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?
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!|