I met H. E. Roulo the first year I went to BayCon, way back in 2015. The Horror Addicts Guide to Life had just come out and the two of us had pieces in it, which we read at a panel at the convention. She impressed me with just how smart she is.
H.E. Roulo is a Pacific Northwest fiction writer whose stories have appeared in several dozen magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue and twice in Nature. She’s the first annual winner of the HorrorAddicts.net Wicked Women Writers Challenge, was Best in Blood, which is given to an author whose episode on HorrorAddicts.net gets the most downloads for the season. She went on to be a guest judge for The Next Great Horror Writer contest. Her short stories have been published in several dozen magazines, anthologies and podcasts. Her first novel, Plague Master: Sanctuary Dome, was published in 2015. The sequel, Plague Master: Rebel Infection, is out now.
Synopsis of Plague Master: Rebel Infection:
Trevor is hailed as a hero for returning with a vaccine for the zombie infection. His celebrity also makes him a dangerous threat to the powerful Founders of his home world. Revolution is in the air, and Trevor is caught in the middle.
Despite his home world’s troubles, a message from a Plague Master forces Trevor to seek reinforcements on other worlds. He hunts for the woman he left behind, and an answer to why the vaccine is failing.
He and his friends must fight in space stations and worlds overtaken with infected to discover the terrible truth about his cure.
Did something in the real world inspire the Plague Master series?
Thankfully, I have no firsthand experience with zombies or infection. The idea for the first book, Plague Master: Sanctuary Dome, started as an audio drama for the Omega Road Chronicles. Necropolis Studios selected it and made a full-cast production you can find online at http://necropolisstudioprod.com/orc.html.
Next, I turned the idea into a short for the Live and Let Undead anthology and that sold right away. At that point, it seemed a no-brainer to expand the world I’d come to love. I already had Samantha, who is searching for her brother’s murderer. For the novel, I added the story of Trevor, a teenager from a downtrodden planet. He wants to fight against the zombies swarming his world, but opportunity is scarce. He’s working as zombie-bait for the local militia when the girl he likes becomes infected. They get sent to the Sanctuary Dome, a punishment that’s actually a big improvement, but he’s not infected and is trying to save everyone, even his home world, from this disease.
The new book, Plague Master: Rebel Infection, deals with the aftermath of returning home, because he now knows just how bad his home world is, and the mystery of why the zombie cure stops working.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
It’s funny because the scenes that are fun to plan and convince me to go ahead with the book don’t usually end up as my favorites, just because they don’t surprise me. Action sequences are enjoyable, like when our heroes fight their way through a space station or in underwater tunnels, but my favorites always end up being the quiet scenes between friends. You learn so much about characters and what they’re thinking. Their relationships are, ultimately, what matter.
When I was searching for excerpts to share during my blog tour, I had to be careful because the most satisfying scenes are the ones with big reveals!
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
I’m a plotter. At this point, I have a pretty firm writing process where I know the beginning, ending, a few key plot twists, and action scenes in between. Then I throw the ideas into chapters and plan what comes in between so I can make sure there’s a nice balance.
The key for getting the book done was I committed to 2,000 words a day, five days a week. I can’t always do that, but it’s a good goal.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
My teenage daughter really got into this series, and she made SIMS characters to match the ones in my book. It was amazing to see another person’s interpretation of the characters in my head. I loved that, so I asked her to put some of them up on my blog. [For example: http://www.fracturedhorizonnovel.com/2015/05/25/introducing-sparklyjemzs-corner/ and http://www.heatherroulo.com/2015/06/08/sparklyjemz-corner-kristin/]
What do you have planned next?
There’s a final book in the trilogy that I’ve planned since the beginning, tentatively titled Plague Master: Apocalypse Plague. I’m also working on an urban fantasy book and might see about releasing a dark humor superhero novella where the main character is a villain.
Pick up your own copy of Plague Master: Rebel Infection from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KPmp1L
For more information about Heather’s work, visit heatherroulo.com or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/heroulo/ or on twitter at @hroulo.
See all her books at https://amzn.to/2L5Ti94
Good interview. Roulo’s new book sounds like zombie fun.