Monday, April 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Nick Steckel

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
My book's title is Dead of Night, and it's about zombies in Nazi Germany.
2. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
It comes from the Depeche Mode song off their album “Exciter”. It's also the name of the virus that causes the outbreak of infected monsters.
3. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
It's an answer that will get weird looks from people, but Joseph Goebbels would be my favorite, simply because of the ethical turnaround he makes from Nazism through the book. My other favorite would be the fictional character Abraham Weiss, a young Jew stuck in the collapsing Berlin. He's entertaining to write for and I like his status as an outcast in a society that makes a rapid transition from totalitarianism to anarchy.
4. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
Adolf Hitler. I imagine it's pretty obvious why
5. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I'd make the action scenes less repetitive. There's too much “see zombie, shoot zombie, run” in it.
6. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Technically, the monsters in Dead of Night are not zombies. Zombies are corpses brought back to life. The monsters in Dead of Night, called Tinten (German for “inks”) are closer to what you see in 28 Days Later, people infected with a virus.
7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
Nothing that absolutely nobody else has, but I do enjoy swimming and reading when I'm not writing.
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Go to my blog at, visit me on Fictionpress at or email me at, or add me on Facebook.
9.  What can we expect from you in the future?
I'm working on a new draft of an apocalyptic epic called And I Feel Fine. It should be released some time in late 2012. Just in time for the real apocalypse. =)
10. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Readers: Yeah, read my books. =) No, seriously, if you want to read, read what you like. Don't listen to what public schools say about reading classics or only things with “literary merit”. If it looks good, read it.
Writers: Keep writing and keep reading. That's really all there is to it.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
If my books look good, give them a shot. Who knows, you might like what you've read?
12. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
No one would have guessed that the beginning of the end for the Third Reich would come on a brisk November day in 1937 or that it would come from within the crown jewel of Germany itself: Berlin.
Andreas Brauer woke up that morning in his large home in the Berlin locality of Grunewald. He opened his eyes and rose from his bed, heading to the bathroom for the usual routine. Brush his teeth, wash his face, and head down from the bedroom to the kitchen and have a small breakfast before checking on the experiment he was running in the cellar.
He finished up in the bathroom and headed downstairs. Alexa's poodle was sitting on the kitchen floor, hoping for a slice of bacon or two soon. Brauer never could find it in himself to be cruel to an animal, despite what he'd done to many humans over the past several months. His father had been cruel to the animals at the farm he grew up on, but he was cruel to everyone. Brauer still held scars of his father's abuse. Still, that was all in the past. Brauer was a surgeon now, or had been until January.
January 15, 1937 was one of those days that Brauer would remember forever. He started the day a respected surgeon. He was enjoying a calm moment in his office at the hospital in downtown Berlin when a high-ranking Oberführer had been rushed into the operating room after suffering a heart attack. The nurse had informed Brauer and he immediately prepped for emergency surgery. He scrubbed and the nurse helped him into a surgical gown. After instructing the anesthetist, he got to work.
The patient however, had died on the spot. He discovered that in his haste, he had ordered the wrong anesthesia. The Oberführer was allergic to that particular chemical, and Brauer knew he had just accidentally killed a high-ranking member of Hitler's SS.
The SS were not pleased with the matter. Heinrich Himmler himself had confronted Brauer the next day and informed him that they believed Brauer had intentionally murdered the Oberführer. Brauer had never formally joined the Party, mistrusting their extremism. He was a respectable German conservative, one of the old Prussians and believers in Germany from back in the Great War. He'd been in medical school during that war, and as such was unable to fight out in the front lines.
Brauer vehemently denied that he had killed the Oberführer intentionally. It didn't matter; Himmler pressured the hospital to fire him and destroy his reputation. Ever since, Brauer had been at loose ends looking for something to do. No hospital would hire him, so he began thinking about profiting through other means.
During his studies at the University of Bonn, he had written a dissertation on the viability of future modifying of viruses for the purposes of biological weaponry. Back in the 1300s, the Tatars had attacked a besieged city with bubonic plague-infested corpses. Smallpox-ridden blankets were distributed to Indians in America during Pontiac's Rebellion. It was the logical next step in warfare. During the Great War, chemical weapons such as mustard gas were used, and Brauer believed that if a second such war were to be fought, it would likely involve engineered viruses and bacteria. The dissertation was well-received, though the concept frightened the committee when he gave his oral defense.
He found his copy of the dissertation a couple months after being fired from the hospital, and it rekindled a desire he knew he'd had for a long time. His father's abuse had long caused him to be tormented by violent thoughts. He often wanted to just kill the nearest thing to him. The anger was a nightmare, and though he had no trouble controlling it in his behavior, thoughts were a different matter altogether. Now he wanted to create the first true biological weapon and sell it to the highest bidder. He wasn't about to let the Nazis have it, not after what they'd done to him. Perhaps the Soviets would be interested, or maybe Britain or the Americans. He'd heard the Japanese were doing similar experiments with diseases being tested on Chinese civilians. If the Japanese can do it, why can't I?
His first experiments began that spring. Late in April, he'd kidnapped a young German girl from the Grunewald forest by dressing as a Gestapo officer and convincing her that her parents were plotting against the Nazis. He lured her to his home and immediately infected her with samples of rabies. She died six days later. The Nazis blamed her disappearance on the Jews, but they blamed everything on the Jews. Brauer was a large, Nordic-looking German. He had nothing to fear from the Nazis anymore.
After writing down the results in his diary, he set out to kidnap more people and test modified versions of rabies on them. Most were young girls, though four of the test subjects had been boys. Alexa Stein had been his twenty-first victim.
He had kidnapped her yesterday. She was fourteen, the very image of what Hitler and his Nazis saw as the perfect German. She had blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. If the Nazis ever do manage to bring their thousand-year Reich over Europe, she would go far there. After restraining and anesthetizing her, he infected her with the black liquid sample of a the newly engineered Dead of Night virus. The Dead of Night was his nickname for what he was certain would be the final product he would sell to whoever was interested. The virus turned the blood it touched pure black, hence the name Dead of Night. It acted similar to rabies, driving those infected to near-mindless insanity.
The girl had been out with her dog, a fluffy white poodle, and Brauer kept it as a companion. It was housebroken, which pleased the surgeon. The dog was lying on the kitchen floor and raised its head at Brauer's approach. It ran out of the kitchen once it saw him. He chalked it up to just one of those things and started fixing breakfast. He had no sooner cracked the eggs into the frying pan when he heard the terrified screech.

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Thank you Nick for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

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