"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How I Got Infected (Book Review)

I was working on the Kindle All-Stars Project (I had been for about a month at that point) when one night I received a cc on an email welcoming this kid, William Vitka, to the team. I thought our fearless leader, Bernard Schaffer, was going to pee himself. He seemed so excited because B's a tough editor and this short story was the first submission that Bernard had deemed publication-ready with no editing. I was all, "dude must be really good." Little did I know... 
Anyhow, I sent Vitka the whole welcome packet that we sent to every new author accepted to the project and the standard "welcome to the team" email (which, by the way, is a personalized email, not just a form letter). Next thing I knew, I was emailing back and forth with this guy for like an hour. None of my other authors had done that. It actually kind of became a thing. You see, I'm a night owl and V's day job is actually a night job, so we were both online at the same time. We quickly became close friends.
By the way . . . I usually address my dear friend William Vitka as "Vitka" or "V" rather than "William" or "Will" because his twitter handle is @vitka. I've simply gotten use to thinking of him by his last name rather than his first.
I was thrilled when he sent me Infected to read. I knew it wasn't perfect. He was still in the process of editing the manuscript and would welcome my feedback. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it. 
As is my curse, I found a few typos in pages I knew he'd already edited. (I can't help it; I can't turn off my proofreading machine.) I told him I'd send him a list of what to look for and where to find it when I was done reading the manuscript. I ended up making a couple of minor editorial suggestions, which V loved. I also ended up doing the final proofread.
You'd have thought I had saved his life! At the time I didn't realize that Infected was Vitka's first novel because it was so well written. He already had a well developed style which is pretty rare in a first-time novelist. In fact, when another author was struggling with "voice," I sent that writer (with permission) a copy of the Infected manuscript as an outstanding example of an author using a voice that suits the character rather than himself. To contrast that and show how the same author can use vastly different voices in vastly different narratives, I also told him to read "In a Mind" which was Vitka's contribution to the Kindle All-Stars first anthology, Resistance Front
Anyhow, those minor suggestions led to V's asking me to edit his second novel, Emergence (a title I suggested, by the way). I was all over that because by that point, I was quite confident in my ability as a fiction editor and I couldn't wait to read Vitka's next novel. 
So there you have it, the story behind the story. 

And here's my official review:

cover art by sean vitka
reproduced by permission
My rating:  (R) for language, violence, gore
Almost perfect *****

While reading this book, I've been in the midst of the most challenging proofread of my life! It's a 526-page anthology involving 39 pieces by 32 authors from 6 different countries. Infected was the brain candy that helped keep me sane through the first half of it.

I needed to read about zombies taking over New York.

Actually, calling this piece "brain candy" cheapens it. It's not that at all. It's an easy enough read to keep you entertained if that's all you want, but William Vitka gives you enough to think about if you're looking for more.

Funny, Vitka's treatment of the Church as state reminds me of Voltaire (Candide) and his disdain for Church and State.

Vitka's main character is a young, cynical, pissed off atheist living in a porn-obsessed, media-saturated, over-churched New York City. It's the worst of all possible worlds.

I think what I like best about the cast of characters he's assembled is they're not perfect. They're not heroes. They're just trying to survive against all odds.

From page one I was hooked. I really love the way Vitka writes. His smartass, sarcastic, ironic sense of humor takes you on an adrenaline- and alcohol-fueled roller coaster ride that could almost happen. 

I've read little pulp and I haven't read horror, real horror, in about 20 years, but I am so happy I grabbed this book. I can't wait to attack his next one. 

Infected is well worth your time and so worth every one of those five stars.

Happy Reading!

[Added in the wee hours of 10/15/12] My apologies, gang. This post was pre-programmed because the book was supposed to be live this week. It will be available through Amazon in both ebook and print format as well as other outlets. While I have not been given an exact date, I've been told it will be before the end of October and I will post links when it is live. In the meantime, you'll find a bit of William Vitka's work on Amazon and his serialized novel, Kulture Vultures, at Curiosity Quills.

[Added 10/28/12] We have a sighting! Infected is now available, in print, directly through Graveside Books. I will let you know when other sources become available.

[Added 11/12/12] The electronic version of Infected is now available through Amazon!


  1. Replies
    1. I have to apologize. Apparently the publisher had to delay publication again. I've posted a bit more detail as well as a couple of links where you can find V's other work for now. I will return to link when Infected becomes available for purchase.

    2. Hey Deborah! I was just notified that Infected is now available in print direct from the publisher. I'll let you know when the e-book becomes available.

      Here's the link to Graveside Books: http://gravesidebooks.com/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=27

  2. I said it somewhere else before, but I'll say it again. Vitka is the truth. (In my head, I say his name with an accent, and it sounds like "Vitker" but that's just me.)
    Also, a few dribbles does not constitute one nearly peeing oneself...so there.