I was fortunate enough to have a chance to sit down (digitally anyway) with James Schannep, the writer of INFECTED.
Q.) Where did the idea to do a choose your own adventure style book come from?
A.) The Click Your Poison series started as an offhand comment in a chat with a friend, who asked, “why are there no choose your own adventure books for adults?” After a quick google search, I found the majority of hits where from others asking the same question. That’s when I knew there was a market. A few people had tried to make primitive html-based adventures, but the result was less than satisfying. However, that lead to another important question: “Could ebooks accept hyperlinks to jump from one section to the next?” After I learned I could, I knew I should give it a try.
Q.) You have a military background and especially with the various firearms in the game that was plain. What do you feel your military training help you bring to books?
A.) While I did learn a lot in the military, I don’t want to give the impression that I was in the infantry kicking doors down in Iraq. To be honest, I spent most of my military time under the glow of fluorescent lighting, and therefore most of what you read comes from research and not first-hand experience. That being said, I learned a lot about military tactics, government bureaucracy, and the human being behind the soldier facade. I understand that world better than most, so the research was mostly painting in the details.
Q.) You’ve written some screenplays, one of which named Infected, that won some awards. Did the INFECTED book spring from the screenplay?
A.) Yes! INFECTED started off as a script way back in 2008, but failed to get any studio attraction for two major reasons: 1) it didn’t reinvent the zombie wheel and 2) it wasn’t based on an existing IP (Intellectual Property). Not wanting to change my script into a musical zombie rom-com, I shelved the project. But as soon as I decided to write a CYOA-style book, I knew INFECTED needed to rise from the dead. And guess what? There’s an IP now, so I still have hopes for an eventual movie version.
Q.) I saw on your site you have a screenplay that’s been picked up. Was it the INFECTED screenplay and if so how close does it stick to the book?
A.)No, it’s actually a comedy similar in tone to “Tropic Thunder” (If you noticed the humor in INFECTED, this might not come as too much a surprise) that I co-wrote with a friend. We’re still waiting for the script to move into production, so *fingers crossed*. The INFECTED script closely mirrors the city sections of the book. The other two storylines are a creation all their own.
Q.) As an author, where do your biggest inspirations come from?
A.) All over the place; life, really. I carry a journal around wherever I go and anytime I see something interesting or hear something funny, I’ll write it down. It may be only the most tangential connection, but even the oddest happenstance can help break a story moment I’m stuck on. Additionally, If I’m really blown away by something I read, or see in a movie, or experience in a game, I’ll try to break it down and see what it is about the moment that got to me.
Q.) As part of our fanbase are gamers, I have to ask, do you play video games at all? If so what have you played lately?
A.) I do, but more as a reward to myself these days. If I played like I did when I was young, I’d never get any writing done! I think your readers will notice some call-outs to “Left 4 Dead” and the “Call of Duty” zombies mode. A few scenes were inspired by multiplayer interaction with my friends. I think growing up as a gamer really helped to foster my imagination and love of story as a kid. Parents sometimes think kids are rotting their brain out in front of a console, but I think I’m living proof to the contrary. Presently, I’m really enjoying “The Walking Dead” episodic series. It’s also a CYOA zombie adventure, though you don’t have quite the autonomy that I offer in my book 😉
Q.) You mention on your About Me blurb on your website that you played a lot of RPG’s growing up. Any favorites?
[A.) Chrono Trigger on the SNES. A friend rented it at a blockbuster and we fell in love with it. But it wasn’t available in stores at the times, so we just told the store we lost it and paid for the game that way. Absolutely could not get enough of that title. Come to think of it, that makes a lot of sense considering the material. The game had a dozen endings that would change based on how you played and what paths you took. It was pretty revolutionary semi-nonlinear gameplay for that era.
Q.) Are you planning to continue to write novels in the Click Your Poison vein?
A.) Of course! I’m calling INFECTED “Click Your Poison #1” as much to promote brand awareness as I am to force myself to make another title in the series.
Q.) Can you give us here at TheParanoidGamer.com a sneak peek of your next planned book?
A.) I’m thinking of a murder thriller, where instead of “Will YOU survive the zombie apocalypse” it’s, “Will YOU solve the mystery?” If you can’t, the killer just gets away with the crime.
There you have it. Again James thanks so much for giving us a chance to talk with you. We look forward to your continued success in the future.