Next in my interview series is the amazing author and phenomenal Zombie master Doug Ward. Also part of the #horror family on Twitter at @AuthorDougWard, I have wanted to ask Doug some questions because I am so taken by his art and his books are so fascinating! This is a man who can spin a great yarn about the zombie apocalypse as a parasitic invasion and not just a fictional telling of cannibalism. I so appreciate authors that truly answer questions in books, not just insisting upon the suspension of disbelief! So lets get to it!
You have a BFA in Fine Art, how did you get into writing?
~The event that started me writing was a contest that Mark Tufo (Mark is the author of many books, the Zombie Fallout Series and the Indian Hill Series are a few), had set up. I was really into reading zombie eBooks and Mark said that he would publish the best short stories that he received, in an ebook. I actually encouraged one of my students (Yes, I’m a teacher) and we both wrote for the contest. A few months later, Mark emailed the two of us and explained that he didn’t get enough quality submissions so he couldn’t do the book. He did publish them on his website though; both my and my students work. That’s what inspired both of us to write full length books and self-publish. The story I wrote for the contest was Saving Jebediah; Another True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse.
Why write about zombies? What was their appeal?
~I really thought I’d never read a zombie book. It’s not that I didn’t respect the genre. I watched a lot of zombie movies and loved them. I was also a Halloween kind of guy. What it took was a friend of mine sending me a zombie novel for my birthday. I guess I read it to appease him. Then I read six more… That was only the beginning. I was obsessed. Before that I used to read a lot of history and science. You can see their influence in my work.
Your parasitic comments are very intriguing, where did you learn about all of them and their ramifications?
~My dad loved science and had a book on parasites called Animals without Backbones by Ralph Buchsbaum. It was all about parasites and their effects on humans. I loved flipping through this book. I didn’t read a lot of it for reasons I will get to in one of your other questions, but the pictures and what I did read was fascinating.
When I started Parasite; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse, I wanted explain how it all started, so adding a concrete explanation to the outbreak by using a parasite just seemed a natural fit.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
~I loved Mark Tufo, but some other authors were Brian Keene and J. L. Bourne. Scott Lee has some really cool ideas in his Zombie Off series. It is one of those books that I was actually mad at myself for not thinking about that concept.
In regards to your art, do you have a favorite medium to work in?
~Oil paint is life. I really mean it. It is creamy and blends so well. I’ve tried every other media but with what I can achieve with those buttery oil paints, they are all I want to use. I use the seven layer technique just like the old masters did. It gives a greater feeling of depth and a heightened sense of realism.
I am also doing a lot of computer art lately. I’ve always rendered all of my paintings in Photoshop before drawing them on the canvas, but I can totally understand the digital craze. I like drawing on a Huion digitizer when I do the covers for my eBooks.
What are some of your favorite styles of art, and any favorite artists?
~I love realism. I can respect the early abstract art movements, but Photorealism is, in my opinion, a true test of craftsmanship. I live for the challenge of creating life-like images. When muscles and bones feel like they jump off of the canvas, it is truly rewarding. That’s why I love the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Probably my favorite artist is Peter Paul Rubens. His compositions are so dynamic and the way he rendered the human form… spectacular. I was walking in the Philadelphia Museum with a friend when I came across my all-time favorite painting by him, Prometheus Bound. I didn’t know it was there. I just stood in that spot and stared at it. Finally, my friends just left me there. Sure, they eventually came back but I could’ve stayed there for much longer.
Favorite art period?
~ Baroque art is so fun and fluid. The way the subjects twist into such dynamic poses creates very dramatic compositions. Because I paint mythology as my subject, it may not come as much of a shock that they also did that. It was a rebirth of mythology and science.
How did you start with mythology and then go into how mythology fell to science?
~The rebirth of mythology and science, as well as the seven layer technique, just screams to be done again. As technology replaces our primitive beliefs, old gods fade from our minds. We no longer knock on wood to drive away spirits but we do put black tape over computer cameras to block peeping hackers. Through technology we have a wonderful future ahead of us unless our inventions prove to be our undoing.
Love your blog comments, remind me a little of Stephen Wright or Carlin. Any favorite comedians?
~Thank you. Steven Wright is one of my favorites. I think he’d love my Ward’s Words. I also liked Sam Kinison. He was so funny. When I first got on Facebook, many years ago, I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t think people wanted to hear about my breakfast or that I was going to work so I started writing jokes. And suddenly, Ward’s Laws and later Ward’s Words was born. I’ve written over 3000 jokes and may have slowed down, but they are still coming.
Lastly Doug, what would you like people to know about you?
~I have dyslexia. It was discovered when I was young but I never let it hold me back. Some people have said my books could use one last edit, and they are probably right, but at least I am out there doing it. I’m writing books. To have a full and rich life, I believe, people should do extraordinary things. Don’t play video games, make them. Don’t read books, write them.
I know, I said not to read my books, but this is what I tell my students. I try to inspire them to go outside their comfort zone and try to do something they only dare to dream of.
I really wish to thank Doug Ward for his very valuable time in speaking with me it has been a true joy! If you would like to learn more about Doug about his works please got to:
and at https://fineartamerica.com/art/doug+ward