The idea of Southern Devils goes back to the beginning of my literary journey. I wrote a short story called, “Stonewall”, and had it accepted by multiple presses. It seemed whatever press accepted it would fold before it was published. The story became a running joke between a few of us, but I never gave up on it. In fact, I ended up wanting to make it a novel instead.
Before starting work on the full-novel version of the story, I ran a contest during a blog hop for the chance to be in the book. The contest was won by Mark Duvall, who I worked with at the time. Mark was a great guy and a big zombie fan. We’d sit around at work, when we had a few minutes, and talk about the newest comic, fiction, or movies in the zombie genre.
Mark loved his zombies.
When I told him he’d won the contest and would be in the book, I was floored by how excited he was to be a part of it. I decided a small role wouldn’t do Mark any justice, so I made him a major character in the book. During this time, I also realized one book wasn’t going to cover the story as it unfolded. I told Mark it would be multiple books, if it was okay with him. Let’s just say he couldn’t agree to it fast enough.
Mark returned to be a big part of the second book also. Once I finished writing Southern Devils: Reconstruction of the Dead, I took a break to work on some other non-zombie work. I wrote the books almost back-to-back and I needed an undead break. During this time, we lost Mark.
I shelved the idea for the last book. During this time, even thinking about going back into the Southern Devils world was upsetting. More than anything, I wasn’t sure how to end it now. The pressure I put on myself to figure it out became too much, and I put the end of the series in the back of my mind. Over the last two years, I’ve toyed with ideas about how to end it, but nothing really took root. I had to find a way to balance the story narrative with my own feelings about his loss and how I wanted to remember him in the series.
I wanted to be sure I honored him and gave him the ending he deserved.
I was always scared I’d fall short, so I never started working on the last book.
One thing about Mark, he always made sure he picked up copies for his family and to have some for himself. He’d come by the house and we’d talk while I signed a stack for him. His family read them, I recently found out.
This week, I received a message from a family member trying to track down the third book, and it hit me. I still had work to do. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see Mark’s story come to a close. The conversation made me realize this is what he would’ve wanted too. He would’ve salivated at the chance to finish the game and be the hero one last time.
As I write this, I’m about to type the first words for the end of the trilogy. I have some other stuff I’m moving to the back burner while I do this, but this book has been back there too long. I want to thank those who reached out to me about the books and helped me get the ball rolling again.
The next book will be for you as much as it is for Mark.
Here we go one last time,