I have to admit that I’m a red shirt in Daniel Humphreys’ third novel A Place for War. He needed a name for a red shirt character in a book he was writing, and among those who volunteered, he picked me. This was a fun activity for me as a zombie fiction fan. Surprisingly, my character survived to the end of his third Z-Day novel. However, this isn’t all Daniel Humphreys has written. I had the honor of interviewing him regarding past and current projects.


Tamara Wilhite: You stated in your blog that A Place Outside the Wild was supposed to be a standalone novel. Why did it end up becoming a series of books?

Daniel Humphreys: Primarily because certain characters just wouldn’t leave me alone! It helped that I had some great  responses to the work, but honestly my plan was to work predominantly on the Paxton series after I finished Wild. I’ve ended up alternating for the past couple of years, and while it takes me a little time to switch gears, I think it’s helped me avoid getting into a rut.


Tamara Wilhite: How would you describe the Paxton Locke series?

Daniel Humphreys:  At its heart, Paxton’s story is about our inner strength. I didn’t have nearly as rough a childhood and early life as Paxton, but it was bad enough in its own way. But if a mad scientist appeared with a time-traveling DeLorean or telephone booth, I’d resist the urge to change anything. For better or worse, we’re shaped by our experiences, and I think we learn the most about ourselves by how we deal with adversity. There’s a line in the Wheel of Time series about spitting in Sightblinder’s eye when death comes to you, and Paxton has a lot of that in him. All the things that go bump in the night might beat the hell out of him and torture his soul, but he’s going to take every bit of it and ask, “Is that all you’ve got?” The challenge there, of course, as an author, is thinking of situations that will challenge the character going forward, so that victory is earned and not cheapened.


Tamara Wilhite: I believe you contributed to the “Secret Stairs” anthology. What other anthologies do you have stories in?

Daniel Humphreys: I did a sort of noirish detective story set in space in a shared universe anthology called The Hundred Worlds, I’ve got a semi-satirical story in the political anthology MAGA 2020, and coming soon I’ve got a story in the opening anthology of Joint Task Force 13, a new shared world that will be mostly full-length novels going forward, following the adventures of America’s heavily-armed defense against all things paranormal.


Tamara Wilhite: What is your favorite type of story to write?

Daniel Humphreys: I really like stranger in a strange land type stories. Whether it be Miles the IT guy realizing he’s in the middle of a no-kidding zombie apocalypse, or a teenage Paxton finding out his mom is a witch about to sacrifice his father in a magic ritual, it’s basically “What if?” followed up with “What next?” accompanied by “And then?”


Tamara Wilhite: A lot of your work can be summarized as post-apocalyptic supernatural survival horror. That’s a mouthful. May I ask what led you to write so much of it?

Daniel Humphreys: Well, tying back into the first question, in a way I sort of fell into it. Largely, the story just wouldn’t get out of my head. The setting of A Place Outside the Wild is a fictionalized version of the area in and around my hometown, and driving around I kept thinking, this would be a good place to do X, and if this happened, we could do Y here, that sort of thing. When I set out to write it to banish it from my muse, I was driven by a couple of aspects of most zombie fiction that had always left me dissatisfied. With a few exceptions, most of the books or movies end right as things are getting interesting — once the characters learn the rules of survival, and hopefully have a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s a big reason why most of the action in the Z-Day series occurs in the years after, because the I find the question of what sort of society would be born out of that sort of chaos to be a fascinating one. But I also wanted to show respect for the military that I don’t feel they get in the genre. I’ve never served myself, but I quite literally grew up surrounded by veterans — my grandfather and brother were combat veterans, and all but a few of the guys on my first workgroup when I began my career were veterans of various branches. For whatever reasons, the military seems to get short shrift in the genre. Whether they be portrayed as actively antagonistic in the original Day of the Dead, incompetent as in The Walking Dead, or ineffective in books like World War Z, I didn’t think that was accurate. And while the military doesn’t have it easy in the Z-Day series, they’re no slouches, either.


Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?

Daniel Humphreys: I just finished up Places Beyond the Wild, the first Z-Day anthology, and hope to have it out sometime next month. I had a lot of fun working with all of the other authors, bringing in stories to fill some of the more interesting gaps in the Z-Day timeline. I also wrote the opening story, which serves as a sort of prelude to the entirety of the series, and the final story, which gives a bit of a hint as to where the series is heading going forward. Because after all, zombies never die. At this moment, I’m working on Vigilance, a superhero book in Silver Empire’s Heroes Unleashed universe, which has been an interesting change of pace. Once I’m done with that, I plan to write books 4 and 5 of the Paxton series back-to-back, as the story structure I’ve outlined pretty much begs for it. And I’ll probably fit in who knows what else along the way, just when I start worrying about not having enough on my plate, something shows up!



Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Daniel Humphreys: Thanks for having me! If anyone’s inclined to follow or wants to keep up on what’s coming down the pike, I can be found on Twitter (@NerdKing52), Facebook (The Books of Daniel Humphreys) and at my blog (www.daniel-humphreys.net).