Author: Priscila Santa Rosa

Tips for Creating Good Ebook Covers

Tips for Creating Good Ebook Covers

When discussing ebooks and self-publishing, the topic of how important a good book cover is always come up eventually. “You need a good cover to sell”, “it needs to look professional” and “the cover has to tell the reader what your book is about” are a few common comments. Advice on what exactly is a good cover and how to make one is harder to find. Many authors suggest finding a designer and paying for a cover, or even using a pre-made one for less money.

And that’s perfectly good advice. As a designer by day (and writer by night), I can attest that working with design isn’t easy. There are many barriers to surpass to not only be technically able to do it (Learning Photoshop, Illustrator and such can be daunting), but also you need an “eye” for good design. The eye is almost a mythical thing in my profession. Some people think it’s something you’re born with it. I don’t believe in that, but I’m pretty sure being interested in design and art as early as possible will probably help a lot. Design, like most skills, is something we can learn and improve with experience. Years of experience.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a good judge of what works and what doesn’t after doing some research. You don’t need to be able to do something, to actually understand and analyze how it works. Even for authors that plan to pay for a custom or a pre-made cover, it’s important to have the knowledge to judge if the product you are going associate your book with is any good. So I decided to write this post to give a few tips and introduce simple design concepts for authors struggling with their covers. (This isn’t by any means a definitive guide. I’m not a teacher, and even half what I know I learned by my own. That, and the fact that I’m not a professional cover designer. I work mainly with food and drink brands).

1. Context and collecting the right references.

Before even thinking about a cover, you need to know your product and your market.

Products don’t exist without consumers. A product that has no consumer appeal or purpose won’t sell. The good news is that books have a market established. People already read books and want to buy them. The problem is: there is a lot of books out there and even more readers, so in order to be found is vital to have a clear and established vision for your product. If you don’t understand your own book, nobody else will.

a. Determine your genre and your audience.

The first thing you have to do is determine what is your major genre and in what sub-genres it fits (For example Romance/Historical Romance/Regency). Research what others are doing (especially traditional publishers) in terms of both story beats (how much romance can a sci-fi book have before it turns into an outright romance novel? Etc) and look for covers in those genres. Readers are used to certain genres and have expectations about them, and that includes the cover design.

Why this matters to your cover: by knowing what your book is about, what readers expect from your genre and what other authors are doing you will accumulate references. The true secret to design (the whole “eye” thing I mentioned earlier) is references, lots of it. To train your eye, you need be exposed to design. Truthfully, we are exposed to it every day already because we are a very visual society, but that doesn’t mean you are being exposed to the right kind of design. What works to sell chocolate, doesn’t work for medicine, for example. You are not going to see a chocolate bar that looks like a bottle of aspirin. You can’t expect a sweet YA romance to sell when it has a black cover with a picture of handcuffs. Context is key. Design, unlike art, is not about expressing whatever the artist wants, but about appealing to and communicating with a specific audience.

So while you browse your chosen genres notice the colors, pictures and fonts used in the covers. Save the ones that appeal to you in a folder for future reference, and try to understand why they appeal to you. What’s so visually pleasing about them? How do they make you feel and does that feeling fit with the genre? With horror cover, does it give you an unpleasant sensation? With steamy romance is there a magnetism to it? (More on that later).

b. Where do you plan to sell your book? How anyone will find your book?

Selling your books on Amazon is not the same thing as selling it in your local bookstore. Even digital stores are very different from each other. Maybe they don’t categorize books the same way, maybe they promote free books differently or just the overall layout of their website can be a factor in determining how consumers interact with it. Some have bigger thumbnails, others focus on price or title. Searching in one can lead only to titles, instead of covers, etc.

Why does this matter in terms of design? Well, size and proportion of a thumbnail compared to the regular cover is incredibly important for the overall composition. It determines how much room you have for the elements of your cover (title, subtitle, author name, series name and etc). If the first impression of your book is going to be a small thumbnail, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your huge cover is if the title isn’t readable in the thumbnail. Also knowing what size others are using will help you fit in and look more professional if you follow the most common proportions.

c. Look at covers of successful books in your category to build a gallery of references

This is very important. Now that you know where your book fits in the context of the book market, you need to know what good, successful authors are doing. Of course, a cover by itself doesn’t guarantee bestseller rankings, and it might be that these authors are doing other things (promotions, book tours, etc), but still, at the very least, their covers aren’t stopping people from buying it. So there’s something to learn from them. They might not fit with your taste, but remember: design isn’t about you, but your audience. Of course, you should be proud of your cover, but not necessarily because of how beautiful it is, but maybe because how great it works selling your book to others.

2. Analyzing and understanding your references

You built a gallery of covers you like and of bestselling books, what’s next? Well, now is the time to pick apart these covers and find out why they work. What’s so great about them? First we need to find common visual elements. Like photos, font styles, colors and the way they are all related and composed. Let’s say you wrote a Historical Romance during the Regency Era and will sell it as an eBook on Amazon, if you followed my tips, you’ll probably have a bunch of covers in a folder that look like these:
Example of covers

Of course, Amazon is a complex and dynamic store and you might not get the same results that I had while searching for “regency romance”, but just to give you an idea.

Okay, so what these have in common? At first glance, you must’ve noticed they are all about the same size, with the exception of the boxed set. 1:6 usually is the proportion. What else? In terms of images: Long dresses, couples embracing and looking at each other, simple backgrounds and some with sexy appeal (bare backs from the ladies, bare chests from the lords and a ripped bodice here and there). Now colors: we have a lot of different colors here, some darker than others, why is that? Well, clearly my search wasn’t specific enough: sweet romances got mixed with the more sexy ones. But that’s okay, because you probably did the same thing and ended up with a mix of covers that might not be related to your book, and that gives us an opportunity to develop our designer eye and spot what they have in common, how they are different and why.

For example, can you see why these:

covers_SUSAN

are not the same as these:covers_COUPLES

that are different from these:covers_DRESS

Let’s take a closer look at each row.

covers_SUSANRight away, Susan Mallery’s covers caught my eye simply because they didn’t belong with the others. Why don’t they belong? Mostly because of the colors: bright blue, yellow and purple mixed with pure white. The pictures are also obviously not historical since the couples are wearing modern clothing. Then we have the name of the author in a thin, plain and sans serif font (More about san serif vs serif here). So these books are romance, but they are not historical or during the Regency Era. What they do signal to me is every-day romance with a sweet touch, and they all seem to be part of a series/belong to the same brand/author. Here’s a breakdown of each element and how they work together to build the idea of romance:

1. Colors. Bright colors usually mean happiness, energy and the brighter, the more it pops compared to dull/dark ones. We also associate them with freshness and newer things, which moves away from the more historical/old-fashioned romance.

2. Images. By placing couples embracing/touching, the cover implies a novel that’s mainly about romantic relationships. Add to the fact that they are smiling, it implies a happy ending or a feel-good story. The touching is also almost innocent, without the sexy-charged touching from a few other covers in our gallery. This helps maintain the image that we are going to read a book without much sex or, at least, focused on other aspects of relationships.

3. The choice of font. The curvy font used to write part of the titles (“The secret wife” and etc) is more “melodic”, implying sweetness. The fact that it is used on only one or two words of the whole title gives these words more weight, draw our eyes more to them. “Mysterious”, “Girl/Dreams” and “Secret” are compelling terms that elaborate on the subject of the novel (A mysterious romance, a perfect girl, and a special secret). Finally, by choosing to use a san serif, plain and modern type for the author name, it clearly signals this is a writer that specializes in this type of story (modern-era romance).

4. The disposition of elements is consistent in all three covers, which establishes the idea of a series or the same brand. (Name of the author on top and bigger than anything, the title and photo sharing the same space, plus the block of color on top then dissolving into white below).

If we were looking for covers for modern-day romance instead of historical romance, this one would be a good example of what to do, especially if you plan to make your author name into a brand. Remember: is not about taste. You might not like the choice of photo or font, but it works.

covers_SUSAN_analysis

A quick analysis of the covers.


covers_COUPLES

Now these covers fall more into the historical romance, but the steamy type. Notice that not all of them are from the same author, but they still share a few things:

1. Choice of font. They all used calligraphic fonts with that old-fashioned style that implies “historical”, and when not hand-written, they have serif with still gives them some delicacy/older feel (Used to be all fonts had serif, so we associate with printed media).

2. Subject of the photos. Unlikely Susan Mallery covers, these don’t shy away from showing skin and provocative touching. Clearly these people aren’t going to hold hands on the beach all book. Dresses are long, but almost falling off, shirts are old-fashioned but barely there. The couples are all looking at each other which is another way to imply intimacy.

3. Duller and darker tones for the most part. Black and red are prominent, with shades of pink and purple. Darker tones have more weight and seriousness in them, while the red and pink suggest love/romance/passion. No bright yellows or purples here: we are talking about desire and maybe even secret love affairs with dangerous results.

They do have differences, mostly because of their approaches to branding. Vivienne Lorret’s covers use more soft colors (baby blue and yellow, both a bit washed out to suggest a historical feel) and smaller titles, which give me the impression her steamy romances are sweeter. Grace Burrowes clearly has a lot of books in the same genre and feels confident to show her name in the middle of the cover. Is it a good choice? Well, if it works. Personally, I think it just messes up the composition, but if it works, it works. Sometimes your author name carries weight and is an advantage over others, so of course you should feature prominently. Mary Balogh seems to be following in Grace’s footsteps (or maybe it’s the other way around), yet giving it a different touch by bringing the couple closer to the viewer, making it feel more intimate.


 

covers_DRESSMoving on to the last row, where we have some variety, especially in terms of subject.

By now, I hope Courtney Milan’s style can be easily identified by you: girls in long dresses looking directly at the camera, the same hand-written font and brown background mixed with one single bright tone of color (pink and blue in this case). Notice how there’s no couple here, but these stories are romance anyway. What does that tell you? Personally, it implies to me that the heroines will be the main focus, their personalities and conflicts arising from it. (Checking the synopsis it seems I’m right).

Later we’ll talk about contrast, but for now see how the title and author name in white pops out compared to “A Good Debutantes Guide to Ruin”. While both use the same style of illustration, Sophie Jordan’s cover compared to Milan’s is weaker. Why? It doesn’t work as a thumbnail. You can’t see the title or the name of the author that easily and when placed side-by-side, it just fades next to the bright white title of Milan’s. The illustration is lovely, better than Milan’s, but when the composition doesn’t work, it weakens the whole cover.

“Loving Rose” has a great picture of a period-appropriate couple. It’s different from the previous covers because the nature of the touching is far more tame, while at the same time suggesting tenderness/passion (the faces slightly touching, but not enough, implying earning for something not yet achieved). A hard thing to do. The background also helps the whole cover appear more professional. The pink of her dress draws the eye in (again: contrast) and the blue/purple sky suggest sweetness and romance. If I was into Regency Romance (and I am), I might even buy this book if the blurb works for me too. Of course, that’s because this particular cover, above all, fits my personal taste. Taste is an important variable in design, one that’s out of our control as designers. But as long as your cover fits your genre and it isn’t technically horrible (which I plan to explain later), you’ll be fine.

After analyzing similarities and differences of the covers in your genre, you’ll now have a picture of what exactly a good historical romance cover needs to have. Reproducing the choices of the majority of your peers will guarantee that your work will be quickly recognized as the appropriate genre. While the differences will, instead, help you rise above the “competition”. So yes, while I’m advocating for you to follow what others are doing, there’s very good reason to shake things up (just be careful of doing too much and losing the genre feel).

Okay, now what?

3. Planning your cover – Thumbnails, Composition and Semiotics.

Now that we accumulated and analyzed our references the next step is to create a simple mockup of the cover. Even if you are planning to pay a cover designer this step is vital.  The designer won’t know your book or your marketing strategy as well as you. While they might have more experience in terms of what works in certain genres, they’ll rely on you to inform them of your plans and goals for the cover. They might suggest things (and I strongly advise you to listen to them), but in the end the one who needs to feel confident with the final result is you.

Step 1.

To plan your cover you’re going to combine the references we gathered with the premise/overall goal of your novel. Let’s say we have a focus on a heroine who is confident, witty and that the novel is really about her, more than her love life. Let’s say it has witty comebacks and romantic banter between the two leads and maybe even some kissing. So it’s a light, fun romance about a leading lady with a strong personality. Historical, but joyful. Like similar to Emma from Jane Austen maybe. The title of our fake book is going to be “Kiss and Tell” and will be a debut novel of an unknown author. And won’t be part of a series, at least for now (who knows, if our fake novel turns out to be popular, why not expand into a series later! haha).

coversketchesStep 2. 

Next we’ll grab paper and pencil and start to sketch. (Don’t worry if you can’t draw, we aren’t going to create the Sistine Chapel here, just some geometrical forms). This step is all about discovering ideas and experimenting with composition. This is not going to be the final cover, it may not even be remotely similar to it, but is still important in order to realize what works and what doesn’t.

So, go ahead: make various small thumbnails with a similar proportion of the final cover, then fill them with a few concepts. This isn’t the time to worry about looking pretty, keeping straight lines or any of that. Just draw whatever you feel like it. Use the references if you are unsure on what to do. The purpose of this exercise is to let our design juices flowing, trying things and tossing what isn’t working. Use stick figures, stock pictures or scribbles, it doesn’t matter. For our example, I made 4 quick ones. This didn’t take more than 10 minutes. Also, I made only 4, but the ideal is to do at least 20. The less experience you have with design, the more you need to do. (On the left my sketches. You can see how bare they are. The proportions are not exactly right, everything is very rudimentary, but the essence of the covers are there anyway.)

Done with your 20 layouts? Great. Time to choose them to advance to the next step.

Step 3. 

Not all thumbnails will work out in the long run. Most of them will have some major flaw or too many minor ones. To spot their problems, I’m going to start talking about the boring design stuff now, sorry! But that’s what you are here for right? So let’s do this.

You need to look out for three things while deciding which thumbnail to pick: composition, semiotics and complexity of execution.

The last one, complexity of execution, is easy enough to explain: okay, so I have this layout, but can I turn it into reality? Do I have the technical know-how to do it? Can you afford to buy quality stock photos?

If you are designing the cover yourself, this is pretty important. No matter how great your cover concept is if you can’t do it, then it’ll turn out shitty. There’s beauty in simplicity, you don’t need to have a lot of elements floating around, illustrations or photoshop-manipulated photos. If you are just preparing the sketch to show it to a cover designer, then go to town! The artist will have the skills and the access to good stock photos. If not, then let’s talk about the boring parts.

Composition is a difficult beast to tame. It’s all about the placement of visual elements in order to guide the eye in a purposeful way. Wikipedia has more details on it, but for the purposes of our little article here, I’ll just say that there are techniques that compel us to look toward something in a certain way, in a certain order, and they do this by the use of lines, geometrical forms and contrast. There are few basic composition rules that are guaranteed to please the eye, they are:

There are few basic composition rules that are guaranteed to please the eye, they are:

Rule of Thirds

This one is simple enough. You divide your cover into nine equal parts, two horizontal lines and two vertical ones — all equally spaced. These lines will determine the position of the elements on the layout. It’s recommended to place elements under the lines or where they meet to give the whole picture dynamism and tension. Here’s an example:

coverC_ruleofthirdsOf my layouts, cover C uses the rule of thirds. Notice how the couple touching (well, they will, if I decide on this one) is on the intersecting lines in the top right. The title will be bellow the bottom horizontal line while the bottom of her dress will go under it. Also, by placing the majority of the elements slightly to the right, I create weight on that side and the dynamism the rule of thirds provide. Just like in the above example, the mountain hill was aligned slightly to the left, I did the same to the opposite side. There’s always room for adjustments, of course, but this is a start.

Symmetry and BalancecoverA_symmetry

Another easy concept: maintaining the balance of the layout. This requires elements of equal or similar “weight” to be positioned in a symmetrical way. So if you have a tree on your left, you need one on your right as well. The human eye is attracted to symmetry (we find it aesthetically pleasing) so it’s a composition that will be beautiful with little effort. Balance can also be achieved by placing something in the center of the space. Cover A was made with this composition in mind. We have the girl on own side and the title on the other, occupying the same space, thus providing balance in the composition.

Golden Ratio

goldenration

coverD_gridcoverD_goldenratioGolden ratio is a design principle based on a number considered to be the “perfect number”, this ratio is said to appear in nature and was used by artists and painters throughout Art History. It’s similar to the rule of thirds, but provides more leeway to the positioning of elements, and depending on the subject in the image, can work better. There are two ways of applying the Golden Ratio: the Fibonacci spiral and the Phi grid. The grid is applied just like the rule of thirds, except the horizontal lines are closer together. The spiral marks the exact point the eye will be drawn to. Cover D uses the spiral and the grid: notice how I divided the title space with the image using the ratio’s top line and the girl’s face is located between the two horizontal lines of the grid. By placing the title near the focal point (instead of the girl), I hope to draw attention to it. Usually our human eyes are attracted to human faces, that’s just instinct, so since this layout has already a human face featuring prominently, I tried to balance it out with the spiral.

Leading Linesleadinglines

coverB_leadinglinesTo finish off this quick guide to composition, let’s talk about leading lines. It goes like this: our eyes are attracted to and follow lines. You can see this a lot in animation and comics, where artists use “action lines” to imply movement when there’s none. Of course, in comics, they are literally lines, which helps illustrate them better, but they don’t always have to be limited by their simplest geometrical form. They can also be fences, lines of trees, roads, petals of a flower or any shape that leads to a clear focal point. They can be curved or straight. They are also used to construct perspective in drawings.

Cover B uses the leading lines of her dress and figure to lead the eye to her waist where the title will be. It might not work depending on the photo we find, but it’s a very dynamic layout, so I’m willing to try it out.

Semiotics

So, what’s the deal with semiotics? Well, it’s the study of signs and/or meanings of basically everything, but in the context of cover design, is about understanding that visual elements have meaning. These meanings vary, of course, from culture to culture, time to time. For a time, pink meant manliness / power so boys wore pink clothes. Things changed since then. But since we already looked at our references, we have the right coversketchescontext for our cover, now it’s time to analyze our own work. What does it mean to have a couple looking at each other? What does it mean when they look at the viewer instead? What if you used an object in the cover instead of a human? What does that mean?

If you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure what means what, just search images on stock photo sites with the theme/meaning you want to express in your cover. Search for “Fun romance” or “happiness” or any feeling you want and look what kind of pictures appear.

Application of semiotics on my sketches:

1. I wanted to show the main character’s personality, which is connected with the overall feel of the novel. Since she has such a strong personality, I decided to have her take a lot of cover space (more space equals to importance). But she has an attitude, banter and sassy personality, so I tried to hide parts of her body in all sketches, that creates a mystery/distance from the viewer. You don’t really know her fully, she doesn’t let you. She has secrets, she’s inviting you to wonder what’s her deal.

2. You might notice I didn’t add the author name and only vaguely suggested where the title will be. The reason for this is that without an established audience or brand, the author name doesn’t really matter, and since we are also dealing with a fake standalone novel, what’s really going to sell this novel is the personality of the character, not the title.

3. Cover A has the main character looking behind her with a smile at something/someone outside the frame. This hints at a playful mystery. Cover B you can’t see her eyes, but she’s smiling. Her dress will be the focus and the way she’s close to the “camera” hints she’s walking towards us and is confident with herself. Cover D has a more romantic appeal with its couple sitting and holding hands. Their faces are close together, denoting intimacy, but the main character occupies more space, especially with her dress, and this suggests she has control of the situation. She’s the one with her body turned toward the viewer and away from her romantic partner, so she’s in control, aloof, playful. He, on the other hand, is facing towards her, longingly, under her spell. And, lastly, cover D has her looking directly at the camera with a smirk, under a window and thus inviting you into her world while still being somewhat distant.

Step 4. 

By now you must’ve chosen at least 4 or 5 sketches that use proven composition technics as well transmit the right signals to the viewer (happiness, playfulness, sadness etc). Time to clean up and place them in the right proportion. This will help transmit your ideas more clearly, be it to yourself or to the artist you hired. In this step, I also play a little with values of grayness, organizing what will be in the foreground as opposed to the background (again, I’ll explain this a bit further down). Already I can see that cover C and D will be very busy while A and B are more clean and modern. Here’s the result:

KissAndTell_CoversH

Using the 3 items we elaborated earlier (Composition, Semiotics and Complexity), I decided that cover C and D were just too complex without doing a custom photoshoot or commissioning an illustrator. Odds of finding stock photos of girls of the appropriate age and clothing posing by a window like that are very small, as well finding a couple in a swing. So I’m going to focus my efforts on cover A and B.

4. Evoking the right feelings with colors

This part is for those who plan to make their own covers and I’m going to talk about color. We already talked a little about this while covering our references, but now I’ll go into details. Just like specific images and layouts evoke certain emotions and ideas, so do colors. Bright colors, dark colors — they are our tools of the trade.

There are a whole lot of colors to be used, I’m sure you have noticed. How do we know which one fits our cover best?

Bellow there’s an example of a color study. Notice that for cover A, I went for the lighter tones; while on the right I used darker ones. Why is that? Well, since cover A featured the main character more prominently, as well her eyes and face, I thought it should be a lighter one to show proximity and likeability. We don’t want her to look arrogant or too dismissive (further down, you’ll see a version of this cover that does this). Lighter tones are usually associated with sweetness and innocence (They are, after all, called baby tones or baby colors).

KissAndTell_ColorStudies

For B, I wanted to be a little more secrecy and playfulness to it. Her dress is the true focus of the cover, this creates two things: distance and the suggestion of the historical era the book belongs to. Darker colors are more serious fitting with a more adult view of the character: someone who is not above a little teasing and might be hiding something.

There’s also the decision between monochromatic colors over the high contrast. When there’s little contrast, the image usually feels flat and aged (especially when there’s low saturation as well). It also is more calming and easier on the eyes (Again, depending on the saturation), which is exactly what I want for cover A, so I went with the light brown and white for it.

Now, for cover B I wanted the opposite. Contrast gives it depth and richness to a picture, it draws the eye in like a good Micheal Bay explosion, I guess. It works really well in thumbnail form because of this effect. Of course, go too far and you end up with Transformers 20X: Moar explosions. It hurts your eyes and feels like a cheap ploy to get your money. Too much of a good thing and all that. Bright red (very saturated) + blue isn’t going to work (you’ll see in a minute), but caramel (low saturation) and purple (darker) might.

5. Building the final cover

Now for the actual covers. We’ll combine everything we decided on so far into the final product. IMPORTANT: The photos used here are not stock or royalty free, I’m just using them as placeholders since I’m not planning on using them commercially.

THE DON’Ts

KissAndTell_DONTs

As you can see, the wrong colors and fonts really can ruin a good idea. Can you spot what’s wrong with these?

The first one is just too simple: there’s no interaction between the 3 elements (background, photo and title), the font is too modern for Historical Romance and while the photo is nice and the color on the background might fit, it lacks flair. Adding details enriches the cover and looks more professional.

The second one has an elaborated background, but combined with an elaborated font (that is barely legible) ends up being too confusing and bloated. The blue on the background is too purple-heavy and thus gives no contrast and even fights for attention from the pinks from the photo and title. Here, it would be also impossible to read properly the title.

Finally the third one uses high contrast in a way that’s not visually appealing for a cute historical romance, it lacks depth because it has no background except for the gradient blue, and finally the font might’ve worked for YA novels, but using this tone of blue over bright red simply hurts our eyes (again, careful with contrasting colors). In a smaller thumbnail, it would be impossible to read the title.

So how we fix them?

THE DOs

KissAndTell_DOs

First, I picked one single font for all them but varied their colors and positioning. This font is easy to read, but still looks like Mr. Darcy’s handwriting. I also tried harder to give all of them a more “sleek” look by editing the brightness/contrast of the original photos and adding additional shadows.

I did two versions of cover A to illustrate how the same idea can be expressed differently by colors and photos. The first one is sweet, with a model dressed in light colors and simple dress, her face is round and the smile genuine. In the background, I placed a flowery wallpaper in light brown, this is to create depth and suggest “historical romance”. Notice the shadow I put behind her so she doesn’t give the impression of a copy and paste photo in Windows Paint (careful not to overdo it). The skewed position of the title, on the other hand, suggests dynamism (our book has witty banter and fun dialogue remember!).

The second version is darker, and I used the model’s dress as a starting point for the colors, going for a monochromatic combination but still with enough contrast to make the title and the photo pop up on thumbnail form. The darker background also fits better with the smirk and style of the model: less sweet, more mature (darker tones).

For C, I went with another combination of colors: less vibrant, darker in the background and lighter in the front, giving a velvet mixed with sweetness feeling. The font is simpler but still have a certain old-handwriting quality to it. The white color on it gives enough contrast, so the cover works better as a thumbnail. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it does its job.

And that’s about it! I hope this tutorial was useful to anyone and I’m always open to questions.

Credits:
http://www.deviantart.com/art/Tulle-Ball-Gown-Sweetheart-Sleeveless-With-Appliqu-390317913
http://nancyloveslife.deviantart.com/art/pink-prom-dress-403241629
http://www.deviantart.com/art/Regency-dress-2-322550750

Those Who Remain: Book Two is out!

Those Who Remain: Book Two is out! That’s the second book of my zombie trilogy. Now I have two books out, and that’s kind of crazy! and hopefully it’ll please readers of the first one.  Now, time to get back to writing the last one… I’m planning on doing that during November, with the help of NaNoWriMo, see if I can speed the process a bit. I want to be the best book of all three and end it in a satisfying way.

Here’s the book’s description:

ThoseWhoRemainBook2OutThe longer someone survives in the Zombie Apocalypse, the worse things get. Ammo and hot water run out, and everyone gets cranky. The high survival rate of sociopaths doesn’t help either.

So it’s no wonder things are going from bad to worse for Danny. His town is being threatened by a band of mercenaries with a thirst for blood and their only chance of winning is Lily. Now alone, she’s determined to reach Redwood and save the very town that wanted her family gone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Maria and Seargent Tigh travel across snow-filled roads toward the unlikely chance of civilization. They might have better luck than Peter and Laurie, who are trying to survive in the woods by themselves.

But we can’t forget a certain briefcase…

Those Who Remain: Book Two is part of a trilogy.

Meet the Remaining Ones: Professor Spencer

Character Profile

(Spoiler Alert: So, I cheated a bit and omitted his name, but there are some spoilers for Book 2, so watch out. If you don’t want to know if the Professor is telling the truth or not, don’t read this profile!)

Professor Spencer  - Those Who Remain

NameProfessor A. Spencer

Age: 52

Birthday: January 15th.

Appearance:  Tall, incredibly bald and with a bit of a beer gut.  He has a long nose, thin mouth and sharp face. He enjoys suits, neckties and fine shoes, using only the best even if it drains his bank account. Very picky about color and texture, Spencer cares a lot about his appearance.

Personality: Professor Spencer is a very intellectual man, focused on teaching and studying biology, virology and social studies. Even when younger, he enjoyed intellectual debates over beer inside smoky pubs with his equally pretentious mates. However, this doesn’t mean he hasn’t a crass side: fighting in the street while drunk was often the end of such nights.

Cunning, not above lying and ambitious, not many would think he cared for the good of Humanity, but he does. He feels very accomplished and happy by surrounding himself with students, teaching and discussing ideas about society and human behavior compared to how viruses behave. He has compassion for the little guy, the one that works very hard to learn something and dedicate all his time to get better. Unlike his brother, Spencer believes society is more good than bad, and can rise above pettiness if given hope. This is all during civilized times, of course. When push comes to shove, Spencer is willing to do what it takes to survive, especially if his survival is important to the greater of good (which of course it is!).

Background: A Londoner all his life, Spencer shared his youth with his brother. They would do everything together — bad or good. One year apart only, they shared ideas, dreams and challenged each other to do stupid, reckless things in order to gain a deeper meaning of life. Both extremely intelligent, they were arrogant and thought themselves better than 80% of the world. When they lost their mother, and then years later, their father, the brothers began to grow apart. Touched by the loss of their parents, Spencer learned how to be more empathic of other people’s suffering. While he matured and dedicated himself to be a better person (with questionable success), his brother became even more bitter and disillusioned with others. Unable to hold a job for long, he turned to Spencer for money, with resulted in disagreements and finally the end of their friendship.

After getting a job as a professor in a university, Spencer married a colleague and fellow teacher. The marriage didn’t last long and by the time the Pan-African War started in the 90’s, Spencer had already divorced her. Thus, his social life consisted of drinking in a pub while grading papers, when not lecturing.

Hobbies: Reading, watching documentaries, drinking and enjoying a good night of sleep. He occasionally also watches football (or soccer).

Bonus round: Spencer is a fan of The Beatles. He also likes to watch silly reality shows and competitions. He’s fond of Dancing with the Stars, although he won’t ever admit it out loud to anyone.

Alignment: True Neutral.

Name meaning: Well, the meaning of his first name isn’t what’s important in this case, but if he’s telling the truth or not about who he is. His surname, on the other hand, derives from Despenser, which means steward and I thought fitting since the Professor is in charge of protecting and guarding the briefcase.

Trivia: The Last One Out was the last character and chapter I came up with. I felt that I didn’t have someone who showed the spread of the virus and gave the outbreak worldwide validity. That and the fact none of the other characters had this ruthless view of survival or the stakes that the Professor provided. The briefcase always existed, but not him. As I wrote the book, I began to like him even more. At first, I was afraid that I couldn’t like him as much as I did the others, since he was the last one, but the more I wrote him, the easier it was to enjoy his dry humor and outlook on life.


And that’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed the profiles. Next week I’m going on much-needed vacation, but after I’ll start a new series of blogposts, maybe about zombie history to celebrate October.

Meet the Remaining Ones: Lauren Tanaka

Character Profile

Lauren Takana  - Those Who Remain

NameLauren Tanaka

Age: 13

Birthday: June 2

Appearance:  Slim and tall for her age, Laurie is a bit of a tomboy, preferring t-shirts and shorts over dresses.  She feels like she needs to dress differently from every other girl her age, to show how mature she is. But, once and while, she can’t resist flowers, kitties and puppies.

Personality: Laurie is very practical for a 13-year-old, she does what she’s told and enjoys doing well in school. She’s very quiet and pensive, but isn’t afraid of saying what’s on her mind if anyone annoys her enough. She’s used to be bullied somewhat by other girls, but being at academics (Except math, she hates math) guaranteed a spot on Jenny’s group. What she lacks in charisma, she makes up with confidence and determination.

Background: Laurie is the only daughter of a nurse and a writer. Her mother is very busy, doing multiple shifts and volunteer work in her spare time. Because of this, Laurie has a closer relationship with her father, who works from home. They share some secrets for her mother, such as buying candy while she isn’t looking. Her mother is very strict with their diet (especially because her husband has a heart condition) and dislikes junk food and sugary drinks. Overall, they all get along very well, and she really likes spending time with her parents far more than any school friends.

At school, Laurie goes her way to stay out of trouble and recently managed to befriend a group of girls after some years of being an outcast. She goes to their parties and sleep overs, but doesn’t say much or enjoys it. She thinks they are very silly and should focus on studying instead of boy bands and pop music. Knowing this opinion would make her a target for bullying again, she keeps quiet, not out of shame, but out patience for constant conflict. She always looks for the most practical way of surviving high school, and of course, the zombie apocalypse.

Hobbies: Reading trashy romance novels when no one is awake, under her covers (lately she’s reading the Nightfall trilogy). Watching movies, especially sci-fi and fantasy, especially Star Wars. Her father was a die-hard Star Wars fan and initiated her to the series very early, they would watch together all the time and discuss the characters and universe.

Bonus round: Laurie and her father like playing mini-golf and it’s tradition for them to go to the course after Lauren’s mother cancels another family trip. During Laurie’s summer break, she and her father stay awake until Erika’s shift is over in the middle of the night so they can have dinner together and watch bad B horror movies.

Alignment: Chaotic Good.

Name meaning: Nothing really special about her name. Actually, she wasn’t going to be named at all, but I wanted to hint at her heritage and during the critique phase people wondered about it, so I chose Laurie. It was risky to give her a name with the same initial as Lily, as anyone will tell you that’s a no-no and can confuse readers, but this confusion is somewhat intentional. Lily and Laurie are parallels of each other, not outright parallel, but they share a connection, and will be clearer why in book 2 and 3.

Trivia: I actually dreamed Laurie. I know, sounds cheesy! But I did it. I saw her clearly walking around an abandoned mall, searching for her parents, and wishing to go back to the day they were supposed to watch a movie together. She went in a theater and started to imagine the movie and then she meets Peter.


 

The last one, of course, will be the Professor.

Meet the Remaining Ones: Maria Paz

Maria Paz  - Those Who Remain

NameMaria Paz

Age: 30

Birthday: September 1

Appearance: Short, messy and curly black hair, round face and black eyes. Slim, but curvy. Scrubs and crocs are like a second skin to Maria. When she’s out of the hospital, she’s usually too exhausted to bother with anything but a nice pair of fluffy slippers and comfy pajamas.

Personality: Kind, practical, determined and a workaholic, Maria’s life is her profession. Despite her nasty case of savior-complex mixed with past guilty, Maria’s dedication to her patients and hope for a better future pushes her forward despite any adversity. Including zombies. She’s not one to quickly give up on working for the greater good and fall to more selfish tactics of other survivors. She can be cold when circumstances demand a more practical attitude, but it weights heavy on her shoulders.

Background: Daughter of two dentists, Maria grew up in a stable, loving household. But when tragedy took her parents away in a car accident, Maria had little choice but to grow up quickly to take care of her younger sister, Theresa. Now living with an absent uncle who took their parent’s money and left them with nothing, she took part-time jobs while finishing high school. She worked hard to graduate and earn money to support both her and her sister.

Money that Theresa would spend on parties, clothes and alcohol. Frustrated with her sister lack of focus and irresponsible behavior, they started fighting almost every day. Seeing her sister self-destruct with drugs and alcohol, Maria made the decision to distance herself before she could be dragged down along with her. Leaving her sister behind, she went to medical school and started working at St. Jude’s Hospital. They haven’t talked in years.

In the hospital, Maria only concern was to work as hard as she could. Few friends and even fewer boyfriends, her life was treating others, with little time to leisure. Perhaps this was all to make up for abandoning her family behind, perhaps it was a desperate need to fix and control death, either way, this was her life now.

Hobbies: When she’s not working, Maria is thinking about work. She likes to read scientific papers, look for new treatments and research on various subjects, she also attends conventions and seminars. But she does enjoy reading trashy romantic books, as well biographies and historical fiction.

Bonus round: The Paz sisters were very close during childhood. They would share everything, from toys to secrets. Everything but candy. Eating candy was a rare occasion and they would always end up fighting over it. To this day, Maria can’t resist a chocolate bar.

Alignment: Lawful Good.

Name meaning: Well, Maria is a common Latin American name. Paz means in “peace” in Spanish as well in Portuguese, which I think fits Maria’s desire to work towards an almost utopian future, despite zombies pounding on the door.

Trivia: There’s no mention of Maria’s gender in her first chapter, and that’s intentional. The idea was to present the character as a doctor, first and foremost. Maria’s identity is so linked to her profession, that she, herself, can’t see where the doctor ends and Maria Paz starts sometimes.


 

Next is Laurie’s turn!

Meet the Remaining Ones: Lily Hunter

Lily Hunter - Those Who Remain

NameLily Hunter

Age: 21

Birthday: July 26

Appearance: Tall, fit and athletic, Lily exercises daily and enjoys it. She keeps her sleek black hair in a ponytail and that’s about it. She cares very little about clothing, it just has to be practical and cheap.

Personality: Stubborn, intense and loyal, Lily is a complicated woman. She struggles with her own emotions and how to deal with others’ feelings. She wants to belong, but distrust and caution are second nature to her. To the people she cares about, she can be blindly loyal and dangerously protective.

Background: Lily is the daughter of Jacob and Margaret Hunter. And that’s not an easy thing to be. Her family life was a mixture of shouting and cold-shoulders. Between a paranoid father and a difficult mother, Lily managed to stay relatively normal, but the scars of their rocky relationship cannot be easily discarded. In school, she was the problem-girl, always sitting in the back and barely listening to the teacher. She would fight anyone who dared to insult or laugh at her father, especially after the heavily-commented and messy divorce. Faced with gossip and fear, Lily became even more reclusive and distant, preferring the company of her troubled Father over anyone else.

After the divorce, Jacob more dangerous tendencies multiplied: his drinking, his paranoia, his interest in preparing for the worst, all of it. Still young and believing her Father to be always right, Lily obeyed his every order. Soon, she was training daily, learning how to shoot, self-defense and how to hunt. And while this was happening, her mother didn’t even bother to visit her once.

Lily found out about her mother’s marriage by stealing the invitation from her neighbors mail. This last insult resulted in Lily deciding to forget her mother once and for all. Coincidentally, sometime later, Jacob got better. He stopped drinking and by focusing in training Lily, he distracted himself enough not to cause trouble around town. This improvement led him to encourage Lily to graduate and go to college.

Trusting her father to know best, she entered community college. Yet, Lily never felt like she belonged there, or anywhere else for that matter. Something was still missing.

Hobbies: Hunting, watching sports, running and reading. Lily enjoys the outdoors and her perfect day would be hiking in the woods early in the morning, swimming in a lake, eating a quick snack and watching the sunset while reading against a tree.

Bonus round: Lily picked fights with anyone she could. One day she tried picking up a fight with the school’s nicest and popular boy: Roger Gilmore. She provoked him all day, looking for the moment he would snap and fight her. He didn’t. Instead, Roger offered her his notes for the math test later that week. Confused and flustered, Lily took it. And so their friendship started.

Alignment: Neutral Good.

Name meaning: Lily is named after the flower, and Jacob’s choice. I thought it fitted what he wanted for his daughter: purity. It’s also related to the plant Lily of the valley which is sweet, but poisonous. Not that Lily is evil, but she’s certainly not defenseless. Hunter, of course, it’s a play on their hobbies as well their abilities as survivalists.

Trivia: Lily’s chapter was the first one I wrote, and while the core stayed the same, it went through a lot of edits and revisions. The balance between exposition, character’s emotions and establishing the setting was complicated, especially since of all five characters, Lily’s first chapter is not an action scene. Still, the ending is my favorite part of the whole book.


 

Hope you enjoyed this! See you on the next profile!

Meet the Remaining Ones: Danny Terrence

To celebrate Those Who Remain being published and selling its first copies (thanks for those who bought it, if you are out there!), I’m doing a series of posts profiling each of the five main characters of the trilogy. The goal is present a few more details about them and some trivia. The first one to go is Danny, our small town geek.

Danny Terrence - Those Who Remain

NameDaniel (Danny) Terrence

Age: 20

Birthday: February 19

Appearance: Short, stocky with green eyes, goatee, and pierced-ear. Started a diet when he was 18, and lost 30 lbs before the events of Those Who Remain. He wears anything comfortable, especially if the T-shirt has an ironic text or geek-related image.

Personality: Smart, sometimes too honest to the point of being cold, arrogant, but protective of loved ones and loyal to the bitter end. Still immature in many ways, but well-intentioned.

Background: Danny was a shy kid, who liked nothing more than to read and be left alone, but being the Principal’s son placed him in the spotlight. This plus his weight, lack of interest in other children and good grades made Danny an easy target for bullies. After being pushed, laughed at and isolated, Danny’s shyness transformed into arrogance as a form of self-protection. If people didn’t like him, then he wouldn’t like them either. He wasn’t the problem: other people were. After his father was diagnosed with cancer, Danny got worse. He began to fight back and get hurt in the process, and that’s when he met Roger. The two were fast friends, connected by their mutual dislike of bullies and loss of father figures. Roger’s strong sense of justice was just what Danny needed: someone who understood what he was going through with his father and fought back against those Danny hated. Roger was, and is, Danny’s own personal superhero. Of course, being a side-kick isn’t Danny’s style. His strong personality overcame Roger’s more laid-back attitude, and it didn’t take long until Danny was the one calling the shots: what to do, where to go, what to see and read. His dream of leaving his small town for good to become a movie director and his friendship with Roger helped him withstand his high school years.

But after his father’s death and graduation, Danny’s dreams were gone. Before the zombie outbreak, he worked as a freelance web designer, earning more money than many in Redwood, but still living with his mother, the now-retired Principal. Viewed as a lazy, unmotivated and weird, Danny still has to deal with whispers and disapproving stares. In his town, going to college, finding a corporate job in a big city is the only way to be somebody.

That or saving the whole town from the Zombie Apocalypse might do the trick.

Hobbies: Collecting DVDs, comics, and other geek-related products. Playing video games, searching the internet for conspiracy theories and reading books. He really likes George R. R. Martin’s Game of Crowns! (Yes, that’s the correct name… In Danny’s world).

Bonus round: Tried to launch a rocket from his roof and failed miserably. Had a crush on his teacher and Lily. Decided hentai wasn’t for him after being horrified by some adult mangas. Favorite Star Wars character is Princess Leia (has a weak spot for brave kickass ladies). Hides chips and Caramel Galaxys in his room.

Alignment: True Neutral

Name meaning: Danny’s name and surname comes from The Shinning. I didn’t like how “Torrence” sounded, and thought a somewhat more subtle reference would be more interesting. I just find it cute / appropriate that Danny has a connection to a horror movie (and novel, although I haven’t read it) and I ended up always associating him with the image I have of The Shinning’s Danny: a small kid roaming halls with his little tricycle, while everything goes crazy around him. Who also has a bit of dark inside him…

Trivia: Danny was not the first character I imagined for Those Who Remain, in fact, he was the third one. He and Mrs. Terrence came to my mind at the same time. I can’t picture one without the other. They both started off as tropes: the nerd in the basement and the overly dotting mother that didn’t understand technology, but became much more as I plotted out the books (hopefully!). Their first scene was supposed to be Danny telling his mother about the zombies, and she, at first, not believing him. It was very bare, and someone pointed out to me it didn’t work, and I ended up agreeing with her. His first chapter was the only one that drastically changed since I first wrote.


 

And that’s it for now… See you on the next profile!

Those Who Remain: Book One is out!

Now anyone can now buy the first book of my zombie trilogy! Feels a little unbelievable, but I did it. The book is out there on Amazon and anyone in the world can buy it and read it. That’s actually very frightening, more than any zombie.

Still, there’s a lot to be done (like the dreaded promotion phase!) and more books to write. Book two is being edited right now, and I’m writing Book Three, and then? New stories, new characters, and hopefully more books finished.

But I’m glad I did this. 🙂

Here’s the book’s description:

Those Who Remain: Book OneHide your children, lock your doors, and load your guns because zombies are real and they are coming. Danny Terrence knows this better than anyone. He spent months preparing for the inevitable moment the disease would reach his small town. What he didn’t prepare for is the fact that nobody really believes him. 

Luckily for him, an old classmate and bully just happens to be the first one bitten. The bad news is that the family with the biggest arsenal of guns just packed up and left town, leaving them defenseless from an oncoming zombie horde. Being a leader isn’t turning out the way Danny imagined. 

r survivors easily have it worse than him. Between a thirteen-year-old girl on a road trip from hell, a family of paranoid hunters having to deal with their feelings for the first time ever, a stubborn doctor butting-heads with a cold-hearted sergeant and an amoral British professor carrying the fate of humanity in his hands, Danny has it easy. Unless, of course, they all end up in his town, messing with his already messed up life. 

Follow these five people as their paths cross and their lives and hopes are challenged in this thrilling novel with brain-mushing humor and heart-breaking action. Those Who Remain: Book One is part of a trilogy.

 

Weird searches in the name of writing

Sometimes I think writers must have the weirdest search history ever.

Researching is a big part of writing to me for a number of reasons. The first one being that I decided (foolish perhaps?) to set my zombie novel in the United States. I live in Brazil, and while I have visited the country many times, it’s not the same. There’s a distinct difference between living and visiting, and the only way to bridge that gap is via research (or live there, or write about here, of course). As someone who is constantly watching, reading and listening to American culture, as well other cultures (K-Dramas, Japanese anime, European movies, UK television, Russian Car Cams LOL, etc etc), I’m used to suspend my own cultural views and expectations and let myself be swept away by someone else’s. It means I don’t really care if that TV show doesn’t actually take place in Chicago, and instead is filmed on Canada, and such.

But, I digress… The point is: not everyone is able to do that or should. So I try to research things the best I can, not only the setting but other things. My characters know how to shoot guns, and have an arsenal of a small army. Most of them are from rural/small towns, while I live in a big city. One is a doctor, the other a college professor. They know things I don’t, but now need to.

Which brings me to the whole weird google searches. Today I googled “what kind of tree has golden leaves in North America” because, being someone who didn’t know the difference between a potato (yam) and a sweet potato, I used pine trees for my forest, and apparently they don’t have golden leaves in November. (Yes, I realize how stupid I sound to people who know about plants). Last weekend I googled “what kind of berries are poisonous”, which lead me to “what to do if you eat poisonous berries” and in the end got me to “how to treat fever and dehydration.” Of course, to anyone concerned with children and pets, this type of search probably isn’t a big of a deal.

And then things got weirder…

“What are the side effects of a sword wound.” (Depends on the sword and how sharp/clean it is). “What happens when you decapitate someone?” (You don’t want to know). “How long it takes for a body to decompose.” (Surprising long in the cold, too quick in the heat and humidity). “How hard it is to close a dead person’s eyes?” (I learned that some funeral homes glue the person’s eyes because whatever position they were the rigor mortis kicks in and it’s hard keep them close). “What disease has lumps and small tumors forming on the skin?”. “How quickly would phone lines go dead in a natural catastrophe situation.” “What are the main sources of energy of USA”. “How viruses are named”, followed by “The fates in Greek mythology” (yes, they are related!).

That, and all the searches on guns, gunshot wounds, best bullet to penetrate a skull, what type of weapons guerilla forces have, World War I combat tactics, and other survival tactics (what to eat in the woods, how to hunt, how to skin a deer etc), will probably make me look like at best as a prepper, at worst a possibly unbalanced criminal to Google (and any government collecting my data, I’m sure). They already think I’m a 35 year old male (too many geek searches!), so, I guess that’s just going to seal the deal.

It’s weird how we share knowledge so easily on the internet, and how easy it is to find it. I’m sure my searches are far from the weirdest ones out there (there was gif some time back on porn searches, and… Well), yet there always a result somewhere, somehow, that fits the question. Not always reliable – there’s a lot of guesses/opinions that turn out to be inconsistent, but there’s stuff you wouldn’t even imagine finding without going in person or interviewing specialists. I’m not sure if I’m amazed by this, or scared. Perhaps both.

My next novel is going to be a Paranormal Romance involving ghosts. At first I thought “Well, since it’s a romance, my searches will be about love and cute puppies”. Nope. “Missing person report”, “What’s the police procedure involving an adult missing.” Soon, I’m going to research cults too — that will be a hoot!

The Best Zombie Soundtrack

Dancing ZombieTo write my zombie novel, I search for inspiration everywhere, and one of the places I find it is in music. Between moody dark to crazy cheery, I love writing while listening to songs that evoke the perfect zombie mood.

Zombies stories not only can be scary, gory, messy and outright violent, but there’s room for humor in them, with zombies’ mindless pursuit of tasty brains being thwarted by pretty flowers (Yes, I’m a gamer!). So it’s not by chance that my soundtrack of the best zombie songs has some humor mixed with some dark! After all, I need inspiration to write both the dark gritty apocalyptic scenes and the funny geeky meta parts.

Here are my favorites songs to listen while writing zombie stories.

 

music1

Dance or Die – Janelle Monáe
Inspired by a multitude of geeky influences (Sci-fi movies, 80’s music, Metropolis), this song is catchy and with great lyrics. The rhythm makes me want to dance for real. The whole album (The ArchAndroid) has undertones of sci-fi (a story of an android fighting against some sort of oppression, which works on multiple levels of speaking about minorities and conformism in front of oppression). But this song in particular grabbed me because of lyrics – it describes the struggles between surviving bad circumstances but still fighting for a better life, instead of conforming with society demands. It also mentions fighting, guns, lies, desire for power and the whole metaphor for zombies being a society blind to the suffering of others. I think it resonates with the zombie apocalypse, don’t you? As a plus, it has the word zombies in it. Heh.

Oats in the Water – Ben Howard
Okay, this song I found out thanks to watching The Walking Dead (great soundtrack). The moody melody and the lyrics are perfect to imagine the loss, loneliness and sadness that comes with surviving the zombie outbreak. Love the guitar on this one. Just a great song to listen to.

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett
Now for another funny catchy one. The singer’s tone is just a hoot, and the old school beat is just too cute. It plays with all classical monsters and it just great fun. The official page looks like the 90’s worst nightmare, but hey it fits!

music2Far Away – Jose Gonzalez
Part of the soundtrack of one my favorite games of all time – Red Dead Redemption – this song is just perfect to set the mood for writing a sad, depressing, but beautiful journey into the unknown. Again, I have a thing for great guitar pieces! Just listen to it!

 

 

Beast – Nico Vega
Another one that I found out thanks to a game (Bioshock Infinite), this one goes to all the pop rock fans. It makes you pound and shout, and get ready to do some writing. It’s a kick ass song, no other way of putting it! For those days that you need some kicking ass music to push you into writing kick ass fighting scenes! (I also think one of my main characters, Lily, would love the lyrics).

Take Us Back – Alela Diane
Back to moody! The ending song for The Walking Dead Telltale Game (Wonderful, wonderful game – a must for any zombie fan), this song is beautiful from the melody to the lyrics. It speaks about loss, and “saudade”, that feeling of longing for a better time. Perfect theme for our lonely broken survivors.

Iron – Woodkid
Before you keep reading this just click on the link and watch the videoclip. I mean, come on! Everything about this song is perfect. The drums, the organ, the pipes, the voice! I love all of the Woodkid songs, they have this mystical quality to them that speaks to my geeky side. It all seems to fit together as one epic saga, and this song just kicks ass. Everytime I hear it, I want to write an epic fantasy saga spanning years and loads of backstory. Instead, I stick with my zombie novel, but suddenly everyone is running and screaming in slow motion in my head.

51wtE2KncjL._SL500_AA280_Sleeping Walking – Photek
I love this song (Okay, love all the songs in this post). The piano notes and the singer’s voice draws me in, then the mix of beats and psychedelics remix just grabs me for good. I can’t let go. Since my novel takes place during roughly 3 months… Well, I love the lyrics. “Three months is a long time if you don’t like it where you are,” says it all. Simple, but so true!

 

We Used to Wait – Arcade Fire
Currently my favorite band. Everything they launch is pure gold. I placed this song on loop for so many times it might as well be the theme song for my novel. I love the lyrics, I love the melody, the voice, the beats – everything in it. It just screams my characters – the rising action, the constant piano, the intermix of tragic with hopefulness. I don’t know how to describe it, it just rings true to me. Also I linked the crazy interactive site with the official music (only place I found it. Dammit vevo, just upload the thing on youtube already!).

And now to finish the list…

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
I started the list with a song that mentioned zombies. I close the list with a whole song about the apocalypse! The trailer music for any movie or show with apocalypse on it, well, this song just fits every zombie novel out there. The lyrics touches all the apocalypse elements we genre fans love – destruction, the overall feel of constant fighting, the decay, etc. The clip also has stuffed animals fighting each other – can it be more perfect? I think not!