by Jay Wilburn
Mark Cusco Ailes took us and his zombie stories in a new direction with The Last Stand. Mark Ailes took inspiration from Stephen King’s The Stand and looked for a way to incorporate zombies into an epic good vs. evil battle set upon the spiritual warfare plane of Christianity. Mark Ailes’s take on this epic zombie battle goes deeper and more boldly into this spiritual conflict than many other works to be found in the genre.
Mark Cusco Ailes introduced us to his sprawling, action-packed zombie writing with his most popular series to date. Readers begin with Zombie Park and then moved through Z Day: Day of the Zombies, Plague of the Living Dead, Creation of the Living Dead, Zombie World, and finally United States of Zombie. He did not originally anticipate the series going past a trilogy, but fans and publishers pushed for more and it turned out that Mark Ailes had more story to tell. Fans are asking for yet another Zombie World story and Mark Ailes answered that he has not ruled out returning to this series again someday.
He found it rewarding to be able to write a series using some of the same characters in each installment. There are some difficulties in maintaining an ongoing adventure like this as he introduces new characters while keeping the storyline with the old characters flowing. When he starts a series, Ailes says he never makes a set plan for how many books it will be. He lets the characters he’s writing tell him how many books worth of story they have to share. He is still shocked by how many readers have attached themselves to his series and still enjoy it so much.
He believes readers initially connected to his series because they were fans of zombies and fans of Jurassic Park. They were interested because they were fascinated by both zombies and dinosaurs and he was counting on that. He wanted to write a zombie series which was different from the others he has seen out there.
The Last Stand came to him as a standalone novel idea. The storyline gave him difficulty as he planned to take on this book. He had read a number of religious books and watched many religious movies and Mark Ailes felt this story needed to be told in its full scope and potential. He wanted to give a powerful story to readers which incorporated religion with zombies just to see if it could be done well. He was surprised and pleased with how well it turned out.
Mark Cusco Ailes seeks to challenge himself with each new book and series. He shared with me that he is currently finishing writing his alien invasion series. After that, he’s headed back into zombies for more great stories. He’s been hard at work trying to figure out how to take zombie writing to the next level. He definitely intends to take his next zombie story in a new and different direction. I pressed him for more clues as to what that might be, but he held out on giving any spoilers. He did tell me he can’t wait to start writing it though.
I hope I have made the case for Mark Cusco Ailes and his writing. Check out The Last Stand to see how he combined religion and zombies in this tale. You can also go to the links above to check out his Zombie World/ ZDAY series. You may also want to sign up for the Ailes Brothers newsletter to be kept up to date and to have a chance at some great perks. And check out this earlier “Case for Mark Cusco Ailes” post from a previous tour.