Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Undertakers 5: End of the World! I get to share an awesome guest post with you but make sure to check out the rest of the tour HERE.
The Undertakers 5: End of the Word by Ty Drago
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
The Corpse War is over. Or at least Will Ritter thought the war was over. But Will quickly changes his mind when he is led through a doorway in time and finds himself in a future where the Earth has been all but destroyed. The Corpses, alien invaders who wear the dead like suits of clothing, have returned in horrific numbers. In the wake of their destructive onslaught, a rag-tag group of survivors with some of Will’s now grownup friends among them is all that’s left of mankind. Will must take part in a desperate, last ditch effort to rewrite history, prevent the Second Corpse War from ever happening, and defeat this evil that has consumed mankind once and for all. But victory, if such a thing is even possible, carries a heavy cost.
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THE “FUN” OF RESEARCH
The five books and one novelette in the Undertakers Series are, by and large, set in modern day Philadelphia. It’s a city I know well, having grown up just across the bridge in Southern New Jersey. Nevertheless, when I resolved to make the City of Brotherly Love the main stomping ground for Will, Helene, Tom, Sharyn, the Burgermeister, and the rest of my army of underage resistance fighters – not to mention the undead alien invaders they’re resisting – I knew I had some serious research to do.
Some reviewers have stated that Philadelphia is almost like another character is my stories. This is entirely deliberate. I wanted the Undertakers’ adventures to take them all over the city, to places famous and not so famous. Book 1, “Rise of the Corpses,” opens with a harrowing chase scene through the streets and riverfront of Manayunk, which is the neighborhood in the northwest of Philly where my hero, Will Ritter, grew up. In preparation for that scene, I went to Manayunk, figured out where Will lived, where his fictitious middle school would be located, and the exact route that he and his newly found friend Helene would use to escape the Corpses hunting them. I like to think that effort lends a particular realism to the chapters that it might not have had if I’d taken too much “literary license.”
Later in the same book, the Undertakers infiltrate Fort Mifflin, an old Revolutionary War fort that, in the book, has been taken over and repurposed by the Corpses. Once again, I visited the real Fort Mifflin, this time with my wife Helene, taking plenty of pictures and really thinking about how my intrepid Undertakers would get there and what they would see and do.
That scene, like the Manayunk scene, will be in the upcoming Undertakers movie!
I guess the bottom line is that I believe whole-heartedly in research. I do a great deal of it, not all of which involves taking trips to Philly or, in the case of Book 3, “Secret of the Corpse Eater,” down to Washington D.C. Sometimes, effective use of the internet has served me just as well. For the purposes of the Corpses, I needed to understand how a human body decays after death so that I could accurately portray how much use a given invader would get out of a given stolen host before that cadaver literally started falling about around them.
This research led me to develop the Undertakers’ Type 1-5 system of categorizing their enemies. Type 1s are in fresh bodies and are extremely dangerous. Type 5s are in old and desiccated hosts, which can pretty easily be ... well ... broken.
Sound macabre, I know. But that’s the kind of story I’m writing. And, trust me, the kid eat it up! ☺
The thing is: I enjoy research. I know not everyone does, but I appreciate stepping out of my life and sort of immersing myself in the Undertakers world, breathing the air that I imagine them breathing, and seeing the sites that I imagine them seeing. I find it exhilarating, incredibly helpful from a creative juices standpoint, and a lot of fun.
I also talk to people. In Book 2, “Queen of the Dead,” a good deal of the action takes place at Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison-turned-museum located in Center City Philly. I visited it a couple of times, interviewing the docents, and gaining special access to restricted parts of the fascinating, if dilapidated old prison, simply by virtue of the fact that I was writing a book. People like authors, folks. Don’t ever be afraid to use that.
Finally, I feel obliged to point out that the research needed depends entirely on the kind of story you’re writing. If it’s science fiction, for example, make darn sure you have your science right. If it’s a murder mystery, you’d better understand poison, or guns, or whatever other method your homicidal character might employ.
It can seem daunting, I know. But resources abound. Use your imagination, do some digging, and never be afraid to reach out whatever subject matter experts seem appropriate – and ask questions.
I promise, your readers will thank you. ☺
Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place. In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer's Digest. He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.
Giveaway Information: Contest ends April 8, 2016
- Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Undertakers 5: End of the World by Ty Drago (INT)