Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fool for the City

Yesterday I got to take the train in to New York yesterday to go have lunch with a group of librarians, book people, and Hyperion staff. I hate to be stuck up and snobbish, but people who read are very, very cool. These folks read a ton. I read a ton, too, but my ton always seems less weighty somehow.

I bought an umbrella in Grand Central Station because we tend to leave umbrellas everywhere we go. If the world decides they ever need an Umbrella Fairy that leaves umbrellas for deserving children everywhere, either Kim or I have a good chance at competing for the job because we have so much prior experience. It was raining, and I was walking 25 blocks or so, so I bought the umbrella. Yes, I know there are many cabs that would be more than willing to take me to my final destination at FTL speeds, but I like to walk. I love walking in New York City. And I honestly believe that every American should walk in the rain in NYC at least once (I also believe that every American should, at least once, try grits, listen to a baseball game on the radio, visit another country, befriend someone from out of state, and visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. I also think Americans should have both a favorite rap song and a favorite country song, not litter, and be kind to children, stray cats, and zombies).

When we emerged from the restaurant a few hours later the sky was bright and the sun was shining and I knew a lot more about books that other people loved and hopefully they knew a little more about one I love (Generation Dead) My plan to dance Astaire like (or Abdul-like, for the younger crowd) through the puddles evaporated, because the actual puddles had evaporated, so I instead killed some time before walking back in a huge bookstore, making sure to visit all four floors on the off chance that they put GD out ahead of street date. No such luck, but I did see a very nice display in a local store today, and I have gotten reports from my spies far afield that they have seen/bought copies of GD even though it won't be out until next week.

These reports get me thinking, "wouldn't it be cool if these ahead-of-street-date books had an extra chapter or character or something that would make them different from those "officially" released on May 6th? It would be like that early Bob Dylan record, where four songs were changed between pressings, or a run of a Beatles album that had a different cover pasted on top of the original?

I often have useful thoughts like these, even when I'm staring out a train window watching the city recede from view.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Number Nine...Number Nine...Number Nine

9 days until Generation Dead is out, but...

Generation Dead is sold out! I repeat, sold out!

Yes, friends, thanks to my good pal Matt, Generation Dead is sold out at the bookstore where he works. Matt managed to sell all four copies in a single shift, rushing them to the sales floor as soon as the box was open. How he got it nine days early, I'll never know. Thanks, Matt!

Just so you know, Generation Dead is not sold out anywhere else, but just in case you should order/reserve a copy today. Those four went fast, I'm told

THE BEATLES (THE WHITE ALBUM), by The Beatles 1968

My second favorite Beatles album, but the one I listened to the most when I was a kid. My father, as I mentioned earlier, had the complete collection of Beatles recordings. One year when I was a little kid I taped all of the albums in the correct chronological order (not realizing at the time that albums like "The Early Beatles", "Yesterday & Today" and "Hey Jude" did not reflect the original U.K. releases, but were instead made up of songs that appeared elsewhere. Most of my favorite songs on "Y&T", for example, actually belonged on Revolver) to give him as a Christmas present. I thought this was a great gift because he'd gotten a new truck that had an actual working cassette deck in it, and I thought it would be pretty cool if we could listen to the Beatles when we took the long ride up to Lynn, Massachusetts to see my grandparents.

Dad had built most of his stereo components, which were from a company called Heathkit, and I'd helped him by sorting the transistors he would then solder in place. He had a wonderful turntable that had a brush that trailed after the needle and nice heavy speakers, and the whole stereo gave off a pleasant smell of oiled wood and plastic when it warmed up. I'd sit wearing his high-end headphones on the blue carpet of the living room and pretend I was on an island all by myself and listen to the radio or, more often, his Beatle records. The TV was in the den, so I'd often have the living room, which was the biggest room, all to myself, and so it was easy to dub all the tapes without his knowledge. I even sneaked his label maker and punched out labels for all of them, liking the feel of the embossed letters on the spines of the cases.

He had a long commute at the time, so I think the gift of the tapes was a big hit, better than the ties or gallon jugs of Aqua Velva or Old Spice that I'd gotten him on previous occasions. Dad had the patience to track the albums down in record stores, but I think making the tapes would have driven him crazy, whereas I liked nothing better than to sit and listen and memorize the lyrics and arcane record jacket symbology while inhaling the smell of vinyl. I found the skull on the back of Abbey Road long before I knew about the whole "Paul is Dead" thing.

Unfortunately, he didn't get to enjoy the tapes very long. They were stolen along with seventy-three cents in change one night when we left the truck unlocked on the street in front of my grandmother's house, all except the White Album, which the thieves had been too stupid to find still in the cassette deck. I was out of cassettes, so that tape got a lot of airplay that year, all except for Revolution #9, which my father hated.

My favorites: Glass Onion, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Me and My Monkey, Back in the U.S.S.R, Helter Skelter, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Long Long Long, I'm so Tired, Cry Baby Cry....I'm really not narrowing it down much, am I?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stone Cold Crazy

12 days until Generation Dead is out...a number of online retailers are offering generous preorder prices, so you should reserve yours today before it is sold out!

Hey, I didn't get this far by dreaming small.

Angsting again today, but I defeated the coffee monster (and instead wrestled with his lesser but still formidable cousin, Diet Pepsi monster). The Bess Eaton coffee and donut chain, which sold out a few years ago, used to have a product called The Tank, which was like a 3 gallon cup of coffee. I was actually well into my twenties before I became a regular coffee drinker, and it was Tank that was my downfall. One day Kim brought home an hazelnut iced Tank, light and sweet, and I've been hooked ever since. I'd go to the local Bess Eaton, have a Tank, and write. Yes, I am one of those coffee shop writing geeks who likes writing in public places--I thank the staff of "PGs" in GD for the "office space"--"PGs" stands for something else, and it isn't really an office. But the booths are the right height and if I sit in the corner I can plug into the wall socket. When I'd need a short break from writing (which wasn't often, thanks to the awesome power of Tank) I would draw cartoons of Tank, who basically looked like a Tank cup with a straw and big round eyes with dark circles under them. Then I'd draw wavy lines around Tank, as though he were extra strung out and jittery, like he'd been getting high on his own supply (of caffeine and refined sugar). Tank would always say things like "OBEY TANK!" or "YOU ARE NOTHING! TANK IS ALL!" in these cartoons, and when I tried to cut back Tank would seem to get even more belligerent and belittling with his comments.

Yes, 12 days until GD is out...

Another album, while we wait


I discovered this when managing a music store when it foirst came out and have been hooked ever since. I listened to this CD (and the singles, more on them in a bit) more than anything else during my mother's illness, and on the day she died I tried to erase my brain by playing "Live Forever" at a cataclysmic volume. Sometimes music can help you endure the unendurable. "Live Forever" and "Columbie" are my two favorites on the album.

I was so into this CD that I got all of the CD singles that came out off of it (and every one they've released since), and am still of the belief that their "non-album tracks" are among their best works. Their live cover of "I am the Walrus" is pretty fine, and two others "Whatever" and "Listen Up" would make my personal top hundred songs of all time.

Here's the cover of Whatever. I include it because A). I love it and B). I could picture a zombie cheerleader reclining on some bleachers on this cover, like a certain book available for preorder from fine online retailers:

Oops. Now it is 12:08 so there's only 11 days left until GD rises from the grave. Preorder, before it is too late!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nervous Shakedown

13 days until Generation Dead hits the shelves...

I'm filled with nervous energy, I'm practically brimming with it. My cup overfloweth with nervous energy. I worked on edits for the second book in my contract with Hyperion, I worked on an outline for a new book. Rather than calm me down, these activities filled me with even more nervous energy because they were so much fun. So I took a long walk. I read a comic book. I cooked dinner (chicken cacciatore). I'm flipping out and jittery again and the whole cutting back on the coffee thing isn't working out so well..

As if that isn't bad enough, I turned on my XBOX today and I have the Red Ring of Doom. Aaaaagh! I will not be burning off any excess energy with Marvel Alliance tonight!

So here's another album from the collection. Actually this one is a CD, I don't think it ever got released on vinyl. I know I said I'd do this once a week but I need to distract myself so here ya go.

RAISE YOUR SPIRITS, The Rosedales 2003

I name-check a whole bunch of bands in Generation Dead, and I also made up a bunch of the bands. The Rosedales are NOT made up. What they are is one of the most criminally overlooked bands in the country. If there was ever a GD movie and I could pick the soundtrack, you get bet there would be a Rosedales song on there. Their horror rock via '50s rock vibe was a great soundtrack while writing Generation Dead, one that I think would translate well to the big screen. Every song on Raise Your Spirits great, but "It's Midnight" and "Frozen Ghost", two songs about haunted lovers, are sublime. You can check out a video of "It's Midnight" by poking around their websitehere, where you can see four zombie dudes playing their instruments in a brightly-lit funeral home. Cool!.

Their website makes mention of a new release "April-ish" Well, it's April-ish, for goodness sake! What's the story, morning glory? I'm looking forward to that release almost as much as I am the release of Generation Dead.

Just great. Now I'm all fired up and jittery again.

Tommy, however, is steady as a rock and can be visited here at

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Final Countdown

Two weeks from today, Generation Dead will finally be out. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait (wags tail).

In case you are having trouble recovering from that disturbing image, here's a much more attractive one in our newest bloggy feature: DAN'S ALBUM OF THE WEEK, in which I will take time to discuss one of the many, many (many) albums from my collection, focusing on those that warped or enhanced my mind in some way. First up,

PHANTASMAGORIA, by The Damned 1985

The Damned were mostly a punk band, the first in England to release a record, the "New Rose" single, but this album is pretty Goth. The singer Dave Vanian dressed like a vampire long before the Goth was a real movement, right down to the white make up. He's a great singer and a good guy, good enough to pose for a picture with me at one of their shows (I'll post it if anyone cares).

Most of the songs on Phantasmagoria are about dreams or love or love and dreams, except for Grimly Fiendish which is about being Grimly Fiendish. I bought it when it was first released in 1985 because I liked the cover and because I liked a lot of the earlier Damned songs. I was lucky enough to buy the Canadian import of the album, which had a great song, "Eloise", as a bonus track. I listened to this album about as much as any other when I was in high school, which meant I listened to it an awful lot. I like all of the songs, but the first two, "Street of Dreams" and "Shadow of Love" really get me. The album is both spooky and romantic, which to me is the essence of Goth music. Hearing it puts me in an introspective mood, and also makes me want to reach for paper and pen.

And yes, the model on the cover was in my mind when I started writing about Phoebe, except I picture Phoebe with longer hair. I also can picture Phoebe smiling, which I can't really picture the Phantasmagoria girl doing.

By the way, does anyone who wasn't around in 1985 ever use the term "album" to describe a music release anymore?

In closing--please go visit Tommy. He's getting very lonely over at and really is interested in what synonyms you might have for "zombie".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whys Up

Of the many cool people I met at the Groton Library event, one was L., who has a fantastic blog called Jacket Whys you should check out here. Jacket Whys is a blog about children's and YA book design, and it quickly became one of my favorite book blogs out there, with insightful commentary on the intersections of art, commerce and literature. L. is a librarian (not at Groton) and a former graphic designer, and L. has a great eye for design and trends in book packaging. And L. is a very witty writer, too. And I keep calling L. L. because L. only refers to L. as L. on L.'s blog, which is different than me calling E. Lockhart E. because you could figure out what E.'s full name if you hunted around E.'s site--which is worth doing, BTW.

So check Jacket Whys out, because it is both informative and entertaining and that makes it infotaining. I guarantee you won't look at books the same way again.

Slydellco. would hire L. in an instant...

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye

Had a blast at the Groton Library Young Authors' Night meeting readers and listening to other authors. Many thanks to Anne for having us, and thanks to Terrie, Jane and Katt of Borders Express for selling the books. And thanks especially to Brianna, the first authentic young adult to purchase Generation Dead! Whooo Hooo!

We reallocated a couple dozen books, gave away some T-shirts, and I managed not to collapse or drool during my five minute talk.

Thanks also to Rick, Peter and Sean of The Day for the media coverage prior to the event. Rick, author of Texas Music and Louisiana Music, wrote a very nice article that you can check out at The Day's website here. If you click the video link next to the picture with my big fat head, you can watch a thrilling video of me typing!

I kid. Actually, I have to confess that when the idea for a video was proposed, I was certain that it would end in tears, but somehow Peter managed, via elaborate special effects, to create a really cool piece.

Thursday, April 10, 2008 "Live"

I just wanted to let everyone--zombie and beating heart alike--know that Tommy Williams has started posting his blog over at You can check it out by clicking the link in the Linkage section or by clicking here.

I always enjoy my time with Tommy, and it seems he certainly has a lot he wants to say. He just loves it when I make stupid jokes like the one in the title of this blog.

Stop in and say "hi" to let him know you are down with supporting the undead in their endeavors to rejoin our woefully unprepared society.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

8 Teens Arrested in Videotaped Beating in Lakeland, Florida

I got up in a pretty good mood yesterday morning. I was scheduled to give my first ever interview for a local newspaper. I made the wretched mistake of turning on the television while I was getting ready, and the first thing I saw was the footage relating to the title above. My good mood vanished immediately and I don't think it is slated to return any time soon

By now most of you are aware of what the horrific story of these Florida teens. Maybe some of you are aware that similar events led me to write Generation Dead. For those that aren't, you might like to read my entry at the "Horror Library Blog-O-Rama", found here, where I discuss what was going through my head when I wrote the novel.

I'm resisting the urge to write a lengthy blog examining all of the reasons why something like the Lakeland beating (and filming) could occur. I'm resisting the urge also to pontificate and share all of my theories on what could be done about situations like this, party because in truth I don't know what can be done about it, partly because I said a lot of what I had to say in the novel, and partly because sometimes--capital letters--Words Are Not Enough. Sometimes, action is required.

Be kind to each other. Please.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ticking Away The Moments That Make Up A Dull Day

Generation Dead will be out in stores in less than a month from today.

That is all.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Never Hear Surf Music Again

Some harrowing statistics: I belong to Emusic, and have the 75 downloads a month plan, so let's see that's....900 songs a year.

I probably buy twenty or so CDs a year, figure an average of twelve songs a CD, that's another...240 songs.

I'm guaranteed to get a boxed set of music at least once a year as a gift, plus maybe a couple iTunes gift cards and a couple CDs, so that's it 200 songs.

Right now I'm in the middle of converting my extensive Ventures record collection to mp3...that collection alone would probably net 300 songs. In a typical year I'll convert about 200 vinyl tracks to mp3 though, so let's split the difference and call it 250 songs a year.

So let's see, I'm adding 900 + 240 + 200 +250 = 1590 songs to my iPod in a year. I've currently got 25,679 songs in my iPod, which means I'll have it filled in just a few more years. In fact, I could probably fill it with my as yet unconverted vinyl. Groan.

People (some of them treacherous family members) point out the idiocy inherent in having so many songs on one's iPod. "You couldn't possibly listen to all of those songs", which is an insidious lie, because if I began listening to them front to back starting right now I'd be done in 105.2 days.

The truth is that I won't listen to everything on it this year. I go in phases, just like any middle-aged person who has never really left adolescence. I have a set list of 555 metal and punk songs I listen to when I write, which is every day, and I always spend a good deal of time with whatever new downloads or purchases I've made. I am on a very big Beatles kick right now, spurred on by my son's interest and a debate I am having with my good friend, the writer and music critic Rick Koster, who has asserted that Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree is one of the great if not the greatest rock albums of all time. And it is a great album, but it is no Revolver. Sorry, Rick.

I realize I may have a problem. 25,679 songs is an awful lot of songs.

And yet, music is fuel for me. I've recently cut back on caffeine, and I've realized that by blasting some Shadow's Fall or old school metal before I get rolling I can get the same burst of energy. A better burst of energy, really, because the fuel burns more cleanly. Music informs my writing every bit as much as the literature I read and the experiences I have in "real" life.

Then again, I could be rationalizing away my very obsessive/compulsive behavior. Yes, I do need to have that previously unreleased B-side! I must!

I kind of went crazy with birthday money at the record store--

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand An unlikely combination that works beautifully.

Blue Oyster Cult, Imaginos I owe my love of BOC to Rick, who brought me to a show of theirs a couple years ago. Absolutely stunning. Buck Dharma is an often overlooked but incredible guitarist.

Marillion, Clutching At Straws (Remastered) This reissue comes with a disc of bonus unreleased songs, and, unlike many such packages, these are, really, really good. This is one of my all time favorites, an album about the relationship between writing and alcoholism.

B-52s, Cosmic Thing 4 dollars used, who could resist? My kids love the B-52s. I forgot to pick up their new one, though.

The Plasmatics, Coup D'Etat Another reissue, the best album from a band I really, really like. Wendy O. Williams lived around UConn when I was going to school there and I saw her once at a convenience store. She took her own life a few years after I graduated and I've been sad about it ever since. One of the characters in Generation Dead is a sort of secret tribute to her.

Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space Monster Mutant Boogie I love this band, a Psychobilly/Horror Punk band with another album of B-Movie monster songs. What's not to love? It isn't on this album, but my favorite song from them (and one of the 555 jump-start songs) is "Eaters of the Dead", a mini grindhouse-esque epic.

My name is Dan Waters, and I'm a music-holic.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stairway to the Stars

Kirkus reviewed Generation Dead today and they gave it a--*gulp*--starred review. This is sort of like having a celebrity chef asking for seconds of the appetizer you made or Simon Cowell saying that you "might do well in this competition".

You can find a tease of the review here but only Kirkus subscribers can read the whole thing. Here's a quote I have to share, though: "Stephenie Meyer meets John Green in debut author Waters’s wry, original supernatural romance, which blends sensitivity and deadpan humor to reflect a culture clash on both sides of the living spectrum." (Kirkus, April 1, 2008)

Whooooo, I've got the chills. It was a thrill to be named in such company as Ms. Meyer and Mr. Green. And I love being a wry guy.

P.S. This is not an April Fool's hoax.

I hope.