There’s no set route to becoming a writer, sometimes it’s a natural progression, a relative, a hero, a passion from a young age. Other times it’s a thought: “I listen to a lot of audiobooks, usually buying two or three a week. I used to get so aggravated at some of the badly written and edited indie books, I’d tell my wife how horrible they were and rant on about anybody could write better garbage than that. Heck, even I could…,” said David A. Simpson, author of novel Zombie Road.
Zombie Road is the tale of the zombie apocalypse staged at first at truck stop loaded with ex-military men and a handful of colourful oddballs. Simpson used what he knew as a backdrop: Americana, the working class, and truckers.
“I drive a truck. I fell into it accidentally and decided to stay. Much for the same reasons mentioned in the book by the fictional drivers. I’ve hauled everything from mundane freight bumping docks in all forty-eight states to liquid fuels and intermodal shipping containers from rail yards. Frozen beef and oversized equipment. Lumber and steel. Scrap cardboard and multi-million dollar medical machines. I’ve unloaded in open fields, deep underground using truck elevators and turnstiles in downtown Chicago, at casinos and on military bases. I’ve hauled children’s museum displays, hazardous chemicals, car shows, slot machines and playing cards to Vegas. Some of the military and pharmaceutical loads have been shadowed by men in black SUV’s, assuring I didn’t make any unauthorized stops. I’ve crossed twenty-ton bridges in a forty-ton truck, had to back up for miles on a country road when I came to a low overpass and run at triple digits hauling heavy in a Long Nose Pete through the deserts of the Southwest. I’ve battled Manhattan traffic in a seventy-foot rig, had five hundred-mile races ripping through the night in a convoy of large cars and climbed twisty mountain roads where two trucks couldn’t pass each other. It’s a great job, money ain’t bad, and I get to listen to audiobooks all day long,” said Simpson.
Once he listened to his wife and “quit whining about it and just do it,” what resulted was an entertaining scenario where it seemed virtually nobody was off-limits to the hoard and presumptions about humanity were a thing to twist. He stated a love for Bradbury and post-apocalypse scenarios. Additionally, the story involves a high regard for, and insight of the military.
“I served seven years in the Army, most of it as a Tanker. Military people are different than those who haven’t raised their right hand. All of us swore an oath to lay down our lives for each other and for our country, if called on to do so. There is a comradery among vets, especially among the combat veteran’s. A shared experience that can’t be explained to outsiders. I don’t know about the corporate world but in the blue collar environments I’m in every day, there is a lot of pride, a lot of baseball hats displaying branches of service on them. It’s always a conversation starter, if you want it to be. Always a joke to be had riffing on a guy who was in a different branch. The way the drivers in the story act are similar to the way we act every day. We hold doors open for people, we say thank you and ma’am, and a lot of drivers carry firearms in their trucks. Especially the old school guys, the owner operators who can’t even play by the rules of being a company driver,” said Simpson.
The military isn’t the only pull from life when it came to literary choices. It’s obvious he approaches his tales with a responsible amount of tact.
“They say you should write what you know. I’ve been a zombie fan since the 70’s when I collected Tales of the Zombie magazine as a kid. I would come home after school and watch the old black and white horror movies on the local TV channel and I’ve seen most of the modern movies, read tons of books. I’m into the whole dystopian future scenarios and thought I’d make my first effort a zombie book that wasn’t dumbed down. I wanted to write a book that was “realistic” in the zombie world. If most of the population is turned, there wouldn’t be a shortage of food or anything else for years. How would people really react? Do people really start killing and raping each other a few days after it happens? Who would survive and why? What could 'realistically' create a worldwide zombie outbreak? And what about all those nuclear power plants and missiles in the world?” said Simpson.
He uses real people and landmarks in this tale and many of the characters really give an authentic vibe, albeit during an impossible situation when who knows how folks might truly react. Not everything is tyranny and self-service, something that, in my opinion, is all too prevalent in most post-apocalyptic tales.
“At the end of the e-book, I list a few and who they are based on (characters to their inspirations). Some of them are people I’ve only met in passing but they left an impression. The waitress at a truck stop in Kansas, or maybe it was Nebraska, is Kim-Li. The Three Flags is a combination of The Detroiter, a little Mom and Pop Quonset hut stop in Texas and the bar/restaurant/barber shop/bank I stumbled across somewhere in the badlands. If you were in the military back when they wore green, then you’ve probably known a Cobb or two and their Asian wives with American names. Most of the anecdotes the characters tell are true, too. My aunt really did sew my uncle up in the sheets and beat him with a frying pan. I really knew a vet with a gnarly scar in his belly that came from a kid with a dirty knife. After he had given him candy. Sara is a real medic from Idaho and rides motorcycles. Some of the characters I had to tone down for the book because in real life, they have even crazier stories and have done crazier things than their counterparts I wrote about,” said Simpson.
I would like to thank David A. Simpson for taking the time to answer my questions. His novel Zombie Road is available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook.