Hi Robert. Thanks for stopping by The Phil Factor. I’m a follower of your blog, Chazzwrites.com and I’ve read one and a half of your books. I figured that if I like what I’ve read from you so far my readers would too. For those of you not familiar with Robert’s work, he is the author of the unusual zombie serial This Plague of Days, of which he released Season 3 yesterday on Father’s Day as well as the Omnibus Edition containing all three seasons. The series is so awesome that it has it’s own website. Click the highlighted title in the last sentence. That brings me to my first question.
TPF: Why are your Plague of Days books referred to as Seasons 1, 2, and 3?
Robert: I wrote it like a novelization of a television serial, broke it up into episodes and released it that way. I don’t consider myself an experimental writer, but I do like to do things that are different and play with the form. Well…actually, it’s really fun to play with readers’ expectations and put my fingers in their brains and stir.
There were solid marketing reasons for doing it that way, too. Season 3 is just one big book, though. It’s gained an audience so the serial approach was good last year but the business case for it is over since This Plague of Days succeeded.
TPF: This Plague of Days has a very unique protagonist. Would you give a brief synopsis for my readers who aren’t yet familiar with your very popular zombie serial?
Robert: Jaimie Spencer is 16, from Kansas City, Missouri and on the autistic spectrum. He’s a selective mute with a very rich inner life and interesting obsessions, like Latin proverbs. He’s just about the most unlikely champion for the human race there is. There are very few gun-totin’ Special Forces guys in my zombie apocalypse.
TPF: I love the Youtube video you had made about your Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus books. Have you caught much flack from anyone regarding the title and the fact that the covers include some very sexy women wearing large crosses? (everybody, click on the video below it’s hilarious and short)
Robert: Ha! Early on, there were a few grumbles. Once they found out it’s about a funny, luckless Cuban assassin whose name sounds like “Hay-soose,” they eased off. No complaints about the covers, though. They’re actually a tribute to some Bond covers from the 1980s. It’s weird to me how some people get the vapors over sexy stuff but violence doesn’t bother those same people. Earth is weird, man. We don’t think so, but that’s only because we live here.
TPF: Now that you mention it, I do see the Bond similarities. We all know that Howard Stern dubbed himself The King of All Media. Considering your many blogs, your two podcasts, your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest and your Youtube videos have you ever considered trademarking the phrase The King of All Social Media?
Robert: No. I think Howard has that title already. It’s a lot to keep up with and the truth is, I’m a bit behind since I’ve poured even more energy into writing books lately. I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. None of that stuff is the real me.
TPF: Is your name Robert or Chazz? Is Chazz your real middle name?
Robert: Chazz is for Charles. There’s a Native American poet named Robert Chute. It wouldn’t be nice to confuse his readers. Also, it would be a terrible thing to do to him, wouldn’t it? I don’t even want to be me.
TPF: You often write advice for indie authors and you’re very outspoken regarding self-publishing. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to indie authors being taken seriously?
Robert: Typos. I had a problem in production with a couple of my books. It’s fixed now (to my great relief.) Beyond that? I don’t think this is scientific, but 90% of everything is crap, from plumbing supplies to acupuncturists. Literature is no different and there are examples of its zenith and nadir everywhere. That’s why we all live for the discovery of that special book that really speaks to us, right?
However, I should add, indie authors have improved a lot over the last couple of years and I don’t think we have to be so self-conscious anymore. It’s largely known by the numbers, indie is in many ways a solid choice. A lot of people aren’t chasing trad publishing’s gatekeepers anymore so we’re really not so worried about that stuff these days. Self-aware is good. Less self-conscious is also good.
TPF: When readers read a book they often forget that it was the cover art that captivated them before a word was read. You often rave about the cover art Kit Foster does for you. Which of your covers is your favorite and why?
Robert: Probably the latest one. Kit outdid himself with Season 3 of This Plague of Days. I love all his work. Murders Among Dead Trees looks fantastic, too (and both make fire into high art.) You realize you’re asking me to tell you which is my favorite child, right?
TPF: Well of course. Whether they admit it or not every parent has a favorite child. You have a love for podcasts. Would you recommend all authors have podcasts?
Robert: It’s not for everybody and it does take time. However, it has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t meet otherwise. Hugh Howey was on the Cool People Podcast, for instance. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies through podcasting and blogging. You really have to have the energy and enthusiasm to have your own radio station. I’ve been on hiatus myself, though I’m getting back on schedule this month. Whatever activities you do, the writing has to come first.
TPF: With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State has your book Self-Help for Stoners seen a bump in sales over the last six months?
Robert: Haha! Nah. I wish, though the cover art for that book is so popular, it’s repinned on Pinterest quite a few times every week. Legalization doesn’t create new users (or readers), but now they don’t have to deal with some sketchy guy named Skeet with a neck tattoo late at night.Self-help for Stoners sells steadily because its niche is so vast it shouldn’t be called a “niche.” The fiction isn’t even exclusively for marijuana users (no more than the movie The Lost Weekend is for alcoholics.) The story behind the title has more to do with my inspirations to get writing again, director Kevin Smith and comedian Joe Rogan.
TPF: Last question. Why should readers go out and pick up your This Plague of Days series?
Robert: It’s an adventure that’s thought provoking and goes deeper than escapism and fantasy alone. I like all kinds of action, suspense and horror and I’m not above the gross out. However, after you read This Plague of Days, you’re going to be haunted with some questions about yourself that require some thought long after you’re finished the book. Promise. Or come for the jokes.
TPF: Robert, thank you again for your visiting #ThePhilFactor. Good luck with the launch of your two new books and I hope you’ll come back the next time you launch another book. For those of you who want more of Robert Chazz Chute in your life you can find links to all his books and his media empire here. Of course you can find him on Amazon too. If you’re a Robert Chazz Chute fan please feel free to hit the Facebook, Twitter or reblog buttons below to share this awesome interview with all your friends. Have a great week! ~Phil