The Hardest Part: Ryan Hill on Dead New World

Raleigh author Ryan Hill is the author of two books, both out this year from Curiosity Quills Press. In May, it was his debut novel The Book of Bart, a novel of angels, demons, Templars, swearing, and sarcasm. Earlier this month saw the publication of his second novel, Dead New World, which begins a new trilogy: “Zombies aren’t mindless anymore. Before the world fell into chaos, the undead existed only in the imagination. Now, more of them walk the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans entomb themselves inside concrete barricades to stay alive. All that, while the leader of a powerful cult – known only as Reverend – becomes the next threat to the rebuilding United States. Believing zombies to be God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With his combined army of humans and zombies, he may well get his wish. Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose…though he survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death.” Hill has interviewed himself about the book and described his own idea of a zombie survival bunker, and here offers a short essay on the balancing act of writing a novel that remained true to his vision, while not potentially alienating readers.

Dead New World

By Ryah Hill:

The hardest part of writing Dead New World was the ending. Originally, the novel ended with the main character putting a bullet in the head of the girl he loved, and left the fate of other characters up in the air. Their fates would have been revealed at the beginning of the second novel (DNW is the first in a trilogy). Several people who read the novel remarked that the ending, as it stood, was entirely too dark. While it was my intention to create a dark zombie novel, I couldn’t risk potentially turning off readers, so I set about trying to create an ending that satisfied my desire for a dark ending, but wouldn’t leave people feeling like the world was a terrible place to live in.

The ending went through several variations as I did my best to walk the line between dark and pitch black. Finally, I decided to use what would have been the beginning of the second installment in the series as the ending to DNW. This let readers know the fate of every character, and clarified the direction the first sequel would take. Since everything in DNW led to that original ending, I had to go back through the manuscript and make changes throughout to tighten up the plot, so the new ending wouldn’t feel tacked on. I even created a new character, which also alleviated much of the darkness in DNW. The final result is something I couldn’t be more proud of, and the revisions strengthened both DNW and the two sequels to come.




Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.

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One Response to The Hardest Part: Ryan Hill on Dead New World

  1. Pingback: October Newsletter: A Night of Local Horror, HonorCon, and (in November) William Gibson, NC Comicon, and NC Speculative Fiction Night | Bull Spec

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