Today’s guest is Peter Welmerink, author of Transport, and fellow author to include a tale in 2012’s Fading Light: Anthology of the Monstrous. Peter is an accomplished writer of Military Horror, and today he’ll challenge seven deadly questions.
Peter, would you tell us a little bit about you?
Thanks for having me here, Jake.
My name is Peter Welmerink. I was born and raised on the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, before it was turned into a zombie enclosure and big a$$ military vehicles started rolling through it. I’ve been writing since finding pencils and pens can make funny little squiggly letters on notebook pages. My first professional piece of writing was pubbed in 1997, a fantasy piece entitled A PARTING AT SUNSET.
TRANSPORT is the beginning of your post-zombie apocalypse adventure story, would you tell us a little bit about your book series?
TRANSPORT was conceived from, first, a boyhood fascination (sickness?) with creating a military adventure in my old hometown of Grand Rapids. I have always liked big, tracked military vehicles. I wanted something like that rolling through town. Second, I needed a “world setting” so I placed my main characters and big ass Mil vehicle in a world turned on its head by a viral pandemic and… zombies.
Mainly, the series is about a specific group, Captain Jacob Billet and his misfit crew and their 72 ton M213 HTV (Heavy Transport Vehicle), the HURON. The HURON is a very, very large armored vehicle (cross between a wheeled LAV and tracked AAV) that takes Billet and his team in, over, on top of and through the “Zom-Poc” realms of the TRANSPORT World.
There are thousands of ‘Zom-Poc’ books in the world if not in the US, what makes your series of books stand out from the crowd?
TRANSPORT is set in a post POST-apoc world. We’re still here. They (the Undead) are still here.
As Humankind usually does; we adapt, we survive. The zombies, at least the ones outside of the barricaded towns and cities, are the equivalent of swarming biting flies at a fun-loving picnic event… though, yes, human-sized walking, biting carcasses perhaps are more annoying.
There are zombies retained and protected within an enclosure within the Grand Rapids city limits. They are fed doped meat (my military characters have the sh*t job of going into the enclosure and feeding them, checking on them) and are basically “tame.” There are laws against hurting them as the living city occupants feel an association with them, ie, the local zombs are unfortunate family members and friends of the living city folk.
Zombies are not at the forefront of this series.
Again, it is about the military personnel working, living—even loving—in this world that has been turned on its head and has to start anew. Land (living space) and technology has been divided, and there are smaller towns fighting for survival against the big city, and individuals who see opportunities—opportunities for their own personal gain.
You and I share a talent for writing engaging short stories. The short story market is harder than novels—which is also unfairly difficult to make work for most writers. Is there any advice you’d share with newer writers as to how to write and publish short stories?
Yes, breaking into the short story market is tough. You either have to find that niche market that you write really well within, or simply roll the dice and take a shot if you feel close enough to what the market/publisher is looking for. Remember, all that can be said is NO. I find most of my reject letters relate more to simply not hitting the target theme of what the short story publisher is looking for. It should not be taken that you are a bad writer and give up the ship.
The best advice with short stories, you need to write short, sharp and concise. Cut out the poop. Keep the story on target. Make it POP. Show just enough to put your reader in time and place, and then get on with the main gist of the story.
I like short stories. I think there will continue to be a market for short stories and anthologies of such because, heck, everyone is busy nowadays, sometimes all you have time to grab is a short, sweet tale that can stick in your brain just as ferociously as a good novel.
I’ve heard it said that writers are sane because they get their daily stresses out in storytelling. What do you think? Truth or bullshit?
I don’t know if we are actually sane, not with some of the crazy crap churning up and out of our brains.
However, I do think there’s some truth behind writing being therapeutic, a stress reliever. Mind you, I can’t write “realistic” stories about my work environment or I will get too stressed. Plus if anyone latched onto a story like that they might not appreciate their “character” getting speared by HILO truck forks or dumped in the cardboard compactor and compressed into a bloody smear. (Not that I harbor such thoughts or wish that on anyone I currently work with. But back in the day, before Xanax…)
I am kidding. Maybe.
Like reading, writing is a great escape. When I write I’m THERE with my characters, experiencing what they experience, venturing with them on their adventure.
Also, back in the day, I filled 5-subject notebooks with fictional AND nonfictional scribblings. Life can throw you mean curve balls, and I honestly believe writing my frustrations down on paper saved me from going nuts. Some of that stuff I can’t read now because it’s very depressing. BUT I know it helped get me through tough times.
Was there a lot of research involved in writing your story?
Yes. For the most part, either in my Fantasy material and “modern day” post-apoc material, there has been research done.
In the current TRANSPORT military series, I researched a lot of heavy equipment—tanks, amphibious vehicles, etc—and weapons from 120mm tank cannons down to 9mm sidearms. I even went to a few military museums and wandered around outside and inside vehicles (if allowed) to get the tactile feel and sense of the vehicles even though, for example, the M213 HTV HURON is a fictional vehicle.
I researched military jargon and terms. I consulted with friends who have served in the military.
Some of the interior illustrations done by the very talented Tim Holtrop, I researched and sent him pictures of weapons and uniforms so the drawn out characters would look authentic. On a piece of artwork we used for a charity drive, I took pictures of the building, on all sides, and sent them along to Tim so there could be some realism exuded in his illustration of a locale in the books.
Do you need to do all this? No, but, 1. It’s kind of fun, and 2. I feel it adds some realism to an otherwise fictional/fantasy piece.
The zombie apocalypse arrives: who do you want on your response team?
The Expendables. (You know, the recent Stallone action movie series.) If not for any other reason than to watch them shoot and blow stuff up and say super silly one-liners before we’re all consumed.
Peter’s website is here
An Excerpt From TRANSPORT (Book Two) HUNT FOR THE FALLEN
by Peter Welmerink
“Since you took the prior NSC trash out,” Jeremy adds as if he replies to Jake’s thoughts, “You’ve been out of sync with things.”
More than you know, Jake thinks, his head pounding.
Dulled by the muddy ground, an explosion shakes the Huron.
“Get the rotten grenade-spittin’ bastard,” Stokes yells over the comm and from above.
“He’s in my sights,” Mulholland reports.
“No, I got him.” Stokes says.
“His buddy’s handing him a fresh one.”
“Keep him from hitting my rig,” Loutonia breaks in.
“I got him.” Stokes repeats.
Billet hears two short sharp shots ring out from the Huron’s rear.
“You asshole. I said I had them,” finishes Stokes.
Bullets continue to ping like hail stones off the Huron’s hull.
Pike continues as if he and Billet sit in easy chairs sharing a beer and simple conversation: “Lettner and Largo are cut from the same cloth when it comes to beliefs. They want to see eradication of all the undead populace, and perhaps a few living obstacles,” Jeremy says over the drum of his own machine gunner lancing into the men in the field, “It’s just that Largo hasn’t made the step up to where he really wants to be.”
Jake feels what Pike says almost impossible to grasp. What reason would Largo have for interfering with communications from the city? It isn’t a way to gain popularity if caught. Billet knows Largo is after Honeywell’s job, but doing something on the cusp of a terrorist act. It doesn’t make sense.
“We’re getting off subject,” Billet says. “You’ve been by the M45 Outpost. Explain. And putting a bullet in those undead civvies, and wrapping that big sonofabitch and feeding the BTF a line of bull about a sixth?”
There is silence on Pike’s end. For a moment Billet isn’t sure if the TC hesitates so he can make up another bullshit excuse, or the man simply isn’t going to answer.
“Enemy neutralized,” Stokes says over the comm. “Do you want us to check the casualties?”
Billet reaches over and raps on the 25mm turret column. Stokes ducks down to meet him.
“Stay put. I need to make sure they’re all neutralized,” Jake says.
Stokes gives him a queer look.
Jake ignores it and sits back down in his hatch seat.
“You aren’t answering me, Major,” he continues.
“I don’t think I like your tone,” Pike responds with irritation. “What are you implying, Captain?” He paints the last word boldly, emphasizing the distinction between their ranks.
“We have a shell-blasted outpost with your track marks at the scene, a lie to a field officer at the BTF, a group of shot up UCRA civilians by your hand or orders, and a big ass Zee with contraband inside it. And you continue to head south,” Billet snarls. His head hurts and the arm he uses to lean against the hatch stoop feels weighted. He will be damned though if Pike’s going to get away with what Jake’s certain the man is in the act of doing.
“Jacob…?” Loutonia leans out of her seat, half in the cab archway. “Jesus, what are you doing?”
He ignores her and slowly climbs back topside.
The sky is still chalk gray, only a drop or two of rain hits his face. Off towards the wallboard factory, the ground lay disheveled, chewed and thrown in chunks from the gun fire. The bodies of the Loyalists, or whoever they might be, stretch across the silent battlefield, torn and red.
A squelch of static breaks across the commlink, and broken garbled voices are heard in and out of the hiss and pop.
“Campau, make a call to Command. Tell them what’s going on. Everything.” Billet says.
“Umm…but what exactly is going on?” Campau replies.
The channel is still open between the Huron and Devastator.
“That’s my question also,” Pike, in everyone’s headset.
Diesel turbines rev and whine. The tank turret swivels, the 120mm main gun points at the Huron.
Jake sees they are the Devastator’s target.