Wednesday, June 5, 2013

KICKSTARTER PROJECT: The Zombie Bible: Against the World's Madness

Cover: Strangers in the Land (The Zombie Bible). 47North, 2012. Art by Scott Barrie.

One courageous woman leads survivors in search of a new home as zombies overwhelm ancient Rome.
Our ancestors faced the ravenous dead.
The acclaimed series The Zombie Bible retells biblical and ecclesiastical stories as episodes in humanity’s long struggle with hunger … and with the hungry dead.
Let me tell you about this project.
Whether you want to read about a zombie apocalypse in the Middle East in 1160 BC, or in second-century Rome, or enjoy the dark, brooding, philosophical horror of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah entombed with the undead in a dry well -- The Zombie Bible has incredible stories to tell.
I began the series in 2009 and published the first novel in fall 2011:
I'm still struggling to break even financially with the series, given my daughter's continuing medical crisis; she has suffered debilitating seizures since she was 11 days old. A moment of profound wonder and blessing in my life was the moment that her medical bills and my royalties began arriving on the very same day, allowing me to cancel out those expenses.
So far, this set of standalone, read-them-in-any-order novels includes:
  • Death Has Come Up into Our Windows - an Old Testament prophet trapped in a dry well with the ravenous dead.
  • What Our Eyes Have Witnessed - Polycarp has a Gift. He can bring rest and peace to the restless dead. But Rome might burn him for it.
  • Strangers in the Land - A zombie apocalypse in 1160 BC Israel. Four must stand against the dead...if they can first stand together.

Right now, as I write this, I'm wrapping up the fourth book, No Lasting Burial, retelling a New Testament story (you can read about it here), and I am deep into planning something amazing.
Now I want to do something even bigger. Something even more ambitious. Something daring.
This summer, I want to undertake my largest project yet -- a project of a truly epicscope. A 700-1000 page novel in which one courageous woman will lead thousands of refugees from the ruins of zombie-infested Rome. This novel has quiet, intimate moments and panoramic set pieces grander than anything I've ever attempted:
  • The Collosseum converted into a refugee camp, defended by a small band of gladiators
  • The descent of an angel by night over Rome (and by angel, don't think of a little cherub of wings. Think seraph. Picture a being of grace and beauty and unthinkable power, a being that might juggle supernovas like tennis balls).
  • A faceoff with the Roman emperor while zombies blaze in flames behind his throne.
  • A desperate exodus down a road lined with tens of thousands of crosses, on which the Roman legions in their rage and grief have crucified the writhing, moaning undead.
  • A final escape sequence that will leave you awed. All I can tell you about it right now is that it is big.

I am very excited about this project. More than I can possibly express.
I have proven that I can deliver a moving, evocative, and thrilling novel that mashes up history, biblical stories and themes, and zombie horror. Now I want to take this to the next level. I want to deliver not just a zombie story, but a zombie epic.
But I need your help.
The fact is, I'm financially strapped. I'm caring for my 1 1/2 year old daughter Inara's special needs, which are considerable (though I am heartened by her incredible inner joy -- for those interested, you can read Inara's story and how her story is linked to The Zombie Bible here) and I need both time and funding to:
  • Undertake some ambitious research this summer and fall, while I continue outlining and sketching the key sequences of the novel.
  • Secure a series of retreats or a "sabbatical" during the winter 2013-14 and spring 2014 -- time away to just write. There are 1,000 pages of story to tell, and for both my readers' sake and my own, I don't want it to take as long to complete as A Game of Thrones.

I want to ask for your help raising a $10,000 crowd-sourced advance to fund my work on this novel, and I want to invite you into the excitement of its creation.
Some of the higher-tier prizes you'll find over to the right offer exclusive previews into the novel in the midst of the creative process -- or even offer you opportunity to brainstorm with me. I hope you'll check them out, and consider joining me in this adventure in a hands-on way.
But even if all you have is a dollar in your pocket, I'd appreciate your help. A kickstarter campaign is all-or-nothing; I have to make that $10,000 goal to receive any funding. And a dollar may make all the difference in helping make this unique novel happen.
How will the dollars be spent?
If we reach the $10,000 goal, the money will be spent on securing a series of writers' retreats or "sabbaticals" (time away to work on the story), as well as research into second-century Rome and the kickstarter rewards for everyone who helped reach the goal.
If we reach a stretch goal of $15,000, I want to commission illustrations throughout the novel. (What I have in mind: something like Bernie Wrightson's dark, brooding illustrations for Stephen King's The Stand.)
If we reach a stretch goal of $20,000, then I'll add a robust schedule of appearances at conferences, conventions, and other events throughout North America, as well as other work to promote the novel.
Before we get started, though, let me answer a few of your questions.
Why Zombies in the Bible?
The Zombie Bible combines two things I love: zombie horror and the old biblical stories, which are horror stories and wonder stories. We’ve largely forgotten that in the US because the stories have become so encrusted with politics. But the stories were written to amaze us, or shock us, or move us. A crucifixion is horrific. A child sacrifice is horrific. These stories try to shock us awake and then invite us to ask really tough questions, necessary questions. I wanted to bring these stories to readers in such a way that they would horrify and amaze us again, move us again. The Bible is our greatest cultural treasure-house of stories; these stories deserve our attention, and we deserve the opportunity to let them touch our hearts and bring us to tears or anger. We deserve to experience these stories as more than just political slogans or ‘life application’ self-help messages. The shock and grief of zombie horror is a way of letting us do that. It’s a way of taking us back out into the heart of the storm on the lake, to that moment when the waves are high and the sky is crushing us down with its dark weight, God is asleep, and we are hanging on to the gunwale for dear life, learning who and what we are.
Is it religious fiction?
No, though it is fiction about religious people, or about people wrestling with religious questions.
Actually, I’m not sure I understand the question very well. What is “religious fiction” and what is “secular fiction”?The Zombie Bible is definitely not what lands on the shelves of “Christian fiction” in bookstores, next to Left Behind and other titles. It isfiction that wrestles — aggressively — with religion, the way Jacob wrestled with God by the river. It drinks deeply of Jewish and Christian stories and themes.
If what you’re asking is, “I am not religious, will I enjoy this?” the answer is probably “Yes.”
If you are asking, “I am religious, will I enjoy this?” the answer is probably also “Yes.”
The series has diverse readers.
How do I know it will be good?
Well, you can read anything I've written. With three novels out, two more releasing later this year, and over 130 reviews on Amazon and more on Goodreads, I'm a known quantity. Here is what some of my readers have said about the previous novels:
“Stant rebuilds the zombie mythology from the ground up.”
- Rob Kroese, author of Mercury Falls
“I still can’t get over the beautiful horror of Litore’s writing. Looking past the zombies, you will find that Litore writes about the very core of human error and it has both humbled me and made me appreciative of the life I live. Highly recommended.”
- Jennifer Bielman, Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy
“A good novel should go for the throat; this novel goes for your heart, rips it out and eats it before your eyes. It elevates this genre from blood and guts spilled for amusement to something with a greater meaning.”
- Lucinda T. Rose, Rose Reads
“To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I could not put it down and felt my heart pounding against my ribcage as the characters raced across the land in an attempt to catch up with the hordes of unseeing and insatiable dead…I have no hesitation in giving Strangers in the Land five out of five stars and will certainly be reading the rest of the series in order to feed my insatiable hunger for more of Litore’s historical mashups.”
“You may put this book down as a changed person. You won’t put this book down unaffected.”
- Devlin Scott, Absinthe & Ink
“Litore took aim at telling this sub-genre in a way that no one was doing and he absolutely nailed it.”
- James Garcia, author of Dance on Fire
When will the book be released?
I have a contract with publisher 47North, and my plan is to submit the manuscript in November 2014, after a 16-month gallop through the research and writing of the project. (Your assistance in funding the project will make that timeline possible; without funding, this novel will be a significantly longer-term project.) We will confirm a formal publication date at that time -- and I will keep everyone in the loop -- but my projection is that the novel will be in your hands in summer 2015. Against the World's Madness (The Zombie Bible) will be available then in paperback, kindle, and audiobook editions.
As backers of this project, if you select a reward that includes copies of the previous novels in the series, I will send those out to you this August, within a month of the end of the kickstarter campaign. If your reward includes a copy of Against the World's Madness, this will be sent speedily upon its publication (probably in summer 2015).
Join me in this unique project!
I encourage you to explore my website or my Facebook page, learn as much as you can about this series, see what you think. I can tell you that zombie horror has never been done like this. If you like your horror smart, character-driven, philosophical, and gripping, I hope you'll give it a try.
My name is Stant Litore. Thank you for checking out my project. Please join me in bringing it to life -- or unlife, as the case might be. And I'll see you in Rome.

Risks and challenges

This will be my sixth book, and the fifth in The Zombie Bible; I'm excited, and I'm going to bring it to you. I do have a contract for its publication, so no problem there. I just need assistance in funding the completion of the novel itself.
The one risk you should know about is that if things take a turn for the worse medically with my daughter, that will slow completion of this epic. I am relieved to be able to say that, for now at least, she is very stable and enjoying life and we are hoping for the best.
If you're backing my project, we're going to be in touch. And either on Facebook or my website or (if you're giving one of the higher-tier amounts) in our own correspondence, I'll be keeping you updated on how much of the novel is done and how it's going. I think this one is going to be written in a whirlwind of adrenaline and creative energy. I just ask for your help funding the time and background research needed to let that creative fire rage as hotly as it can. This project deserves it.
Together, we are going to make a novel unlike anything you've read before. I'm excited about it. I hope you are, too. Please join me in bringing Against the World's Madness (The Zombie Bible) to life.

For more info or to make a pledge, click here!

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