Michael J. Frey
Genre: Science Fiction/ Horror
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date of Publication: March 6, 2014
Number of pages:266
Word Count: 84K
Cover Artist: Tommy Dalston
Just months before the Battle of Central Park and the onset of the Second Civil War, President Obama declares martial law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as Montoya’s encephalopathy spreads.
Despite the military’s best efforts, the government falls and Manhattan is reborn as a city-state under a military dictatorship. Survivors Mike Calaf, and Avalon Calendar struggle to survive, caught between the zombies and the new ruler of New York.
But long before the zombie infection, during the First Civil War, Doctor William Jackson (of the Confederate States of America) is trying to unravel the mystery behind this strange new sickness. He knows that if Complex P fails to work, there could be devastating consequences which might influence the future of mankind.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/iLc675U7A44
1- DOCTOR MIKE CALAF
It’s been nearly a year since the outbreak. Most people call it the ZA infection, though it’s not really an infection. The proper medical term is Montoya’s encephalopathy (named after Claude Montoya, the French researcher who spearheaded the early studies).
I was in my office seeing patients when it began. Back then I had a medical practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, about a block away from my one bedroom apartment. I could get from my office to my home before you could say Jack Robinson. It was convenient as heck (and in the end, probably saved my life).
In those days my biggest concern was keeping the practice growing. Medicine is, among many things, a business, and like most businesses, mine had overhead. Lots of overhead. In my case overhead meant two receptionists and two nurses. I also had the malpractice insurance to cover, which seemed to go up almost every year. Next came the office supplies (both secretarial and medical). Then throw in the computers, maintenance, and a small reserve for holiday parties. Private practice in New York City was a costly beast to say the least.
Fortunately, I did pretty well and was able to celebrate my black Friday earlier and earlier each year. I wish I could attribute my good fortune to my skills as a doctor, but as Avalon might say, that dog won’t hunt. There were plenty of good docs in New York City before the ZA infection, so I had to find a way to stand out. The real secret to my success was keeping the waiting down to a bare minimum. I prided myself on it. Everyone hates waiting for the doctor, I get that, I hate it too. And no group of people does hurried and rushed like Manhattanites. So if Mrs. Kessler had an appointment at noon, she was seen by noon, or sooner. That, and a pair of the friendliest secretaries known to mankind, is what kept my people coming back.
Of course, it didn’t always work out that way. All it took was one complicated condition to throw off the schedule. For example, during what I thought was a routine physical exam, I felt an enlarged liver in a fifteen-year-old boy. That’s how a visit booked for twenty minutes became forty-five minutes. After explaining the findings to a terrified patient and his mother, I then had to order liver function tests, screening tests for hepatitis and a CT scan of the abdomen. It takes time, but it has to get done. You do what you can while keeping the bottom line in mind. And, if Mrs. Kessler wants to tell you about her son’s academic success at Brandeis University, or Mr. Barkman wants to show you pics of his new Shetland Sheepdog? Well, you smile and look at the pics, or at least that’s what I did. Good word of mouth followed, and my practice grew; satisfying both my needs as a physician, and as a businessman.
I wish I could say my office was filled with marble and gold leaf, and that I had one of those big fancy wooden desks. It wasn’t like that. But it wasn’t one of those tired, worn out old offices with dirty carpets and framed posters of Matisse and Van Gogh everywhere you turned. It was pretty standard I guess.
On my desk, I had two photographs. One was a recent pic of Kimberly and me in the North Fork of Long Island (the wine country). The other was of my sister and my parents, which was taken at a wedding, or bar mitzvah, or something; everyone dressed up and smiling in the type of picture that seemed dated the second it went into the frame; the type of picture destined for a desktop. Overall, I’d say it was a nice setup. Then the ZA infection came and everything changed. And if a little zombie apocalypse wasn’t bad enough, the Southern Federation showed up next to conduct what they called the Second Civil War. Talk about bad karma.
Manhattan is now what one might call a city-state, a tiny little country onto itself. And who gets to be king of New York? A man named Castor Dean does. Castor Dean is the class president...of a pretty big class. Not that he was elected by his classmates (or anyone else for that matter). His authority was given to him by what remained of the military after the government collapsed. His official political title is the Gallum Major; which means king or ruler. Personally, I would have chosen “El Hefe” if I ruled New York, but they never offered me the position. This is not to say that Castor Dean is a bad leader, it’s just that the vox populi never meant much to him. Most survivors welcomed Castor and his absolute rule. After all, because of him, the city still has electricity and clean water. That fact alone makes Castor worth his weight in gold.
Castor changed things up when he came into power. For starters, he renamed the city. Manhattan, he felt, had been erased by the ZA infection. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse needed a fresh start, a new beginning. So Manhattan was reborn as Gallum City, and Roosevelt Island (a small island adjacent to Manhattan) became its capital. Because of Roosevelt's small size, Castor’s army was able to clear out the zaps in a matter of days. This zombie-free sanctuary (just a few minutes boat ride from Manhattan) was the ideal location for the new ruling class. Roosevelt Island was divided into three sections. The southern section became a military town named New Sparta (where most the soldiers were barracked). The middle of the island was for government leaders and their families. The northern section was given to the surviving civilian population, the natives, who lived on Roosevelt before the infection. They were allowed to stay, provided they agreed to relocation.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have always liked writing, but never expected to make a fulltime career of it. Writing is an intense hobby, but medicine is my day job. I enjoy writing and medicine equally well as they pull with equal weight at either side of my brain.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I first considered myself a writer, when I travelled through Europe one summer on a group teen-tour. I was so inspired by the French and British countryside that I bought a notebook and began writing; just describing the aesthetics of the whole thing at first. Then came some poetry (which I’m embarrassed to read even now). I made a friend on the trip who also liked writing and we read each other’s stuff and learned from it (as green as it all was).
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Really not long. I began methodically/obsessively sending the manuscript out for review and within a few months I got a few nibbles from small and mid-sized publishers. I thought I had made the right choice with a very small publishing house in New England, but the initial edits (made before I signed a contract, thank goodness) convinced me that I was at the wrong place. The right choice eventually came around.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
By day, I am a mild mannered physician in New York City. It’s very stressful and time-consuming, but it also pays a lot better than being an author (at my level). AND I also enjoy practicing medicine very much. Mostly, I am involved in women’s health and obstetrics (delivering babies). I have a fair and friendly group of colleagues and an amazing office staff.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
State Of Infection is a zombie novel which takes place in the not-too-distant future and back in the Civil War.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
Black Rose Writing
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
This is the only book I’ve written. I took just over 1 year.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I really enjoyed writing State Of Infection. It is just a nice change of pace to commit to a story for the long term. Currently I am working on a short story, while in the middle of the PR campaign for State Of Infection. Long term, I imagine writing another novel. I am not sure if it will be a continuation of this story or something altogether different. Genre-wise, I do think I favor the horror/science fiction motif and would probably guess that would be the subject of the next book.
What genre would you place your books into?
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I am a fan of dark books in general and am an admitted Stephen King junkie, not to mention a binge watcher of my favorite TV shows (American Horror Story, Under The Dome, Revolution, The Walking Dead).
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I like Kung Fu Marty a lot. Marty is a secondary (or perhaps tertiary) character and one of the least 3-dimensional in my book. But, he is still awesome. Loyal but a little insane. Marty enters the story towards the end, yet he remains memorable. I had a childhood friend a little like Marty, a wannabe ninja. In a world gone zombie, Kung Fu Marty is a good friend to have.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I write best in one of two places: the basement of my home or my office (with the door closed). In both, I have a comfy big chair, a desk and a desktop computer. It might be a testament to my early 40’s but I much prefer a desktop to a laptop. I need total silence to write creatively. Some people like music in the background and I can’t imagine how they do it. Occasionally I will bring a cup of coffee, or a glass of Scotch down with me the write.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do. More than once in most cases.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
For this, my first novel, I got through about half the book before I came up with a name. The original name was ZA NYC. But my publisher, and eventually myself, thought that ZA NYC was not a very marketable name. So we came up with State Of Infection, towards the end of the process. Honestly, naming the book was one of the hardest parts.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The places were pretty easy. Most of them were in NYC (where I lived for over 10 years). Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, Liberty Island to name a few. The people were harder. Mike Calaf, the protagonist, was not named after me, but after Prince Calaf from the opera Turandot. I came up with the name Avalon, after doing an internet search for ‘most popular stripper names’. This was back when Avalon was going to be either a stripper or a prostitute. But she became a TV reporter in the end so I tried to tack on a catchy last name, like Calendar.
Are there any hidden themes or symbols contained in your books?
The two symbols that recur in State Of Infection are the dagger and the spider web. I can’t go further into it without spoiling some of the plot. There are also many references to the circus. But in my book, it’s more like a circus of madness. Especially towards the end with the Golden Legion, there are many three-ringed allusions. Thematically, one of the easy ones which basically hits you over the head from the onset is Avalon’s favorite expression, ‘Life is suffering.’ There is also something in there about the fact that there will always be people seeking power over all else.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I prefer ebook format. Love the ebook.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I have many almost-favorite books, but if pressed for a single best book, I would choose without hesitation, The Great Gatsby.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Some do, some don’t. I think the worst transfer was World War Z. Essentially there was nothing at all similar between the book (which was a collection of interviews with survivors of the Zombie War) and the movie, which was a story about Gerry trying to save his family and the world.
I think the Star Wars trilogy transferred pretty well into movies.
Your favorite food is?
Spaghetti with A1 Steak Sauce
Your favorite singer/group is?
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Michael Frey is a physician and assistant professor in New York City. He lives in Westchester, New York with his wife Jessica, two children and two dogs.