Cocaine Zombies (A Samuel Roberts Thriller Book 1)
He lives in New York City with his wife and children. Adam graduated from Brandeis University with a B. Most importantly, he is an avid Pez collector and a lover of all things Batman. A native of Hertfordshire, England, he is an assistant district attorney in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and three children. His stories have twice been Bram Stoker Award Nominees. Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, then dropped out to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in She now practices law in Seattle, Washington.
Lisa began writing short, dark fiction just after the turn of the century. Her first publication appeared in The Edge in She went on to publish a number of short works in various small press venues, including Gothic. My big bug bear! I hate coming up with names. In the first few books in the DCI Warren Jones series, I took a scattergun approach to naming protagonists, plucking a name from the ether as I met them in the text for the first time. I would like to make it clear that I do not advocate this style of writing!
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Of course, sometimes this does work. As was my usual style I had thrown myself into the narrative with little in the way of planning, least of all character names. I knew who my detective was, just not his name. He also had a side-kick, who rather inconveniently required a name also. It sounds like the TV series. And so one of them had to go. For the next books in the series, I have decided to be more methodical about naming my characters.
I am keeping a list of names already used, and when I need a new one, I am again using a place holder. The main antagonist in this book has been given a surname far too impolite for me to repeat here; suffice to say it neatly sums up his character and will be substituted for a more appropriate name when the inspiration strikes. Similarly, several other individuals in the story are from specific ethnic backgrounds.
I need to choose appropriate names, so at the moment they too have an easy to replace place-holder. As to where I get the inspiration for naming my characters, well all I will say is that some of my colleagues may find themselves doing a double take…. I figure out my key characters and outline first.
At that stage, the characters have names like Victim 1, or suchlike. By the end of the outlining stage, I have a better idea of their nature. I then start giving them names before starting the first draft…. In general, I try to give characters names that connote at least for me some of their personality. Short, to-the-point names for no-nonsense types, etc. I like for the first and last name to flow nicely together, unless I have a reason for them to be dissonant.
So I look at the number of syllables, how the first name ends and last name begins, things like that. Something else I like to do is name a character after a deceased acquaintance as a sort of private way to honor them. For the most part, they just came to me. I did have something definite in mind when I named my main character.
My book is a teen spy thriller. As the title of my book implies, I have taken the Hitchcock route of throwing an ordinary kid into an extraordinary situation. I wanted to give him an everyday name to stress he could be any boy walking down a high school hallway. I was also reminded that Ian Fleming, one of my prime inspirations, chose to name his hero James Bond because he thought it was a dull-sounding name.
Originally my hero was named Eric Parker. The name popped in my head and I liked it. That name stuck through three drafts of the book, but because the villain is named Eck I finally realized the names were too similar. And if I wrote the damned thing, how would a reader keep it straight? I type the initial draft of my books.
As such I love short names. All three names are short and easy to type. Sometimes I have to stray from my formula. In Cocaine Zombies the evil pharmaceutical company is called Schlangenol Pharmaceuticals. Birds in my books tend to be a harbingers of bad things to come. I felt the name helped with that goal. I also like short names for reasons other than the fact that they are easy to type.
Obviously, a book that takes place in a foreign country needs names that reflect that. Yet, I strive for simplicity in names when at all possible. My first protagonist was named Alex Miller, and more than a few people assumed that I named him after myself, which was only partly true. Invariably they ask that I make their namesake better looking or taller, and one friend asked that his character not use any profanity. Sometimes I agree to minor tweaks to make my friends happy; other times I change the name.
One woman asked me to name a character after her father, and she told me that he was an avid Mets fan, and so whenever that character appeared in the book he was wearing a Mets cap. I choose my characters based on the flavor: Also the tone, and the feeling or affect I would like the reader to experience. For example, in my novel, Code Human, I chose to have the main character, Fenesia Thornbark evolve from childish innocence to a skilled and determined warrior.
Conversely, the flavor is also in the brutality of the Kakus society. The tone is in the measure of fragmentation and instability of the society. And the effect is what the reader takes away from the novel. An aspect I consider is that a character may need to use many names. For instance, I have a character show up as Pascal, but only those people who think they are close to him use it, whereas he asks his true friends to use his surname, Dupree, while underlings say Sarge, which he hates, but having three names for the one person lets me both break up the usage and also distinguish the relationships in play.
People must even change what name they call him if they go up or down in his estimation, which is fun. A unique and relatively rare name was meant to suit a detective I want to be highly individualistic. A took my time to divine that one. The genealogy is murky.
His enemies have translated his surname as March 5th, to be derisive of him, but the name might also be a corruption of Saint Mark, or refer to the fifth son of someone called Mark, or Mars, or March, or from a town called Saint Marc, or something else.
June 1 – 7: "How do you choose your character's names?" | | THE BIG THRILL
For all the others, I sometimes run with what first pops to mind, or I go hunting. A name should help me burrow into that unknown person, and attract interesting details to him or her. Sometimes, if trying to remember the name of an old acquaintance, we can get to it but starting at A and running through the alphabet until the name pops up.
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When I want to differentiate people, say within a group of friends, I make sure that their names are well spaced alphabetically. Searching for a pen name for myself taught me something.
Cocaine Zombies by Scott A. Lerner
I thought it might be cute to name my writing self after a character previously created in a literary novel. Educational, to discover how deeply the names become embedded in the people the characters become. Will I check out baby-naming websites or Name Generator in Scrivener? I like that you mention filing names alphabetically in our heads. The house reeked with the metallic odor of blood mixed with urine, sweat and rotten meat. I fought back the urge to vomit. From the rafters I could see the hanging carcass of a headless goat.
Below it was a large copper cauldron to catch the blood. The contents of the cauldron were moving, and I involuntarily shuddered when I realized the small ripples were caused by maggots. The head of the goat was gone and a large butcher's saw lay on the floor. Mercifully the entrails of the goat had also been removed. Everywhere I heard the soft hum of flies. Like I threw up in my mouth a little while reading that. My gag reflex was satisfactorily tested several more times throughout the book, thank you very much. The imagery Scott A. Lerner presents is so detailed and realistic that I had little trouble seeing it played out in my mind.
He goes into details about the clothing the characters are wearing and you actually caaare! At one time I had to pause in my reading to actually read the author bio because when it came to the law - he wrote it in such a way that: For that, he has my appreciation. I mean, it's like he's a lawyer himself but he wrote about a lawyer as an author. Does that make sense?
Instead of writing about a lawyer as a lawyer and losing me in all the legal speech and mumbo jumbo - he wrote it in a way where I was able to 'get it'. I hope that makes more sense. It was such a good story! There were times I wanted to stop reading, needed to stop reading so I could deal with real world issues but I. I was happier than a duck during deer hunting season when I found out there was going to be a sequel!
With that said, this is an amazing read that will not disappoint!
June 1 – 7: “How do you choose your character’s names?”
I will forewarn those fellow zombie fan-atics such as myself in advance though: Cocaine Zombies does NOT contain zombies. At least not in the traditional sense of the walking dead who devour the flesh of the living and for that I almost took half a rating. Lerner redeemed himself and earned that rating back by doing the unthinkable - he actually made me like a lawyer. Jun 03, Elizabeth A. Thomas, his client, has been arrested and charged with selling cocaine. The police seem to have him dead to rights, the sale having been caught on video during a sting.
Far from being happy to see Sam, Thomas is distraught over the visit, claiming Sam has sealed a fate for him worse than death. Given the resurgence of zombies in popular culture of late, and the scantily clad come-hither woman on the cover, I wondered if this was going to be some campy mix of drug dealers and a voodoo priestess.
There are, in fact, no zombies in the book at all. Not in the shambling, eat your brains sense anyway. The zombies in Cocaine Zomnies are the people who become addicted to the voodoo-tinged hybrid cocaine being cooked up by a pharmaceutical company with roots that go back to Nazi Germany. And though definitely a gorgeous woman at first blush, Chloe is not who she seems to be. The physical embodiment of an ancient evil spirit, Chloe sees mankind as a pathetic species bent on self-destruction. No better now than when we first descended from the trees, Chloe thinks it only proper that man be punished for his relentlessly evil nature by being enslaved to the will of the spirits of the dark.
Much to his dismay, Sam has, quite by accident, become the last line of defense for mankind. Yes, far from being campy, Lerner treats the subject of voodoo seriously and knowledgeably. And though there are no brain-eating zombies in Cocaine Zombies, there are brains, as there is some fairly graphic violence in this book.
For his part, Sam is a character who is easy to root for. Dec 06, Christopher Gerrib rated it really liked it. Scott Lerner, the author, is an attorney in Champaign, IL. Cocaine Zombies is a twist on the tried but true old genre of hard-boiled crime fiction. However, he still has a one-man office in a not-very nice building, and as the story opens up his first client walks into the door.
His client is accused of selling cocaine, and is escorted and bankrolled by an exotic beauty named Chloe. Things get interesting from there. But I can say that even though the book is set in modern-day Champaign, it includes zombies, Nazis, sex and drugs. This book is intended to be cotton candy for the brain, and should be read in one sitting. Cocaine Zombies is not great literature, but it is great fun. Sam is just a lawyer May 26, Jill rated it liked it. Murder, voodoo, altered cocaine, and crooked cops may bring Samuel Roberts law career to a deadly halt.
With the help of his friend Bob Sizemore, he travels to Chicago, to obtain the help of MaMa, a Juju priestess well versed in dealing with the voodoo spirits. When he realizes that Schlangenol Pharmaceuticals has resurrected the Nazi's mass extermination plan and partnered with evil forces from beyond the grave, Roberts must put self-survival aside if he is to save the human race. Shallow charac Murder, voodoo, altered cocaine, and crooked cops may bring Samuel Roberts law career to a deadly halt.
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