An Interview with Dan DeWitt—Part Two

There's still a few more days to win a copy of Orpheus by Dan DeWitt. Here's the second part of the interview with the author.

Find Dan DeWitt Online

Did you learn anything from writing Orpheus? If so, please explain.

Sure did. I learned that a writer can get really attached to his characters. In a book like mine, it's probably no surprise that some characters don't make it. Those scenes were hard to write, even though I knew they were inevitable.

Who designed the cover of Orpheus?

That would be me. The beauty (and, occasionally, beast) of self-publishing is, if you're willing and capable to do the work, you can publish with literally no investment other than your time. Cover design can run serious money if you hire someone. So, if you own Photoshop, learn it. If you don't, get GIMP, which is free, and go nuts. The final cover for Orpheus is completely different from my original concept, but I'm happy with the way it turned out, especially because I'm a few rungs below amateur when it comes to graphic design.

Fun bit of trivia, if I ever get important enough for it to matter: the dog tags and wedding ring are my own.

Where did the specific idea of using a virus as causing the zombie phenomena come from?

I can't take credit for that one. Zombie viruses of varying origin are relatively common within the genre. It's something that readers are just conditioned to accept, so authors can get right to the flesh-chomping goodness.

Who was the hero, Cameron Holt, based on?

I could try to lie to you, but you'd see right through it. Cameron Holt is an author avatar all day. I'm a husband and a father, so when it came to writing Holt, I just based his actions on what I think I would do in a similar situation. Let's say I lost my wife and son on a zombie-infested island. Alternating between total self-control, cold detachment and suicidal depression (with a barely-contained rage always simmering just under the surface) sounds about right. I'd be a hot mess, so that's what Holt is.

Also, for the character of Mutt I pretty much took my friend Ryan and put him in a zombie book. It's okay; I told him I was going to do it first.

What about the villains?

They're just made up, as far as I consciously know. I needed a sociopath and puppetmaster. Fortunately, I don't think I know anyone who is evil enough to pattern those guys after. They must have been at least a little believable, because I hated their guts.

A scene that takes place at a radio station turns the plot on its head. Where did that idea come from?

It came from a place of immense frustration. I needed a way to make what was happening on the island even more horrifying in a way, as well as tie it all together, and I needed to do it in one fell swoop. It took me a couple of days to figure out how, but when I did I thought it couldn't have been any other way.

In hindsight, is there anything in the book you wished you had written differently?

I'm glad you didn't ask me this five rewrites ago, because my answer would have been looooong. I don't think any decent writer ever thinks their book is flawless. But regarding Orpheus, I wish I'd found a way to give Mickey a bigger role. I really liked that guy.

How did writing this book affect your work and home life?

Strangely enough, not at all. I was doing security work at the time, and I wrote the entire book behind the wheel of the patrol vehicle. Still managed to do my job, too!

I was very impressed with the characters, and I’d like to know what happened to them after the book ends. Do you have any plans to write a sequel?

I guarantee at least one sequel, probably two. I think Cameron Holt is good for two more books before he can finally relax. After that, who knows? Maybe the next generation can take over. In Orpheus' world, zombies are real. It's possible that some other nightmares are real, too.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Well, first of all, thank you for reading this interview; I had a great time with it. Speaking of reading, if you find something you really like, especially from an indie, don't keep it to yourself. That one friend you tell or the five minutes you spend on an online review can have a much greater impact on an author's career than you think.