My next novel is actually going to be middle grade. It's called ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN, and it's about three friends in small-town Iowa fighting off the zombie apocalypse with their teamwork and baseball skills. That one is actually written, I just finished page proofs on it, and it will be published next fall.
I was aiming to do two things. One was to bring zombies to kids in grades 4-6, and to do so in a way that honors zombies as creatures of horror, rather than something cute. A lot of kids in my wife's school wanted to read about zombies, but there wasn't much for them. So I wanted to give them some undead-bludgeoning action that they could call their own. But frankly, because it's me doing the writing, and because I'm a political writer in many ways, the book is actually about things like meatpacking plants, food safety and USDA policy, and race and immigration in America, and how we either work together or don't. I started out writing the book just for kicks so some kids in my wife's school would have something to read, and by the end, it was also something for me to talk about issues that I care about.On participating in the Humble Bundle:
It worked out phenomenally well for me. I think the Humble Bundle earned more in two weeks for "Pump Six and Other Stories," than I had earned in the previous four years for that collection. Though, I have to think that being in the same bundle of writers as Niel Gaiman, John Scalzi, and Cory Doctorow, along with Penny Arcade and xkcd was the cause of most of that.Struggling as a writer:
When I finally did start getting published, with "The Fluted Girl," and then "The People of Sand and Slag" and "The Calorie Man" it appeared as if I had emerged out of nowhere. The reality was that I had emerged from ten years of brutal failure, but no one saw all that learning. All people initially saw was the successful short stories, and I think that helped readers, and editors get excited about me. For a little while, I appeared to be a phenomenon, instead of just another writer who had been grinding it out for years.
When I started working on short stories, I had pretty much given up on novels. I knew I liked writing, but I couldn't take the rejection of seeing a year+ project die. Short stories/novelettes were a risk I could stomach. Interestingly, by that time I'd been writing for probably six or seven years, and I'd done a ton of book projects, so when I started to focus on short stories, I finally had my craft dialed in.
The thing that short stories really did for me was that they provided me with a market that wasn't afraid of the very dark stories I was writing. F&SF and Asimovs were happy to take me on, and it wasn't a risk for them the way it was for novel publishers to take on my long work.
So the short markets gave me exposure and legitimacy and a readership that I couldn't get by myself, and ultimately, that exposure was also what made Night Shade Books willing to take a risk on both my collection, and later on, THE WINDUP GIRL, when none of the major publishing houses would touch it.
The Drowned Cities took me two years to write, and it was a mess from the start. I wrote an entire draft of the book (90,000 words) and ended up throwing it away.You should buy all of his books at Amazon.