T. Michael Martin is the author of The End Games, a young adult zombie-thriller about brothers and brains, which debuted yesterday. Mike has been a screenwriter, a prank-caller, and a test-subject, and now lives with his wife Sarah in Virginia.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

1. I once met Joss Whedon in line at Los Angeles International Airport. (He’s super nice!)

2. The first movie my parents ever took me to was The Terminator (I was two months old.)

3. When I was eight, I tried to build a jetpack so that I could defend myself from some bullies who beat me up. Didn’t work. :/

4. I have a degree in Filmmaking, and I graduated with the highest GPA in the history of my film school.

5. I make YouTube videos every week at youtube.com/tmikemartin.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve been a book lover since before I could read: some of my favorite childhood memories are my mom reading Berenstein Bears to me. But the writer who made me want to become a writer was R.L. Stine. For my generation, Goosebumps was the introduction to the grand archetypes of the supernatural, and Mr. Stine sent me head-over-heels in love with horror. (That’s partly why it was so thrilling to receive a blurb from him for The End Games!)

So I wrote and wrote for, like, fifteen years, and then had a screenplay “optioned” (where a studio “rents” the rights to develop the project) during my senior year of film school. It didn’t work out, though, I think for a couple reasons: 1) the Writer’s Guild strike happened, and 2) as heartbreaking as it was to admit, I just wasn’t a good enough writer yet.

I worked a bunch of frustrating, minimum-wage jobs for several years after that (including a stint as a test subject in experimental drug studies). And honestly, those years were so scary: I was watching my childhood friends go on to promising careers in other fields, and more than once — as I scrubbed a toilet or got poked with another hypodermic needle — I despaired that I might be kidding myself with This Whole Writing Thing.

But one of the things I’m proudest of in my life is that I kept writing throughout all that pain. I had a feeling that a book I was writing (my third novel, called The End Games) might be a pretty good one. When I finished the book in the fall of 2011, I sent off query letters to agents on the scariest Saturday night of my life. I received multiple offers of representation first thing Monday morning. The book sold to HarperCollins about a month later.

(Do I have to tell you I cried?)

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

I’ve been blessed to have some amazing writer friends mentor me throughout this whole process, so I haven’t been too caught off-guard by anything (yet!). Getting used to working under deadline and contract required an adjustment, for sure, but I’m very grateful to be getting published and I’ve had a good experience so far.

The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

I’ve always loved what Stephen King says about why he writes horror, and it sums up so precisely how I feel about it, too: “I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It’s what I have.”

Also, as strange as it might sound, whenever I encounter a great scary story, the primary aspect of my own fear is a sense of wonder. Modern technology has improved our lives in countless ways — but I can’t help but feel that they’ve also robbed our world of much of its mystery. The ability to instantaneously dial up the answer to almost any question sometimes makes me feel like there are no more uncharted lands to sail toward and discover. So tales of the extraordinary offer us a very precious thing: the re-enchantment of the world around us.

I also love that horror is, in so many ways, the genre of non-denial: Scary stories, or at least the best of them, reckon with the fact that life is sometimes scary and violent. And because they show the full spectrum of existence, they allow us to review and reframe our own struggles through the lens of the extraordinary and extreme. Which I find to be a pretty inspiring thing.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

There have been some criticisms of the narrative voice in The End Games, which can sting sometimes. But I also have to admit that I always knew that the book’s kinetic style — inspired by William Goldman and Cormac McCarthy — might be controversial. (And in fairness to the book, an equal number of people — including Booklist, who gave The End Games a starred review — have had hugely positive things to say about the voice. And that does make me feel really good.)

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

John Green (#1 New York Times author of The Fault in Our Stars) is my favorite Young Adult author, and he recently tweeted:

Where’s your favorite place to write?

I love writing in libraries, particularly university libraries when the students are on break. (The silence and emptiness are both peaceful and I Am Legend spooky!) But probably my favorite place is in my home office, with the smartphone, router, and laptop turned off, and my old electric Brother typewriter set up by the window. (Most of The End Games was written by hand or on a typewriter, and “revised” for the first time when I typed it into Scrivener.)

What is one thing you wish you’d known when you sat down to write your novel?

Honey, this is gonna take a while. (Four years!)

How do you approach writing villains or antagonists?

With radical empathy. I’ve always tried to remember that every person alive is the “protagonist” in his own life, and almost no one (even really villainous people) would call themselves “evil.” So I try to write the antagonists with a clear idea of how they rationalize their own behavior to themselves. (Which has the interesting effect of making them even scarier, I think!)

Also, I’m a big believer in the idea that villains should be the hero’s “shadow.” This is a Jung/Campbell concept: The antagonist is necessary to the protagonist, because they represent the dark, unclaimed, unconscious impulses that the hero already has within himself. (In popular culture, this is most beautifully illustrated in a hallucination sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke slices off Darth Vader’s mask… and finds his own face inside it.) So really, an antagonist is the worst aspects of the protagonist, just taken to the extreme. And it’s only through conflict with the antagonist that the hero will be forced to grow into whomever he’s destined to be.

How do you construct the world and tonal environment of your story?

For me, everything starts with finding the emotional center of a story. In The End Games, the heart of the story is the relationship between seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick. Once I had that, I asked myself this question: What is the Very Worst World that I could put these two specific people in? And how — over the course of the story, if they can survive — can it actually turn into the Very Best (or Emotionally Necessary, at least) World for them?

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

Oh man, no doubt the last! By that point, I have a good handle on what the book is about thematically, so it’s always fun to try to end with a sentence that serves as a kind of resonant, lingering note.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I’ve been writing the climax of my next book this week, and although I’m a really tough critic of my own work most of the time, I’m so proud of it. (I can’t go into details just yet, but I think it has the most original imagery and action I’ve ever written.)

Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)

Quiet, and a goodish chunk of time (1.5 to 4 hours). Coffee helps, too.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my next novel for HarperCollins, which will be published in Autumn 2014. It’s another YA thriller that takes place in West Virginia, with lots of action and scares and humor and teenagers saving the world. We’re keeping the specifics of the plot a secret at the moment, but I will say that it isn’t post-apocalyptic or a sequel to The End Games, and it also doesn’t have any zombie-ish creatures.

Bonus Question! Would you rather be a book, or a computer?

Computer. (So I could download ALL THE BOOKS! :D )

Thanks, Mike!

Thanks so much for having me, y’all, and for all the great questions!

About ‘The End Games’:

It happened on Halloween.
The world ended.
And a dangerous game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia—armed with only their rifle and their love for each other—the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

For more about T. Michael Martin:

You can connect with Mike on Facebook, Tumblr, and on Twitter as @TMikeMartin. Check out his YouTube channel for pop-culture musings, and and for more information and contact details, visit his website, TMichaelMartin.com. The End Games is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

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Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

No word on if the U.K. will be seeing the same air date but it’s more than likely they will since it’s been like that in years past.

This will be Peter Capaldi’s last season as the Doctor, along with Steven Moffat’s last season running the show. After this we’ll be seeing Chris Chibnall taking the reins with a clean slate, and we’re so curious about how the series will go. How will the Doctor regenerate? Will this be Bill’s first and last season on the show as well? Who’s going to be the next Doctor? We’ve got so many questions! But they’ll all be answered in due time… we hope.

And that’s not all! Fans in the U.K. have already had the chance to enjoy the brand new spinoff series, Class, and after Doctor Who premieres on April 15 Americans will finally witness it as well.

Set to air directly after Doctor Who at 10/9c, Class is helmed by award-winning YA writer and executive producer, Patrick Ness. The series follows a group of students at Coal Hill School as they deal aliens, invasions and awkward social dilemmas.

Having seen Class in its entirety we can tell you that it’s got the perfect Doctor Who vibe and should fit in perfectly after you watch the season 10 premiere. Although not everyone loved the premiere, the series as whole definitely grows on you. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

Are you excited for ‘Doctor Who’ season 10?

Can Clarke stop King Roan and his Azgeda army from marching on Arkadia? Find out what to expect in next week’s The 100 season 4, episode 5 “The Tinder Box.”

Clarke makes a desperate plea with a former allied force in an attempt to avoid a war and ensure the survival of her people.

The fifth episode of The 100 season 4, titled “The Tinder Box,” was written by Morgan Gendel and directed by John F. Showalter. Proceed for our spoiler-light preview!

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Can Clarke stop King Roan and his Azgeda army from marching on Arkadia? Find out what to expect in next week’s The 100 season 4, episode 5 “The Tinder Box.”

Clarke makes a desperate plea with a former allied force in an attempt to avoid a war and ensure the survival of her people.

The fifth episode of The 100 season 4, titled “The Tinder Box,” was written by Morgan Gendel and directed by John F. Showalter. Proceed for our spoiler-light preview!

Where last week’s episode “A Lie Guarded” featured an emotional confrontation at Arkadia while Abby’s island team was in imminent physical danger, this episode flips their positions: This time it’s Clarke and her friends whose lives are at risk, while in Becca’s lab, the conflict is of a different nature.

In the first three episodes of the season, Roan was willing to work with Clarke and Skaikru, despite the fact that this threatened his already precarious position as King of the Grounders without a Nightblood as Commander. But after losing the Flame and discovering that Skaikru have been working to build a shelter for the Arkadians and are now trying to make Nightbloods of their own, Roan is (understandably) feeling betrayed.

Related: The 100 season 4, episode 4 review: All of this has happened before

Last week, he took action by capturing Kane and Bellamy and massacring the Trikru forces in Polis, claiming that it was Skaikru, not him, that ended the alliance.

In The 100 season 4, episode 5, Roan makes good on his promise of war, taking an army to march on Arkadia. As the promo reveals, Clarke will try to stop them on the way, and she squares off against their army in a rocky ravine, a picturesque rainbow in the horizon adding the only touch of color to this otherwise grim picture.

The 100 4x05 Clarke

The situation should remind viewers of Clarke’s first meeting with the Grounders on the bridge in The 100 season 1: Like when she faced off against Anya, she’s on her own against a leader on horseback, and she’s once again brought backup in the form of Sky People with guns.

But where season 1-Clarke was on a desperate mission to save her people and tried to feed Anya promises she couldn’t keep, season 4-Clarke has learned a thing or two about negotiating with Grounders.

As if stopping a war with her words isn’t a big enough challenge for Clarke though, Roan has brought Bellamy and Kane along as hostages, his soldiers holding swords to their throats as they all stare each other down.

Clarke Griffin may have come a long way since she first landed on the ground, but can she stop a war and bring her friends home safely?

The 100 4x05 Riley

Another problem, to add to the growing list, turns out to be none other than everyone’s favorite newcomer (what do you mean he hasn’t been here the whole time?!) Riley, who is one of two characters in this episode haunted by their past traumas and seeking a way to slay their demons.

As the promo reveals, he’s got Roan in the crosshairs of his rifle, seemingly ready to fire. “One shot,” Monty warns in the promo, “and we’ll be at war.” But no pressure or anything.

The 100 Clarke Roan

Where last week’s episode of The 100 was a thrillingly uncomfortable experience — watching Clarke being exposed, while on the island everyone was a hairsbreadth away from being killed by the drones — “The Tinder Box” is a different sort of tense.

This episode is a lesson in war tactics; Morgan Gendel is a master of his craft, having written for countless TV series including Law & Order and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the way he juggles different character motivations and points of conflict ignition makes it all seem effortless (it’s not).

The three interweaving storylines may seem separate at first glance, but in fact, they are all reflections of the episode’s over-arching theme, with The 100‘s trio of female leads Clarke, Raven and Octavia serving as the respective focal point of each story.

But many other characters including Bellamy, Echo, Abby, Riley and Monty also prove key players in this subtle game of provoking or negotiating conflict. Everyone has the power to save or doom everyone else at any moment, and all it takes is for one character to take a misstep, and it’ll ruin everything.

More than any other episode this season (except maybe “Heavy Lies the Crown”), “The Tinder Box” really hammers home that The 100 is an ensemble piece where every character’s decisions have equal weight in the narrative, and everyone’s actions have wide-ranging consequences.

10 teases for ‘The 100’ season 4, episode 5

The 100 season 4 episode 5 Raven

  1. There isn’t often cause to be happy on a show like The 100, but this week we’re treated to the full power of Lindsey Morgan’s brilliant smile.
  2. Monty is, once again, the MVP of the episode. Why wasn’t he on the list, again?
  3. Bellamy and Echo have a confrontation.
  4. In Becca’s lab, Eric! Jackson gets to be the voice of reason.
  5. Pike may be gone, but his wisdom (?) has not been forgotten.
  6. There’s a frustrated weariness to both Clarke and Bellamy this week; both are visibly fed up with Azgeda’s war-thirsty way of life.
  7. Every season, The 100 finds new ways of exploring the question: What is one life against the survival of the entire human race? This episode sets up more than one potential future dilemma of this nature.
  8. Clarke isn’t the only one whose way with words will come in handy this week: Bellamy will also find cause to break out his motivational speech superpower.
  9. This episode sees the return of both Niylah and Ilian, both of whom interact mainly with Octavia.
  10. Expect to spend your one-week break between this episode and “We Will Rise” theorizing wildly about what will happen next!

The 100‘ season 4, episode 5 ‘We Will Rise’ airs Wednesday at 9/8c on The CW

Want more The 100 content? Check our our recent interview with actor Bob Morley, composer Tree Adams, language creator David J. Peterson and showrunner Jason Rothenberg!

Here are the rest of the promotional stills for “The Tinder Box,” via The CW:

How to Get Away with Murder just dropped a bombshell as we found out the truth behind #WhoKilledWes. However, that reveal isn’t the only moment fans are buzzing about.

Obvious spoilers below.

1. Laurel’s emotional demand

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How to Get Away with Murder just dropped a bombshell as we found out the truth behind #WhoKilledWes. However, that reveal isn’t the only moment fans are buzzing about.

Obvious spoilers below.

1. Laurel’s emotional demand

After confessing to both Michaela why Connor was at the house the night Wes died one of the many shocking reveals of the episode is made. “Connor might have killed Wes.” As it turns out, Connor showed up at the Keating home after responding to Annalise’s plea for them to all meet there. As he arrived he found signs of a struggle, and even more, Wes’s warm body in the basement.

Connor could smell gas, but still he persisted in trying to resuscitate Wes through CPR. For over a minute he cried and pounded on the dying boy’s chest until he heard a crack of bone, a fractured rib. He fears he might have punctured a lung. He fears he might have been the one to strike the deadly blow.

Once the confession is made the Keating crew reacts. Oliver pleads for understanding. Annalise reassures Connor that he didn’t do this. Bonnie tries to play mediator, keeping everyone calm. Finally Laurel, in a blindingly emotional rage, instructs Connor to go and kill himself. Saying such action will be the only good thing he will ever do with his life.

2. Annalise’s hidden voicemail

Connor and Oliver were adamant that nothing on the copy of Annalise’s phone was incriminated. Then why would she ask Oliver to erase it? Well when Connor is about to be arrested for Wes’ murder fans find out just what Annalise was so afraid of. he discloses to Denver the location of the copy, and Annalise comes forward with what she wanted to hide.

The night that Wes died he left her a voicemail, explaining ADA Atwood’s plan to take her down for the murder of Sam and Rebecca Stutter. His exact words are “I can’t let you go down for what I did.” He begs her to come home, to talk about it, to discuss their options. But he died before any arrangements could be made. In fact, he was taken down moments after the call was made.

What is truly shocking however isn’t the voicemail itself. The kicker is how Annalise uses the voicemail to pin it all on a new suspect to clear her own name. Wes. Out of context, the voicemail sounds like Wes is confessing to killing both Sam and Rebecca. Annalise is able to twist the story to make it look like Wes took his own life out of guilt. She tarnishes his reputation forever.

3. Oliver’s shocking request

After Connor answers the burner phone Denver used to stay in contact with Atwood throughout Wes’ death, he goes missing. He is caught by Denver and taken to a hidden location where he is held against his will.  While held, he is questioned about his involvement with Wes’ death. He is accused of murdering Sam. He is threatened to be held for more than the legal 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Oliver heightens to a frenzy. In a panicked state he obsesses about the whereabouts of his boyfriend. He brings up the severity of the situation almost every time his face shows up on our screens. While most (Laurel) believe that Connor has taken Wes’ immunity deal, Oliver remains convinced that Connor is in immediate danger.

He isn’t wrong. Connor is nearly arrested for the murder of Wes. Luckily, after the voicemail comes to light he is released. When he arrives home the two boys engage in a moment of passion, literally ripping the clothes off of each other. They talk about safety, moving to California, making babies, and loving each other forever. To Connor it’s all tied to the sex. To Oliver, however, it’s much more. He’s serious. He asks Connor to marry him.

4. Michaela’s oddly-timed confession

In the heat of everything going on Asher declares his love for Michaela. He calls this year the most awful of his life. He can’t let another moment go by without telling Michaela how he feels. As he spends a few tender moments showing Michaela his heart she pretends to hear Laurel from the other room. She effectively flees the situation.

Michaela doesn’t feel she can honestly answer that question. She doesn’t know. In fact, she doesn’t know if she has ever been in love. However, when it comes down to it, as Michaela has to pretend she wants to go home with Charles Mahoney she realizes something. She does love Asher. Or at least she thinks she does. That’s right, the girl who has always held her true intentions hidden deep inside finally opens up in a women’s public restroom, no less.

5. Wes’ murderer revealed

As the final episode of season 3 came to a close we felt pretty sure that the mysterious hitman was in cahoots with Denver. He never denied it, he almost seemed to confess as Annalise threatened to take him down. As she accused him of having a hand in Wes’ death in some way he seemed so guilty. It had to be him. The very last moments of the episode revealed a very different story, however.

As Laurel began to run down Charles Mahoney who awaited Michaela at a cab she ran into a similar face. Although, she and the audience had much different reasons for recognizing him. To her this man was Dominique, a family friend. To the audience he was the hitman who injected Wes with the lethal substance that took his life.

In one final flashback we see Connor running past the hitman’s car as he talks on the phone. He confirms that the deed is done. Wes is dead. But he doesn’t relay this news to Denver. He is speaking with Laurel’s father. The orchestrator of this all.

What moment stood out to you most in the ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ season 3 finale?