DD: Thanks for plugging in, Brad! First off, tell us about your history in podcasting/voice work. You've done a lot.
BZ: I have been podcasting for well over eight years now and really love discussing varies television shows. It is always fun to get out there and break down a show you have recently watch as well as hear what people around the world have to say about it. My first major podcast, Watchers of Anarchy which covered the show Sons of Anarchy, was like that. We had an amazingly huge audience worldwide. Receiving voicemails from Scotland Australia and everywhere in between each week was a joy.
I got into podcasting through doing voice work. Storytelling is a big thing for me and I am still putting out occasional audio stories as time permits. Have a few of them in the works right now, one of which I hope to get out this year.
DD: You host the ZCast, a Z Nation fan podcast. Tell us about the program.
BZ: When Syfy released Z Nation I was all in for this show. It was zombies, it was different and they immediately killed off who you thought would be the lead character in first episode. After that I was hooked. A few episodes in I decided, since my podcasting schedule was cleared since Sons of Anarchy had finished, that I needed to do a podcast for Z Nation plus nobody else was doing it. I posted it on Facebook and Susan Monk, fellow podcaster and occasional fill in host on Watchers of Anarchy volunteered. Next up was friend and writer Rhiannon Frater who threw her hand up. We started recapping he show weekly then started landing interviews with the actors and crew. We have pretty much interviewed everyone on the show a few of the actors a couple times.
DD: You've had some cool guests on your various podcasts. Who are some of your favorites?
BZ: Everyone on the Z Nation side has been a treat to talk with. They all love the show as much as the fans do. We had a chance to chat with Sara Coates who had a small part to play in the series as Serena aka Pie Girl, and she was hilarious. Don't think I have ever laughed that much in an interview before.
I am currently writing for PureFandom.com and I have been doing a podcast segment over there as well called Brad and Cort Talk with my cohost from Watchers of Anarchy. We are covering everything that is going on at Syfy now so we have been getting some really great interviews there as well. Just recently we have chatted with Rukiya Bernard and Trezzo Mahoro from Van Helsing as well as Neil LaBute who is the showrunner. Have to say that the actors on Syfy have all been a treat to talk with.
DD: What are you up to writing-wise?
BZ: There are a few things lingering out there that need to be picked up again eventually. Currently though I am working on a creepy doll audio story that will most likely be rather long. Already have the lead parts cast in it. I've done some other short creepy doll stories and cast my friends’ kids as the parts but they wanted to do something more so came up with a plan to do a much longer story. Drove over to Indiana to do a Warrior Dash with my friend and on the way back we outlined the entire story. Just putting fingers to keyboard in between my entertainment writing now. Hoping to get the script done within a month or two then the hunt for audio sounds and music begins before I get everyone in to record their parts.
DD: Is there anything you want to see more (or less) of in zombiedom?
BZ: I would love to see less of origin stories. Sure everyone knows the dead rise and then the survivors rise up and do whatever they do to survive. How about we start a good 50 years down the road at least. In a time where the only people who remember anything about the world just happened to be young at that point so they might not remember much.
I grew up in the 80's reading post-apocalyptic books like Deathlands under pen name James Axler. The Deathlands world sets up what I am looking for in zombies these days. In the series the bombs are dropped in 2001 then humanity struggles to survive. 100 years later the series takes off. Let's see some new zombie worlds out there and less of people heading to the mall. Unless it is Monroeville Mall of course.
Posted by Dave Dunwoody at 5:05 PM
DD: Thanks for plugging in, Thom! The audio book version of HEAVEN, HELL OR HOUSTON was released this summer. Tell us about this zombie yarn.
TE: Thank you, Dave, for having me. It's always a pleasure chatting with you.
HHH is what I call my retro-zombie apocalypse, coming-of-age, urban fantasy novel. Yeah, I know, that's a mouthful, eh? Severed Press added it as a zombie thriller story, which I guess I can see. The dark tale takes place in the late spring/early summer of 1985 in Texas. It follows a twenty-four hours (give or take) in the life of Texas Ranger, Jay McCutcheon. A surly drunk with a temper akin to nitroglycerin. All he wants to do is finish his duty with the Governor and head home to his pregnant lady in Houston. The only thing that stands between him and his destination are a few long miles of rain-soaked blacktop, a Cadillac filled with psychotic Mexican gang bangers and a zombie apocalypse. The good Ranger doesn't go on this drive alone, no, he runs into a brash, foul-mouthed New York teenage runaway. Together, they fight to make it to Houston.
I really enjoyed writing this story and while some readers thought it was too vulgar and violent, that's exactly what I was going for. I call it my homage to my writing heroes, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonathan Maberry, Elmore Leonard and Joe McKinney. Not a bad bunch of dudes at all.
If you dig that Tarantino-esque, grindhouse kind of vibe, HHH is right up your blood and brain-soaked alley.
DD: Any new zombie-related stuff on the way?
TE: What a fantastic question, good Sir. As a matter of fact there are a couple zombie tainted projects underway.
After quite the tumultuous year, I have finished the sequel to HHH. It's my hope that Severed will be releasing Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound early next year. For the readers that dug HHH, hold tight, my friends. Things get a whole hell of a lot weirder.
I will be publishing a short collection of stories that take place inside the same universe as HHH and ties everything together with the first novel in the ETERNAL FLAME Trilogy: The LAST in LINE. Which I'll be publishing early next year through my imprint, DRUNKEN SKALD PRESS.
I intent to write two more books in that trilogy and maybe, just maybe if Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound is met with a warm response, write a final book that ties the HHH and Eternal Flame trilogy all in a neat, rotting bow.
After that, I think I will be done with the undead genre for a while. But, as we all know...the undead always rise back up at some point.
DD: You're also a visual artist. What sorts of stories do your illustrated works tell?
TE: My visual art is vastly different than it used to be, say ten-fifteen years ago. I used to be all about comic book illustration and that was my major focus. Conversely, most of the art I do now is around book cover design painting movable murals for business locally. Regarding my visual storytelling, it all centers around my cartoonish drawing style and even though I haven't worked comics in a while, I still like to tell heroic tales, even within the horror genre.
I do have plans to get back to some graphic novels and illustrate a few of my stories and maybe even an web comic. Time will tell.
DD: Do dreams ever inspire your work? Do you keep track of dreams?
TE: Indeed, sometimes they do. While I don't keep a serious journal, if something really strikes me, I will make sure to get up and jot down some quick notes while the images are still fresh. For an example, a few months back, I had a dream where two teenagers; a boy and a girl. were in busy shopping mall at night and suddenly a group of oddly dressed stormtrooper-like individuals began to surround them. The girl seemed to be what they were after and an explosive fight broke out. The girl had superpowers and was blasting the dudes left and right, while the boy was trying to fight but he wasn't much of a fighter. In the end, they got away. The last bit of memory from the dream was the words and names that were spoken. Bardric and Nightingale and a title: Sigil of Amber/Sigil of Dust.
I wrote that down and it will be a novel somewhere, someday.
DD: Is there anything you'd like to see more (or less) of in zombiedom?
TE: Well, that is a great question. I have a feeling the zombie genre has reached its tipping point and it is on the decline. Although, as long as the Walking Dead is still on television, it will stay up on its rigor mortis-filled legs for the duration of the show. As with all genres, (especially in the horror world) creatures have their time and then they go away for a while only to return at a much later date. We've seen it with the slashers, vampires, werewolves, Cthulhu mythos, etc.
With that being said, there has always been a very solid, loyal zombie fan base. So, I don't fear writing/creating in the flesh-eating ghoul genre at all. The zombie apocalypse fans are the best without a doubt.
With the zombiedom, what I'm afraid of, is that it is a well played out genre with so many books, films, TV shows, comics, etc out there, it almost feels like it's all been done and we're all just regurgitating the same old rotting tropes over and over again.
But, I have always defended the genre by saying that it's never been about the undead to begin with. No...it's always about the characters and the world they are trying to survive in. Zombies are (to me at least) a little more than desiccated window dressing. Give me a cast of characters that I want to root for, or against. Make their environment rich and chock-a-block full of danger, both living and undead.
I strongly believe having an original zombie origin story is also tantamount to crafting a groovy zombie tale. I take a lot of pride in the Eternal Flame universe and the origin of my “Romero-esque” mixed with some urban fantasy elements aspect. As much as I too, am a huge zombiephile, I tried very hard to put my own magical Erbal twist on the old tropes and keep it fresh. (as fresh as decaying corpse can be, I suppose.)
While I do believe that the zoms will be heading back underground for a spell, I have no fear or doubt that they will once again shamble up from cold, worm-filled earth to wreak havoc and make us their Happy Meals. After all, old zombies (and zombie fans) never die, or go away.
Posted by Dave Dunwoody at 3:36 PM
DD: Thanks for plugging in, Thom! You're working on the sequel to your excellent novel LORDS OF NIGHT - first off, tell us about the original book.
TB: Thanks for having me! I'm not welcome just anywhere, hah.
The first book, Lords of Night, is a post-apocalyptic ah, fantasy, I guess. An ancient evil from the dawn of Man is awakened by its offspring, the seven titular Lords of Night, and it raises all the dead, ever, all at one time. Zombies, skeletons, what have you. It also releases another set of offspring, the Locust People, who are to the zombies as we are to drones. They aim the zombies, give them purpose. The purpose? Claim all the living.
In this story, though, is one person—Jack, a teenager—who might just be an aberration, a fly in the ointment for the Ancient Enemy's plan, and he's got to retrieve an artifact from when the Ancient Enemy was imprisoned the first time. He is accompanied, of course, by the last group of American Special Forces on the planet. Well, that we know of.
Lords of Night is my love song to everything which shaped my view of how fiction ought to be. From Stephen King's Dark Tower series to the 70's cult classic The Warriors, and everything in-between, if it shaped my tender brain, there's an homage to it in this novel.
DD: What turns can we expect in the sequel?
TB: The sequel, tentatively-titled Plague of Locusts, is set a good twenty years after the main story in the first book. Society is putting itself back together, with regions split off from how they were before. This is set in America, because I'm from here and I don't want to have to do too much homework while I'm writing, so there's the Western Empire, California and the Pacific Northwest, the Unclaimed Territories, the Kingdom of Texas, so on and so forth.
The bulk of the story is kicked off and sustained by how regular people have been living on with everything which happened during the Long Night, as it's called, and how we've put ourselves back together. And, of course, how we co-exist with the Locust People, who didn't just go away when the first book ended. For this, I did do some reading, mostly about witch hunts of the 1800's. Good times.
DD: You also make music. Do you find that your writing & musical projects lend inspiration to one another?
TB: The music and the writing, from time to time, collide. I've found that the best time for me to make music is after I've finished a story or novel, in that dead time between typing THE END and going back to revise. The creative juices are still flowing, and I'm keeping a little bit of distance from the work I just put to bed, so I turn to the music to keep things going.
That's not to say fiction doesn't drive the music. Long ago, I toyed with an idea of writing a concept album to go with one of my books, but the process got a little... I don't know the right word. It was like, there was too much of an inside joke there that only I would get.
So instead, I turned to some works of fiction which were particularly inspiring or enjoyable to me. Sooner or later, the final mix will be finished for this album, Enjoy the Apocalypse, and it'll be released. It contains songs which were all inspired by or dedicated to some of the masterpieces in our common publisher's back catalog.
DD: Do dreams and nightmares inspire you? Do you keep track of dreams?
TB: I don't often remember dreams and nightmares long after I wake. There are a few of each variety I can keep a hold on, but only if I write that stuff down right away. There isn't much dream journaling happening over here, though. I'll email myself, or someone else, and fix the dream that way for later mining. There hasn't been a lot of mining, though. Only two dreams have ever turned into anything literary. One song, I think? It's fuzzy now, hah. See? Dreams, man.
DD: Lastly, on the zombie front - is there anything you'd like to see more (or less) of in zombiedom?
TB: More of, less of. I know from looking at my publication history, it seems like I'm really a zombie guy, but I don't feel like a zombie guy. Is that weird? I've enjoyed my share of zombie fiction, but I think I only really enjoy the stories which subvert everything we think of as a zombie book. I mean, I've seen Dawn of the Dead, both versions, and I'm pretty well happy with never, ever again seeing or reading versions of what happened on That Day. To me, the interesting zombie fiction is the stuff which brings us to what happens ten, fifteen, a hundred years after That Day. How much has changed? How much has stayed the same? Have we overcome, somehow? A really good example of this, at least on the cinematic side of things, is Land of the Dead. I really like that.
The zombies themselves, I can take or leave the classic Romero zombie or any of the new and improved forms of horror technology. Bleeding runners, shape shifting messes, giant conglomerate zombies (think Vehicle Voltron, but revolting) smart zombies. Whatever you've got, I'm not a purist, because the story isn't about them, it's about us. (Unless it is about them, or one of them, like The Reanimation of Edward Schuett. Then I take it back.)
All this isn't to say I don't think you or anybody else shouldn't write your version of what happened on That Day. Write your hearts out. But know, if you're writing That Day, it's been done a lot. If you want to stand out, you'll have to be extraordinary in your storytelling. My 2¢, hah.
Thanks for having me, Dave. You're an excellent person, and I hope association with me hasn't tarnished your three-toedness in any way.
Posted by Dave Dunwoody at 11:30 PM
DD: Thanks for plugging in, Dave! First of all, tell us about your MACHINES OF THE DEAD series.
DB: Thanks for having me, Dave!
As far as Machines of the Dead, I wanted to write a different kind of zombie trilogy, one that was an action-packed, sci-fi, horror, military-esque without getting too bogged down with technical aspects as far as the nanobots were concerned. Many years ago, I read Michael Crichton’s Prey and absolutely loved it and the ideas it presented. When I was asked to write a zombie trilogy, it was during the time of the zombie book explosion, so I figured I should come up with something different, a new type of zombie. Also, I wanted the reasoning behind the dead’s resurrection to be plausible.
DD: How do you think nanotech could radically change the world in your lifetime?
DB: I would love to see nanotech used to battle disease in living organisms, especially humans, as well as in surgery. Imagine if microscopic robots could be injected into a person or pet for the sole purpose of repairing a heart valve or mending a bone. How about nanobots that remains in a person’s body for their lifetime? It would clean arteries, heal cuts and destroy foreign bodies. The incurable “virus” could be battled and killed off. The possibilities seem endless.
But how would such tech affect our immune system? Would our bodies become so reliant on it that our immune systems would cease to be? This might happen over a long period of time, but I would think it would become dormant or non-existent. Would we then become more susceptible to disease if the tech suddenly stopped working? I think the topic is fascinating.
DD: What are a few nano-themed books/movies/other that have inspired you?
DB: Michael Crichton’s Prey. Farscape with the translator bots—injected nanobots that allow beings who speak different languages to understand each other. There is a plethora of sci-fi books and shows that incorporate nanotech, mostly used for healing.
DD: Name some of your favorite zombies - could be specific characters or just a zombie type.
DB: I like all types of zombies—fast and slow—but I prefer slow zombies. It just makes more sense that they would be slow and decrepit. I also loved 28 Days Later, but I do not consider those monsters/people to be undead. They are infected, living people. Now, if you have nanotech healing undead flesh, then I could see a serious case for fast-moving zombies.
DD: What can we expect from you in the future?
DB: These days I’ve been writing a lot of 80s-like slasher/creature feature fiction, but I’m now working on more serious, real-world stuff. I just completed a real-world horror/drama/crime fiction novel called Episodes of Violence that does get a little extreme at times, but it deals with real issues. It’s a dark, revenge tale. I also have a novella called Blue Demon releasing in October. It’s about an action figure that comes to life and doles out vengeance for the people it protects. Then I have a bizarro type of novella called Retch, about a man cursed to puke every time he has sex and right before he climaxes. He must find a way to end the curse or he will never be able to orgasm again. I have no idea where the idea came from, but I went with it.
Posted by Dave Dunwoody at 7:42 PM