Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lawrence Roy Aiken's new novel BLEEDING KANSAS is--far and away--the best zombie novel I've read. Ever. You can bank on it.

So, to revive ZOMBIE HORRORS, we have the one-question interview with zombie fiction's newest master: Roy Aiken.

Zombie Horrors: You've mentioned on your blog that the main reason people enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction is that any apocalypse is better than the one we're living through now. Would you elaborate on that?”

If you define an “apocalypse” as a series of events effecting a permanent change for the worst, then, as the old Palmolive soap catchphrase went, “You’re soaking in it.” I have yet to meet anyone of any political persuasion who thinks things are getting better. 

The hero of my novel BLEEDING KANSAS has been unemployed for four years and is poised to break back into the professional class when the dead rise to devour the living. Being flown out at company expense for a second interview is a blinding stroke of luck for Derek Grace, and I’ll daresay the biggest willing suspension of disbelief required of my story. The professional classes have contracted to such an extreme degree that once you’re out, you generally don’t get back in. If you've got a college education, if you’re smart, articulate, and generally on the ball, that’s pretty damned apocalyptic. You've worked hard, you've played by the rules, you've passed the stupid piss test, the background check, the credit check. You bought all the right clothes, you followed all the right career advice. Still, you've got a better chance of getting eaten alive by zombies than you do finding work to support yourself, let alone your family.

Our real-life apocalypse is such that it won’t take zombies to bring civilization down, just enough people getting so sick they can’t come into work. Historically, we’re due for a pandemic along the lines of the Spanish Flu of 1917, yet it won’t take anything nearly that lethal to kick the supports out from under everything. Even the most essential services are understaffed and overworked. If one in three people call in sick for long enough, soon everything’s running on automatic and standing by to break down. Why should the rest stay on to try and fix what’s running? Their paychecks are probably the first things that fail to go through.

Short of a pandemic, though, I don’t foresee a catastrophic collapse. Apocalypses don’t necessarily mean a final ending, just the end of a way of life, of how survival was transacted before. Consider the Christian apocalypse of the Bible. It ends with a small elite living in heavenly luxury while the great majority suffer in darkness outside the gates, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s a great metaphor for what’s happening right now, except we've still got so many people in the darkness convinced they can still get into Heaven after the final judgment. They’d have better luck fighting a store full of undead flesh-eaters for a can of cat food. Zombie apocalypses are brutal, violent and cruel hellscapes. But so long as you’re reasonably clever and handy with a weapon you have a chance. Not so much here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


During the zombie apocalypse civilization was on the brink of collapse. But it pulled through.

Alex Wenzler, however, did not. He was a victim and became one of the walking dead.

Now, things have changed. Two years on, society is getting back to normal. The zombies are on the run. Life is close to being the way it was.

But Alex Wenzler suddenly wakes up, roused from the waking coma of the zombie un-life.
He is aware of what he was and what he is and what he is…becoming.

Now all he wants is to find his son, Mark.

He will have to run a gauntlet of violence and almost sure destruction to see his boy. Can he do it? 

And if he can, what will he do once his child is within reach?

There are two sides to every story. Even the undead have something to say.


By James Robert Smith

From Severed Press.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two Weeks!

Well, folk, I'll be gone for two weeks to visit Colorado. See you then!

Monday, September 10, 2012

John and Sean Speak of Diet!

John McCuaig and Sean Page are two more zombie authors. They've done work on their own, and now are going to work together on a project from Severed Press.

Today I ask each of them a very important burning question.

James Robert Smith: Do zombies eat anything other than human flesh?

John McCuaig- "Would the undead eat any other kind of warm flesh that they come across? Well, I believe if their food got scarce enough then yes, which I suppose isn’t good news for our furry friends Fido and Tiddles. However, I’d imagine it’s like the difference between cheap hamburgers and the finest tenderloin steak, by far their favourite snack is us humans, which of course isn’t good news for us.
This subject has been touched upon in several books and films and although the most common answer is a no-no, I can see a few pointers to a different answer. People trapped on wintery mountains have turned to cannibalism, dogs stuck inside houses when their master has died have eventually took to eating the cadaver in order to survive, and in the insect world it’s not uncommon at all for the weak to be consumed when food supplies run dry.
If zombies act on pure instinct, as we indeed suspect, then surely they would lower their expectations and take what they can until they can,and they always do, find some more of us.
Whatever the answer is we can only be sure of one thing- we are right on top of the menu."

Sean T. Page-"To date, the Ministry of Zombies in London has no confirmed cases of zombies eating anything other than human flesh. There has been a great deal of speculation in both the scientific community working with the walking dead and in fiction but for now, it is just that.
The closest case the Ministry has relates to an infected soldier found in Pakistan in 1947. He is known only as Patient 341. He was a former Indian solider who had deserted the army to join Pakistan and become lost in the mountainous wilderness of the north-west frontier. Several eye witnesses, including an aid worker and local Imam, witnessed the creature burrowing in the earth and ramming handfuls of soil into its mouth. One theory is that the creature was consuming insects and worms.
So, apart from the case of Patient 341, we have no other documented examples on file."

About Sean and John's new book:
“A visceral gore fest done right. The constant tension and suspense leaves you gritting your teeth. I loved it.”
- P. A. Douglas, author of Epidemic of the Undead

The year 2020 was a good one for the walking dead.

The initial reports of a mysterious plague reanimating corpses caused unbridled chaos and as the world descended into hell, nations turned on each other in the battle to survive.

Europe is devastated. The remnants of NATO managed to create safe zones within cities that still had the protection of medieval built stonewalls. Once again, these ancient bastions were a sanctuary from invaders, keeping back the dead legions.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Talluto Speaks!

Joe Talluto's zombie novels are among the most well-received these days. Here, I ask him one of the most important concerns in the world of zombie fiction.

James Robert Smith: "Zombies: Slow or fast? And why?"

Joe Talluto: "I personally prefer the slow kind of zombies. There is a lot more buildup and less instant violence. I like the thought of death moving slowly to get you, and even though you run, in the end they will get you. Of course, in my books, I decided to make the zombies a combination of the two. The younger they are, the faster they are. Excepting infants, of course. I can't tell you why, it just made sense at the time to make children fast.
"Fast zombies to me are just for movies, It is really hard to document fast zombies in a book, because the story line would read along the lines of "The zombies are coming! Oh, wait. They're here!" Besides, if you take into account decay and dead tissue, fast zombies would literally run themselves to pieces. Again, not much of a story if you could get them to chase a mannequin strapped to remote controlled car."
Joe Talluto's blog can be found here.

Talluto's WHITE FLAG OF THE DEAD series.

Friday, September 7, 2012

From A to Chemical Z!

Today, we speak to Ricky Kay, author of CHEMICAL Z.

James Robert Smith: What most influenced your desire to write a zombie novel?

Ricky Kay:  "For me, the seed was sewn when I watched Return of the Living Dead. I had seen other zombie films, although not enough to form a solid opinion on the genre, but Return had something really special - it had wit, something I don't remember experiencing with other zombie flicks. It was horror with quirky dialogue that injected timeless humour into the film. I've always liked comedy and had a penchant for horror, so combining the two was inevitable.

After seeing Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead I was determined to write a zombie story, which I did, halfheartedly and then very quickly dropped it.
Two years ago, one of my work colleagues gave me a loan of a book, Day by Day Armageddon. It was a great read, as were the many zombie books he let me borrow over the following months. However, one thing I noticed about the stories in these books was the availability of guns and explosives and all manner of incendiary devices. I wondered what would happen if the zombie breakout started in a small town like my own, where most people don't have immediate access to guns and ammo.

I toyed with the notion of a journal, and so started writing and building on that idea, adding a little bit a day at a time. I didn't want simply another zombie story about the living dead eating brains, I wondered how I would react, how I would change if at all, should an outbreak occur on my doorstep. I put myself in that position and created Chemical Z, a zombie tale with a believable character conveying real emotion and characteristics. If you like the Day by Day books and The Walking Dead series, then I imagine Chemical Z (and the imminent follow-up) will be right up your street...I know it was up mine."


CHEMICAL Z from Severed Press!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brian Pinkerton Started It!

Brian Pinkerton was a new author to me. But he was recommended with much high praise. So I gave him a tough question!

James Robert Smith: What’s your opinion on the origin of the fictional zombie plague: supernatural or scientific?
Brian Pinkerton: "Zombies represent science at its most wicked. One of the harrowing realities of life is that we lose control of our bodies. Oh sure, we can pump iron at the gym, diet to shed unwanted pounds, or sign up for a nose job or facelift. But in the end, the body—not the brain—rules.
We get old and sick and fall apart. Our joints wear down, our posture curls. Our hair falls out, we sag, we slow down. Wrinkles, varicose veins and age spots spoil our appearance. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and other evils attack from within. We become horrified observers of our own decay.
Chaz Singleton, the central zombie of my new book, HOW I STARTED THE APOCALYPSE, is fully and painfully aware of the terrible things happening to his state of being. He smells bad. He has bad skin. His eyes are dull and bloodshot. He limps along. People hate him because he is a repugnant reflection of themselves.
Chaz also suffers from the zombie curse of flesh eating. He struggles with his obsessive appetite like an alcoholic battling with booze. The cruelty of addiction is just one more torment our bodies throw at us. Whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, crack cocaine or heroin, the human species encounters physical cravings that can take control and not let go. Time and time again, the brain loses out to the temptations of the flesh.
Supernatural defines those things that exist outside the natural world. Zombies represent the natural world falling apart. We have seen the face of our worst nightmare, and it is us."

How I Started the Apocalpyse.

Brian's Author Site.