D.L. Snell is the author of the recently released Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines (read our review), a visceral tale of a post-apocalyptic world where a group of vampires and their dwindling human food supply face off against hordes of zombies who are evolving into something much more horrifying.
Snell has authored several short stories, his most well known probably being in The Undead anthology published by Permuted Press, but Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines
is his first full-length novel. We were so blown away by his unique
book and his different writing style that we just had to interview him.
Fatally Yours: D.L., thank you so much for doing this interview! I really was blown away by your excellent debut novel, Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines. How did you come up with this fantastical story? Why did you decide to write about vampires and zombies?
D.L. Snell: Glad you like the book! I came up with the idea for Roses and its short-story precursor, “Limbless Bodies Swaying,” after reading Richard Matheson’s classic vampire novel, I Am Legend. Matheson’s vampire apocalypse often reminds readers of a zombie outbreak, but it should be the other way around– I Am Legend allegedly inspired the zombies in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
I didn’t know that. And I thought it was cool to see zombie-like
vampires. Then I thought how cool it would be to pit vampires against
zombies; I thought it would make a great Darwinian struggle because they
would fight over the same food source. Hence, “Limbless Bodies Swaying”
and Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines.
I talk a bit more about the genesis of the story in the free reading companion, No Amount of Lead, available to download at www.rosesofblood.com.
FY: In Roses of Blood, I
really enjoyed how you put a new spin on both the vampires and zombies.
The vampires aren’t your typical romantic-types that you might find in
an Anne Rice novel and your zombies aren’t your standard George Romero
shamblers. What was your inspiration for your creations?
DS: The vampires AREN’T very romantic are they?
They’re brutal–yet there’s something human about them. It’s not that
they have pulses or that they breathe, which they do. It’s not that they
are vulnerable to the zombie bite, which they are (not in the way you
would expect however). It’s that no matter how evil they are, their
hopes and fears are relatable and human: Shade wants to uphold her
legacy, a barricaded apartment building surrounded by zombies; Frost
wants to migrate to an uninhabited island where they can be free. So
human worries and desires inspired me the most when creating them.
As for the zombies? I have no clue what inspired the tentacles and
the mutations–other than an obsession with everything macabre. Circus
freaks have always engrossed me, so I’m sure they partly inspired the
deformities. And the tentacles? Well, what’s monster horror without
FY: Did you base any of your characters from Roses of Blood on people in your real life?
DS: My friend pointed out that two of the minor
characters, Thomas and Liam, share names with his kids. I tried to
convince him it was unintentional, but he’s still suing. Other than
that, all my characters are a blend of people I know, a mix of quirks,
habits, speech patterns, and physical traits.
FY: If Roses of Blood were ever turned into a movie, who would you cast in the lead parts and why?
DS: Hard question. I would cast relatively unknown
(but good) actors because it would make the film seem more real; you
wouldn’t recognize anyone. What would be really cool is an animated film
or a highly stylized film like 300. I think the writing style calls for it.
FY: There is some fantastical artwork contained in Roses of Blood. Who designed the cover and the drawings within the book?
DS: Stephen Blundell created the cover. He also did
the interior art, originally separate concept sketches that I compiled
in Photoshop; so Stephen drew them and I grouped them into a
composition. Publisher Jacob Kier laid out the typography on the cover,
with some harsh criticisms and doubts about his manhood from yours
FY: When did you realize you wanted to pursue writing and why?
DS: I started writing when I was about seven. I
wrote about time machines, monsters in the attic, and dogs from hell.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination (in fact, my mom would find me
playing alone quite a bit, despite that I had an older brother; I could
always entertain myself); writing is a way to share my visions with
other people. But I didn’t consider it as a career until high school.
FY: How did you start your writing career and what was the very first thing that you had published?
DS: My first published story appeared in my junior
college’s literary magazine. The story was titled “Insanity,” and it
wasn’t very good. It wasn’t even a story. It was just a barrage of
violent images and really big words. They loved it! I had a few small
acceptances after that, but my first sale was to PublishAmerica. They
printed my dark fantasy novella, Hourglass. I
barely promoted it and sold little more than one hundred copies (I’m
guessing). It certainly didn’t launch my career. No, I would say editing
and contributing to Permuted Press’ zombie anthology The Undead got me going.
FY: Can you tell us about some of your earlier short stories and where to find them?
DS: Sure. They were all pretty horrible, but if you really want to know… “A Story to Tell” can be found at the old DREAM PEOPLE (http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/thedreampeople/jun03/story.html), and a reprint of “Tooth Decay,” which first appeared in Cyber-Pulp’s Halloween Anthology 2.0, can be found on the “Free” page of my website, www.exit66.net. I don’t care to describe them. They, uh, they speak for themselves…
FY: In your opinion, which one of these short stories is your personal favorite or the one you would recommend the most to people?
DS: “Bullet Solitaire” is an older story recently published in Raw Meat,
a signed limited-edition anthology from Wicked Karnival. I’m in there
with the likes of Deborah LeBlanc, James Newman, and Michael Laimo (he
wrote the introduction). If anyone’s interested, I posted a link at www.exit66.net.
FY: You have a very distinct, very visceral writing style. How did you develop this style and how did you find your own “voice?”
DS: I read and write a lot, and my voice just kind
of developed with hard work and experience. And I really like the
surreal and the fantastical, so I started to incorporate that into my
FY: You are also the editor at Permuted Press, where
many of your stories have been published. How did your relationship
with Permuted Press come about?
DS: I submitted a story, “Pale Moonlight,” to Permuted’s first anthology, The Undead. Jacob Kier accepted it and asked if I wanted to edit for him. So I edited The Undead
with Elijah Hall, and we must have done a good job because Jacob kept
offering me assignments, some with excruciatingly tight deadlines. I
think I edited Kim Paffenroth’s novel Dying to Live in less than a month.
FY: Does your job as editor at Permuted Press ever come into conflict with your job as an author?
DS: Everything conflicts with my writing. This
includes eating and taking craps. I can be at a friend’s house, eating
pizza, watching Alan Partridge and having a good time and still think,
“I should be writing.” I’ve actually quit Permuted a few times–or have
tried to. Jacob keeps wheedling me back with handsome offers. He’s
FY: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
DS: I play guitar. I use to play heavy metal, but I
play hippy music now. I also read. I’m a slow reader though. About a
page a minute.
FY: What authors do you look up to and which ones do you think have influenced your writing?
DS: The four biggest influences on my writing have
been Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, and Richard Laymon:
King for the psychology, Koontz for the prose, McCammon for the vision,
and Laymon for the simplicity–oh, and for the sex.
FY: What are your top 5 horror novels at the moment?
DS: Island (Laymon), Off Season (Ketchum), The Girl Next Door (Ketchum), Swan Song (McCammon), and I Am Legend (Matheson).
FY: What are some of your favorite horror movies?
DS: Slither, Dawn of the Dead (both versions), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original), and Hellraiser. Hell yeah.
FY: What is next for you, D.L.? Do you have any stories planned that you can tell us about?
DS: Permuted will publish two novellas: “Remains” in Elements of the Apocalypse and “Mortal Gods” in Headshot Quartet.
“Remains” is apocalypse by fire (not the type of fire you’d expect
though), and “Mortal Gods”…this is going to sound lame, but…”Mortal
Gods” is superheroes vs. zombies. My next novel will be a free serial
novel, Pavlov’s Dogs, co-authored with John Sunseri (www.werewolfnovel.com). It’s a zombie/werewolf concept, but I can’t say much more than that as of now.
Click to buy Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines.