GUEST POST: Jason Fischer

Tamsyn Webb has had to grow up fast. The dead walk, and they hunt the living. One of the few safe places left in England is Gravesend, a small village turned into a fortress. Trapped with hundreds of starving, scared survivors, it’s getting harder to tell who the monsters are—the ones beyond the walls, or those huddled behind them. When Tamsyn learns of a possible cure for the zombie virus, there’s only one option. She’ll have to jump the wall, with nothing but her bow, a quiver-full of arrows, and the terror in her gut. But even if she gets back to Gravesend in one piece, Tamsyn might just doom them all…

Tamsyn Webb Chronicles 1: Quiver

So, the story behind Quiver and Tamsyn Webb is a tangled one, covering four print editions, three publishers and various false starts!

Way back in 2009, I won a spot as a writer for the beloved and much lamented Aussie publisher Black House Comics when they put out a call for writers to work in a novella series, based around a zombie apocalypse. My first professional story Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh won me the job, and I jumped in wringing my hands, ready to begin.

I had many ideas for a zombie tale, and all of them Australian. Sadly these were passed on, as other writers were already working Australian settings into this global problem. At a loss, I picked England as my back-up plan, and then I was all “can’t do London, that was in 28 Days Later.”

Picking the brain (lol) of an expatriate English workmate, she suggested a village called Gravesend, and I was there in a flash, charting out the village on Google maps, erecting barricades and creating every logical problem I could throw at the survivors. I breathed as much life as I could into the characters, and gave as much love to the zombie genre as it ever gave to me.

The first novella, Gravesend, hit newsagents Australia-wide, near the comics and the soft-cover Westerns. I followed it with a sequel, and then another, and realized I was writing a novel by stealth. We stitched everything together into a beautiful corpse, added a fourth novella into a coda, and called it Quiver, meaning both fear and the thing that holds my heroine Tamsyn’s arrows.

The novella was shortlisted for an award. The book sold out at the launch. I had plans for a sequel, and then sadly the publisher, Black House Comics, shut their doors, as the powerhouse Baden was simply overworked and couldn’t do it anymore.

Fast forward a few years, and I teamed up with Jason Franks, another Black House orphan, and we two Jasons formed Argonautica Press, where we determined to revive our moribund books and add new stuff. The sequel, Go To Hell, fell out of my head, and I found myself doing new and brave things to the zombie genre, dialing everything up to a Spinal Tap eleven.

We sourced new covers and did all those terrifying small-press things, determined to handsell and find new audiences – and then bloody COVID hit.

We had boxes of books in the shed and nowhere to sell them.

Then, the ray of light in the form of an alliance between Argonautica and Outland Entertainment, who have not only taken on our titles, but are giving them snazzy new covers and finding them a new audience in the US. At home, our conventions began to reopen, and we’re finally shifting our stock into the hands of eager readers, and by all accounts Tamsyn’s zombie adventures are continuing to be well-received.

Next up, I am beginning work on book #3 titled Dead Last, where we learn just how Tamsyn might be able to fix everything – or destroy everyone.

Jason Fischer is a writer who lives near Adelaide, South Australia.  He has won the Colin Thiele Literature Scholarship, an Aurealis Award and the Writers of the Future Contest. In Jason’s jack-of-all-trades writing career he has worked on comics, apps, television, short stories, novellas and novels. Jason also facilitates writing workshops, is an enthusiastic mentor, and loves anything to do with the written or spoken word.

Jason is also the founder and CEO of Spectrum Writing, a service that teaches professional writing skills to people on the Autism Spectrum.

He plays a LOT of Dungeons and Dragons, has a passion for godawful puns, and is known to sing karaoke until the small hours.

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