IT'S TIME

I wrote the last two books in the Warm Bodies Series back-to-back, and I intended to publish them the same way. THE BURNING WORLD came out February 2017, and I imagined THE LIVING would come later that year. A chance for the readers to catch their breath and for me to do a little further polishing, and then the story would be complete.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

THE BURNING WORLD was released into one of the most chaotic moments in modern American history, a perfect storm of political mayhem, social upheaval, and mass distraction that consumed all cultural bandwidth and sank dozens of books that were “supposed to be big.” Despite glowing reviews, THE BURNING WORLD went largely unnoticed by media and fans alike, reaching only 1% of the first book’s readership.

So my publisher dropped the series. And just like that, four years after nearly topping the NYT bestseller list and seeing my name on movie screens around the world, I was out on the streets.

I spent a year looking for a way back into the system. I approached several smaller houses and heard the same thing over and over: “We love the book but we don’t know how to publish it.” And I get it. The creaking gears of traditional publishing won't mesh easily with a book like this: the orphaned fourth entry in a hard-to-package series that's evolved from a simple, crowd-pleasing riff on the zombie genre to a post-apocalyptic fantasy epic that challenges society, explores the nature of reality, and takes a shot at the meaning of life.

It’s a lot to ask of a struggling industry that can’t afford to take risks. But this story needs its ending. You've waited long enough. So to quote a large purple man who dominated pop culture this year…fine. I’ll do it myself.
 

I am publishing THE LIVING independently.
 

If all goes as planned, it will be available from all major online retailers and hopefully some stores.

It will be released simultaneously worldwide.

And most importantly, it will be released soon.

This year.

FALL, 2018.

 

That’s all I can say for now. More details will be coming soon, so if you want that news to actually reach you instead of being shoved aside by social media algorithms to make room for more ads, JOIN MY EMAIL LIST.

Thank you for staying with me and following this story to its end.

#WakeTheLiving

Warm Bodies is “Canceled"

If you're extremely online like I am, you may have seen what just happened with the TV show Brooklyn 99. FOX announced it was canceling the show due to low ratings, but the fan uproar was so intense that NBC swooped in and picked it up in less than 24 hours.

I haven't seen the show, but I have a strong personal interest in any art that's beloved by fans and critics but fails to meet the demands of a mass market and therefore can't be allowed to exist. What happened with Brooklyn 99 seemed kind of miraculous to me and I don't even fully understand it. No matter how passionate the fans are, the ratings don't lie, right? What would inspire NBC to pick up a show that the numbers don't support? Unless maybe they see an untapped opportunity there. Unless they think that passion could be converted into ratings, if they can be smarter than FOX and find the right way to promote it.

I saw a lot of intriguing parallels to the current situation with my books, so I posted this tweet:

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It was kind of a joke referencing the situation with Brooklynn 99 which was just then unfolding, but a lot of people took it literally to mean that the last book in the series, THE LIVING, was officially never coming out. I need to clarify this.

A book series can't really be “canceled." The publisher only owns the rights to the books they've published, not future installments. And if no other publisher wants to touch that final book, there's always the self-publishing route, which I'm considering more seriously every day. So one way or another, THE LIVING will be released. Eventually. In some form.

But in the TV analogy, the series has been “canceled" for about a year now. This is old news to me and anyone who's been following my struggles online, but if you haven't been tuned in maybe it comes as a shock. It actually happened very shortly after the release of the latest book.

THE BURNING WORLD got good reviews and high reader ratings, but it had everything else working against it. The series was already hobbled by years of strategic blunders, mismanagement, and neglect. (I take the blame for much of this.) Then we dropped book 3 right into the middle of the political/cultural hurricane of 2017.

It sold a few thousand copies. Book 1 sold a few hundred thousand.

So the publisher, being a large commercial house, said they couldn't move forward with book 4 until sales of book 3 improved. But since they had no plans for any new promotional efforts, I took that as an official statement: due to low ratings, the Warm Bodies Series is canceled.

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In the year since, I've been fighting to revive it. I've launched big promotional campaigns of my own and fans have rallied to try to spread the word. My agent has been talking to other publishers in the hopes of finding someone who sees an opportunity to rub the dirt off a diamond.

The series is definitely not canceled. The final book is written and will be published. It's just a question of when, and how well. And honestly, I don't even want you to pressure Simon & Schuster. I want whoever publishes this book to do it because they believe in its potential and know how to make it shine. So if you want to protest this “cancelation," don't aim your passion at publishers, aim it at readers. Join R's Rmy and brainstorm with other fans on how to keep spreading the word. Decisions will be happening very soon, and every voice of support makes that diamond a little shinier.

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I had planned to release this book last summer. Sitting on it all this time has been my personal hell and I promise you I can't endure it much longer.

-Isaac

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.