KEVIN RICHEY: On How to Survive the Publishing Industry During a Zombie Apocalypse

"There are no happy endings," he tells me at the beginning of our interview. 

At least, there are none on the electronic pages of Kevin Richey’s eBooks. The author of the well received, Zombie Fairy Tales, has just released a brand new prequel to his upcoming series entitled the Unloved Ones. Whether writing strictly for adults or creating YA stories, Kevin doesn’t shy away from the brutally, gothic side of horror. The Unloved Ones is touted as a “Young Adult urban fantasy,” which deals with a vampire family that must dwindle its siblings down to one remaining member. YIKES! 

I spoke to Kevin as he was wrapping up his final installment of Zombie Fairy Tales. Kevin described to me that he began developing this concept when he was a film student at NYU. There, Kevin envisioned a different take on the traditional zombie myth, advocating for the undead to have a rich inner life, motivated by emotion. 

“I think this is the direction the zombie genre needs to move toward, or risk becoming stale. In fiction you should be able to go inside the mind of any conscious thing, from a Golden Retriever all the way up to one of the gods of your world. Zombie fiction should be no different,” Kevin expounds.

I was also curious about how he felt regarding some readers perception that his writing is too gory. Kevin gave me the guts: 

“It’s pretty impossible to tell a story about cannibals without having them eat people. It’s cheating,” he lets me know right up front, “…but I think, above all, what gore gives us is a chance to experience something we don’t see in everyday life. We all have fears and preoccupations with death, with our bodies, and with a loss of control. Reading about gore in a safe setting, like a story, gives us a way to confront those issues and reduce our anxiety about them.”

A fan of the horror fantasy genre, these days I’m more fascinated by the horrors of the publishing industry and what writers are doing to stay alive. Intrigued by how Kevin utilized the eBook market and social media to gain popularity online with his adoring fans, I let him give me the not-so-gory details:

“Publishing is definitely changing, and anyone involved had better change with it or face extinction. As for readers, these changes are almost all positive. You have more options than ever before, especially in genres that were deemed “unsellable” for years. As a young writer, it makes sense to start off by self-publishing. There are very few drawbacks, and if you’re successful at it, you can support yourself financially much faster and a lot easier than with traditional publishing.”

Now a full time writer, Kevin is enjoying the fruits of his online labor, while making room for his fans. His eBooks have an interactive appeal not seen in mainstream publishing. For instance, Kevin connects directly with his fans on Goodreads and also provides a disclaimer that any typos or misprints be directly addressed so that he can correct them electronically. Not only does this interactive fan response system allow Kevin to hear straight from his readers, but it also helps him shape his writing with his audience in mind. 

And that’s not the only place he gets support. Kevin utilizes the talents of the artists in his life to help him polish the look and marketing of his eBooks. Kevin’s boyfriend, David, is a professional photographer who he enlists to give each cover photo its gruesomeness. He also relies on a close friend for the costume designs and posing of the shots. This support has blended into a flawlessly finished online product. 

Kevin left me with this piece of advice to newbie writers on handling criticism:

“Back in college, I was in a writer’s workshop that was really unhealthy for my writing. Nobody liked what I wrote, and the professor even took me aside one day and told me to give up on writing because she didn’t want to see me fail in life. Instead of being crushed, something inside me rebuffed. I thanked her for her time, dropped out of the program, and decided that if I wanted to be a writer, no one had the right to tell me to stop. No criticism has really stung since then.”

Sounds like Kevin has created his own happy ending! 

Kevin Richey has proven that the publishing industry is Undead! And he knows how to Be More Naked.