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.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Len Barnhart, The First!

Everyone who reads my regular blog knows how much I admire Len Barnhart. The main reason I like him is that he pretty much had the guts to start the current wave of zombie fiction that fans of apocalyptic horror are now enjoying. Before he came along with his book REIGN OF THE DEAD there really wasn't anyone writing this kind of thing. Phil Nuttman may have preceded him a bit with his WET WORK novel, but Len is the guy who really put it on the line and got his book out there where everyone could see it.

And it's clear that the fans liked what they read, because REIGN opened up the floodgates. And now there are, quite literally, hundreds of decent zombie novels on the market. Even Max Brooks agrees with me on this one. Before Len Barnhart set the standard, nobody else was writing this kind of stuff!

James Robert Smith: What made you want to brave the waters and write what is arguably one of the very first modern zombie novels?

Len Barnhart: I actually just wanted to just see if I could complete the job. You know…writing a book. Most do not. "Reign" was my first attempt and my biggest fear was that I would be bogged down with a lot of research. I figured the best way around that was to write about something I knew. There were several genres I considered, but the competition was stiff. When I looked into how many zombie novels were out there I found nothing. The prospect of being one of the first to do it appealed to me.

      Now of course there are many books about zombies. I've had other writers email me and tell me I was their inspiration for writing their own book on the subject. That pleases me. It's quite satisfying to know you've done something that has influenced others in a positive way.

Len's website at REIGN OF THE DEAD!

Buy your copy of REIGN OF THE DEAD (Reloaded) from Severed Press.

The Zombie novel that started the wave!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mario Acevedo

Today's one-question interview is with Mario Acevedo. His adventures of vampire-detective Felix Gomez  is one of the most entertaining series around. Full of humor, these books are a great way to spend a day. While it's mainly werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural folk as the focus of the novels, he does toss in the occasional zombie. You have to love a book with a title like  JAILBAIT ZOMBIE.

James Robert Smith: What's so funny about zombies (and the undead)?

Mario Acevedo: Are you kidding? Rotting body parts getting detached in mid-copulation. That's comedy. And really, just because zombies are dead, doesn't mean they're stupid.

Mario's artist website
Mario's blog

Friday, August 31, 2012

Joe McKinney Speaks!

Today we hear from Joe McKinney, one of the best-selling zombie novelists around today. His initial works were big hits and he continues to produce great horror novels.
James Robert Smith: Why Are Zombies Such a Powerful Image?

Joe McKinney: Zombies are the monster world’s equivalent of a good pair of blue jeans: they go well with just about anything.  In recent years, they’ve gone up against everybody from the police and the military to superheroes, the cast of Star Trek, vampires and, believe it or not, unicorns.  They’ve even taken on Jane Austen.

The living dead have worked their way into our hearts, one bite at a time.
So it’s not hyperbole to say that zombies are the hottest thing going.
I don’t want to belabor the point that zombies have taken over modern horror.  You see them everywhere, from the TV to the internet news blogs.  And of course there’s been a glut of them in print.  In fact, I don’t think a revenant has so thoroughly dominated popular fiction since the Victorians took up the ghost story.  So I think we can safely say that the zombie is, for the moment, ubiquitous, and consider the point made.
But how did we get here?  How did a monster with no personality, no vampirelike sex appeal, and certainly no intelligence, become such an adaptable, and powerful, image for modern life?
The question has come up at every convention I’ve attended for the last five years, and I’ve heard a lot of answers that satisfy with varying degrees of success.  But for as many different people who have tried to explain the phenomena, their answers can all be lumped into one of two schools of thought.
The first, and larger of the two schools, touts the zombie’s metaphorical range.  No matter what you’re afraid of, be it illegal immigration, terrorism, disease, economic disparity, you name it, there’s a zombie for that.
The second school claims that the zombie is simply a manifestation of our self-loathing, that we realize how inadequate we are as individuals and as a society, and so we’ve invented the zombie as both a degenerate version of ourselves and as a punishment for our society.
Actually, neither explanation totally works for me.  Consider the metaphor theory.  Certainly even beginning readers are capable of recognizing metaphors.  The metaphor, as a literary device, comes about as close to being hardwired into the way our minds work as rhythm and rhyme.  But to say that zombies have taken over the popular imagination because of their metaphorical range seems like wishful thinking on the part of writers looking to legitimize the fun they’re having.
And as for the idea that zombies are manifestations of our self-loathing, well, that may work for the nihilists out there, but it hardly explains why the zombie has crossed over into academia, so that we routinely hear of economists talking about zombie banks, and computer experts talking about zombie viruses or zombie terminals.  Even political analysts have gotten into the game by referring to fringe presidential contenders who refuse to drop out of the race as zombie candidates.
Something more than shared misery and frustration is going on here.
But you know what? I suspect that we’ve all been over-thinking the problem.  Zombies are, after all, not that complicated.  They’re dead.  They’re dead men, women and children, who look as gross as prose can possibly describe, and they want to eat us.
That’s pretty simple.
It’s frightening, too.
Believe me, I know.  As a cop, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in some flea bag apartment where some critically ill guy has hanged himself and been rotting away inside that room in the middle of summer with no air conditioning for a week or more.  When you see a body in that condition, and then envision what it must be like for that corpse to suddenly pop its eyes open and come after you with nothing but the base desire to eat you, then you get the whole why zombies are scary question.
Most of realize this, even if we haven’t been in the company of a week old corpse.
Most of realize this because we’ve seen approximations of it in the movies.
Or first person shooter games.
Or from books and blogs.
And it’s from those movies, first-person shooter games, books and blogs that one simple truth emerges: Everyone knows how to kill a zombie.  Seriously.  Anyone can do it.  You don’t need Van Helsing’s lifetime of study into vampire lore to kill a zombie.  You don’t need special powers.  You don’t need military training.  You simply need a blunt object.  Apply that blunt object to the zombie’s skull and - Bingo! - you are in business.
The ease with which a zombie can be dispatched is the only thing that explains their mass appeal, and their adaptability into so many kinds of media.  We (and here I mean everyone, not just horror fans) recognize that one zombie is a cinch to kill, but a legion of them is not.  We see the same thing in our daily lives, with all of the various problems we confront.  Those of us in dead end jobs get this at the molecular level.  We recognize that plowing our way through a mountain of paperwork, moving it from Pile A to Pile B, is a lot like mowing through the endless zombies on Left 4 Dead.  The same could be said of working your way through the hundreds of emails in your inbox on Monday morning.  Or through the packing manifests at the warehouse where you work.  Or the endless line of customers in your store.  There is a tidal motion to the work we perform that is echoed back to us in the archetypal zombie plot.  In killing zombies, we are working out our frustrations and taking control of our circumstances.
And for me anyway, the answer to the question Why are zombies such a powerful image is just that simple.

You can check out all my books here:
And find out more about my writing and what I’m up to here:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Craig DiLouie Talks Zombies

Today our one-question interview is with Craig DiLouie who has been enjoying much-deserved success with his apocalyptic visions.

James Robert Smith: What do you think are the social implications of the popularity of zombie fiction?

Craig DiLouie: Some literature simply shows up at the right place at the right time. We don't know it at the time, but it is reflecting the popular zeitgeist. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is a great example of that. The remake series, which launched several years after the World Trade Center attacks, played upon a popular feeling in America at the time--that we were alone and under siege. 

Now it's zombies. Zombies are huge in movies, TV, books, pop culture. Most of this is simply pent-up demand for material they've wanted for a long time but the powers that be ignored. I think it's more than that. I think zombies scratch a deeper itch.

People have been fascinated by the idea of the end of the world since virtually the dawn of civilization, and this fascination has revealed itself in literature. The only thing that has changed is the mechanism of the apocalypse that was prominent in the popular psyche. In the old days, it was mostly religious. In the 50s, it was alien invasion, monsters in the 60s, asteroids and natural disasters and environmental collapse in the 70s, nuclear war and killer machines in the 80s, exotic viruses in the 90s, and terrorism, EMP and, yes, zombies in the 00s.

Zombies are a particularly frightening mechanism of apocalypse because people you once knew and loved are now turning on you, and you must stand alone and be tested and survive. So you not only have the traditional elements of the end of civilization--using survival skills to beat the odds and stay alive in a depopulated, ruined world--but you also have the aspect of violence, being hunted, and fighting back--against monsters that look like people. Our society has finally reached the point where our deepest paranoia is set not against technology or environmental degradation, but against everybody else.

George Romero popularized the idea of zombie as consumer or underclass, and I think there's merit to these associations. Beyond these obvious connections, however, there are even more important considerations. I believe people today feel like their world is out of control. Let's face it, the last ten years have been depressing, and the average American has felt like he was being strangled by a corrupt system controlled by a small elite. The natural American paranoid streak has grown even stronger, that sense there's an us and there's a them, and the them are many, evil and strong, and want to hurt us. With this kind of stuff in the back of your head, the idea of the zombie apocalypse provides much needed catharsis.

Imagine not having to go to a job, pay taxes, worry about bills and credit cards, shuck everything in your life, and hit the road to play hit and run against a slow, mindless monster that looks like people. That idea is appealing to many, which reflects the popular zeitgeist. Instead of living in a constant sense of insecurity in the shadow of numerous vague, veiled threats--terrorism, job security, paying the mortgage, kids need braces, higher taxes, global warming, possibility of flu pandemic, etc.--your life becomes very simple, the threats in your life crystallize into a single enemy, and you can respond with a gun. Tomorrow doesn't matter anymore. You truly live for today.

Oddly, as horrible as such an event would actually be, I think the idea of the zombie apocalypse provides a much-needed sense of relief for people. Many would welcome it. What do you think that says about how well the world is going?

- Craig DiLouie

Craig DiLouie is the author of THE KILLING FLOOR and THE INFECTION (Permuted Press) and TOOTH AND NAIL (Salvo Press). He blogs about apocalyptic horror media regularly at

Breakout Novel by Craig DiLouie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

David Moody, creator of AUTUMN and HATER

Today's one-question interview is with David Moody, one of the most talented and unique voices working in the horror genre. His AUTUMN books are a fresh take on the zombie Mythos, and his HATER novels have become modern classics in the paranoid-apocalyptic world.

James Robert Smith: Your takes on the zombie mythos are all unique. How did you go about creating your own interpretation on what had been the traditional Romero-esque monster?

David Moody: I've always loved the concept of zombies, but there are a couple of aspects of the traditional undead mythos which I've long struggled with. I was able to address them first in my Autumn books, then look at them from a different angle with Hater.

First, why flesh eating? These things are dead... they don't have any need to drink, sleep, use the toilet or anything else - so why eat flesh? I can understand if an author/filmmaker uses it as a means to transmit the reanimating infection, but in my Autumn books you're either dead or you've survived by the end of page one so that doesn't count! I accept that there's a very real fear of being eaten by the undead - not least because of the sheer physicality of the act, the invasion of personal space and our inbuilt fear of contamination and disease etc. - but I think a dead body that behaves to an extent like a 'real person' used to is far more frightening than one which is more animal-like in its behaviour.

My other frustration with 'traditional' zombies is that, generally, the creatures you see/read about on the first page/scene, are the same as those at the end of the story. There's no progression. If you think about it, zombies like that would be pretty easy to defeat: you just find somewhere to sit it out until they've rotted down to nothing - should be about six months. But, of course, that doesn't make for an exciting read! I wanted the dead to change and become more of a threat in my books and, over the course of the five Autumn novels, they do just that. Beginning as little more than useless lumps of reanimated flesh, they gradually become more self aware whilst, at the same time, continuing to lose physical control as they decay. This increased understanding, coupled with the utter horror of feeling themselves rotting away, causes the dead to react with violence and aggression towards the remaining few survivors... they're in such a terrible state it's the only way they have left to respond.

In the Hater books (which aren't really about zombies at all, I don't think), I had a chance to look at things from the zombies (or non-zombies!) perspective. Ultimately, almost all horror boils down to us versus them - people dealing with 'the other' - and with the Hater series I was able to look at that in its purest form.

There's such a fine line between them and us, and I think that's perhaps the most frightening aspect of the living dead.

A new classic of the paranoid fantasy, joining the likes of Finney's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and Matheson's I AM LEGEND!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eric S. Brown

Today I feature a true "indie" author. He doesn't sit on his laurels. He is published by a number of small presses and major houses. His work is even now being adapted for the screen. I give you Eric S. Brown.
James Robert Smith: What made you want to write zombie novels?

Eric S. Brown: When I was a very young child, I watched Night of the Living Dead. It gave me nightmares for weeks. When the nightmares stopped, I missed them. I went and sought out a copy of Dawn of the Dead. From there I was hooked on zombies. Dawn was one of those films that leaves its mark on you from how awesome it was. It made me want create that type of wonderful, end of the world story myself. That's how I got into zombies and I still am writing them today. Dawn of the Dead and its remake are still my fav. Z films of all time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bowie Ibarra!

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of one-question interviews with some of the group of zombie authors currently working in publishing.

Bowie Ibarra is a name familiar to everyone who reads zombie fiction.

And here we go!

James Robert Smith: Why zombies?

Bowie Ibarra: I believe the zombie genre serves as a catharsis for the artist and the participant. Deep down inside we'd all like to just bash people in the head without consequence.
-- Bowie Ibarra

Author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012


When the dead rose to destroy the living, Ron Cutter learned to survive. While so many others died, he thrived. His life is a constant battle against the living dead. As he casts his own bullets and packs his shotgun shells, his humanity slowly melts away.

Then he encounters a lost boy and a woman searching for a place of refuge. Can they help him recover the emotions he set aside to live? And if he does recover them, will those feelings be an asset in his struggles, or a danger to him?

THE STATE OF EXTINCTION: the first installment in the COALITON OF THE LIVING trilogy of Mankind’s battle against the plague of the Living Dead. As recounted by author Robert Mathis Kurtz.
"The BEST zombie novel I've read this year!"

Friday, March 16, 2012


From Robert Mathis Kurtz comes the first installment of a new zombie trilogy: THE COALITION!

STATE OF EXTINCTION: When the dead rose to destroy the living, Ron Cutter learned to survive. While so many others died, he thrived. His life is a constant battle against the living dead. As he casts his own bullets and packs his shotgun shells, his humanity slowly melts away.

Then he encounters a lost boy and a woman searching for a place of refuge. Can they help him recover the emotions he set aside to live? And if he does recover them, will those feelings be an asset in his struggles, or a danger to him?

THE STATE OF EXTINCTION: the first installment in the COALITON OF THE LIVING trilogy of Mankind’s battle against the plague of the Living Dead. As recounted by author Robert Mathis Kurtz.

Monday, January 23, 2012


For now this site is sitting largely dormant. But I hope to soon have a series of interviews with some authors who have penned some decent zombie novels in the past few years.

Watch this space for developments.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of THE LIVING END!