TOPCON WELCOMES BACK PROLIFIC WRITER SUSANNE LAMBDIN
IN HER OWN WORDS:
I’ve been writing fiction since the age of 8 years old and have always been drawn to horror, high fantasy, sci-fi, and history. My parents had a collection of the classics on their bookshelves from Edgar Allan Poe (who I’m directly related to on my father’s side), Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Alexander Dumas, Sir Author Conan Doyle, and William Shakespeare (who it is said wrote all 12 plots that are used today). My brother turned me onto J.R. Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and from there I discovered Frank Yerby, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Robert Shaw (actor/writer of Jaws), and Anne Rice. But it was those paperback dime novels behind the classics, the ones I wasn’t supposed to read, that warped my mind. I read Harold Robbins when I was 10 and moved on to D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin, which were very erotic and downright tawdry.
I’m a huge movie buff and love television, as well. I grew up watching Lost In Space, Star Trek, and had a thing for the Three Musketeers, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and cowboys fighting dinosaurs after watching the Valley of Gwangi at the theater in the 5th grade. The major complaint of my childhood girlfriends’ was ‘why do we always have to pretend we’re knights’? Why can’t we play dolls? Well, to help out, my brother turned a Ken doll into Mr. Spock and he dated Barbie. Of course, I loved Captain Kirk, and have quite a few funny stories about meeting William Shatner at Paramount. And I also loved Captain Picard, and yes, I have stories about Patrick Stewart, as well as the entire crew. Wil Wheaton is a fellow Kansan, but he’s the only actor from the show I haven’t met, as of yet. Once a Trekkie, always a Trekkie.
I went to the University of Oklahoma, received a B.A. in Professional Writing, returned home and worked as a bailiff in criminal court for two years. I was a copywriter for a local rock radio station, won a state Addy Award for best 30 second comedy spot (it was from a sex novelty show), and flew out to Florida to write a brochure about race horses. But writing copy for print ads and radio just wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I wanted to be a published author.
Star Trek: The Next Generation had just aired on TV when I quit my job at the courthouse (beleaguered of too many grizzly criminal trials) and headed out to Los Angeles. Within the year, I had a job at Paramount Pictures. One day, I tucked a script written for Patrick Stewart under my arm and marched into the producer, Michael Pillar’s office, announced myself, and said if you’re looking for a great script, this is it. I then walked out. Mr. Pillar called me the next day and said, ‘Man, you have balls coming in here like that. Come back. I want to talk to you.” I ended up returning several times. Pitch meetings with the writing staff were incredible stressful. You have to pitch one story idea in 1 sentence and be prepared to ramble on about it, but have 5 more ideas in your back pocket. I thought I’d land a staff writing job, but ended up briefly dating with two of the writers instead. Still not what I wanted. So, I tried the same thing with Patrick Stewart. I intercepted the poor man at his trailer one day, gave him a script, and we returned to the sound stage rather late. I had his attention, but didn’t have quite what he wanted for his beloved character, Captain Picard. It was time to take another tactic.
I started staying late at the studio, writing late into the night to write teleplays, convinced I would get on staff if I remained determined and produced a worthy story. A mail room boy by the name of Bryan Stewart approached me one night and asked to me to write with him. Bryan wanted to tell a story about his father who had recently died and he related to Wesley. We came up with a script called “The Wish”, which you can find on the internet, which centered around Wesley Crusher meeting his dead father on the holodeck on his 18th birthday. In our version, Wesley’s father was able to interact with him and they talked at length (it wasn’t just a taped message like they showed it on Episode, No. 76 ‘Family’). But they did buy this portion of our script and we received a ‘based in part’ credit, with our names appearing at the end of the show in bright blue colors. On the night ‘Family’ aired for the first time, I threw a huge party. After that, Bryan and I wrote a few teleplays for Deep Space Nine (I love Dukat), and again, I tried to get on staff. All I can say is at that time female sci-fi writers in the late 80’s and early 90’s weren’t in big demand, and we didn’t get the respect we deserved, so I decided maybe Hollywood just wasn’t for me and instead I returned home to write fiction.
When you get a little taste of fame, it’s like getting to eat the crust on the edge of the pie. It’s delicious. You want more. But sometimes you only get that little taste. Fame is elusive, and so it getting published, and working to get your name out there takes time, effort, and money. What any writer really wants is to be read. If you only have one person who loves your story, then to me that is success. If you have more than one person love your book and you sell many copies, then you call it fame and fortune.
I knew when wrote my first novel at 8 years of age that I wanted to be a writer. But what type of writer was the hard part. I have written over twenty novels, all collecting dust on my shelf, but when I watched The Walking Dead, I realized that I was writing in the wrong genre, for the wrong age group, and I needed to change my writing style and approach. I’d been writing historical romances (I love the 1840s, there is war all over the world, and I like how war brings out the best and worst in people), sci-fi (of course), and fantasy (I have two trilogies), and I also wrote quite a bit of erotica. Funny thing is, after watching The Mummy and the Mummy Returns, I wrote the Mummy Reincarnated and sent it to Sony Pictures. They, in turn, had a friend of mine from college read the story and he contacted me; not to buy the story, but to ask me why are you still writing swashbuckling tales with sex. The answer: Duh, I like that type of thing. But he was right. I needed to again change my approach and style.
A few years ago, I started to watch The Walking Dead, and like anyone who loves zombies, I fell in love with the show. I haven’t read the graphic novels, I don’t want spoilers, but I sure do love Rick and Darryl. That got me thinking. I then watched a TV show called the Deadliest Warrior, which had the top zombie and vampire writers listing the pros and cons of zombies and vampires. Both groups stated that a zombie can’t turn a vampire into a zombie and vice versa, so I got to thinking – why can’t a virus create zombies, then vampires, werewolves, demons, super-zombies, and finally superhumans. Thus, A Dead Hearts Novel Series was born. And this is the series that I have published and I’m now marketing by going to comic conventions, book signings, and Renaissance and Medieval fairs. But I didn’t stop there.
A Dead Hearts Novel Series just happens to take place in Manitou Springs, Colorado, with the survivors’ camp on Pike’s Peak. Why? Because I love this town. And because if you’re going to be in a zombie apocalypse, you must go to higher ground, and you can’t get any higher than in Colorado. I didn’t realize that the folks who live in Manitou Springs and in Colorado Springs are fanatic zombie fans. When I contacted C.K. Comics and Collectibles, the store owners, Jessica Estes-Barsotti and her husband, Michael Barsotti, invited me to come out and hold a book signing. I also introduced myself to a local film director, Michael Bliss, who came on board for the event. And on June 24, 2013, we hosted the First Annual CK Comics & Collectibles Zombie Crawl, which I was the guest star (dressed as a zombie) and it was filmed by Michael Bliss who also interviewed me for YouTube. It was such a great success, with 200 zombies investing Manitou Springs, that we’ll be holding the 2nd Annual CK Comics & Collectibles Zombie Crawl on Saturday, June 21, 2014, and Michael Bliss will be filming yet again.
So, what have I learned on this long journey to get where I’m now at? I’ve learned as a writer that you have to be able to write. Duh. And you have to be passionate about what you are writing. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t write, but listen to them when they tell you to improve your writing style, work on your grammar, and how to promote yourself. Make friends and network. It’s all about networking. Hollywood was so tough because it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and at that time I wasn’t the ‘power lunch’ type of girl and I had to develop the type of personality needed to get out there and be a success (a success according to my terms). I’m now known as the Zombie Lady in the Midwest, not that I really want to be a zombie lady, but I can talk about zombies for hours and not come up for air (zombies don’t need to breath). I put on panels and talk about Zombie 101 – the Evolution of Zombies, and I have been on panels with the incredible authors, DC McGannon and Michael McGannon who have written the Monster Hunter Series, and are known as the Monster Guys.
Visit Susanne’s Website At www.susannelambdin.com
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