Monday, April 22, 2013

Zombified Interview with Bonnie Dee

Bonnie Dee is the chilling chick behind the Zombie Apocalypse series. Her first zombie ode After the End was followed by Dead Country. Let's chew on her cranium...

Ang: When were you first bitten by the 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?

Bonnie: See answer to question nine. My first zombie movie was the original Night of the Living Dead but prior to seeing it, I remember looking at movie stills from the (already vintage) movie in a magazine at a friend’s house. There was something so awful yet almost artistic in those horrible black and white images of flesh-eating dead people. I was repelled and fascinated and couldn’t wait to see the movie. This was before even VHS so I had to wait for it to be on TV and then just hope that I could catch it.

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

Bonnie: Undead eat. People run.

To flesh that out a little (irony intended) for the more cerebral, After the End is set in NYC where a small group of survivors, first thrown together on the subway, try to escape the island of Manhattan.

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

Bonnie: The cast of After the End includes Ari, a guy in his early twenties, fresh out of boot camp, combat trained yet totally unprepared to face an army of the undead; Lila, a college student majoring in philosophy, who finds her anti-violence beliefs crumble fast when fighting for her life; Derrick & Ronnie, a brother and sister duo; cool and crisp old Mrs. Scheider; Dr. Joe, a dermatologist (super useful kind of doctor to have during a zombie apocalypse), high strung Ann, hard-ass Deb and her girlfriend Sondra, and several others.

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)?

Bonnie: I’m far more interested in how the average Joe and Jill fare when thrown into a life or death situation. I’m not interested in watching super strong, perfect fighting machines, but in people who make do with whatever weapons are at hand and use their smarts to outwit, outplay, outlast.

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

Bonnie: My first book, After the End, is set just as the undead hordes swell and take over. That’s usually the most exciting setting, I think, because the protagonists not only have to survive but must wrap their heads around the impossible fact of the dead returning to life to cannibalize their own kind.

For my second book, Dead Country, I chose to set it in the same apocalypse but farther along the timeline and with a completely different cast of characters. Order is slowly being restored in major urban areas but in an isolated Midwestern town, help is not going to be on its way in time to save anyone.

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

Bonnie: I went with the slow, shambling type, meat marionettes that move awkwardly but relentlessly. Why do zombies seem to have super strength and are able to bite through just about anything? I’ve never been able to figure that out, but I went with the classic type anyway.

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?

Bonnie: I’ve been asked numerous times for a sequel to After the End as people wanted to know what the survivors did after escaping Manhattan, but when I finish a story, I’m pretty much over it. That’s why my sequel was set elsewhere and with all new characters. I have a half finished, unrelated zombie story called The Cure, which has been stalled for many months. I’ve never been so blocked but I hope to finish it some day. Maybe this summer.

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 putrefied feelings eviscerated.

Bonnie: In my zombie world the spinal cord must be severed to stop the creature so a beheading is best. But a unique method of dispatching was my main reason for setting Dead Country in farmlands. I grew up around corn and combines so I could envision a scene in which a corn harvester plowed through a zombie horde. Tres cool.

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.

Bonnie: Well, first times are always most memorable, so I’d have to say the undead man who attacks the girl in the cemetery in the original Night of the Living Dead. There’s something about black & white horror films that’s starker and scarier—especially when you’re a well protected Catholic girl seeing her first gory horror movie. I was babysitting and saw this on late night TV and was nearly traumatized.

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

Bonnie: Have to admit to still not having read the comics, just the show. In general I’ve liked Glenn all along, because he’s an all around nice guy who’s quite clever (not that the writers continue to play that cleverness up like they did in the first season).

A lot of my interest has shifted to Darryl, who is awesome with that crossbow and is just so emotionally damaged under his contained exterior—and that’s pre-zombie apocalypse.

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

Bonnie: Luckily our house has a circa 60s fallout shelter, well stocked by previous owners with delicious circa 60s canned goods.

No, I actually have a cyanide tablet I wear in a locket at all times so if the going gets tough, I can check out.

Seriously, I would definitely not be the sort to boldly, bravely lead the way in a zombie apocalypse. I’m more of a runner and hider and a “let someone else get et while I run away” type. Hey, at least I recognize my limitations as a human being.

Devour After the End and Dead Country today.

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