Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

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Author interview – Wayne Simmons

January 6, 2013

In the third Dawn of the Lead author interview, Wayne Simmons, the author of Flu and Fever, is put on the spot. Enjoy, and go check out his homepage!

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DotL: The important question: Why zombies?

WS: Because I’ve loved zombie stories since the first time I watched George Romero’s Dead series. Night of the Living Dead is my favourite because, in a way, it’s the most character-focused: the zombies themselves are only a plot device. The main horror comes from what the people in that movie do to each other, how an event like the zombie apocalypse, and the pressure it brings, can make even people with the best of intentions turn on each other, often with terrible consequences.

I write zombie stories because I love the human stories they evoke. And, of course, who doesn’t like a good ol’ gory headshot?

DotL: Any personal zombie favourites – for example books, movies or games – you wish to share with the readers?

WS: Definitely Night of the Living Dead, the original ‘68 version, of course (which I reviewed recently). I also rave about a lesser known French z-flick entitled Mutants. It’s an absolute winner. You should look it up, if you haven’t done so already.

DotL: Especially in Flu there seems to be a very strong anti-establishment sentiment, care to shed some light?

WS: I rarely talk politics, apart from with friends. Politics, like religion, is a hugely divisive topic and can leave otherwise perfectly balanced individuals at each other’s throats. But, without going too deep, I consider myself a left-leaning Libertarian and view all political parties and governments, whether to the left or right, with suspicion. I don’t on any conscious level try to hammer this, or any other message, into my writing: my primary concern is to entertain and engage readers. That said, these books are a product of me and a great deal of my experience, whether it be the characters or the world within which each story is set, can be found there. There’s an anti-establishment sentiment because I’m an anti-establishment kind of guy. Simple as.

DotL: On a related note, how did you feel about tackling The Troubles in your books? I assume it’s still a touchy subject for many. Have you received feedback regarding the subject?

WS: I think it’s a much less touchy subject these days than it might have been, say twenty or thirty years ago.

Again, because I consider myself apolitical so to speak, I don’t feel my writing sways one way or the other. The story is always told from the perspective of its characters, all of whom have a very different angle on The Troubles. You have Pat Flynn in Flu and Mairead Burns in Drop Dead Gorgeous, both of whom are ex-IRA yet feel very differently about their actions of the past. Then you have the two cops in Flu, who think another way entirely. Or soldier Roy Beggs in DDG.

Like I said before, the z-poc brings a lot of these human emotions to the fore. I like to think we see some very interesting drama unfold within my writing because of that.

Either way, I think us Northern Irish folks don’t take ourselves too seriously. Sure, there’s The Troubles and, while it is a very serious topic and I, like many others in Ireland and beyond, have lost family to the conflict, it’s also proved a great source of parody. Local comedians are forever taking the piss. As a novelist, Colin Bateman has been writing about The Troubles for a lot longer than I have, and isn’t shy of sending the whole thing up. And that’s cool.

DotL: Flu and Fever depict some of the most disgusting zombies I’ve ever seen described. Did you ever gross yourself out writing them?

WS: Ha! Not really.

As a lifelong horror geek, I’ve a pretty strong stomach. I’m an old-school gorehound. Love all the messiness of horror, and they don’t come any more messy than zombies!

It was fun going to town with the body horror of it all.

DotL: Fever was in my opinion a lot more bleak than Flu. Was this intentional, or did it just creep in there?

WS: It was bleak, for sure, but I like to think there’s plenty of dark humour within my writing to offset that. Whether the humour comes across, or not, is another thing. Some people mention the humour, and seem to enjoy it, others don’t seem to get it at all.

It’s no big deal either way: each reader’s experience will be different and that’s cool.

With zombie horror, it’s hard not to be bleak. It’s the most brutal survival horror genre out there. Richard Matheson set the precedence with his 1954 classic I Am Legend, the story of the last man to survive a vampire apocalypse (although the vamps behaved more like zombies).

There is no way out. Everyone is most likely going to die.

DotL: What’s next? Are we going to see a third book in the Flu series?

WS: Absolutely. The third will probably be the final book in the Flu series, although I plan to return to that world on a regular basis with short stories and the like. I hope to have it written some time in 2013.

Before that, I have a cyberpunk book to get out there, as well as two crime books, a vampire book and a fun homage to 80s slasher horror (co-written with fellow genre hack, Andre Duza).

I’m very busy, but, as a lifelong fanboy, very happy to be working in this industry.

DotL: Let’s say an actual zombie apocalypse happens. How do you rate your chances for survival?

Pish-poor.

Everyone has a plan and here’s mine: get to the safest and most secure spot I can find. Grab some food and water, and a good book or two, and lockdown. Then try and enjoy the little time I have left.

DotL: Wayne Simmons, thanks very much for the interview. Any last words for the readers?

WS: Just a big thanks to you, Mikko, for your time. Thanks for the reviews and taking the time to talk with me. And a HUGE thanks to all my readers and potential readers. Means the world to me that people take an interest in what I do.

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Author interview – RG Bullet

June 27, 2012

It’s time for another author interview, this time with RG Bullet, the author of The Caldecott Chronicles – a new series of zombie fiction set in Victorian England. A review of the first book will follow eventually!

DotL: My usual question: why zombies?

RGB: They remind of my neighbors (both sides), the people I went to school with, and of course, myself. All-in-all we are somewhat predictable, smelly and driven by very base emotions.

DotL: The Caldecott Chronicles isn’t the first book combining 19th century Britain with zombies. What is the appeal in combining those two seemingly very distant genres?

RGB: I was going to stretch the zombie apocalypse back to Neanderthal times but knew I’d get hopelessly confused when it came to the fight scenes. I am British and whether my fellow “Limeys” admit it or not there is still quite dogged mentality that stems from the Victorian period. And even if there isn’t –we’re still perceived that way in Hollywood. The Victorian era encapsulates all this and is a superb mix of duty, social structure and daring adventure. Think Sherlock Holmes or Michael Caine in Iron Man or Zulu. But it’s not all stiff stuff as you can read from the stories as they unfold – eccentricity and humour is there too.

DotL: Why did you pick the style you did – journal entries, that is?

RGB: It’s was a challenge to pull it off in the form of journal entries but I enjoyed the process. I had written my middle grade adventure, The 58th Keeper in a third person narrative and although it is powerful, I felt I wanted to tackle this adventure differently. First person is always much more intimate and there’s no buffer when it comes to action. I needed to place the reader straight into the mind of the Earl – so they walk in his shoes and familiarise themselves with his hurdles.

DotL: What about the YA demographic? What lead you to target that?

RGB: When I wrote the middle grade novel, I had to withhold the spontaneous rage even if children can sometimes express it. Although it is an adventure story it still had to be tempered to appeal to children aged 8-13. The Caldecott Chronicles was my way of taking the gloves off.

DotL: What are your favourite zombie book/movie picks? The more obscure the better!

RGB: Romero’s originals/re-makes are tough to knock. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland were great fun. And as far as books go–I really enjoy Jonathan Maberry’s stories.

DotL: Literature-wise, what does the future hold for Mr. Bullet? More Chronicles on the way?

RGB: For now I am going to concentrate on short stories. My goal is to make them fun, addictive and affordable. I want to squeeze as much as I can into a small package, so the reader is happily hooked. That’s why I got the superb illustrations by Michael Gray. The Caldecott Chronicles is my first real stab at all that.

DotL: Last but not least, how would you rate your chances of survival in a zombie apocalypse?

RGB: Wholly useless. I’d be first “meat.” My neighbors (having read the above comments) would gather around me and say: “He knows all about Zombies! Get him out there to find an escape route!” and I’d say, “I…I just… write stuff. It’s fiction! I don’t really know about flesh eating idiots except you lot. No wait! I didn’t mean it like that. It was a joke. Don’t push me…Aaargh!”

DotL: RG Bullet, thanks for taking the time to do this interview and all the best!

RGB: Thanks for inviting me, Mikko. I look forward to coming back soon.

For more info on Mr. Bullet, go check out his homepage and blog. The first two books of  The Caldecott Chronicles are out now, with 3, 4 and 5 upcoming soon. The first book of the series is currently available for free, so definitely check it out – it has the DotLOSoZA (Dawn of the Lead Official Seal of Zombie Approval), which I just came up with.

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Author interview – Jonathan Maberry

February 6, 2012

Kicking off something entirely new for Dawn of the Lead, here’s my first interview. I’m starting big, as the first interviewee is none other than Jonathan Maberry, author of Zombie CSU, Patient Zero, Rot & Ruin and Dead of Night. Click the first three titles for their respective reviews, the one on Dead of Night is upcoming.

DotL: Why zombies? What is it about them that appeals to you?

JM: Zombies are one of the few monsters than can scare anyone. Vampires have been largely de-fanged by making them the romantic central characters;
werewolves are too often a one-note monster; mummies are slow. And most of these are solo monsters. Zombies come at you by the thousands. By the millions. Damn…you can’t really win against those kinds of numbers. And that is really frightening.

As a storyteller, I love the fact that the personality of the zombie doesn’t intrude into the story. They are metaphors –ravenous, shambling metaphors who stand in for anything we’re really and truly afraid of. Racism, nuclear war, pathogens, you name it. So, once they’re introduced into the story all of the characters are reacting to the same shared threat. That allows the writer to focus on real people and real human psychology. That is an infinite canvas on which to paint dramatic images. I mean, look at the more celebrated zombie novels: Max Brooks’ World War Z, Joe McKinney’s Dead City and its sequels, Brian Keene’s The Rising, S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Ryan Brown’s Play Dead, and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. They’re all zombie novels and they aren’t even remotely close to one another. And they’re all about the human experience during a crisis. All of them.

Here’s a secret: the best way to tell a zombie story is to NOT focus on the zombie. Focus on the people and let the zombies be the Big Bad. Those are the best stories, and they are far more frightening than when all of the attention is on the shambling dead.

DotL: Are you a fan of other media promoting apocalyptic scenarios? If so, any examples and some elaboration?

JM: Apocalyptic scenarios are very much the in thing right now, and I’m all for it. I love the fact that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) sent a mass
mailing on what to do during a zombie outbreak. Inspired…because the information is truly useful if there is an outbreak of any major disease, but because it was zombie-themed, more people read it. So many, in fact, that it crashed the CDC servers!

But zombies are showing up everywhere, and that’s wonderful. I love zombie comics – Marvel Zombies is a favorite, of course, because I had the chance to collaborate on the New York Times bestselling Marvel Zombies Return, with Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), David Wellington (Monster Island, etc.) and Fred Van Lente (Cowboys and Aliens). And, Robert Kirkman owns zombie comics, probably now and forever, with his brilliant The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of that comic from the jump, and I love the TV series.

There are zombies everywhere – advertising, toys, video games, food, you name it. And I love every damn bit of it. Zombies, zombies and more zombies. Keep ‘em coming.

DotL: Every zombie buff out there has seen their Romeros, Fulcis and read their Max Brooks and Kirkman. Any interesting, lesser-known genre picks and personal favourites you wish to share with the readers?

JM: As much as I love Romero, my favorite zombie movie of all time is the Zack Snyder remake of Dawn of the Dead. Specifically the unrated director’s cut. James Gunn’s script was brilliant, the cast was perfect, the soundtrack kicked TOTAL ass, and the action is great. I love fast zombies on film as much as slow ones.

But my favorite flicks are in the sub-genre of ‘rage virus’ films. 28 Days Later, and both versions of The Crazies. I want to see more of those. In fact I plan to write a rage virus novel.

I also love the RomZomComs. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Fido and Braindead. Love ‘em to pieces.

DotL: Back in Zombie CSU you presented an informed guess that law enforcement and humanity in general would be pretty efficient in containing a zombie outbreak. However, in Dead of Night things go to Hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Is this purely a dramatic choice of worst-case event, or are you having second thoughts regarding the scenario?

JM: Zombie CSU dealt with the zombie apocalypse as viewed through the filter of our modern-day high-tech infrastructure. I do think that, given the technology and resources we have available that we would, in fact, survive a zombie outbreak. However, there is no such thing as a guaranteed win. Ask the builders of the Titanic. So, in Dead of Night, I throw a major storm into the mix. We know from experience that society, communications, cooperation, efficiency and infrastructure can quickly go to hell in a handbasket if Mother Nature gets cranky. So…it’s a timing thing. Lately, we’ve seen an increase in the frequency and severity of storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters. If we’re unlucky enough to have a major catastrophe such as a pandemic timed to a natural disaster….well, yeah, that’s your apocalyptic moment right there.

DotL: The main characters in both Patient Zero and Dead of Night (and Rot & Ruin to some extent as well) have anger and aggression issues. Do you have a general penchant for angry characters, or are these fictional people a way to let off steam? Do you see yourself writing a zombie novel with a happy-go-lucky protagonist?

JM: I was a troubled kid, so I grew up with some rage issues of my own. I’ve since conquered them (and in fact I’m kind of an affable goof these days), but I remember what it’s like to have emotional damage and to struggle with anger. My own life experiences, and those of many of the folks I know who have had similarly troubled lives, inform the complex characters I prefer to write about. Fiction in general is seldom interesting when the focus is on well-balanced people having a pleasant day. In fiction we take complex characters and totally screw up their lives…and then watch what happens. That’s the core of drama.

That said, I did write one zombie short story that was a straight comedy: “Pegleg and Paddy Save the World

DotL: Zombie CSU and Dead of Night both demonstrate (to me at least) a good knowledge of law enforcement procedure. Where did you pick up all this information?

JM: I grew up in a blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood where it seemed like everybody’s dad or uncle was a cop, and my sister was a cop. Also, I was the CEO and chief instructor for a small corporation that provided hand-to-hand combat and arrest-and-control workshops to all levels of law enforcement including SWAT. Plus I have a large number of friends in that line of work.

DotL: Can we expect a sequel to Dead of Night? If not, do you have plans for more zombie fiction in the future?

JM: I have no immediate plans for a sequel to Dead of Night, at least not a novel. However I do have some other stories set in that world. First up is a novella called “Jack and Jill”, which will be including in the upcoming anthology, 21st Century Dead, edited by Christopher Golden (for St. Martin’s Griffin, June 2012). That story takes place at the same time as the events of Dead of Night but with a different cast of characters. I also have the first of several sequel stories – outbreak stories, really — that will appear in various magazines and anthologies. The first of those is “Chokepoint”, which will be in issue #2 of The Uninvited. And more to come. Now…that doesn’t mean I
wouldn’t take a swing at a sequel, but at the moment I haven’t pitched one to my publisher.

DotL: If we in all seriousness hypothetically consider a zombie outbreak happening, how do you rate your chance of survival and why?

JM: I’ve been practicing and teaching jujutsu and Kenjutsu (the art of Japanese swordplay) for almost fifty years. If the zombie apocalypse comes…I will fight my way out. Stick close.

DotL: Jonathan Maberry, thanks for your time and all the best for the future!

See reviews of Maberry’s books here on Dawn of the Lead, and visit his homepage at www.jonathanmaberry.com.

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