Monday, March 25, 2013

Zombified Interview with Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen has been dubbed the "Zombie King" by readers and fans. The author is behind the ultra cool, scary popular, and deliciously bloody I Zombie series. Let's dig into that yummy brain of his.

Ang: When were you first bitten by your zombie affliction? Can you take us back to how the infection began? What’s the most difficult part about sharing this ghoulish love as an indie?

Jack: I've always been a huge horror fan – since I was a kid. I'd love to say it was Romero that infected me with the love for all things rigor, but the truth is... it was Return of the Living Dead (the 1985 Dan O'Brian film) that turned me onto the genre. At the time I was heavy into punk and that film had a sort of punk glaze that really called to me.

The single most difficult part about sharing this graveyard love as an indie is getting seen. Thanks to The Walking Dead there are thousands upon thousands of zombie-like titles out there. People love to ride on coattails and the indie scene isn't immune to that. So even those of us who truly love the genre can get buried under those that just want a quick fix of sales. So getting my books seen through the viscera and entrails is the most challenging part. But honestly, for me, the true joy is the journey. I LOVE the process of writing – to dive into the apocalypse and experience everything that goes along with it for the first time.

Ang: If you had to dumb down the plot of your series so a zombie could understand, how would you explain it?

Jack: Okay, undead, listen up. Here's what happens in the I Zombie series:
  • Zero Day Collective makes you
  • You make Jacob Plummer
  • You piss off Bethany Nitshimi
  • Bethany takes you down
  • Zero Day Collective steals Bethany's baby (the new world Messiah)
  • Bethany fights to get her baby back
  • Bethany avenges Jacob's death
  • The world is shattered
  • You don't die
  • Ever
  • Damn

Ang: Describe the lucky survivors who engage with the festering horde of the dead.

Jack: The primary survivor is Bethany Nitshimi. She is brilliant and uses her delicious brain to try to solve the riddle that is the Mengele Virus. She is beautiful, strong, an elite hacker, and nothing like the typical female in the horror genre. Bethany kicks ass and encrypts names.

During the series, she surrounds herself with a crew perfectly suited to help her survive the attacks that rain down from the Zero Day Collective. The crew changes through the series, but by the time Lie Zombie Lie is over, it has finally settled into the perfect collection of anti-heroes –minus one (but he'll be found in Fry Zombie Fry).

Ang: What was the most important aspect when writing your non-zombie characters? Realism (losers, assholes, and cowards) or fantasy (Rambo or the guy/gal who has a Rambo hiding inside them)?

Jack: I want there to be an immediate connection between the characters and the reader. These characters aren't super-heroes – they have flaws instead of super powers. Yes, Bethany is brilliant, but her Achilles is quite obvious. I also want to make sure I bring to the genre a female heroine women can seriously sink their teeth into. The genre if flooded with testosterone-driven men. I wanted to offer up something different – and do so on multiple levels. In my series, it's the intelligent that rise to the occasion. Brains trump brawn in the world of the I Zombie series.

Ang: Does your book begin just as the zombies build their paradise or have zombies already gotten things rocking and rotting?

Jack: The series begins with a bang. Literally. Think 28 Days later meets Shaun of the Dead (yes, I do use humor to help ease the transitions from the gore and violence. But as the series goes along, the zombie evolve –and get seriously scary.

Ang: Zombies are people too. They come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, and smarts. What types of the walking dead inhabit your series?

Jack: As I mentioned, the zombies evolve. So far in the series (I'm about to publish the sixth book – which is actually a prequel), there are:
  • Moaners: The typical shambling undead. They moan, they don't see well, they bite.
  • Screamers: Filled with pain and angst. These babies roar like the now extinct dinosaur, run faster than Usain Bolt, and have an uncanny gift for tearing things apart.
  • Boners: That's right, Boners – but put your dirty minds away, these are basically screamers that have evolved with a bony exoskeleton that prevents your bullets from making their way into the soupy mess of their brains.
  • Subject 001: I'll leave this one as a surprise, because it's going to play heavily in the next book and is just very wrong.

Ang: Will your infection spread to more books and series? How many blood and guts offerings do you predict in your future? How soon can our zombie and human readers expect to see your next festering contribution?

Jack: Yes. In fact, my plan is, once I complete the tenth book in the I Zombie series, to bridge into a new series I have planned, based on the first series. The second series takes place some 30 years after the first ends and stars one of the characters from the first series. The second series is called The Book of Jacob. That series will also be ten novels.
Ang: What is your favorite way to kill a zombie? Shoot ‘em, hack ‘em, poke ‘em, burn‘em, or something even more fiendish? ***Zombie readers please turn away to avoid having your rotted feelings eviscerated.

Jack: My favorite method was developed by Jacob Plummer and Bethany Nitshimi. It's called “The Obliterator” and causes zombies to, effectively, commit suicide. It's nasty.

Ang: Do you have a favorite cinematic zombie? Example: My co-blogger Zombie Earl is quite fond of Zombie Roger from the original Dawn of the Dead.

Jack: Without a doubt, my favorite cinematic zombie is Julie Walker from Return of the Living Dead 3. She's the first to ever make a zombie sexy. How can you NOT like that?

Ang: Who is your favorite character from The Walking Dead (comics or TV show)?

Jack: Oddly enough it's Herschel Greene. As much as I hate to admit it, the majority of the characters on the show are kind of annoying –especially the women. I hate that they have created an entire world where the women are unlikable. Herschel is, for the most part, the voice of reason in the show. And even with but one leg (and a beard to make Yukon Corneleus proud), he always embodies strength and logic. Plus – how can you not like someone who could pass for Santa Claus?

Ang: Finally, how prepared are you for the zombie apocalypse we all know is just around the corner?

Jack: I'm fairly confident I could survive. I don't do guns, but I could wield a sword and, thanks to my series, know that a weapon can be crafted from anything. I honestly can say that the last three years of writing the I Zombie series has well prepared me for the impending doom that will be the apocalypse. Those around me know that, if they stick with me, they'll be okay.

Besides, I'm in good with the Zombie Response Team (they play a huge roll in Lie Zombie Lie and will remain in the series).

If you're hungry for more Jack Wallen, check out Get Jack'd, Facebook , or follow him on Twitter.

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