I Am One of the Infected
By: Phillip Tomasso
When I started writing, the goal was to write YA. The reason behind it stems from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. That was the first book I ever read. I was fourteen at the time. I wanted to write about teen angst and stuff Hinton covered in her novels.
After that, I stumbled onto a Stephen King novel, Firestarter. From then on, I was a horror reading maniac. I gobbled up all King had written, and moved on to Dean Koontz, John Saul, Robin Cook and the likes. I watched horror movies only.
The first book I sold was Mind Play. It was released in February 2000. A thriller. I went on to write many more thrillers. It wasn't until my marriage began collapsing, though, that I switched it up. In 2007, The Molech Prophecy, was released. It was under a pen name. Thomas Phillips. And believe it or not, it was Christian Fiction. Dark. Edgy, but with a message.
That, as they say, was how it began.
Next book I knocked out (after The Molech Prophecy) was a vampire novel. Pulse of Evil. I tried to make a different approach. Made the vampire more like a Mafia family and took away some of the vampire-stereotypes. Some. Not all. But what came next, after Pulse of Evil, was where I'd found my passion.
As a long-time fan of Joe McKinney (Bram Stoker Award Winning Zombie Author), I decided to try my hand at a walking dead tale. Working as a dispatcher at 911, I had all the initial inspiration needed. I wrote a trilogy, Vaccination, Evacuation and Preservation. All released by Severed Press. On my own, I wrote a mash-up, Treasure Island: A Zombie Novella. And soon after that, the first in a new zombie trilogy, Damn the Dead. (In Damn the Dead, the zombies are referred to as the infected. It is a continuation of The Vaccination Trilogy, picking up where Preservation left off, but taking an entirely different turn. An unexpected turn. The idea is fresh. More apocalyptic in a dystopian kind of way. I am most excited about the tale, the characters and the unfolding plot that I pray will engage and engross readers.)
The thought behind the infected is that they may be monsters, they may at flesh and stopping the hunger might only derive from destroying the brain, but guess what? They're sick. They were people once. They were fathers, brothers and sons; mothers, sisters and daughters. They are the infected. Whether there is a cure or not, it is hard to forget they once were "normal."
I try to divide my time appropriately. My day job (even though I work midnights) is stressful, and trying. Taking 911 calls, dispatching fire trucks and ambulances is challenging and oftentimes thankless. At the end of the day, however, I go home feeling as if I've made a difference. Many mornings, I know I have. This is what makes the job worth it.
I am divorced, with three kids. My days with them are my priority. Even more so than my job with the city. Family comes first. They are what are most important. I am blessed. I know it. When I have time off from work, I spend as much of that time as I can with my kids.
And when I am not working, or with my kids, I write. (Don't be misled. Many nights I can write at work. And do. Coming up on winter, times get slower at work. It's cold. Snowy. People stay indoors more. I can do quite a bit of writing from October until March. Quite a bit.) And when I am not physically writing, I am thinking. My mind never slowing down as I map out scenes, and flesh out characters. I have notecards, and torn pieces of paper, and napkins filled with jotted down notes and names, and concepts. My apartment is littered with them!
Sometimes I think I am one of the infected. I find myself involved in conversations. I want to listen to what's said. I try to. But most of the time, I am giving half my attention. I feel awful about that. My characters are always talking inside my head. They demand a lot of me. They want to be heard. They don't want me to forget what just played like a movie inside my head. They want me to grab a pen, find somewhere to write it down. Because assuring them I will remember doesn't work. They know me too well. They know I will forget.
And if I am honest, I know I will, too.
Forty-four years old, and I know I will forget.
The infection spreads fast. I've succumbed mostly. Hanging on to my life as much as I can. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to keep it together. How long can someone hold on?
Sounds dramatic, right? It isn't. I am being honest. The voices are real. Constant. They fill my thoughts, filter into my dreams, and are always talking. Talking. Talking.
It's not just zombies I write about, even still. I have a paranormal thriller, First Fragments, in the works. And a contemporary novel, When the Wind Blows, outlined. I have the notes for a new zombie mash-up novella. I have the idea for the second Rick Stone novel (Blood River, the first Rick Stone thriller, was released by Severed Press in September).
The blessing is I do not have writer's block. The curse is I do not have the time to write as much as needs to be written.
It becomes like a 12 Step Program, in a sense. I live by a motto adopted from the group. Live life one day at a time.
Will I get better, become un-infected? I have no clue. I am not sure I want to. I think a little infection is helpful. Creative.
...This blog has been a bit of a ramble. I started talking about when I was fourteen, finished at age forty-four. I covered books I'd read, books I'd written, books I've yet to write. And I've talked about my personal infection.
If this, my line of thought, doesn't scare you - then I don't know what will. You know what? Happy Halloween! Enjoy my favorite holiday!
About the author:
Phillip Tomasso is the award winning author of seventeen novels. He works full time as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 911. He lives in Rochester, NY where he is always at work on his next story.