Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PETER WELMERINK: Five Things I Learned Writing TRANSPORT

The HURON, a 72-ton heavy transport vehicle and an army of four; tracked, racked and ready to roll, to serve and protect the walled metropolis of Grand Rapids — both her living and her undead. Captain Jacob Billet and his crew patrol the byways, ready for trouble.
William Lettner, the North Shore Coalition High Commissioner, has enemies from the mainland to the lakeshore. He needs to be covertly transported back home after a disastrous meeting in Grand Rapids. He has no love for a city that give unliving civilians the right to survive.

Assigned to bring Lettner home, Billet finds himself assaulted and insulted by the commissioner's venomous outbursts every mile travelled as they move through the treacherous landscape between Grand Rapids and the shore of Lake Michigan.
To complete the mission, Billet, the HURON and her crew will have to face domesticated zombies and the feral undead; marauders holding strategic chokepoints hostage; barricaded villages fighting for survival, and a group of geneticists who’ve lost control of one of their monstrous experiments.
Travelling through West Michigan was never so dangerous.
I have been writing stories about epic Sword & Sorcery tales and Military forays for as long as I could put pen to paper. When I got the idea pumping through my system about the TRANSPORT series, and wrote that first manuscript, and submitted it to a publisher, and got it picked up for
publication; BAM! Dream come true.
If you have an idea, and it keeps burning in your mind, and you can't shake it from your system, or it simply doesn't fade away, then you HAVE TO DO IT! Set some time aside. Put your butt in the chair and your body to the drawing board, keyboard, paper napkin, in front of you and start getting that idea down. Make it happen, because, who knows, you might have a BAM! DREAM COME TRUE.
I did not set out to write another ZOMBIE-engorged tale when I sat down to write the TRANSPORT series. It was first about writing a fictional, somewhat futuristic, post-apoc tale set in my old hometown GRAND RAPIDS and somehow mix a strong military presence into it with cool soldiers,
big armored military vehicles and a lot of action. The zombie aspects were sprinkled in after a thought of: WHAT ELSE CAN I THROW IN THE STORY FOR ADDED CHAOS. I like zombies so, it was zombies.

Bob the zombie service station attendant
Illo by Tim Holtrop
I don't want my characters having to run away from zombies. No mass of brain-hungry rotters rampaging berserkly (new word) killing every living thing. Sure, I have the FERAL "wild dog" zombies on the outskirts of town, like giant biting pesky Horseflies always swarming about, but I also have "civilian" zombies...the unfortunate city folk who have succumb to the virus and trip-shamble about the large fenced-in retention area that is on the west side of Grand Rapids across the river from city central. There are laws to protect those undead, and they are fed doped meat to keep them "tranquil" while City Central tries to figure out what to do with them.
And then you have BOB the 1950's gas station attendant zombie.
TRANSPORT Book One was all in my head. The beginning, middle and end were all there right from the get-go. I knew what I wanted, when I wanted it, where to put it. I knew the characters though they came even more to life when I started writing them. Some characters and scenarios just
POPPED ONTO THE PAGE when my main group entered their locale in the story stream.
Basically BOOK ONE was fully imagined before I wrote it. It was easy to write. It just flowed out of me onto the page.
Book Two (TRANSPORT: HUNT FOR THE FALLEN) was a bit harder to write. I think sequels are always a little harder to plop down on page because, it's like, you almost know too much about everything, how do you make this all fit now, what can you do to RAMP THINGS UP, escalate the story line, the plot line, to possibly make it even better than the first book.
I figured it out and after some heavy duty, thorough reviewing and revising, I really like how Book Two has come out.
Book Three (TRANSPORT: UNCIVIL WAR) harkens back to Book One. I know where I am going, where I am taking things, and it has been fairly easy to write, and I'm having fun doing it.
I scaled my story down to mainly the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and West Michigan spanning an area on the west side of the state, from Grand Rapids then westward between Holland and Muskegon which are along the Lake Michigan lakeshore. If you look at this area on a map, you can
see it isn't necessarily a HUGE area. IT IS ENOUGH FOR MY STORYLINE.
Besides having large cities and small towns peppering the region, there are also a lot of wild woodlands, farms, etc., scattered about West Michigan. Miles upon miles of opportunity for both urban and rural chaos.
And since I know this region very well, it made it the perfect place for the TRANSPORT series.
I did a lot of research in the Military realm of things while writing TRANSPORT. I wanted realism even though the books and characters are works of fiction. I spoke with friends and folks who had either served in the Military or were currently serving. I read a lot of true real stories of
battle across WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and our more recent activities in the Middle East. They all added quite a bit of NEW RESPECT for the men and women in the field, for our veterans both past and present...and most likely, future.
I do have some worries about writing about the wins and losses of my fictional military characters as I am hoping I show no disrespect for our war fighters both past and present. I do not think I show disrespect, but when you have a new found respect for the real-life folks who forego a lot of pleasantries we take for granted, to serve and protect (this includes police and firefighters, etc.), sometimes I have a concern if I am doing this right. (I have gotten some feedback from some of these fine folks, and they say I am doing just fine. We all need levity from the real deal time to time.)
But then again, my military characters are honorable, fight for justice, serve and protect even in the most dire of situations and locals, just like the real-deal service folk.
I suppose, in a way, writing about my fictional MIL-characters, I am giving a respectful nod and salute to the non-fiction "characters" who are out there risking life and limb to assist and benefit our way of life.
A tank turret at the Russell Rd Military Museum
TRANSPORT (Book One) can be found here:

Peter Welmerink (www.peterwelmerink.com) was born and raised on the west side of pre-apocalyptic Grand Rapids, Michigan. He loves his hometown and West Michigan, which is why he writes about it. He writes Fantasy, Military SciFi, and other wanderings into action-adventure. His work has been published in ye olde wood pulp print and electronic-online publications. He is the co-author of the Viking berserker novel, BEDLAM UNLEASHED, written with Steven Shrewsbury. TRANSPORT is his first solo novel venture. He is married with a small barbarian tribe of three boys.

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