Zvi Zaks is our guest this week on Writerly Wednesday. I met Zvi through my work with Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been writing off and on literally for decades with little luck in publishing. I could blame it on my schedule as a doctor — too many years having a 24-7 call schedule — but plenty of other doctors have managed to combine writing and medicine. The real problem was the off and on had too much off and not enough on. Internet workshops like http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ and www.critters.org improved my work enough to sell a few short stories, but what I really wanted was to publish a book. Second only to becoming a grandfather–something I had no control over–becoming a published novelist was my biggest goal.
I thought my writing was good, but an unrelenting series of rejections almost had me ready to give up. Then Lilly Press accepted my novel IMPLAC. I was ecstatic. Even the editing process was a joy. Unfortunately, Lilly went bankrupt and it was back to the slush pile for me. At least now I knew that some professionals valued my work. “Query Tracker” – http://querytracker.net/forum/ – taught me how to write a decent query, I sent out a batch of letters to small publishers, and in 2010 Eternal Press accepted A VIRTUAL AFFAIR. No ecstasy this time, but I was still happy that at age 68 I would finally have a book for sale. Since then, I’ve had two more books published – IMPLAC, with eStar, about an evil robot that claims to have reformed, and TRUE SON OF ASMODEUS, a different kind of vampire story.
It’s never too late to pursue your dream.
And now, I even have two grandchildren.
Confirmed rationalist Dr. Eli Rothenberg thought he had left fantasy and talk of childhood psychic gifts in the past. However, a crisis of conscience sends him to Europeon a research grant, and Eli finds himself pursued by an ancient vampiric entity, the ghost of Hitler. A Hasidic Jew he’d met while traveling tells him he must embrace Jewish lore to fight this monster. To Eli, this is a betrayal of his principles, but gradually he must accept his destiny and religious heritage. By joining a tightly-knit traditional Jewish community and meeting with spiritual warriors–Perceptives–of all faiths, he hones his skills. After months of training and doubt, Eli goes to the sites of the death camps inDachau and Auschwitz where he must confront and defeat a power of pure evil.
There are two different accounts of how Stephan Harper died. They agree only in the date, 1888, the year before A. Hitler was whelped. The police record describes it as a simple murder. A few days after an officer found his body found in a deserted alley, a vagabond was caught trying to sell a jewel-encrusted brooch belonging to Stephan. The man confessed to robbery, but proclaimed his innocence of the murder up until the moment when the gallows’ trapdoor sprung open. Nevertheless, the police had no doubts of his guilt.
The archivists for the Perceptives insist the vagabond was innocent, that Stephan’s death, was the latest in an ancient series. In an account rich with unverifiable details, they describe Stephan’s last hours. According to them, Stephen, a bank clerk, had to work late one evening. When he finally pushed open the thick wooden doors and stepped into the street, the sun had long set. Wind howled and frost stung his face. He patted his pocket with a brooch he planned to give his fiancé, and started walking towards his boarding house. The buildings lining the empty roadway were dark, black cliffs against an abandoned canyon. Not a cat crouching in the gloom disturbed the desolation. Clouds passing over the moon cast shifting shadows like rats sneaking along the curbside. Stephan shivered and buttoned the top of his coat.
Two blocks from his residence, footsteps, the relentless smack of stiff leather on hard stone, echoed behind him. He glanced back and saw a shadowy figure. Rumors of a demonic fiend that stalked young people and drank their blood had terrorized the city for weeks, and had left Stephan’s fiancé in constant dread. Just yesterday, he had laughed at her fear, but now, with that ominous figure trailing, terror colder than the wind pierced his chest. He tried to swallow, but his mouth had become dry. He walked faster. The footsteps drew closer. He panicked and ran.
A dark alleyway appeared, and with it a thought entered his head–hide here. Panting in terror, he turned in. But the path ended after just a few yards, leaving him trapped.
The figure approached. ‘You have nothing to fear, ’ a voice in his mind said.
It lied. As the drab and weary looking form advanced, Stephan knew this was the supernatural killer everyone spoke about. With a grimace, he unbuttoned the top of his coat, and pulled out his defense–a silver crucifix. This holy replica, a gift from his mother, would surely protect him. His voice rang out in the night. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost I bid you depart.”
The specter ignored the adjuration and walked to his victim, yanked the icon from its fragile chain and stared at it, turning it back and forth. He looked up at Stephan. “You’ve been reading too many novels. This doesn’t bother my master.” He stuffed the cross into Stephan’s coat pocket. “And it won’t help you.” He put his hand on the youth’s shoulder and drew him closer.
A stench of vomit coming from that minion from Hell made Stephan retch. “Jesus, save me, ” he said, his voice too quiet, his hand struggling to trace the sign of the cross. But his neck obeyed the vampire and bent to the side, exposing the jugular vein to the apparition’s lengthening fangs.
Before starting this odyssey, I would have believed the official report. Now I know better.
1. In three days, all power will go off, everywhere for a very long time. What will you include in your author survival kit?
A solar powered laptop. Do such exist? I’d certainly look hard. As for my personal survival kit, that’s a different question.
2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise?
I love Bela Lugosi in the movie DRACULA, but, as a Jew who is serious about his identity, the heavy Christian theme was off putting. This is my version of the vampire legend.
3. What do you like to read?
Science fiction which makes me think, either by introducing me to new ideas or by teaching me something new. For that matter, I like any books that make me think or teach me something new in an entertaining way.
From Sally – I homeschool, pretty much year round and this Summer’s topic is Literature. As a teacher I knew I had done my job when both kids began reading for entertainment and ‘to find out.’
4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited?
The Western Wall in Jerusalem (formerly called the wailing wall, but there’s no crying there since the Israelis captured it from the Jordanians.) It may sound silly, but when I’m standing in front of those massive stones, I feel like I’m at the center of the world.
5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself?
Shaving my scalp.
6. What scares you the most?
People who think they know what is best for me or my loved ones and won’t seriously listen as to whether I agree.
7. Tell us anything but keep it G rated.
When I married my wife, I told her she would always be my bride. That was many years ago, but she still is (though she gets embarrassed when I tell other people about it.)
vampires, hematology, holocaust, Dachau, Auschwitz, True Son Of Asmodeus, By Light Unseen, Israel, Hassidim, hassid, Hebrew, Yiddish, Munich, London, Jerusalem,
Zvi thanks for being a good sport. I should have tried to get a recording of you making music for us, but then I don’t know how to embed it. 🙂