Monday, July 28, 2008

Zombies Take Manhattan, Part Two

My wife and I went on a scavenger hunt for Gen Dead posters in Manhattan yesterday. We found zombies all over the place!

The person on the left may or may not be a zombie; he wouldn't leave the frame when my wife was taking the picture. I think Duffy behind him is trying to squeeze his ego back inside his skull.

We liked this one, with the parking signs pointing right at Karen (yes, I think of the cover girl as Karen). Then again, I think of my coffee pot as "Trixie" and my lava lamp (the pink one) as "Bubbles".

Remember: a free Generation Dead T-Shirt to whoever sends in the best picture of a poster from Seattle! The campaign starts there today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

At Fates Hands

I’ve gone a little crazy with CD purchases lately, mostly trolling through the used Cd bins. A trip to Northhampton got me the first Byrds boxed set, the new B-52s album, and the Damned’s Phantasmagoria, which you might have noticed was the first (admittedly intermittent) “Album of the week”. Yes, I already had the vinyl, but the CD had two remixes I didn’t have. That version is out of print, and it was only seven bucks!!! What was I supposed to do? Not get it? Hah? I’ve also been getting a lot of neat Pink Floyd related stuff, like The Body from Roger Waters and Ron Geesin, a weird 4 song sampler from a recent David Gilmour show that was on PBS, and the Zabriski Point soundtrack, which I’m dying to listen to because it has a whole bunch of “lost” Floyd tracks. I also picked up a CD reissue of the first Sweetwater record, a CD from a German prog band named Jane, and the just released remaster of Perfect Symmetry from Fates Warning.

PERFECT SYMMETRY, Fates Warning 1989

The new CD comes with a bonus disc of demos and a bonus dvd of concert footage. I’m one of the stars of the dvd!

Well, not really. But I think my jaw hit the floor when I looked on the back and saw that some of the concert footage was shot in New Haven, because I was at that show! How cool! A chance for a rendezvous with the much younger me!

The footage was shot in 1989, and in 1989 Fates Warning was second only to Iron Maiden in my personal pantheon of rock gods. Like Maiden, they had endured after the potentially devastating loss of their first singer, John Arch, who stayed on for one more album than Maiden’s Dianno did, departing after the brilliant Awaken the Guardian. Fates came back with Ray Alder and No Exit, an album that got them some Headbanger’s Ball play on MTV with “Silent Cries”, and also had an eleven minute opus in “The Ivory Gate of Dreams”. Their music was riffy but intricate, and the lyrics were introspective and interesting. Perfect Symmetry picked up where No Exit left off in terms of it’s subject matter, with guitarists Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti writing songs about loneliness, alienation, and growing up. PS was the seventh CD I ever owned, the first of their releases that I didn’t own on vinyl.

I watched the concert while on vacation in Maine. I think I saw myself a few times—I think that’s me, the hulking blond brute headbanging and pounding his fist in the air near the front of the stage by Matheos. It’s hard to tell, as there are a number of hulking blond brutes, with hair equally as medieval and long as mine was. I wish I could remember more about the show beyond thinking it was great—not the details of the show as much as the details of my own life from that time period. What was I thinking? What was I feeling? Was I worried about a test or a term paper? Was I going out with Kim the next day? What story was I working on? When was the last time I’d been home? Had I switched majors yet? As I started to scrutinize the footage looking for my younger self I started to worry—what if I looked right in my younger eyes and didn't recognize me?

I don’t even know for certain who I went with, which is terrible. I have a pretty good idea, but I don’t remember. I do remember who I went with to my second Fates Warning concert, though. I remember this because I never made it to the show. My roommate Freddy and I borrowed a car, a VW Rabbit, from a guy that lived on our floor, filled the tank and went. We were about halfway to New Haven when the car started acting funny, so we pulled over and noticed something we should have noticed before, namely that the car was a diesel. Oops! Freddy called his dad, who performed one of the most amazing feats of mechanical might I’ve ever seen—he actually removed the gas tank so he could drain all of the engine-destroying unleaded fuel, replaced the now-dry tank, and poured in a gallon of diesel. We drove back to the dorm, handed over the keys, and held our breath for about a week. Our friend never mentioned having any issues with the car.

I think I was supposed to carry that story to the grave with me. Sorry, Freddy, wherever you are! I miss you, man!

Watching the concert again, I remembered that I thought Ray butchered “The Apparition”, one of my favorite John Arch songs, but that he was devastating on the newer material like “Nothing Left to Say” and “The Ivory Gate of Dreams”. The video evidence seems to corroborate my sometimes Swiss-cheesy memory. Strangely, I own guitar picks from both guitarists from this very show. Matheos’ tossed his to me after one of the acoustic breaks in Ivory Gate of Dreams (this would have been a perfect video moment, alas, the camera’s eye did not witness it)and I found Aresti’s on the floor after the concert. One is blue, one purple—I don’t really know whose is whose--they are pictured below, along with a couple other hard-won picks from my collection:

In the video, a mosh pit breaks out every so often, and a few people dive on the stage and are promptly rushed off by the bouncers. The footage is dark and a little grainy and it is hard to make out any faces other than those right in front of the stage, but from time to time a shaggy Great-Pumpkin like head rises out of the mullet sea and I think that it might be me.

This hazy apparition makes me wish that the dvd had one extra bonus feature—the ability to transport the viewer back in time. What would I say to Young Danny, in the moments between when he’s banging his head against the stage? What would I say to alter the course of his life, which, a few moments before writing this, led to me scanning the Perfect Symmetry DVD for proof of my youth?

I’m reminded of one of Matheos’s lyrics from the album, from the song “Chasing Time”:

I’ve watched in silence
As a stranger within me grew.
Detached and distanced from the day
While youth’s precious years flew.

It doesn’t take me very long to realize that I wouldn’t say anything to young Danny. I’d offer no cautionary tales, no wisdom of ages, nothing that would bump him off his current trajectory, floundering and directionless as it is, awash with heavy metal music, comic books, and static acts. I wouldn’t change a thing.

But maybe I would shoulder my way through the crowd, throw my own fist in the air, and bang my head alongside of him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zombies Take Manhattan!

Did I mention that I love my publisher, Hyperion, and everyone that works there? Look at the newest marketing they have done for Generation Dead, a sweet postering campaign in New York City! Just click on the photo for a better view.

The campaign also runs 7/21-8/4 in Seattle--I'll send a Generation Dead T-shirt to whoever sends me the best jpeg of a Seattle poster to TommyWilliams17 at

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kiss of Life the title of the sequel to Generation Dead. My brilliant editor Ari and I are working hard on the book right now!

Big changes are in store for Phoebe and the gang...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Danny Waters--Now 10% off

Way back in an early blog post I stated my goal of losing 10% of my body weight. Well, through an iron will and herculanean effort, I've achieved that goal only seven months late.

I love change, and I'm endlessly fascinated by renewal and reinvention. In addition to getting all svelte, these are some of the opportunities for change in my life the past year: I became a househusband, had my book published, learned to levitate, helped coach my son's basketball and baseball teams, all but cured my allergy symptoms through the wonder of nasal irrigation, read 93 books, saw three ghosts, cooked 103 more meals than I did last year, met dozens of fabulous authors, and mastered the ancient martial art of Crewka Crewka as perfected by sensei Dee Dee Ramone.*

*Disclaimer: Not all of the preceding statements are true

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New York Times on Zombies

Yesterday the New York Times reviewed Generation Dead and Brian James' Zombie Blondes!

Read all about it here.

Also, I've added an Interviews section to the links on the right. I appreciate the various interviewers' attempts to make me sound intelligent.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chasing Manhattan

Today I'm home from New York, after an action-packed day and a signing at the well-named children's book store, Books of Wonder. So strange to be in New York fresh after a week in Maine by a secluded lake--what an incredible contrast. Which do I like better? The tranquil, sylvan glen, or the world's most thriving metropolis? It is a dead-even tie.

The event was a lot of fun, and I got to meet four other authors, ANNA GODBERSEN, author of The Luxe, RACHEL VAIL, author of Lucky, SUZANNE WEYN, author of Reincarnation (and also The Bar Code Tattoo, which she was sweet enough to give me a copy of, and J.M. STEELE, a fellow Hyperion author who wrote The Market. I did not meet the sixth author, F. PAUL WILSON, author of Jack:Secret Histories, only because I met him a couple years ago when I was trying to launch my writing career. Paul was instrumental in helping launch that career. I attended a writing workshop where Paul was one of the instructors. The workshop was really my first attempt to "leave the cave" to advance my writing career, and I really didn't know what to expect. After Paul read my sample, he said "I can't help you." I gave him the deer in the headlights look, and then he went on went on to say that as far as my writing went, there wasn't anything major he thought I needed to work on. I was ready, in other words, for publication. Paul has written over forty wonderful novels and countless wonderful short stories, so for him to give such encouragement was and is a high point of my writing life thus far. His influence on my life and career since has been dramatic.

So it was fun when the panel of authors was asked the question "who has inspired you to become an author?" and I got to answer, truthfully, "Paul".

Later that night I walked a dozen or so blocks to my hotel, which was across the street from a couple nightclubs. The street in front was of cobblestones, and there was a courtyard dividing the streets with a functional stonework art installation where people could sit and talk. I took the highest seat and watched the city flow by for an hour or so, just as I had sat on the deck at the place we rent in Maine to watch the lake,which is fed by two rivers,flow. Both sights were awesome to behold.