Interview with Richard T. Schrader

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read what I call the original zombie story, the one that started it all, Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham Parkes. He uses shambler plants. If you understand all of this like I do, you see that this genre is all there from outbreak to long term survival, with the various rival groups with their radical answers - just his zombies are zombie plants. His genius should come back in a new movie of his story as human zombies. So many people debate slow vs fast zombies not realizing that Wyndham already knew that issue and already solved it. Slow zombies are being phased out because they can't win. They are not threat enough that the human military doesn't just blow them all way rather easily. His slow zombies are truly frightening, because in his story, nearly everyone is blind. Are slow zombies scary? They are when you have no eye sight and you need to go feel around for food, and those things are both waiting for you and hunting you. Also, they are communicating with that tapping so that when you do have your rules and your base, they are still coming for you, and will root you out. Root you out, plant zombies - good one. After I read that, I wanted to make a truly all functional zombie nightmare where survival does have humanity on the edge of extinction because you simply are not going to get away with the tactics of the typical zombie universe.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favorite books are generally non-fiction on history. I read a lot of antique famous quotation books. I have read lots of the classics from Moby Dick to Paradise Lost. I quote a lot of Paradise Lost in my books. I really love ER Burroughs. I love Homer, which I quote a lot too. I study Mongols, Romans, Meso-Americans, Ancient Greece. I just read the Aeneid recently. I loved Clavelle, Dune, Heinlein, Stainless Steel Rat, Philip Dick, HG Wells, Conrad, tons of books. It is easier to say, that I read less of people who are still alive. Most anyone dead and famous, I read their stuff just to be informed. I read the Count of Monte Cristo, Le Miserable. "Dark as a pocket." Is one I took from that.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love geeky nerdom and love it as much as any of them do, and since I am older than most of them, my collection of nerdom is likely better than theirs is. I grew up on it, from anime to horror movies. I saw Akira in the theater and Conan the Barbarian at the drive in, Outland, Alien, you name it, I love it. I keep up with it still. All of those things are in my stories. In a real way, I am the genre expander, such that my Gravewalkers is a man from the future in an old time zombie apocalypse. Another major difference, I have the only zombies in the world that are logistically correct. My ghouls actually work, actually can defeat the world, and don't have to avoid zombie weaknesses by never mentioning them. Truth is, slow shambler zombies would quickly erode their hands off, their feet off, and before long, the world is covered in limbless harmless undead. In my world, the creatures that can take out the most militarized states on earth and you can't be a survivor simply because you sleep in a tent in the woods. An enemy that destroys North Korea and its military, cannot be outsmarted with camping in the city park. Surviving in Gravewalkers requires serious skills.
How do you approach cover design?
It is difficult since I am not a graphic artist. I'm actually proud that I managed as much as I did since I did make these. There is no money in independent fiction unless you become so successful that you no longer qualify as an independent. It is simple economics that I cannot pay an artist a large sum of money for covers knowing that I will not see a realistic return on that investment. I love that it is something I love and that part of me wants people who read stories, not judge books by their covers. Would people read simply because a total stranger to me put a cool looking monster on my covers? Yes, many would. That is no credit to me of course. That is a credit to the artist. Whatever happens, it is me and the fault of no one else.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I quit playing role playing games as a kid. I was a really awesome game master for Dungeons and Dragons and other systems. That teaches you story telling on every level. I just started writing adventures with my own characters and ideas. It is the only way in my life that I can fully express my Asperger Syndrome intelligence. The down side of course is that my vocabulary is too large for kids just wanting to hear about swords and monsters and zombies. It puts people off when they see words they need a dictionary for understanding. I do have the option to rewrite my books with the silver dollar words removed, but that was not my vision. I write the books I want to read, and I am very happy with what they say. Another down side is some people get angry if any character at any time takes a direction in politics or whatever that is contrary to their own. When they find out a zombie fighter is not a feminist or voted Democrat, some people hate you hence forth. So being opinionated in large words does hamper my approval rating.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I can't really give away my next big story I am writing in my head at the moment. It is a science fiction, in the relatively near future, involving artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and a plot to change mankind.
Describe your desk
My desk is a wooden dining table with a monitor on one side and flat screen tv on the other. I have my coffee cup and usually whatever book I am reading sitting here. I do all my writing on my computer. The original Gravewalker draft is in ball point pen and spiral notebooks. At the time, word processing was hurting me because of the constant rewrites. I decided to retrain myself in pen, so I focused more on progress and less on polishing. I have 7 or so unpublished Fastillion books I need to edit some day. The original originals are on 2 1/2" floppy disks, to show how long ago that was when I wrote them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Getting an agent is extremely difficult because it is extremely difficult for an agent to even sell anything. It is not that different from being a pro sports star and important actor. Only 1 person in many get that opportunity. I wanted my books read, and technology has changed.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
In all honesty it has not been this grand success here. For all the people who read some of the books, none of them take the time to give a nice review. People just go off to find their next thing to read. I don't take it personally. The people who have spoken to me had nice things to say. I have my quirks like anyone else. On the other hand, this gives me a chance to reach an audience that I would not have otherwise. I like this better than the other outlets which are more geared toward old publishing house methods and promoting elite famous writers at the expense of the indies. Your page there is covered with advertisements featuring your elite competitors.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
What I love most about writing is that I left something in the world that will exist after I am gone. I was here on the earth. Many years after I am gone, some kid will pick up my book, and live my adventure. Especially for people who like - somewhat overly intellectual books, from someone highly informed on matters of history, literature, and ethics. I offer something that you don't normally see anywhere else. I hate to say it, but monster fiction is not considered elitist. It is not the kind of thing Oxford Professors pick up. Your typical high school kid is not that interested in highbrow literature in his monster battles.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend most my time reading and debating with other intellectuals. I can't get enough mental stimulation.
Published 2015-05-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Gravewalkers: Marigold Cemetery
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 11. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 122,840. Language: English. Published: October 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Man Among Myrmidons
Series: The Saga of Fastillion Lemonde, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,410. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
In this third book, Fastillion becomes a man of his community, husband to his childhood sweetheart, and awakened to the powerful legacy of his psionic Atlantian mother. Also aware of the higher world filled with petty gods and epically powerful spirit beings, Fastillion is determined not to be a pawn in their games upon mortals. Here is the conclusion of his life in the West and his Windigo war.
Man of Many Waters
Series: The Saga of Fastillion Lemonde, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 124,340. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
In this second book, Fastillion undergoes his native ceremony of manhood where spirit guides reveal to him his true parentage from a lost Norse explorer beloved by Thor and Odin and his psionic warrior-general mother from the fallen remnants of the great Atlantian civilization. When his father finds himself a prisoner of the Amazonian heroines, he must adapt to a mad world of vampires and worse.
Man of the Vine
Series: The Saga of Fastillion Lemonde, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 99,010. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
In a Norse viking age where history and mythology are both equally real, the globe trekking saga of Fastillion Lemonde begins on the Isle of Vinland in the 11th Century. When an ancient enemy returns, they come armed with black magics and the cannibalism immortality of Windigo shamans. The Norsemen and their Micmac allies must shake off generations of peace to once again take up warrior ways.
Gravewalkers: Foe Grinder
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 10. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 117,870. Language: English. Published: December 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Soup Kitchen
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 9. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 124,080. Language: English. Published: December 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Bitter Morsel
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 8. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 111,640. Language: English. Published: December 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Blade Thirsty
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 7. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 104,090. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Blood Fog
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 101,780. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Glory for the Dead
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 104,920. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Final Feast
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 104,830. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Thunderhead
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 100,670. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech, Fiction » Adventure » Men’s adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Executive Decision
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 91,830. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.
Gravewalkers: Dying Time
Series: Gravewalkers, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 104,890. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Fantasy » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
This is Robert E. Howard / Robert Heinlein style of high adventure science fiction with their traditionalist social, political, moral, and ethical commentary. Gravewalkers explores the final extinction event of humanity after a viral ghoul apocalypse transformed everyone into ravenous man-eating murder machines. An ever escalating scenario, from knives to nukes, handguns to Zulu Cobra gunships.