What are your published works, and what are you working on?
I’ve got 14 novels available and several short stories that are available in anthologies or on Amazon across multiple genres, including zombie horror, sci-fi noir, post-apocalyptic, military fiction, paranormal and even a kids’ book.
Right now, I’m working on Grudge, a military sci-fi for Phalanx Press. It’s based on the real-world US Navy expedition in 1946 to Antarctica called Operation Highjump. I took liberties with the conspiracy theory that the real reason we went there was to destroy a secret Nazi base. Yes, that’s a full year AFTER the war. We know for sure the Nazis conducted at least 3 full-fledged expeditions to Antarctica with the intent to establish research facilities away from prying eyes. If you want to have some fun, read up on Operation Highjump. I’m not a big conspiracy believer by nature, but there sure are a lot of inconsistencies between the official accounts and the reports of folks who were there—primarily Admiral Byrd, the leader of the expedition, who said we fought aerial battles with UFOs over Antarctica. Then, for no real good reason since we already had island test sites, we detonated 3 nuclear missiles over the continent…
If someone was just hearing about you for the first time what 1 thing would you want them to know?
That I’m an Active Duty Army writer and I use my real-life experiences in training and combat to bring as much realism to my stories as possible. There are no “bending” bullets around a wall here! Humans (and my creatures when I write about zombies) follow basic human anatomy. Suspending the belief that the dead can’t walk, they sure as heck can’t function if there are no fluids in the muscles, tendons and ligaments, otherwise it’s just a hard lump of dried skin that wouldn’t be able to move.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always been a writer, but when I joined the Army – over 21 years ago! – I put aside writing for fun because I was “too busy.” It’s a mental trap that a lot of professionals fall into, regardless of their field. Then, in 2008 or 2009, I read “Day by Day Armageddon” by J.L. Bourne and when I found out that he was an Active Duty Naval officer, I decided that I could find the time to do it as well, I just watch a whole lot less television than I used to.
What has been the biggest adventure of your life?
My biggest adventure was the 10 days I spent backcountry hiking in the Big Bend National Park (Texas/Mexico border). It was absolutely gorgeous and every day held a new goal and accomplishment. I saw tons of wildlife and the mountains are simply breathtaking. If you’ve never been, I recommend you visit Big Bend.
If zombie apocalypse were to happen tomorrow would you be prepared?
I like to think that I would be, but you never know. Obviously, the first question is whether or not I’d be at home or traveling for work. I travel a lot for the Army and the last time I was overseas I thought about what would happen if a global disaster of some kind occurred while I was so far away. It doesn’t have to be zombies, it could be a worldwide EMP event caused by sun flares, nuclear war, some type of crazy magnetic pole shift, a fast-moving flu/virus…what would I do if I was stranded in the middle of Asia and my family was here in the United States? It’s a tough one.
If something occurred while I was in the US, I’m reasonably confident that I’d be able to keep my family safe for the first few weeks when we’d need to hole up around our supplies. After that, it gets kind of dicey since we don’t keep shelves and shelves of canned goods and I’d be forced to scavenge. In my vision of an apocalyptic scenario, which is reinforced by my life experiences, other survivors are the ones you have to watch out for. Humans are devious mother fuckers.
What 3 things do you feel everyone should have to be ready for a survival situation?
A way to collect and store water. A good knife. A ton of paracord/550 cord (that stuff is awesome). With those three things, you should be able to help yourself out of just about anything.
Who would you want with you if civilized society fell apart?
My kids. I would never trust them with anyone else in that situation.
What 2 books would be in your bug out bag, knowing you would have to read them over and over?
The US Army survival handbook and The Lord of the Rings bound trilogy. The survival handbook (FM 21-76) has tons of great information about every climate and region of the planet, from the flora to fauna, it’s hands down the most comprehensive and compact guide I’ve found.
If we were thrown into the dark ages what would you miss most?
Electricity. Ok, I know that’s kind of a cheat answer since that means air conditioning, heating, light, charging for phone/computer, television, etc… but it’s a valid response, I think. I’ve “roughed it” for quite a bit of my life when you add everything together over the years, and I’ve never truly missed much, though.
What is the most surprising fact about you?
That I only need about 4 hours of sleep to function. Even though I have a 1.5 hour commute, work out with a ridiculous intensity, chase kids all evening long and still find time to write, I’m good to go with that little bit of sleep. If I didn’t do well with that amount of sleep, I probably wouldn’t be able to write like I do.
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Valerie Lioudis is the co-author of Aftershock: A Collection of Survivors Tales available on Amazon.