by Jay Wilburn
S. K. Gregory has already established herself as a great zombie storyteller with Indeadpendence Day and Grave Danger. She also has a catalog of demon stories readers really enjoy. With the story Before, the second in the series, she goes back to the beginning of characters and the outbreak which she established in her After Zombie series. In the first book (called After), she features Jenna, who lives in a world that was once overrun by zombies until they were eradicated. There will be a third book in the series which is out later in 2017. Book one and two can be read in any order, but book three will be the continuation of Jenna’s story.
Gregory compares her zombie stories with her other genre work by saying she thinks with zombies, there is a preconception as to what zombies are like. We know they are brain-eating (in some cases), flesh-eating, shambling corpses. Whereas if she was writing about demons, for example, a reader wouldn’t know what to expect with them and the writer has a lot more innate freedom to work with.
Gregory spoke specifically about her After Zombie series with book one and now book two. With book one and three focusing on Jenna, she took up the characters Danny and Jack for book two. For the character Danny, she knew he was a street wise guy, who is a joker despite what he has had to deal with in his life. Gregory said she wanted him to be able to pull off the one-liners, but there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. Jack is a computer nerd and was inspired by a character on Supernatural called Charlie. The two of them clash regularly, but end up trusting each other.
For Gregory’s writing, she believes characters are the most important part. If you like the characters and can root for them, then it almost doesn’t matter what they are going into. With her books, she would like readers to have fun, to escape for a while, and hopefully enjoy the ride that they are taken on.