Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zombified Interview with S. Johnathan Davis

S. Johnathan Davis is the gruesome guy behind 900 Miles: A Zombie Novel. The terrifying tale was published in January '13 to melodic moans. Let's hack into S's head and see what makes him tick...

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?

S: Thinking back to childhood (younger than I should have been), I remember staying up late with my brother one night after my parents went to bed, and catching Return of the Living Dead on HBO. It was funny and scary...and I fell in love with the genre that night. Since then, I've seen and read hundreds of zombie stories. Some awesome....some...not so awesome, but each time I catch a new one I'm brought back to that silly 80's movie that helped jump start my love for the dead.

The most difficult part of being an indie author is coming up with a unique story. With such an interest in main stream media these days (can anybody say Walking Dead or World War Z), it's hard to find an original plot that doesn't feel like it's a re-tread of those greats. As a story teller, I'm constantly double checking to make sure that I'm not inadvertently writing something that someone is going to say was already done somewhere else.

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

S: Man must travel 900 miles to get to his wife during a zombie outbreak. Lots of bad things happen. Some of them include gladiator style arena fighting...

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

S: The story is told from the perspective of John, a traditional business who's thrust into this new world of the dead. He isn't some military nut job who's prepared for the undead, he isn't an ex-navy seal. In fact, he really doesn't know what the hell he's doing. The only thing he does know is that he has to get to his wife, and nothing will stop him. He does team up with the security guard from his office building, and ex-army guy named Kyle. Kyle is the bad-ass of the story, but neither of them are prepared for the end of the world. Just two guys trying to survive....one dead Z at a time.

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)?

S: I was all about trying to make it as real as possible (in a totally unreal world). My characters are all flawed. They are not ready for this outbreak, but they use what they have available to them (including simple tools like a hammer and a metal pole) to try to survive. What I kept asking myself was "How would I react in a zombie outbreak? What would happen to me?"

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

S: Zombie uprising from the start. That's always the best part of a zombie story, and I wanted to tell my version of it.

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

S: The Zombies are fast at first. Rigamortis hasn't had time to settle in. However, in this world the older they get, the slower they get. This actually plays into an interesting plot point later in the story (which I won't ruin with a spoiler here). I grew up as a "slow" zombie purist, but movies like 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead really opened my eyes to the terror that one can create from the "fast" zombie. In my book, I wanted both.

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?

S: I've actually signed with Severed Press, the publisher who put 900 Miles into market, for a sequel. The good news is that I've got a solid start on the sequel. At the moment, we're shooting for release late this year/early next. I'll see how the sequel does in the market and decide if I keep going from there. However, ultimately, I want to tell a great story. If I don't have one, I won't force it.

For those who enjoy collecting books, a small press publisher called Kings Way Press, is actually in the process of creating a collectable limited edition trade hardcover version of 900 Miles. The books have leather covers and all new art....so I'm pretty stoked about this release coming out later this year as well.

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.

S: A good ol' head bash does the trick for me. However, I like to see what I can do with them before they become worm food. Example, I just finished writing up a scene in the sequel where a zombie gets a hole blown in its stomach and keeps reaching into the hole to pull out recently eaten flesh only to eat it again. The grosser the better from my POV!

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.

S: I've gotta say that I'm a big fan of Tar Man in Return of the Living Dead. I've actually seen the actor who played him, and the guy can still do that crazy lumbering and awkward walk!

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

S: I've always been a fan of Glenn. Poor guy is just trying to find some love in the world of the undead. He's normal, no special skills, but he manages to make it a long way!

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

S: I'm totally screwed. Gotta run....I should start prepping.
Chow down on 900 Miles at Amazon.
Chase after S at Twitter, Goodreads, and his website.

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