Monday, April 8, 2013

Zombified Interview with Scott M. Baker

Scott M. Baker is the diabolical dude behind the Rotter World trilogy. Let's chew a little on his gray matter...

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?

Scott: I was first infected when I was about twelve years old and Chiller Theatre showed a re-run of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. The movie is cheesy as hell. But two scenes in that movie struck a chord. The first is during the rising in the graveyard when a female zombie reaches her hand out of the ground, clasps the victim’s ankle, and slowly pulls herself out of the grave hand over hand onto the victim’s body. The second is during the siege of the cabin when two zombies drag a screaming Terry (Jane Daly) through the darkened kitchen and into the shadows of the woods where a certain fate awaits her. To this day, those are the only scenes from any horror movie that have ever creeped me out. That was when the infection first took hold.

As for the most difficult part of writing about zombies, I would say it’s maintaining originality. The last thing I want is to have someone read one of my zombie novels or short stories and think “so-and-so wrote the same thing a couple of years ago.” It’s why I always try to add a new twist to the genre, such as steampunk zombies (The Last Flight of the Bismarck in the Machina Mortis anthology) or an alcoholic mall Santa battling zombie reindeer Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly
. For my zombie trilogy Rotter World, I introduced the concept of a surviving band of vampires and humans working together to survive the zombie apocalypse and, over the course of three books, discovering that the greatest horrors do not come just from the living dead.

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

Scott: Vampires create zombies to eat humans but get eaten themselves. Vampires join humans to fight zombies. Zombies get massacred by the hundreds for just being zombies. Zombies sad.

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

Scott: Most of the survivors in my zombie novels/short stories are us. They have different degrees of intelligence, different prejudices, and different back stories. Some entered the outbreak as decent human beings, while others were pure assholes on the day the dead started to come back to life. Mixing all these various personalities into the plot allows me to explore how various characters will deal with the end of the world. In my Rotter World trilogy, I’m hoping most readers will see themselves in one or more of my characters.

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)?

Scott: As noted above, I try to make most of the characters in my zombie novels/short stories as realistic as possible because I think it adds a personal dimension to the story that readers can relate to. But sometimes the plot just screams for characters that are larger than life. My two prime examples are Scarlet, the steampunk heroine from The Last Flight of the Bismarck and Jack, the alcoholic mall Santa who battles zombie reindeer in Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly. I see Scarlet as that Victorian adventuress battling the living dead who brings a touch of erotic feminism to a zombie outbreak. As for Jack, all I can say is picture A Christmas Story meets Army of Darkness.

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

Scott: The Rotter World trilogy begins eight months after the zombie outbreak has begun. By now, most of the world has settled into a state of normalcy, or at least what is considered normal in the New World Disorder. The books deal with how the various groups of survivors deal with or take advantage of the living dead apocalypse.

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

Scott: The Rotter World trilogy includes three types of zombies. The typical, slow-moving, shambling zombie called rotters, which are the decaying remnants from the early days of the outbreak. Strong, vicious, fast-moving zombies called swarmers, which are the recently reanimated that still retain most of their strength. And my favorite, recently-reanimated zombie vampires (just picture the worst aspects of both monsters intensified).

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?

Scott: So far I only have plans for three books in the Rotter World series: the current volume, that was published by Permuted Press in April 2012. In the second book, which I am currently working on, the survivors of the first book will split up to complete their assignment, and each group will encounter other enclaves. In the final book, which I am plotting out, there will be a definitive conclusion to the zombie apocalypse, though I have not yet determined whether the living or living dead emerge as the primary species.

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 rotten feelings torn apart.

Scott: I’m an epic type of guy, so I prefer massed firepower against a horde of the living dead. But I don’t want to be boring, so I’ve also dispatched the living dead with flames, propane, and metal candy canes.

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.

Scott: Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead. I have “Brains” as the message notification ringtone on my cellphone. You should see the looks I get from people when that goes off in public.

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

Scott: Maggie (Lauren Cohan) from the TV series. She’s strong, independent, fiercely loyal to Glenn, and yet still can be a woman despite the whole world going to Hell.

A close second is the Governor (David Morrissey). Morrissey has done a phenomenal job bringing so many nuances to the character that at moments in Season Three I’ve wondered if he’s really a bad guy. And when I did realize that he’s gone over the edge, I still found myself loving the character. David Morrissey plays the Governor the same way Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lector – you know he’s a psychopath, but secretly you hope he survives and escapes.

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

Scott: Not yet. I’m in the middle of a major move from northern Virginia to northern Florida, and at the moment everything is in transition. Once I get settled in the new home, however, I will be preparing my survival kits.

While I don’t consider myself a survivalist, I do believe that if you are prepared for a zombie outbreak, you’re also prepared for any type of situation that could occur – terrorist attack, natural disaster, social unrest, collapse of the infrastructure, etc. I haven’t built an underground bunker or stockpiled a year’s worth of supplies, but I can hold my own in a crisis. And if that crisis does happen to be a zombie apocalypse, I have more than enough ammo to really enjoy myself.

Bite into the Rotter World trilogy here. Get your fill of Scott on his
blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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