The Trump Tweet. Again.

Nine months after I posted it, that undying Trump tweet is back again, no doubt exhumed by some well-meaning celebrity and spread around by thousands of well-meaning resisters. There is no stopping it at this point, no use in deleting the original tweet—it's spread far beyond Twitter now. For reasons I can't comprehend, a screenshot of an author no one's ever heard of clapping back at the president about a book hardly anyone has read has become the stuff of meme aggregators and viral sharing, and no amount of debunking can slow it down.

Nevertheless, it's time once again to do my duty as the accidental creator of this monster and post my little explanation and semi-apology. Most people will never see this post and half the ones who do will ignore all this tedious text about how THE TWEET IS NOT REAL and immediately start commenting as if the tweet is real. Well, so be it. At least I'll have somewhere to send all the people flooding my inbox with congratulations and curses.

SO LET'S RECAP:

In early January, as I was deep into promoting my new book, THE BURNING WORLD, I thought of a way to talk about the book that seemed more fun than just endlessly tooting my own horn. Trump’s petty Twitter feuds with public figures were a running gag that was still funny back in January, before 9 months of relentless absurdity sucked all the humor out of the world. How funny would it be, I thought, to imagine him starting a feud with ME, an obscure author of zombie fiction, because he thought the grotesque and insane corporate warlord who's exploiting the apocalypse is supposed to be HIM?

Haha!

So I photoshopped a series of tweets in which Trump attacks my writing, makes fun of my hair, says I have a small penis, and predicts that my book will flop and I’ll end up living on the streets. (Which came true, by the way.) Then I posted my “responses” to all these tweets in which I start out strong and sassy, then gradually break down under his relentless assault.

It was a little piece of Twitter theater. Performance art, if you will. To anyone who knew who I was, it was obviously a joke. THE BURNING WORLD was getting zero media attention and had only sold a few hundred copies. I was walking around town stapling up posters by hand and asking friends to hand out flyers. There was no imaginable universe in which Donald Trump knew about my book and found it threatening. Hence: COMEDY!

Not "lies." Not "fraud." Not "fake news" or ANY "NEWS" AT ALL. Just a guy with a few thousand followers posting silly pranks on Twitter. 

But then somehow…the tweet blew up. Not the whole increasingly absurd sequence with the ending that underlines the joke. Just the first one. The most plausible one. 

Very quickly, my silly prank was plucked out of its natural context and dumped onto THE WORLD STAGE, spotlighted by celebrities and spread around the internet by earnest activists and professional Trump haters. In that context it looked a lot less silly and a lot more real. And as the REAL Donald Trump continued to out-silly himself, the line between parody and reality continued to erode.

Now it’s October, nine months later, and we’re so inundated with political satire that the very concept rings hollow. None of this is funny anymore. Making a Trump joke feels like joy-buzzing a corpse, watching it lurch slightly and go still again. It’s gross and dare I say it, SAD. So people see this tweet and they take it dead seriously. Or they find out that it’s fake and can’t comprehend it as comedy. All they see is an author’s pathetic attempt to sell books by making himself a victim, a martyr, a CAUSE.

No no NO NO NO.

GROSS.

PLEASE look at the context. The context of its TIME—a simpler, more innocent time, nine months ago. The context of its PLACE—the generally ignored Twitter feed of a small-time fiction writer who’s been posting absurd, trollish nonsense for years. Nothing on that feed should be subjected to the intellectual rigor this tweet is getting. You don’t have to find it funny, but you do have to acknowledge what it was. Not an editorial in The New Yorker. Not an article on CNN. A joke on Twitter.

If you thought it was funny, laugh. If you thought it was real, don’t be mad or embarrassed. It’s not your fault—or mine—that Trump has made something so silly seem so plausible.

 

 

Ok, now that you’ve ignored all the above text, go ahead and read the tweets below and comment very sincerely about them because you still think they’re real. Enjoy!

 

Soul Vomit is done

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84 copies into the promised run of 500, I am discontinuing my signed and painted "soul vomit" editions of THE BURNING WORLD.

While I loved making the art and seeing your reactions online, the task of keeping track of the slow trickle of orders and getting them to the post office in a timely manner was becoming a source of anxiety that I don't need in my life. But more importantly, books I sell by hand don't count toward my sales ranking, which is what the publishing industry looks at to determine whether or not I'm worth putting on shelves, and since I'm fighting hard right now to get a release date for THE LIVING, I need every point I can get.

So, to the 84 of you who bought these special books, thanks for your support. I will do my best to make those things valuable someday.

Update on THE LIVING

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After a long and impressively patient wait, I'm starting to hear rumblings from the readers. As if on some silent cue, the messages have started pouring in on all platforms:

Where's the last book?

Where's the end of the story?

Where is THE LIVING?

When The Burning World was released, I had already mostly finished The Living and was hoping it could come out that same year. Unfortunately, I was naive. The fate of The Living is tied to The Burning World and that book has had a bumpy release. So despite being finished and ready to read, The Living has been trapped in publishing limbo awaiting some ambiguous change in fortune.

That change may be coming soon. As usual I can't talk specifics about what goes on in the secret smoky room, but...things are happening, and if all goes well, um...more things will happen?

I know. This is less informative than a White House press conference. I just want you to know that I'm still alive, this book is not a myth, and for the first time in a long time there is movement behind the curtain.

And although I can't give you a specific release date, I'm going to make you one solid promise:

THE LIVING will come out before the end of 2018.

Even if I have to self-publish it, even if I have to spraypaint it chapter by chapter on alley walls around the world, one way or another you'll be reading it in 2018.

Until then, thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for being alive.

-Isaac

Soul Vomit Update

A while ago, I quietly launched a strange project. 

As stated loudly on that page, this project is very time consuming for me so I can't offer any kind of solid delivery date for your orders. As orders trickle in, I create the books one at a time, and when I have enough, I set up a mailer packing factory and then make a trip to the post office. Combined with the generally chaotic state of my life at the moment—living on the street in my RV, traveling constantly to hustle up funds, and fielding the endless stream of social obligations that come with summertime—this means that it might be weeks if not months before I'm able to ship your order.

So far, most of you have been patient and cool about this. But I don't want you to think this is a scam, so a quick update: I expect to finish creating all the current orders this weekend and will ship them on Monday, July 31st. Then the queue will reset and the cycle will begin again.

I'm really honored by your interest in these signed copies, especially given the high price. I will do my best to become famous for you so that they'll be worth something someday.

 

-Isaac

Happy birthday Julie

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Today, July 26th, is Julie Cabernet's birthday.

I imagined this young woman into being sometime in 2008 when I first conceived Warm Bodies. I knew it was a story about a lifeless man finding his way back to humanity, but what would it be that pulled him there? What would be the catalyst?

I decided it would be love. But not just romantic love. I think it takes a lot more than 😍 to revive an atrophied soul. Whoever R encountered would have to be more than just a pretty face to get his oxytocin pumping. She would have to embody something bigger than sex and sentimentality. She would have to shock him. She'd have to be completely unlike him: loud, crass, passionate, selfless, hopeful, determined, and brave, a reminder that love is so much more than a connection with one person, that it can—and should—embrace the whole world.

When I first started writing Julie, I drew a lot of her personality from a friend of mine who had inspired me in my own struggles with "the plague," but as I continued her story into The New Hunger and The Burning World, something surreal happened. The similarities between her and my friend began to fade, and I found that I no longer "knew" this person. She had separated, torn herself free from her inspiration and walked off on her own. I felt like a mad scientist and a proud father. It was magical.

It's been a joy to watch readers connect with her. Even though the vast majority of them haven't yet experienced the meatiest chapter of her story—The Burning World—and no one at all has seen how her story ends—The Living—it still delights me to see so many people fall in love with this foul-mouthed, foul-tempered little Leo.

Happy birthday, Julie. Sorry for all the hell I've put you through. Here's hoping for brighter days ahead.

THE LIVING is (pretty much) finished

 

Yesterday, I finished what should be the semi-final draft of THE LIVING, the last book in the Warm Bodies Series. I submitted it to my editor, and there will be further refinements to the prose as we move toward publication, but I feel like my creative work is done. We still have to clean the gallery and set up the lighting, but the art itself is complete.

What a strange feeling that is. This story has been my full time job for eight years and my full time obsession for a decade. And now, give or take a few weeks of line editing, it's finished. All those other ideas that I've been pushing away in the name of focus...I can let them come inside, take root and start growing. It's hard to explain the thrill of this. Standing at a window overlooking a whole new stage of life and getting ready to jump out. And yes, it's a window, not a door. I might break my legs.

But I get ahead of myself. What can I tell you about THE LIVING?

I'm not ready to drop a synopsis, but there's a solid teaser on the last page of THE BURNING WORLD. More than plot details, though, what stands out to me about this book is the feel. It's different from THE BURNING WORLD. A little brighter and funnier. It has leisurely character moments. Long road trip conversations. Comic banter and romantic banter. People getting to know each other. There's plenty of action, and the intensity definitely ramps toward the end, but it's less relentless, with more diversions into cosmic weirdness.

The way I see it, TBW is physical—it's about grappling with the muddy reality of a brutish world where even the heroes have blood on their hands. THE LIVING is spiritual. It's about beginning to transcend that reality and in the process, change it.

But yes, I know what the real question is: WHEN DOES IT COME OUT?

Well, there's no release date yet. No publishing deal, for that matter. That conversation is just now getting started. But since the book will absolutely be ready for publication by the end of summer, I see no reason to wait. These are very distinct novels and I wanted that break between them, but it should be a short break. I'm pushing hard for a fall or winter release. Yes, this very same year.

I have this fantasy that things will change when THE LIVING drops and the series is complete. That things will finally click when people can get the whole thing in view. Misperceptions will dissolve and the story will be seen as it is and judged on its own merits. Maybe even break free of the zombie genre ghetto and become a "real book"!

Like I said, it's a fantasy. A guy can dream. But if nothing else, at least you readers will have the whole picture and we can finally have some real talk. It's been lonely being the only one who knows. I'm excited to let you in.

 

-Isaac

Missing Chapters

It's very hard to write the fourth book in a series knowing that a large portion of the readers will not have read the second one. Due to a disastrously muddled release and the general perception of prequels as supplementary bonus material rather than true links in the narrative chain, THE NEW HUNGER has been skipped by many otherwise passionate fans of the Warm Bodies story. Other than the common question of "What's the deal with that little boy?" it doesn't have a huge impact on your understanding of THE BURNING WORLD. But it will be a very big deal in THE LIVING.

So I have this strange authorial conundrum. Which set of readers do I write for? How much do I try to cover that likely gap in the narrative, and will I even be able to tell what needs covering? A scene that feels powerful to me may ring hollow for the readers who skipped the events that led to it.

Normally I would say to hell with them. If they expect a story to work with a quarter of of it missing, they're lost. But since the obscurity of THE NEW HUNGER is partially my fault—confusing release strategy, failure of promotion, and unusual narrative significance placed on a prequel novella—I feel a bit more responsible to hold their hands.

I don't know how it will turn out. I'm trying to find a middle road. But if you'd like to solve this problem the easy way...may I recommend this very quick read?

Book Soundtrack - The Burning World

One of the biggest advantages movies have over books is the ability to inject feelings directly into your heart via a well-chosen musical cue. I loved how the Warm Bodies movie used its eclectic and surprising soundtrack to convey layers that the dialogue alone couldn't reach.

But who says only movies can have soundtracks?

I listened to so much music while writing The Burning World that the songs have embedded themselves into the story for me. I always “see" what I'm writing but sometimes I can hear it too. This playlist is the soundtrack to the movie in my head.

The quotes will help you find the scenes, but this isn't meant to be played while you read or lined up with the chapters in some specific way. Nothing so technical. Think of it as sheet music for your imagination.  Listen to the songs, remember the moments, and combine it all in your mind—the best movie theater in the world.

(It's SPOILER FREE, so if you haven't read the book yet, you can still enjoy this emotional appetizer.)

(Sadly, you do need a Spotify account to play these. Or you can look them up on YouTube.)

 

 

“There are prettier places to live. There are softer and safer places. But this place is ours."

A newborn man struggles to rebuild a house, a mind, a life. A young woman works by his side, healing from fresh wounds.

 

 

“Death’s army is large and strong and deals harshly with deserters, but there are rumblings…”

An asthmatic orphan and a recovering corpse drive into the city, afraid but full of purpose. The curious Dead gather from all directions, blown in by a strange wind, a scent of change.

 

 

“There are disquieting shapes swimming in the depths, but the surface is peaceful: five unarmed ambassadors extending an offer of alliance. If there is a threat, it’s hidden somewhere behind those bright and earnest eyes."

The rotted hand of the old world order, reaching up through the mud of its grave to drag the world back down.

 

 

“Despite the multitude of dark memories this place evokes, the few bright ones I built with Julie keep rising to the surface and painting a dumb smile on my face."

Walking through nostalgic halls, the place where a new life began. A few warm moments snatched between horrors, a love gathering itself for the trials ahead.

 

 

“We’re coming," I tell the world, squeezing Julie’s hand harder. “We’re ready for you."

Fleeing one enemy to chase down a bigger one. Onward and upward, into the unknown.

 

 

“A boy is walking alone on the highway…”

A long journey on bare feet, tired, hungry, lost. A plane passes overhead—a fluttering of pages in an infinite Library. His compass needle turns.

 

 

“We walk down into the black city, and though it was razed years ago, I swear I can still smell the acrid perfume of a thousand burned things.”

The basement door creaks open. Secrets squirm in the shadows, hiding from the light.

 

 

“…glittering lines and clusters, earthly constellations that finally converge into the ecstatic galaxy of a city, pulsing and boiling with life.”

From up in the clouds, the world almost looks whole. Cities and streets. Fading echoes of a brighter age.

 

 

“I feel a chill through the wall of the plane, like clammy fingers pulling at my skin. That lonely necropolis that we avoided from above is suddenly uncomfortably close.”

An expedition into the oldest ruins of America. A sinkhole in reality. A city of ghosts.

 

 

“It occurs to me that Julie might want to die. The scars on her wrists prove the desire exists, but I’ve always believed it’s a harmless fossil buried beneath miles of time. Will this unearth it?”

An impossible dream, a preposterous cruelty. A girl unraveling.

 

 

“I don’t know how to stop it. We are lost on old paths, caught in old snares. We should be walking side by side through these dark woods, but I feel our distance growing.”

Hearts retreating into private caverns. Love stretched, frayed, hanging by burning threads.

 

 

(unavailable on Spotify)

 

“How did this happen? Not even the wretch in my basement wanted to live in a world like this…”

The world’s greatest city, rotting alive. Human cattle. Rabid wolves behind the big desks. Child kings. Madness as law.

 

 

“I am almost gone. I am a head and a heart floating in space, surrounded by cold stars.”

The last days of a young man’s life. A flight above a writhing planet. A final realization. A promise that transcends death.

 

 

“…and should they ever decide to say something, it will be the new law of the land.”

The storm clears. Bruised and bloody friends catch their breath, bracing for what’s next. The Dead watch, waiting for a sign they don’t yet understand. Earth’s mantle flows west.

 

 

 

Closing the book. A song for R and J.

 

 

THAT TRUMP TWEET

I thought this thing was over but my Trump tweet has resurfaced and people are yelling again. There are mostly three reactions:

1. Know it's a joke and think it's funny

2. Think it's real and want to defend/support me 

3. Found out it wasn't real and are pissed about it

Reaction 1 is the only one I expected or wanted, so I'd like to make it clear (again) that the tweet was part of FICTIONAL dialogue I wrote channeling Trump's infamous online persona for some silly tweets about my book. I thought it was absurd enough to be obvious as parody—Trump attacked an obscure zombie novel? Trump read a book?—but I underestimated how far he's erased the line between parody and fact.

Share it as satire if you want but PLEASE don't share it as sincere activism. It was NOT intended to win me sympathy sales or make me into a false martyr, it was just a ridiculous scenario I wrote to highlight the book's topical elements—which are very real and sincere—in a lighthearted way, a small joke that got blown up FAR beyond its intended context.

In context (see the series below) I think it's it's pretty clear that this was not a “lie" or “fraud" or anything remotely so dramatic. I didn't submit it to CNN to be reported to the world. It wasn't “fake news" because it wasn't “news" at all, it was just a guy goofing around on Twitter, which does not hurt anyone when that guy is not the president.

Transatlanticism: My UK Tour

I haven’t done a lot of touring as an author. WARM BODIES was my publishing debut—not counting a review of Kellogg’s Peanut Butter Pops that I wrote for McSweeney's in 2007—so when it was released, almost literally no one cared. I would have loved to travel the world and meet the fans, but there were no such people. I did a couple readings around Washington and Oregon and that was it.

Then came the prequel novella, THE NEW HUNGER, with its absurdly tortured release, first as an ebook-only exclusive with experimental startup Zola Books, then as a UK-only paperback a year later, then finally—years after that—a paperback in my home country. There was minimal promotion and definitely no touring.

And then there was…nothing. Four years of cold, lonely silence while I wrote THE BURNING WORLD and THE LIVING.

But now! It’s 2017. I’m burrowing out of my snow cave and poking my snout into the sun. Winter is over! I smell seal blubber! I am a polar bear in this analogy! And I’m swimming to the UK!

That’s right, after nearly 6 years of answering eager UK readers with a sorrowful shrug, I am finally going abroad. Starting March 6th: three stops in England, one in Scotland, and who knows, maybe an informal jaunt into Ireland if someone offers me a nice sheep field to sleep in like they did when I visited back in 1999.

Yes, I have been here before. The first time I ever left North America was a UK journey at age 17, with two weeks and two hundred dollars to circumnavigate the entire kingdom. (I rode in a lot of stranger’s cars and slept in a lot of fields.) My mission was twofold:

 

1.     Drink beer.

2.     Find the portal to the Otherworld located in a cairn whose location is described with surprising detail in the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Albion and get the hell outta reality.

 

Sadly, only one of these goals was achieved. The portal remains tantalizingly out of reach somewhere in the forests of Nairn, but maybe this time…this time…

So! Do you live in the UK? Do you want to hang out with me, ask me some questions, get your books signed and perhaps doodled upon? Do you want to buy me ale and single malt and watch me descend into delirium? Do you want to show me the twisted alleys of London that lead to ancient secrets? Do you want to show me where that damn cairn is so we can become mighty heroes in the Otherworld? If the answer to any of these questions is YES, have a look at my event schedule and let’s make our dreams come true!

Thank you! I love you! I’m sorry about that line in WARM BODIES about British teeth! My teeth are terrible too! Also sorry about how terrible America is right now! I promise not to bring the plague with me!

See you soon!

-Isaac