The Romero Strain: Reader Questions Answered

Answers to readers questions about characters, subplots and more

In January 2014, my first novel was published as an eBook by Books of the Dead Press. Several months later it was released in paperback. As a celebration of the novel’s first anniversary, I would like to answer some of the questions from readers I have received over the last year in regard to it.

Question: Was the real David DiMinni you dedicated the novel to like the character in your book?

The real David DiMinni was one of my dearest friends. So the camaraderie between J.D. Nichols and David is genuine along with the essence of his personality. However, David’s character is for the most part fictionalized. David was never in a band and never spouted movie quotes. With that said, he did have a love for music and the bands he liked in the novel were groups that he loved in real life. David also did study karate and was very good at it.

Question: How much of underground New York is actually true?

80% of what is mentioned about the city’s infrastructure is true. Most of the detail in regard to the MTA subway and coEdison utility tunnels I am familiar with because as an urban jungle survivalist/prepper it is important information for me.

Question: Are any of your characters based on real people?

Based on is a bit strong. There are some fictionalized characters in my novel but most are based on an amalgamation of several people. The closet character to real life is Ryan Duncan, who is a close friend. He is really an actor and many of the details of his life in the book are true. However to say that the Ryan I know and the Ryan in The Romero Strain are closely matched would be incorrect.

Question: Why didn’t you tell readers what the cryptic message on the wall meant, when you said in the book J.D. found out it’s meaning later?

When I wrote the book it was nearly 200 pages longer and went into detail about who left the message and why. This had to do with a group of marauders who were kidnapping woman and children. I could have eliminated that passage but I felt strongly that it remain because in a zombie apocalypse the greatest threat to humanity will be those who have survived who have no moral compass. The message, “Babes in the woods” was a warning to those who were unprepared for that factor.

Question: Why didn’t you put a proper ending on the book? I wanted to know if J.D. lived.

As I previously mentioned above. The book was much longer. It also had a “proper ending”. When I began to shop the novel several publishing firms told me that for a first time author it needed to be shorter. So I went back and pretty much cut the last 200 pages off and adapted the ending the is now in print. I felt leaving the question if J.D. lived or died and if the other survivors made it to England should be left up to the reader.

Question: Why is J.D. Nichols such an asshole most of the time? He wasn’t truly likable most of the time.

I really enjoy that question when I received it. It’s true, J.D. has some personality issues. He is definitely flawed. This was on purpose. He has great bedside manner as a paramedic with those who he is aiding and other people in his field, but has difficulty relating with the survivors in his group much of the time.

I purposely made him not all that likable but with a great sense of duty and honor. First remember that some of his anger is attributed to having been bit and his subsequent mutation. Doctor France did go into some detail about the mutation causing aggression.

He is not a hero by any means and he was never meant to be. He’s an anti-hero. Who would you rather follow in a zombie apocalypse, someone with a great personality who thinks he knows what needs to be done or someone who isn’t so charming that knows what needs to be done and can get it done? I’d follow the jerk.

Question: I have received a bunch of emails regarding why I did not use the actual movie quotes in my novel. Below is a review left on Amazon from Scott R. Toner, and my recent reply to him in regard to this.

I liked the plot and the premise…
However, the writing got in the way. If you are going to quote a movie, quote it. Don’t make a reference to a line the reader might not know. It is very distracting from the storyline…

Scott, thank you for your review and comments. I would have loved to have used every quote instead of just referencing them, and that was how it was originally written. Unfortunately, the cost of securing the rights would have been too great of an expense for my publisher, and there was no guarantee he could have secured the rights to every quote. Books of the Dead Press is a small indie publishing house out of Canada and not huge with deep pockets and influence like Random House.

Question: I read on your Facebook page you have written a sequel. When is it coming out?

I’ve received many emails from readers over the past year to whether there was going to be a sequel. Mostly because they didn’t like the cliff hanger ending.

The answer is yes. It will be called The Romero Strain II: The Dead, The Damned, And the Darkness. It will continue from where J.D. was about to get attacked by a half-mute horde. It will also introduce new characters with their back stories, and it will also delve into Edward Stone, the marauder who left the cryptic message on the wall. In addition, it will also go back to the beginning of the zombie outbreak so there will be the zombie factor as well as more of the transmutes and half-mutes. It will be a much darker novel. As for J.D. Nichols’ fate, you’ll just have to read it to find out if he survived.

As for a release date… At this time I have no date and no publisher. My deal with Books of the Dead Press was for one novel. There is a possibility that they will publish the follow-up but they’ll need to read it first. At this point The Romero Strain II is in the hands of my editor. I expect to have a completed ready to publish version done by Summer. In the mean time, I continue my work on my other zombie novel called World War Dead, which are six stand alone stories from around the world with a commonality that weaves them together.

If you’re interested in zombie survival and reading reviews on the latest zombie films, please check out Zombie Education Alliance, the site I co-founded.

Thank you everyone for your support… and keep the emails coming! I’d love to hear from you.

TS Alan

TS Alan is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense, but also frequently incorporates elements of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and satire. Alan has published three novels, and seven short stories.