Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 25, 2012.


Jack Heart is a lone hiker who wanders into a quarantined mountain town. A violent tale of isolation, survival, and zombies.

Why Kickstarter?

Kickstarter funds will be used to promote, advertise, and distribute Kill Town, USA as an eBook and as a paperback.  This includes: press releases, review-copies for critics, posters, Amazon online marketing, distribution channels, and a website.


Recently laid off, Jack Heart uses his time away from work to fulfill a lifelong dream: hiking the Appalachian Trail.  In winter.  After fighting off a sickly black bear, Jack decides to take a break from the Trail.  However, he quickly realizes his problems are much greater than rogue wildlife.  A toxic beef supply has turned millions of people into Heathens--flesh hungry corpses--and cities are putting themselves under quarantine.  Hundreds of miles from home with no food and trapped by vigilantes, Jack Heart descends into a desperate, violent place in order to survive. 

The Excerpt:

"Covered in snow, we couldn’t see the floodplain.  It was only partially frozen, but as soon as my boots cracked the ice I darted backwards.  The mud was thick.  I hobbled left and right, desperately throwing my body around for balance.  As I righted myself for the last time, the earth under my right foot exploded.  There was a snap like a bullwhip, my ankle throbbed sharp and ruthless.  I gasped and fell to my knees.  I couldn’t look at my ankle.  I felt it.  The weight of it.  The cold pressure of  the steel jaws clamped there.  I didn’t look because that would only make it worse.  Audrey screamed.  I felt her fingers pry at the rusty clamp. 

The bear trap was chained to a wild cherry tree six feet away.  The chain, the trap, even the shackle around the tree was hidden by snow, and judging by the thick grease, it was set out perhaps only a few weeks ago. 

The pain gave me the tunnel vision.

The worst thing on earth is to be victim to a racing heart.  To lose control of the only thing you have control of.  Your brain.  I counted the breaths.  I started over.  One.  Two.  Finally, my lungs caught up.  The heart reined in.

It is hard to delicately remove a bear trap.  Once you open the jaws, the blood pours into the area and magnifies the pain twenty-fold.  And when they are open, it is quite another matter to keep them open without letting them slip and re-clamp anew.  The final and worst step is removing the foot from the trap.  My foot felt severed.  But with Audrey, we managed to remove the black steel trap, which chomped and tumbled into the snow when I let it go, and we sat on the ground packing snow around my ankle.  You have to let it throb, to let the pain pass.  I stared at the snow as it slowly turned red and melted away."

The Art:

The awesome cover art comes courtesy Andrew Spalding, an old friend and, obviously, a talented designer.  He just happened to be working on book jackets when I asked him about possibly designing a cover.  He also loves zombies, and this is what he came up with.  He deserves much praise. 

About the Video:

Thank you, Anna, for putting up with my constant requests to view the video in progress, and for suggesting I add creepy music.  Pop Goes the Weasel, as heard in the video, is in the public domain and can be downloaded here:

A Brief History: 

I do work at a funeral home, and I do imagine an army of zombies every time I open the garage door.  However, I wrote the original KTUSA when we lived in Marshall, NC.  That's kind of neat because that's where the story takes place. 

Kill Town, USA started life as a bloated, rambling 260-page zombie novel with a whiny, maladroit accountant, Jackson Hartley, as its protagonist.  A year and a half later, relocated in Tennessee and with a brand new baby, I revisited the novel and decided it was beyond saving.  I thrashed it.  Thoroughly.  I pared it down to a skimpy 120 pages and developed a manly, calculating outdoorsman, Jack Heart, as the main character. 

Now, the pacing is...well...there is pacing.  And it is fast.  There's more blood. There's also a love interest if you're interested in love in the time of Armageddon.  And, as a result of changing the main character, the narration is now filled with his simple, measured thoughts, like this one: "I put the rifle to my face, took a deep breath, and fired[...]In that moment, I held the hand of God."  Whether you love zombie fiction or not, you'll find Kill Town, USA engaging, exciting, and well worth your time. 


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    Since the book is finished, every backer will get digital copies (PDF/.doc files) of Kill Town, USA when the project closes. I mean, you'll get it like ASAP.

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    Backers will receive digital copies plus a signed 11x17 print of the cool cover art, with a personal note from me. Example: "Steven, thanks so much for backing this project. Hope you enjoy Kill Town. Bet that mustache tickles."

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    Backers get digital copies, signed print with note, plus a signed paperback copy of KTUSA. Also, your name goes on the yet-to-be-made website on a special, yet-to-be-named page.

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    Backers get digital copies, signed print with note, two signed paperbacks (one personalized, one to give away with a note like, "Your friend forgot your birthday, so she's giving you my book. Hearts, Joseph"), your name on the website, plus your name goes on a dedication page in the paperback.

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    Digital copies, three signed paperbacks, your name on the website and in the paperback, and one large (24"x36"), signed promotional poster. These posters are hand-printed by a local screen printer.

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    In addition to everything you'd get at the $75 level, I will produce a spiral-bound collection of all my published short fiction: 10 stories total, signed with a personalized introduction.

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    This is huge. You will get everything at the $100 level, plus a signed perfect-bound paperback of my short fiction, plus a signed perfect-bound paperback of the original 260-page version of Kill Town, USA. It's totally different. Even the artwork is different. It will never, ever be available to the public after this project closes.

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