Today we’re interviewing Saul Tanpepper, author of the popular Gameland series and a serious backlist of other great looking titles as well. As always this month, comment on this post or sign up here for your chance to win free books…details here…
Name: Saul Tanpepper (it’s a pen
name and honors the memory of an old high school buddy who passed
away when he was only 27).
Where are you from:
I was born and raised in Upstate New
York, but now make my home in the San Francisco Bay Area in
Tell us a little about yourself:
I served as an Army corpsman in W.
Germany and Washington, DC., after which I attended college to study
pre-med. I instead went into scientific research and got my PhD in
molecular biology and genetics. I worked in biotech for ten years
before “retiring” to write full time. I actually started writing
children’s literature, but found it impossible to sell to trade
publishers. I currently write speculative fiction (primarily science
fiction, horror, cyberpunk and biopunk) and have published nearly 40
titles. I’m the creator and author of the GAMELAND
series published by Brinestone Press.
Tell us your latest news?
The GAMELAND series will soon be
publishing its second season, thanks to overwhelming enthusiasm by
readers of the first. The series is about a group of computer hackers
and gamers who break into a live-action arcade in which zombies are
avatars in The Game. Jessie, the leader of the
group, and her tight-knit group, try to escape. Some don’t make it
out alive. The second season sees Jessie’s return to GAMELAND and
the complete collapse of society which leads to the Z-pocalypse.
When did you first consider yourself a
One of my young adult manuscripts
was a finalist for the Yearling Award novels sponsored by Delacorte,
and other works have made it as far as the semi finals (top 1%) in
Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award. I’ve since had numerous
near-misses with traditional publishers and one contract offer, which
I turned down. These experiences were milestones in my desire to
become a published author, but it wasn’t until I received my first
fan mail that I felt I could really make the claim of being a
How did you come up with the title for
I knew I wanted to write a cyberpunk
thriller series and since the villain-du-jour, zombies, are amazingly
malleable, one thing led to another. But I wanted my zombie story to
stand out from all the other Hocking-Maberry-Romero tales. GAMELAND
is really about how much the entertainment industry has consumed our
lives. The Game, the central trope in the
series, represents the culmination of several current trends in the
real world: our increasing acceptance of violence, especially in
entertainment, the incursion of technology in our lives and the
military, and globalization. The irony is that the title evokes fun
images, while the reality is that it masks the horror of a world
badly out of tilt.
What books have most influenced your
life and writing?
There are so many, but I’d
recommend the following books to anyone, especially aspiring writers:
Stephen King’s On Writing. S.I. Hayakawa’s
Language and Thought in Action. J.R.R. Tolkien’s
The Lord of the Rings. Leif Enger’s Peace
Like a River. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as life. I hope I can
make a career out of it, and I’m well on my way to achieving that,
but I’d write even if it doesn’t work out that way.
Do you have to travel much concerning
I’ve traveled extensively
throughout the world, particularly in Africa and Europe, but also the
United States. This is often reflected in the settings of my books,
which range from the Puget Sound in one to Nebraska and Missouri in
another. The metropolitan area of NYC is a favorite setting, because
it’s so cosmopolitan that I think it can be easily visualized by
anyone, whether or not they’ve ever been there. The bulk of my
horror short stories are situated in a fictional town called
Edgemont, which I’ve always envisioned as upper east coast modern
Do you have any advice for other
In a nutshell: Read and write. A
lot. Share your work before you publish and be open to outside
opinions. Never take criticism personally. Never, NEVER
respond to reviews; they’re not there for you. But most
importantly: Finish what you write.
Do you have a blog/website?
Thanks for dropping by, Saul! Readers, don’t forget to come back on Friday for an excerpt from Deep Into the Game – Book 1 of Gameland!