Book Beat: ‘Generation Dead' hits the big-time, and more

As always, in our hyper-writerly corner of the world, there's plenty of book news. But it's pretty obvious where to start.

The streamlined literary autobahn known as Dan Waters has recently undergone expansion that now includes a smooth clover-leaf of product taking off in all sorts of directions - and, no, you'd never find that sort of clunky metaphor in one of his beautifully written and conceptualized books.

Indeed, Waters, who lives in Griswold and is the New York Times-bestselling author of the "Generation Dead" series of young adult novels, could be experiencing a stunningly cool year.

For the uninitiated, the series - "Generation Dead," "Kiss of Life" and "Passing Strange" - is a multi-leveled and ongoing saga about high school zombies. In the words of Waters, though, these aren't "eat your brains" zombies. Kids have come back from the dead fundamentally changed and, forced to interract with the living, are frequently the subject of discrimination and bullying.

Here's what's going on and tentatively scheduled:

First, last December, Waters' publisher, Hyperion-Disney, came out with "Generation Dead: Stitches," a collection of short stories - in an exclusive Kindle edition ($2.69).

Moving forward, Waters has just signed the contracts with the ABC Family network, which has optioned the "Generation Dead" novels for a television series.

In the fall, Hyperion-Disney will publish Waters' first stand-alone novel, "Break My Heart One Thousand Times," a story about everyday life after "The Event," a catastrophe in which four million people were killed - and their ghosts have returned to add shadowed complexity to the world of the living.

It's a helluva premise, and apparently Gold Circle Films - "The Haunting in Georgia," "Because I Said So," "Blood Creek" - thinks so, too. They've optioned "Break My Heart One Thousand Times," and reports are that actor/screenwriter Jason Fuchs has been hired to write the script.

Always cautious but hopeful, Waters says, "I have to be calm - not that stuff isn't exciting, but living in the land of lowered expectation is the safest and most sanity-preserving strategy. So much stuff happens that never comes to fruition, I find it's better to try and put it away and focus on the work."

Waters does absolutely appreciate that he's writing stuff that actually ends up on bookstore shelves. After college, as he wrote several unpublished novels, he cycled through a series of gigs - record store manager, theater manager, bookstore manager - all positions, he says, "where I facilitated the sales of properties that I really wanted to be creating. Having books on shelves and now having the possibility to have stories of mine being adapted for television or the big screen feels like closing a circle."

Other book news of interest:

• Prolific and always-fun mystery writer Roberta Isleib, who lives in Madison, has a whimsically dark new series featuring Hayley Snow, a magazine food critic in Key West. For purposes of the Snow books, Isleib has come up with a new pen name: Lucy Burdette. The inaugural Burdette/Snow effort is called "An Appetite for Murder: A Key West Food Mystery" (Signet, 320 pages, $7.99). "Appetite" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99) and, a word to the wise: don't trust the key lime pie.

• Speaking of home-nurtured mysteries, Old Lyme's prolific and great David Handler is out with the latest from his Berger and Mitry series - which is deliciously if loosely based on OL. In "The Blood Red Indian Summer" (St. Martin's/Minotaur, 256 pages, $16.49, $11.99 Kindle), Mitch Berger and Des Mitry have to deal with a racially charged situation when suspended NFL star Tyrone "Da Beast" Grantham and his entourage descend on their quaint New England Village.

• The latest book by investigative journalist, lecturer and author M. William Phelps, who lives in Vernon, is due in March. Called "Never See Them Again" (Kensington, 350 pages, $25), it's a true-crime story about a quadruple homicide in Houston and a pair of teen killers who were, at first, the unlikeliest suspects of all.

• New London's Little Red Tree Publishing has released "Swaying on the Elephant's Shoulders" (152 pages, $18.95) by Diana Woodcock, winner of the Vernice Quebodeaux Poetry Prize. The tripartite collection of poems focus on human rights, ecology, and refugees.

• The latest collection of essays by University of Connecticut English professor Sam Pickering is out. "Dreamtime - A Happy Book" (University of South Carolina Press, 148 pages, $24.95) contains reflections by a self-admitted "unconventional teacher" on gardening, aging, travel, retirement, and the joys of a simple life.

• New London/Groton author and Vietnam vet Tage Wright has announced that 50 percent of the proceeds from his novel "The Armageddon" (Author House, 564 pages, $17.99) will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project - a nonprofit program that provides services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and transition to civilian life.

Wright self-published the book in 1998 but, in his attempts to help the Wounded Warrior mission, he's redoubled his efforts to generate new sales.

• East Lyme's Richard White, the writer-in-residence and English faculty member at New London's Williams School, has written his first nonfiction book (to go along with three previous novels). "These Stones Bear Witness" (Author House, 220 pages, $15.99, $4.99 Kindle) is an examination into the discovery of America - traditionally assumed by historians to have been by Columbus or Leif Ericsson. But a carved effigy on a piece of glacial rock in Westford, Mass., might supply clues about another possible explorer who landed here centuries ago.

• Local screenwriter/playwright Nicholas Checker has e-published a first novel called "Scratch!" (Prowler Publishing, $4.99). Prowler is his own outlet, and the story is a fantasy adventure that deals with human and animal relations as well as cultural relationships.

• Norwich native Anthony Maulucci, publisher and author of "Dear Dante" and "The Rosselli Cantata," announces a new novel. "Mary of Magdala" is now available through the author's Lorenzo Press in a Kindle edition from Amazon ($2.99). The narrative explores a variety of the enduring questions about the vague facts surrounding Mary Magdalene.


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