Thursday, January 23, 2014

Interview with Rachel Aukes.

Full Name:
Rachel Rae Aukes

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I’m a pilot, and I’ve been tagged with the call sign of “Marvin” by my ornery kind friends.
Why Marvin?  Like Marvin the Martian?
Marvin the android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Evidently, according to my friends, after each flight, I tend to point out all the things I could’ve done better with a rather Marvin-like tone.  I can neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

Manchester, Iowa, USA

Current hometown:
Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Favorite city and why?

Birthday / Age:
October 3, 1972 (41 yo). My body tells me I’m 51, but my mind tells me I’m 21.

How would you describe yourself physically?

How would someone else describe you physically?
My driver’s license says I’m 5’7”, 120 lbs, blonde hair, and blue eyes.
And, those are always accurate.
It’s an official document.  They’re not allowed to be wrong.  Because the government.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I don’t know.  I’ve never asked them.

Religion, if any?
I was raised Catholic, but I’m not currently practicing Catholic.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I’m a realist and haven’t come across an old superstition that couldn’t logically be explained.  As for phobias, I really hate heights, spiders, and stupid people (i.e. bigots).

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I’ve been on a Guinness kick lately.  I don’t drink as much as I used to as hangovers suck more every year.

Current occupation / Dream job:
My day job is as a technology strategist.  My dream job is a writer, and every day I’m getting closer!
What are you doing to get closer to your goal?
This is where my day job expertise has really come into play.  I have both quantitative plans to reach my goal of being a full-time writer by age 50 at the latest, meaning that income from writing will cover at least what I currently make at my day job.  I won’t go into all the gory details, but the plans include three novels released per year, with a marketing plan for each release.  A good marketing plan has a solid expected ROI, and my first marketing plan delivered exactly how I projected in terms of reviews and sales, which is a whole blog post in itself.  So far, if things continue to work out like they did on 100 Days in Deadland, I’ll be writing full-time by age 45 (fingers crossed).
Shine on, you crazy diamond!
Shiny! (I couldn’t resist throwing in that obscure quote from my favorite show of all time)

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Write.  When I need a break or the weather’s too nice, I’ll go fly.
That sounds pretty awesome.  I respect the determination it must have taken to get your pilots license.  I can’t even be bothered to get my motorcycle license even though I’ve wanted to get it since I was able.
It’s just that initial inertia of starting something new.  Making the commitment to get my license took the longest time.  The lessons, exams, and check rides literally flew by.  It’d likely be the same for you.  Also, I bet riding would make an excellent hobby to procrastinate against looming writing deadlines.
Or en excellent way to wind up in a hospital bed in traction.  As long as I get my laptop rigged up for voice transcription before I dump my bike I’ll be in good shape to knock out a couple novels while my bones knit themselves back together.  Or if I don’t dump my bike, I can’t imagine anything cooler than scheduling a book tour on iron horseback.  Published author rolling into town on the back of a cool bike?  I’m going to need a trim coordinator along for the ride.  Or hopefully at least sell some books. 
Well, since you put it that way… hurry up and get that voice transcriber hooked up!

Weapon of choice:
My husband.  In all seriousness, I’d go with a machete because they’re so cool. I mean I could cut the top off a wine bottle and then kill a zombie.
I’m not sure it works that way… but if you say so, I’ll roll with that.
I’ve seen it on Facebook, so it’s got to be true.

Do you have any special skills?
I can fly a plane mostly straight, make a fancy PowerPoint presentation, and animals like me (they just do).
So you’re like a flying Doctor Doolittle that’s handy to have at a business conference?
Yup, though I can’t handle all three at the same time.  I’m only human, after all.
Not bad… for a human.
(Unplugs pinky from power generator). Thank you.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I got a MIS undergraduate degree since technology was where the money was, and got a graduate degree in organizational leadership because the classes were fun.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
Yep, did it all within a few years, fortunately.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
One dog, a Gordon Setter.  Her name is Annabelle, and she really thinks she’s a person most of the time.  Unless there’s a rabbit or a mud puddle.  Then, she’s all dog.

What is your favorite animal?

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
This list could grow out of control in a hurry, so I’ll just go with one.  People who don’t listen.  So many times, I see people just waiting to talk rather than listening to what the other has to say.  So many conversations are just people playing ping pong with each one waiting to talk, then talking.  They may as well be talking to themselves.
Here’s a good start… Things I Hate
Oh, I’m sorry. Did you say something?
You’re on thin ice Marvin Doolittle.   Thin… ice…
Would you at least save me if I fell through?
I’m going to need a pilot for my zombie apocalypse team.  Learn how to fly a helicopter too and you’ve got a deal, Flygirl.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Bacon pizza is my favorite. I like most food, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t like haggis. *shivers*
Haggis isn’t food.  It’s what Scottish people ate when there wasn’t any food around.
Good point.  Just like sushi, then.
Sushi is bite-sized bits of heaven.  Glad we cleared that up.
I live in the Midwest US.  The closest ocean is over a thousand miles away.  Sushi is both scary and not nearly unhealthy enough to be enjoyed properly.
I had sushi in Indianapolis once.   Once.  Jalapeños and sushi don’t mix.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” ~Mark Twain

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Death (still waiting on that one to happen; I’m just planning ahead)
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
You sound like a prepper.  I may need to keep you on my buddy list for when the zombie apocalypse hits.
I’m not exactly allowed to talk about all of the research I’ve done for my post-apocalyptic zombie-epidemic book project.  The NSA tends to frown on people chatting about the kinds of things that get you added to their watchlist.  Let’s just say that having the entire library of military Field Manuals on a portable phantom-powered external drive and the knowledge of how to rig your laptop to run off solar power makes one a handy person to have around WTSHTF.  You fly the planes and I’ll maintain the .50 cals.
(Spits on palm and holds out hand). It’s a plan.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
When my Chihuahua died, it was pretty brutal.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yup.  Nope.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Um, yeah, I’m drawing a blank.
You say you’re a writer, make something up.
Learning to follow my heart rather than my head.  My head can really f*ck things up sometimes.
Much better.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Ditto, on above statement.
Ditto, on above statement.
It would incriminate myself, so I plead the Fifth.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
The driver who drives under the speed limit in the fast lane, because it would make the world a happier place.

What do you do?
I eat, I write, I sleep.  Sometimes, I squeeze in other stuff.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve always loved to read and enjoyed writing.  With every year that passed, the need to write grew.  I finally said, fuck it, and gave writing a novel a shot.  Now, I couldn’t imagine not writing.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Read a lot, write a lot, and don’t let yourself get in the way.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
I have a science fiction romance trilogy and a paranormal romance series out under a pen name.  It was how I cut my teeth on writing.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m writing the second book in the Deadland Saga this month and a techno-thriller (a collaboration with another author) next month.

What are you watching?
Haven’t had time lately.  Waiting for The Walking Dead to return.

What are you listening to?
Avenged Sevenfold

What are you reading?
Write. Publish. Repeat. By Platt and Truant
(I try to read a business book after every 10 novels or so)

Favorite author / book?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Favorite band / song?
That changes regularly.  Right now, I’d go with Still Counting by Volbeat

Least favorite band / song?
Much of current pop music fits in that bucket

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I’d cut out the day job and write full time.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices:
Stan Lee.
Dead. Mark Twain.
Fictional. John Galt (though he’s way too long-winded)

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Writing, if that counts as a job.
Detasseling corn (a great motivator to do anything else with your life).
You’re the second interview to mention detasseling corn.  You figure they’d invent a machine to do that by now.  Oh wait…
Then maybe things like this wouldn’t happen anymore.
They even had these machines sitting off on the side.  I think detasseling is something parents like to make their kids do to motivate them to go to college.  It’s a bit sadistic, if you ask me.
I’d be hard-pressed to disagree.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
If I had a superpower, it’d be to time travel.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Possibly, D.A. (Darren) Wearmouth. I’m co-writing a techno-thriller with him next.

Got any questions for me?
Why do you this?
Last October I got it onto my head to expand a short story that I had written into a novel-length book project.  I sent e-mail inquiries to everywhere I could think of to try to get interviewed about the project and all I got back was auto-response “Thank you for your e-mail!” notifications.  I kind of thought that was a dick move on the part of, well, everybody, so I decided to start up an interview blog where anyone could get an interview to promote whatever they wanted to promote, as long as they were willing to fill out the initial survey and could handle a few round of back and forth and had a sense of humor.  So far it’s gone pretty well.  I’ve only been doing interviews since October first and I’ve completed 117 interviews and just about to break 11K page views so at least I know I’m not wasting my time.
Holy buckets. 117 interviews in a little over 3 months is crazy. I bow down to you in both gratitude and awe.
Just passed #120 and going strong.  Anyone could’ve done it.  I just did.
Not bad… for a human.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thank you for inviting me over, though the beer could’ve been colder.
That’s wasn’t beer…  My room-mate tends to re-use empty bottles.  Sorry about that.
(Runs to bathroom to puke)

Pitch parade:

About the Interviewee:
Rachel Aukes is the bestselling author of 100 DAYS IN DEADLAND, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine and one of the best zombie books by Huffington Post.  Look for the sequel, DEADLAND'S HARVEST, in 2014.
Rachel lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and their incredibly spoiled sixty-pound lap dog. When not writing, she can be found flying old airplanes and trying (not so successfully) to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

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