Adam: Thanks for having us. Hi.
Sam: I am also here.
NOW, I KNOW YOU ARE BOTH WRITE SCIENCE FICTION AND SAM, YOU ALSO WRITE POETRY. TELL MY READERS MORE ABOUT YOU. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Adam: Yeah, we’re both from Australia, from Northern New South Wales. Uhhh. . . In a--
Sam: I live in a tree.
Adam: Sam lives in a tree. I live. . . near the tree Sam lives in. . .
Sam: He brings me food.
Adam: Yeah that’s the less convenient part.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY ABOUT?
Adam: My first story was. . . It’s hard to say. My first published story was also the first thing I’d written in quite a while, but I’d written a lot in high school and university, so I’ve probably known I was a writer since I was a teenager.
Sam: My first story I ever wrote appeared in my school newspaper when I was ten and I recently typed it up and realized there were some serious tense issues, but I just sent it to an anthology. We’ll see if it gets in. I’m rooting for ten-year-old Sam! I’ve been writing poetry since Year 6. I realized I wanted to be a writer because I read 1984 plus Warhammer 40000 novels as a teenager and basically I was like ‘Oh I’m going to write a 1984 cross Warhammer 40k novel in the school holidays.’ That was years before I had the chance to do short stories.
I AM ALWAYS IMPRESSED BY THE JOINT WORK YOU DO BOTH IN YOUR COLLABORATIVE WRITING AND IN ZOMBIE PIRATE PUBLISHING. WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE WORK YOU HAVE COLLABORATED ON?
Adam: Nothing. We’ve never collaborated.
Sam: Yeah, we don’t collaborate--
Adam: I wrote the start of a short story— the start of a novel once—wrote the first chapter and handed it to Sam, and he went “That’s the best thing you’ve ever written. I’m excited to write the next chapter,” and then never did it.
Sam: I don’t remember that.
Adam: So I then went on the internet and said, “Oi, how about you people do I,” and that was also terrible. Collaboration is. . . . Yeah we don’t really collaborate. We do--
Sam: We work together as publishers and editors and collaborate on themes which is generally like one of us will have an idea, and we’ll brainstorm how to make it work and split the workload whether it’s editing, marketing, making the graphics; we’ll just sort of split it down the middle. I think that getting along as collaborators comes down to getting along as old friends, but I don’t think that artistically, on a story. . . . We have vastly different processes, styles, ideas, approaches . . . and while our work appears alongside each other and complements each other, I don’t know how we would write a story together. We could give it a shot--
Adam: We could give it a shot. I don’t know that I would ever want to however. Umm . . . I see people’s collaborative writing, and it’s interesting to read, but I don’t know that it’s for me.
Sam: I don’t even know how they. . .
Adam: —functionally do it?
Sam: Yeah. . . Like does one do the left hand and one do the right hand?
Adam: I don’t write with my left hand at all, so I’ll be the left hand, you do the right hand, and then put my name on the story.
Sam: You type one handed?
Adam: Oh. I thought we were writing it out with pencil and paper. . .
TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR PUBLISHING HOUSE. WHERE DOES THE NAME COME FROM?
Adam: This is a good story actually.
Sam: It comes from two angles which are both kind of together. We play a card game called Smash Up, where you smash together two factions to make a unique team. And there’s pirates and zombies as well as aliens and robots and all sorts of things. So you could play zombie pirates in the game. I also saw a comic strip about someone creating something new and interesting and no one was interested in it. So the person got an existing idea and a second existing idea and sort of nonchalantly mashed them together, and everyone went nuts for it. And that sort of reminded me that people like familiar tropes and archetypes. Everything we do is putting old ideas together in new quirky combinations. So our name is supposed to be a mix of approachability and familiarity, mixed with quirky and weird.
Adam: Yeah. When we first came up with the idea of making a publishing house, and throwing our hats in the ring and doing it ourselves, my suggestion for the name was The Collapsar Directive, which you might know ended up being the name of our first anthology.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING PROJECTS YOU HAVE PUT TOGETHER IN ZOMBIE PIRATE PUBLISHING?
Adam: Well I don’t know what Sam’s answer is, but I think that And Man Grew Proud was particularly challenging.
Sam: Most challenging? Probably Flash Fiction Addiction. But my honest answer is: They all felt the same.
Adam: I suppose with the frequency we do them at. . . But at the time, you’re right, Flash Fiction Addiction, wrangling one hundred different authors. . . It was a challenge.
NOW, AS YOU KNOW, I GAVE A FIVE-STAR REVIEW TO YOUR AMAZING SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE: PHOSPHORUS & INTO THE EYE. DID YOU DO A LOT OF RESEARCH FOR YOUR RESPECTIVE WORKS?
Sam: [raucous laughter]
Adam: Uh. No. Not at all. Very little. I did a bunch of math to work out how long my space elevators needed to be, which doesn’t actually appear in the story, I don’t think. . . the actual length of it appears in the story. Maybe it does. Once. I did do a lot of world building.
Sam: Is that research?
Adam: Umm, no. I guess not.
Sam: My story doesn’t have any. . . beyond general knowledge. . . like lasers exist. . . I don’t do any research. . . I prefer writing science fiction because I don’t want to do any research.
Adam: Yeah, Sam doesn’t write science fiction, he writes science fantasy.
Sam: I make up my story as I go. My novella was actually a short story that was a bit truncated, and I was like ‘oh I’ll come back to it one day’. When I came back to it the characters went on an adventure, and then, I just kept on adding to story. The characters just tell me what would be the most dramatic thing to happen. They just screw each other over basically.
Adam: Yeah it’s interesting. Science fiction is just a setting really. There’s no real science in either of our books. I mean. . . there is and there isn’t. I mean, spaceships are science.
Sam: There’s no real quantum mechanics of how The Eye works or how the Varsez Pearls work.
Adam: That’s the thing that makes the difference between science fiction and science fantasy, I read once. Somebody said that science fiction is a story where the deus ex machina. . . where the person gets saved at the end by the fact that the boiling point of water is different in a vacuum than it is inside an atmosphere. . . Somehow. . . That saves them.
Sam: Yeah, I would just prefer dramatic stuff happens. I write a lot of stories which are relatively interchangeable with another setting. I just throw a laser in there. . .
Adam: Yeah it’s like George R. R. Martin said, ‘The best stories are about the human heart in conflict with itself.
Sam: One of the reasons I enjoy writing science fiction is, so I can make up my world, so I can focus on the characters, so I don’t get bogged down with, “Did they use that pistol in that time period.”
CLEARLY, YOU BOTH HAVE AMAZING SKILLS. BUT IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO BETTER?
Adam: Yeah I’d like to be more consistent at getting the writing done, day to day. I’m very happy with where my writing. . . where my skills are at. Obviously it’s the same as anything. . . It is a skill set. I have worked on it. I will continue to work on it. My skills will continue to improve as I do so. But one of the things I need for my writing—functionally at least—is the time and motivation to do it more frequently.
Sam: I put a lot of subconscious—sometimes very conscious—but a lot of subconscious effort into improving myself and my life and my skills and whatever I’m passionate about. I love writing. I love playing poker. I’m a drummer. I study these passions in a very oblique way sometimes where I sort of try to ramble towards my goal simultaneously always believing I’m on the right path. I think that sometimes when I speak to people and I say, “Oh I don’t have anything to learn,” or “I’ve found my voice,” or “I’m happy with where I’m at,: they sometimes think that means I’m not trying to improve, or I’m complacent, or I’m up myself. I think the reality of it is, I have always been a self-taught person. I will get better at whatever I’m interested in. I’ve always thought you will improve at whatever skill you have the interest in because you will want to spend time with the skill.
Adam: Yeah, exactly right. If you want to learn to play piano, if you want to juggle, if you want to learn to. . . tightrope walk. . . you don’t get better at it by people giving you pointers, you get better by going out and doing it. You listen to people who know what they’re talking about, sure, but you still have to go put the time in to build the muscle memory, and writing is a muscle. You have to hone that muscle.
Sam: Another key thing people don’t realize about any skill is to have as much fun doing it as possible. If you’re not having fun and you’re not enjoying it--
Adam: Yeah, if you hate tightrope walking, it’s not going to work out for you as a career.
Sam: Yeah, go and do it. Please have as much fun as possible.
WHAT ARE SOME MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN SUBMITTING WORK? LIKE WHAT GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN?
Sam: That’s a good question.
Adam: Yeah it is.
Sam: I don’t know what the answer is.
Adam: I dunno. . . Read our call for submissions guidelines on our website. All the stuff that annoys us is right there in black and white.
Sam: I think we make it pretty clear what we want.
IF YOU COULD MEET ONE AUTHOR, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Sam: Oh. . . George Orwell. Why not.
Adam: Hunter S. Thompson.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS AND CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS.
Adam: Well, out current call for submissions is for Raygun Retro. We’re after stories written in the style and manner of classic sci-fi written by the masters of the genre. Stories written in the lens of yesteryear. You can find all the details on our website.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
Sam: Uhhh. . .
Adam: [laughs] Sam doesn’t, but I do. . .
Sam: I think the world will be what the world will be. I believe in destiny. I think you can transform the world, but you were always going to. I think the world is a magical place, and you should always try to make an impact. I think writing is very powerful for that. You should always. . . pretend like. . . even if you feel like you’re not making a difference, you should get up every day and tell yourself you’re an important person who’s impacting a lot of people.
Adam: I’ve said since I had my first short story published, oh. . . six years ago. . . wow that’s getting on. . . I’ve said ever since then, I don’t really care if I make a bunch of money, I don’t care if I never get famous, as long as five hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, could be fifty years from now, someone picks up one of my books and reads a short story or a novel or something I’ve written, and it changes their outlook on life. If that happens one time, even years after I’m dead, and even if I never know it happens, then my whole career has been worth it.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Adam: Best place is zombiepiratepublishing.com or facebook.com/zombiepiratepublishing.
SAM AND ADAM, I KNOW YOU ARE INCREDIBLY BUSY; I’M SURPRISED YOU DO ALL OF THIS WORK WITHOUT CLONES. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME OUT FOR MY READERS. I HOPE WE DO THIS AGAIN SOON.
Sam: Thanks for having us. We had a good time.