to other genres? If so, which ones?
I am definitely not exclusively a horror author. My first two novels were both suspense/thrillers. I have a tendency to write cross-genre stuff, too, that blend suspense, romance, comedy, and horror all into one. One of my future projects is a contemporary romance…but you didn’t hear that from me.
My readers may not be familiar with your work, Mad Swine: The Beginning. Could you tell them a little of what it is about?
The book follows Matt Danzig, an administrator at a university, as he tries to locate his family and make it home in the early stages of the zombie outbreak. Matt gets in and out of some scrapes along the way and finally reaches his home, a small gated community where he organizes the residents as they begin their fight to survive the initial stages of the outbreak. Things happen pretty rapidly and the entire book covers just the first week of the outbreak.
What do you think sets Mad Swine apart from other novels in the post-apocalyptic/zombie horror genre?
I think that Mad Swine is a fairly realistic book–except for the zombie outbreak. The characters aren’t doing any crazy, fantastic, or extraordinary things. I think another thing that sets Mad Swine apart is the fact that the story focuses more on the characters and their survival than the outbreak, the reasons for the outbreak, or a search for a cure. The characters don’t really care about all that. They just want to survive.
Is there a particular author or book that you find influential or inspirational? Who are your favorite authors or, barring that, what are your favorite books?
My favorite authors include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, and too many others to name. A few of my favorite books: The Stand by Stephen King; Watchers by Dean Koontz; The Beardless Warriors by Richard Matheson.
I understand that Mad Swine was previously self-published. How did you get your deal with Permuted Press? What made you decide to accept the deal rather than keep the work in the self-published realm?
Yes, Mad Swine: The Beginning actually started its life as a weekly posting in one of the forums I frequented. I had just read Plague of the Dead by the late Z.A. Recht and decided I wanted to write a zombie book of my own. I also wanted to write it in such a way that each chapter would read like a television show and maybe leave you hanging, waiting for next week to see what happened. Posting in the forums seemed a great place for this sort of thing. Well, one thing led to another and I had many followers who kept telling me I could make this into a book. I took their advice and published Mad Swine on my own.
After I wrote Mad Swine I started reading zombie fiction. I hadn’t realized there was such a niche out there. I knew Mad Swine would be at least two, if not three books, so it was then I decided to start looking for a publisher. I honed in on Permuted right away. I waited patiently until they were open to submissions and I sent in the manuscript. It was actually rejected at first. Since the book was actually doing well, breaking in the top 100 Kindle categories in horror and action adventure on a weekly basis, I was happy that folks were reading it and took away some of the sting.
Several months later, I received an email from Jacob at Permuted asking if I would be interested in submitting the manuscript again, so I sent it in. Not only did they accept the manuscript this time, but also offered a contract on the sequel (which I was still writing). It was a tough decision then, as the book was selling well already on its own. But I ended up signing with Permuted because of the additional exposure my work would receive and I knew I would be in good company with some of the best zombie fiction authors out there.
What do you feel are the most difficult aspects of writing?
For me, time–or lack thereof–is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. Things have gotten so busy in my life that I find it difficult to actually schedule time to write. Also, finding a nice comfortable place to write can be difficult with two young kids having the run of the house. Another thing that I find difficult is outlining a project. For a long time I never worked with outlines, but I found that I NEED an outline. Then I spend so much time on the outline that I don’t get any actual writing done. Ugh!
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for marketing in the horror genre?
This is one area where I struggle. I have a facebook page and a twitter account. I post in forums sometimes. I have a blog. Friends and family help promote my work, as well. Other than that, I haven’t really done much else in the way of marketing. I am researching the subject and I am open to suggestions.
What are you currently working on right now?
Oh, boy. Right now I am actually working on three novels at once. I’m working on the third book in the Mad Swine series titled New Dawn. I’m also working on two suspense thrillers titled Sociopath and Actiev Shooter, respectively.
What can we expect to see next from you?
Mad Swine: Dead Winter will be the next thing you see from me. The manuscript was submitted in January and is with the editor at the moment. At the moment, it is tentatively scheduled for a November/December release, provided there are no major issues with the editing process.
And lastly, where can readers find you online?
Thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you, Steven!
All my readers who are interested in checking out Steven’s book Mad Swine or any of his other works can check out his Amazon author’s page right here.