Thursday, May 17, 2012

{Book Tour} Guest Post--Gregory Lamberson, author of Carnage Road

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants
By Gregory Lamberson

I prefer not to work from an outline when writing a novel, and when I’m required to submit a detailed outline to a publisher to land a contract I procrastinate when the time comes to write the actual book. If the story has already been written as either a synopsis or an outline, then the act of creation has already occurred, and when I dive into a novel, I want to discover the story with my protagonists; I want their actions and reactions to dictates of the story to me, not the other way around. In other words, I want to surprise myself, and an outline works against surprise.

As an independent filmmaker who’s written many screenplays, structuring a story comes to me pretty easily regardless of which medium I’m writing for. The most important thing I need to know is who my protagonist is and what his goals are. I like to know what the opening scene of a novel is, and what the climax of the first act is. Beyond that, I might like to know what my second act climax is, and I may want to have a loose idea of what the conflict in my ending will be. Beyond these points, I don’t want to know anything that happens – until I reach that point in the story. In many cases, a supporting character’s sudden demise in one of my novels surprises me just as much as it does my readers.

For my new novella Carnage Road, I tried a different approach. The story concerns a cross country motorcycle trip taken by two bikers during the zombie apocalypse; in essence, Easy Rider via George A. Romero. I wanted to begin my story in Buffalo, New York (where I live) and end it in Texas, but I had no idea where my antiheroes would stop along the way. I opened some maps online and plotted their course, with each location stop serving as the setting for a different horrifying episode. Their roadmap became mine.

During their travels, Boone makes Walker promise that if he gets bitten by a zombie, Walker will put him down. I knew I wanted the climax to occur at the Alamo, with Boone in his death throes, ala Colonel Travis, and a horde of zombies threatening to enter the historic mission. Walker would have only one bullet in his gun, putting him in a moral dilemma: should he spare himself an agonizing death, or keep his promise to his friend? In the actual novella, the suspense is compounded when Walker becomes attached to an orphaned girl. The little girl did not exist until I reached my last chapter, and then suddenly there she was, adding an additional layer of resonance to my coda. This happy accident never would have happened if I had written an outline and adhered to it. 

About the author:
Gregory Lamberson is the author of five published horror novels and one nonfiction book on independent filmmaking. A two-time winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror for his novels Johnny Gruesome and Personal Demons, and a three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist, he has three books scheduled for 2012: his zombie novella Carnage Road, from Creeping Hemlock Press; The Frenzy War, Book Two in his werewolf series “The Frenzy Cycle” from Medallion Press; and Tortured Spirits, Book Four in his occult detective series “The Jake Helman Files,” also from Medallion. An Active member of International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association, Lamberson also has a following as a cult horror film director and is best known for "Slime City" and "Slime City Massacre."

Visit him at his website,

Read my REVIEW of Carnage Road.


1 comment:

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  1. I read Desperate Souls by Lamberson, which was nice and gory. I loved hearing about his writing process and how things may not have played out the way they did had he gone with an outline. I love hearing those details.

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