Revival Road

by Chris DiLeo

Genre: Horror 


On an average street in a typical suburban town, a child dies in an all-too-plausible accident. For Sherri Matthews, a neighbor who has dedicated her life to God’s calling, this is part of God’s plan. And when the child wakes in the morgue seemingly healed, Sherri knows she must now prepare the way for what comes next.


“Something big is coming,” the revived child promises. His pet dog, dead and buried weeks prior, has come back as well, but more monster than mutt. Abbott French and Ellie Pike have never trusted Sherri or her unwavering belief and don’t believe these resurrections are God’s work. But how to explain when his sickly mother dies and is resurrected? And what about the horror Chance Gold encounters in the woods and the voice that insists, You’re mine? Or the secret a mental patient who murdered her friend knows? Or the terrible thing Carl Nichols is hiding in his basement? Or the hundreds of crows gathering across the street as if in anticipation?


As Sherri gathers believers, she takes an unthinkable step to fulfill God’s plan. Meanwhile, Abbott and Ellie must find out why this is happening and how they can stop it. The stage is set for a gruesome, apocalyptic showdown between good and evil, between life and death—where life may be the most horrifying prospect of all.

Not your typical zombie novel, 
Revival Road is a fast-paced thrill ride of horrors human and supernatural, an exploration of the dark underbelly of suburban life, and a testament to fears elemental and otherworldly.

The only guarantee in life is death.

Except when you die on Revival Road.

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What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

Misery and Pet Sematary and On Writing (and about a dozen others) by Stephen King

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

The Straw Men by Michael Marshall

Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

The Prophet by Michael Koryta (This book introduced me to his fantastic work.)

The short stories of Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Matheson, and Dennis Etchison

Also, Don Winslow—he knows how to keep a story moving.


What book do you think everyone should read?
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Stay Alive inside the Twin Towers. It’s not about politics. It’s about everyday human beings who had no idea what hell they were walking into that Tuesday morning twenty years ago.


How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first story when I was in second grade, and I’ve been writing ever since. If I could go back to my twenty-something-aged self or even my teenage self, I’d tell that young guy to take his writing more seriously.


Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I usually start with a core group of characters, or at least a protagonist and/or antagonist, and then other characters arrive as needed.


What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Depends. I have found that doing too much research can create a daunting challenge to try to use every cool thing I’ve discovered. So, I do only what is necessary to get started, and then I let the book tell me what else I need to know and I research it as I go.


Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. Except, I’m a full-time high school English teacher, so I suppose writing is not my career and yet I always treat it with the same seriousness I would if it were my career.


What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s always a good time to get published. There’s always readers.


Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Of course. I primarily read horror and thrillers, but I don’t let genre tags dictate what I read. If it sounds intriguing, I’ll give it a shot.


Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Music, usually oldies and/or classic rock, is always playing. The stuff’s too good not to play.


Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I can keep a couple ideas going in different forms, but time is limited so I usually hone in on one and work it.


Pen or typewriter or computer?
I’ve done them both (including writing an entire novel by hand), and I continue to use whichever feels right at the time. Often, I start with a Palomino Blackwing pencil on Rhodia Yellow Bloc 19 paper. I love the physicality of writing with such fine pencils on such high-quality paper. It’s a good thing I have a day job so I can afford these literary luxuries.


Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Annie Wilkes from Misery. She’s a writer’s number one fan, after all.


 A day in the life of the author?
Up at 4 in the morning, write until 6:13 when I get ready to teach. If I’m really going hard on a story, I’ll summon the energy in the evening to get some words in.


Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Write what you love. Enjoy every moment you spend writing. Take it seriously, focus on developing your craft, but have fun. Do not lose hope. Keep writing. Be grateful. You’re owed nothing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.


Describe your writing style.
I strive to create an engaging, fast read yet I also like to include enough detail to make the scene fully come to life.


What makes a good story?
King writes in Misery about “the gotta.” It’s the thing in any story that makes the reader keep turning those pages. I gotta know what’s going to happen. It’s the narrative engine. Usually, this means there are interesting characters forced into situations that push them to extremes. I love that.  


What are you currently reading?
My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, The Turnout by Megan Abbott, Greasy Lake by TC Boyle, and The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson


What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
Every book is different. Typically, I jump in and go. I start with an image, a line, an interesting concept, an intriguing character, and see where it goes from there. The most important thing seems to be the narrative voice, regardless of point of view. If the voice pulls me in then I go for the ride.


What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to write for the market. Write what you want; you’ll be happier.


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
|I strive for originality but I also want to entertain people, to please them, for them to be glad they spent time with my words. I think both are possible, but it’s easy to fall in love with words or even scenes because you like them as a writer. The question must always be: will the reader like it?


What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
Same challenges apply: get in the character’s head and think how they would. Writing is about empathy and trying to understand. Go at every character with empathy, and you can write anyone.


How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Typically, a book takes me six to nine months to write a first draft, but Revival Road, my longest book at over 160,000 words, was written in four months. The story just kept pushing me, and I was having so much fun.


Do you believe in writer’s block?
I write through it. Then sometimes I can’t stop.

DiLeo grew up in a house filled with books and fell in love with the written word before he even started school. That love grew even further when he penned his first story, a tale he wrote in second grade about a raindrop that is born in the clouds, lives its full life as it plummets, and dies in a watery splash on the sidewalk.

His love for the macabre comes from his father. Warren DiLeo loved Halloween, decorating the house in lavish, grand fashion, complete with gravestones, costumed mannequins, fog and strobe lights. But the centerpiece was a wooden coffin fit for Dracula. In full disguise, Warren would emerge from the coffin to delight trick-or-treaters.

During the rest of the year, that coffin stood among the bookshelves in the basement. Its contents: horror novels. Following Warren’s death, 11-year-old DiLeo began reading those novels as a way to commune with his father.

DiLeo’s love for story and language found a home in the horror tale.

He sold his first short story (a Poe-esque tale of teenage madness and murder) when he was seventeen. He wrote his first novel two years later, and he hasn’t stopped since.

DiLeo self-published the novels Hudson House, Calamity, and Blood Mountain. Bloodshot Books published The Devil Virus, Headshot Books published Dark Heart, and JournalStone published Dead End. They are all available.

DiLeo teaches high school English in New York’s Hudson Valley where he tries to inspire a love for the unquiet coffin in his students. He is also at work on his next novel.





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