Interview with Joshua Cook
“Alice in Zombieland,” despite the title, is not a reprise of the classic story (such as Seth Grahame-Smith did with “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and Quirk Classics’ “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”). Yours is a very contemporary, even near-futuristic setting.
1. So, Josh-WHY Zombies? Why is this a specific interest for you?
I have always loved zombies. When I was younger and first saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, it scared the crap out of me. From that moment on, I have been a zombie fanatic. So when I began to write short stories, zombies just seemed like a perfect fit.
2. What’s your take on the current enthusiasm with Zombies in pop culture? We’ve had vampires (the dark kind), sparkly vampires, werewolves, to a lesser extent ghosts (the various film versions of “The Woman in Black” for example). Now everybody wants to read-write-view Zombies? To what causes do you attribute that-is it just the newest in the paranormal fad continuum-or something deeper?
I think it was inevitable that zombies would infest mainstream pop culture. Zombies fans epitomize the word fanatics. If anyone doubts this all they have to do is check out the horde of thousands that show up at many zombie events, like Red, White and Dead in Seattle. There have always been throngs of us fanatics out there in society; we just tend to like the cold, dark places many people can’t (or won’t) reach. Like any good infection, we just kept spreading our love for the undead. Once pop culture embraced us with things like Resident Evil games, Dawn of the Dead remake, and Shaun of the Dead, there was no stopping the inevitable. All crazy crap going on around the world right now is just feeding into the craze. Eventually mainstream will forget about us and we will slink back to our dark places until the time to feed on the masses comes again. More of this to come on July 31st. See ya there.
3. Without (I hope) giving anything away, much of the crux of the novel is leveled on the pharmaceutical industry hex (to paraphrase Steve Miller Band). You don’t use the lately popular spin of Zombiefication being caused by viruses. I think your cause is much more original; and I’d like to know, do you think that sometime in the future, such a situation as you portray could be possible-a megacorporation attempting to manipulate the powers of life and death? Is that just a minor step beyond genetic engineering?
I definitely think it will be a drug company that causes the zombie apocalypse; or at least someone working for them. There is big money in pharmaceuticals, which is no secret. What would be better than selling life itself? How much would the rich and powerful pay to be kept alive indefinitely? As with any science, it will take many experiments to get there, and by definition, there will be mistakes with these experiments. I think this is very far off in the future, but an inevitable end.
4. Currently, do you have any plans for continuing with the AiZ milieu?
Oh yeah! AiZ is just part of a very large Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story. The first story in AiZ: Alice in Zombieland, The Interview, lays out a little back story and some insight into what will be coming in the future. As far as the AiZ storyline, there is much more in the works. There will be a comic sequel coming soon. Right now I am aiming for the end of the year. It will pick up months after the end of AiZ. To bridge the gap between the end of the book and the start of the comics, I will be starting up the free stories on ZombieACRES.com again. These stories will show where the lives of Gee, Sam, Alice and Roslun went just after the events on Blake Island. While the Seattle outbreak is cleaned (and covered) up, our heroes lives will never be the same. The stories will be able to stand on their own as a season, but still keep fans hanging on the edge of their seat until the comic series begins.
5. How would you encourage non-Zombieists, or even non-Horror readers, to dip into AiZ and take a chance?
Just read the reviews. In the Amazon Kindle Store, one reviewer of AiZ: Alice in Zombieland wrote, ‘I've never been a fan of the supernatural or of Zombie stories… I wasn't sure how I'd feel about AiZ, but once I started reading, I was hooked.’ I released a free sampler a little while back called The Boy Who Cried Zombie. An Amazon reviewer wrote, ‘Cook writes well and all the characters come through strong. It's not all about the drooling, face-munching zombies.’
These reviews really make me happy because I poured so much of my emotion into AiZ: Alice in Zombieland. I was in a very dark place, even for us zombie fanatics, in my personal life and was having some dark thoughts. Instead of doing anything stupid, I turned to writing and my love for the undead. Those early stories have been polished up a lot in the past year, but the emotion has only gotten stronger. Now that my life is not as dark, I have to dip myself back down to that dark place, and it is a draining process. In the end, though, it is all worth it when I hear from fans on non-fans of zombie fiction.
6. Any advice or comments for aspiring novelists trying to break into the field as an Indie author?
Never give up. Many authors will say ‘Read a Lot’ or ‘Write a Lot’. Both very good advice, and without them no author will ever progress as a writer; but writing is such an open medium that everyone has an opinion. I am still trying to acquire the thick skin needed to be a writer myself; and truthfully, I am not sure if I ever will. It is always hard hearing a bad review or comment about your writing, but in the beginning it can literally be a career killer.
I say ignore them. Ignore them all, good or bad. In the beginning, I received a lot of great responses on my Zombie A.C.R.E.S. stories. So much so that I jumped the gun and released some poorly edited work at first. Once I received the slap in the face a writer with big head needs, I saw how far I really had to go. This was a very hard slap in the face, and I actually vowed to quit writing fiction altogether. Now I look back and so how far I have come in the past year and a half. Never believe the hype and forget the naysayers. Just keep writing and improving your craft. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for taking the time to be with us today; we’re anticipating your guest post on the 31st.:)
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store, on Smashwords for all formats, and through many online retailers. Pre-orders are open the signed limited edition paperback, as well as the regular paperback editions, at ZombieACRES.com. Also available through Amazon is the anthology 100 Horrors, which features an exclusive Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story, along with 99 other tales of terror. 100 Horrors is available in Kindle and paperback formats.
Joshua Cook is a writer for hire living in the Seattle area. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. To find out more about Zombie A.C.R.E.S., visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and in the ACRES merch shop.