I thought Mad Cow disease existed only in England. Now I find KILLER COWS are rampant in the United States. Curious? Me, too. Here, I catch up with author, D.M. Anderson, to find out what it’s all about:
Okay, Dave, Let’s talk about Killer Cows. When was it first released and in what format?
It was first released as an e-book, back in March, I think. Since then, the paperback version has been available at Amazon since the end of June, as well as a few local independent book stores.
How did the story come about?
You know, it’s sort of ironic, because the concept of a teenager suddenly coming into possession of a flying saucer (one of the book’s main plot details) was one of the first ideas for a novel I ever had, but it wasn’t until just recently that I decided to actually write it. As for the killer cows themselves, that was definitely inspired by all those rampage-animal B-movies with crazy titles I tend to find irresistible. I started with the crazy title and it grew from there.
Are there any characters in Killer Cows that you based on specific people?
With the exception of the main character, Randy, most of them are based on people I knew as a kid or students I’ve taught in class. A lot of people I’ve talked to seem to really like the Cody character. He was based on a student I had several years ago who had many similar learning disorders and health issues. Sweetest kid in the world, and actually sharp as a tack on certain subjects. A.J., who is the closest thing to a human villain in the story, is based on a guy who used to occasionally torment me in high school. As for Helen, Randy’s love interest, she was inspired by a girl I once had a hopeless crush on in high school. I don’t think it is possible to write about teenage infatuation without remembering what it was like yourself, so it only made sense to base the character on my first real crush. As for Randy, he’s not based on anybody in particular, though I suppose some of the quirks and insecurities I had as a teenager inevitably crept in. But, contrary to what some people have thought, Randy is not based on me.
What has been the feedback so far for Killer Cows? Are you planning a sequel?
The feedback I’ve gotten back so far has been positive, I‘m glad to say. I especially enjoy the hearing from the age group the book is aimed at, and I really enjoy current and former students coming by my classroom to have me sign copies of the book. Kids seem to enjoy the book quite a bit, which of course was my ultimate goal. Reviews have been pretty good, too. I guess my current problem is getting the word out that my book even exists, something I think most first time authors face in this day and age.
As far as a sequel goes, I do have one outlined, tentatively called Apocalypse Cow, which would take place a year later and is a lot crazier. I like the characters and would enjoy continuing their adventures, but a lot of that depends on how successful Killer Cows ends up being. With all the other stories I want to write, I’d need to justify spending the better part of a year writing a follow-up. Until then, I’m busy trying to finish my third novel and beginning a forth one.
Tell us something about your path to publication. How did you meet your publisher? Did she welcome you and your manuscript with open arms?
That’s sort of an interesting story. I sent a query to Echelon Press, and they replied about a month later requesting to read the whole manuscript. Then I heard nothing else for over a year, which really irked me. I mean, these guys were the ones who asked to see it, and I thought, “Geez, they couldn’t even send a quick email saying they didn’t like it?” I bashed Echelon several times on a writer’s forum, griping about how unprofessionally I thought I was treated. As it turned out, Echelon really did like it, but the original editor I submitted to had quit, and I had neglected to include my contact info on the manuscript itself, so they had no idea how to reach me. In fact, they’d been trying to find me for several months. It was only when they noticed me bashing them on the forum that they found me. Looking back, I’m pretty thankful Karen Syed (the Echelon CEO) took my comments in stride, and it made me feel pretty good about signing the contract. This was a lady who was more concerned about the quality of the book than the comments of a disgruntled author. For that, I will always be grateful.
How do you juggle everything? Work, writing, marketing….how do you find a good balance?
It’s really tough, and part of being published most aspiring authors don’t realize. It isn’t as simple as signing a contract and watching the cash roll in. Unless you’re a really established author, you do much of the marketing yourself, which is difficult when no one knows who you are. It can also be pretty frustrating, because it often eats up a lot of the time I would normally spend writing. And, of course, I still have my day job and family, so finding a good balance is hard, but I still try to find an hour or two each day to write.
Who inspires you?
As far as writers go, Stephen King was always my first inspiration. He’s written some of my favorite books, and is so much more than just a horror writer. Since becoming a teacher, I’ve been inspired by such YA authors as Jerry Spinelli and Gordon Korman.
But I’ve always been equally inspired by movies. Killer Cows is inspired as much by B-movies and Star Warsas it is by other books. And my second novel, Shaken (which I’m currently trying to place with a publisher or agent) is my homage to the multi-plotted disaster films I loved as a kid, only this one is told exclusively through the eyes of three teenagers.
I’d also have to say my students inspire me. I like checking out what they are currently into reading, and I’d love to be one of those authors who inspire kids to want to read.
What events do you have planned for Killer Cows?
Right now, I’m continuing to try and arrange book signings and blog tours, anything to get the novel some attention. It’s a lot of hard work, and arranging signings has proven to be a challenge. Lately, it seems like even the independent book stores are turning their noses up at books from smaller publishers, even if by a local author. Still, I’ve done a couple of signings recently and those were a lot of fun. I’m also trying to get the book into schools and libraries, where I think much of the audience for this book would be.
But the really exciting news is I’ve hooked up with a lady named Rhonda Pierce, an actor/director who runs Trick Shot Productions in Austin, Texas. She has directed a music video, and acted in some pretty cool films. She created a Killer Cows website
(http://killercowsnovel.com ), and is producing a book trailer as we speak. She also thinks Killer Cows would make a great movie, and we’re in the early stages of working together to hammer out a script. I’ve never worked on a screenplay before, so this is pretty exciting.
Wow, that is exciting. A movie about Killer Cows sounds like a fantastic idea, I wish you luck with it. THanks for stopping by, Dave.
Killer Cows, people – check it out for yourselves: