My Chat With Bowie Ibarra

I just finished “Down the Road” by Bowie Ibarra.  Let me tell you, it is not for the weak of stomach.  If a zombie novel can be considered “realistic,” then Bowie Ibarra has gotten himself on that short list of realistic zombie novels.  It is absolutely gross, and I mean that as a compliment!

I recently e-mailed Mr. Ibarra and here’s what he had to say about zombies, his work, his influences and more.

KJB: Down The Road doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to gore.  You stay and watch the zombie slaughter long after other writers would have moved on or cut away.

BI: Yeah, that’s true.  The way I see it, Romero always provided a ‘feast’ scene, as I like to call it.  It’s a scene in his movies where the zombies just munch out on people.  You got it after the truck blew up in “Night of the Living Dead”.  You got it when the bandits left in “Dawn of the Dead.”  In “Day of the Dead” when Miguel unleashed the Zeds into the underground base.  And you definitely will get that gory treat in my ‘Down theRoad’ series.
KJB: How much thought have you given to what it must be like to get eaten alive?
BI: A lot.  Back in the day when I first saw “Day…”, that final Savini mauling of Rhodes’ stooges by the zombies always gave me chills, because just like you say, they’re getting torn to pieces alive.  In fact, the terror the one dude that got his head ripped off really brought that feeling to the fore.  He kind of flips out, blasting zombies, sensing the doom, and starts to laugh.  But as they start tearing him apart, he starts to scream in terror.  I think that transition vocally really spells out the kind of intense pain it might feel like to be ripped apart.
KJB: I liked how you called your comments at the end the director’s commentary because it really felt like I was watching a gritty, handheld indie movie in my head.
BI: Yeah.  I think it was a cool addition suggested by the editor, Travis Adkins.  Readers should really check out Travis Adkins two novels from Permuted Press, “Twilight of the Dead”, and “Twilight of the Dead: Walking with the Dead”.
KJB: Considering your background in theater as well, do you treat your writing as a production, as something more than words on a page?
BI: Just like in theatre, not only are you trying to create atmosphere, emotion, and truth, but for me, you’re trying to also create pictures.  Writing is one of the most beautiful and abstract artforms in regards to creating pictures, because the picture the writer sees in their mind is and always will be different in the minds of the readers.  Like an abstract painting or a song, it will affect everyone differently.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t sculpt the picture, paint it, and let the abstract of clothes, environment, faces, and all that form in the head of the reader.
KJB: Are there any plays that have zombies?  Maybe you should write one.  Undeath of a Salesman, anyone?
BI: In fact, there are.  Nothing solid, but a short term goal is to write a ‘zombie apocalypse’ play.  That’s somewhere down the road (pun intended).

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark...oh wait, it's me."

KJB: The main character, George, shares a similar background with his creator, and you mention “writing what you know” in your commentary.  So how much of the Down the Road story was wish fulfillment?
BI: Hell, a lot of it.  It really is a fine example of a first outing of a young writer.
KJB: Like, ‘man I wish I could run over some cops!’
BI: That, I do.  The ‘bad cops’, though, mind you.  ;p
KJB:  Have you ever run over a cop?  I won’t tell if you have.
BI: No.  Well, not in the US, that is.   Also, I’m totally joking about running over a foreign cop thing.

Mounties don't count

KJB: You paint a pretty bleak picture of the swift fall of society and George often laments how everything has gone to hell.  Yet George himself also embraces the lawlessness just as much as everyone else when he needs to.  What is it about apocalypses (or regular disasters even) that bring out the worst in people?
BI: Survival.  Plain and simple.  In “The Fall of Austin”, the third book of the ‘Down the Road’ zombie horror series, a recurrent theme is the ‘rule change’.  It’s the concept that when the world ends or catastrophe strikes, people are going to do what they got to do to provide for themselves and their families.  So it’s not the ‘bad’ coming out, necessarily when it comes to survival.  It’s ‘bad’ when people in those circumstances, especially people in power or who have power, take advantage of others.
In fact, that’s what upsets people sometimes when they read the books. The portrayal of law enforcement, military, and other institutions in my stories is very cynical.  I see or hear about it every day, from local police to the highest offices in the land.  I personally don’t understand how people truly believe that people in power are all good.  When your vote or your money or your life is bought and sold daily, and you live high on the hog off the backs of the people who are just working to survive (outside of the zpoc), there will be good people who will do what they need for themselves and their families.  And there will also be bad people who will just look to do worse things.  Look at the “Occupy” movement or the right-wing co-opted “Tea Party” movement.  Both the right and the left see the corruption at the top and are taking stands against it.
All George is trying to do is survive.  It’s kill or be killed when the zpoc hits.
KJB: Is George’s hypocrisy something you were conscious of as the story progressed?
BI: Absolutely.  He’s human.  He’s not perfect.  People brought up how George prays like a Catholic, but then does such vicious or harsh things.  They think that because a person prays it means the person is a saint.  That’s completely wrong right there.  People pray because they have some kind of religious faith and need help for their human imperfections.  And George is not perfect in the least.  So he uses the religious tools he was taught to provide personal spiritual support for himself in his quest.
So, you could say ‘hypocrisy’, but it’s really imperfection.  It’s the same imperfection that lies in the heart of every human being, bar none.  Every one.
KJB: If you were at the farmhouse in Night of the Living Dead, would you stay upstairs or hide in the basement?
BI: That’s a tough one.  If I were by myself, I like being able to run and not being cornered.  But if I were with a group of people, I would definitely try to work together to find the solution that works best for everyone involved.
KJB: George’s story seems pretty cut and dry.  Are the other Down the Road novels companion pieces?  Does the overall story continue into a broader conclusion of the apocalyptic scenario?
BI: I would consider them companion pieces.  They are all individual stories and stand alone.  There is no order to read them in.  However, they all do have a common thread among them that connects the stories to all the other books. Many readers were able to find those connections, and truly enjoyed that aspect of the series.
KJB: Looks like you’re pretty big into pro wrestling.  Where do you stand on unionizing or having an offseason?  That industry chews people up and spits them out.  And not in the cool zombie way either.
BI: Yeah.  A union won’t happen.  I love the sport, but man those guys abuse themselves.  It’s an artform the way I see it.  But the structure of the current industry will never see a unionization or off-season.
And I love all those guys who wrestle. They truly sacrifice themselves for the industry, and it’s sad sometimes to see that ‘chewing up and spitting out’ occur.

Biting and chewing is the ECW Zombie's finishing move

KJB: We’re building a Bowie Ibarra billboard.  What are we promoting on it?
BI: Easy.  My official homepage.  A black background with ZombieBloodFights.com in white.  Or black on white.  It’s the website where fans can network with me, featuring a link to my Facebook page, YouTube page with all my book trailers, Twitter, blog, and other networking sites.  I encourage people to check it out and connect with me.  I’m a pretty cool guy to follow.
KJB: Last one.  Are you named after David Bowie?
BI: LOL.  No.  Not quite.  But its great to share a name with one of music’s greatest artists.

No relation

Advertisements

En annan positiv recension

http://www.swedishzombie.com/     I recently linked to an interview I did with swedishzombie.com.  Turns out, they also read it and wrote up a positive review.  It was in Swedish, so I took the liberty of running the text through google’s translator.  It mostly makes sense and is actually a pretty good summary.

 

From swedishzombie.com:

DJ Haddox is a postman. Or at least that is what he calls himself. He lives in what remains of New York. DJ is working on tracking down individuals on behalf of survivors in the city. There may be someone who had to leave his wife or father behind when fleeing from the living dead. Because zombies have taken over the world and only fragments of the human race has survived, hopfösta in small enclaves NY and Atlanta. We’re talking a few thousand people. It is rarely if ever as a DJ will find someone alive. But he takes his job seriously and always makes sure to bring something back, a letter or a photo. So to those who must live on without a loved and missed family member can make trades. Hence the self-imposed title of “mailman.”
In Atlanta, which they keep in touch with via radio, announced that scientists have found a vaccine against the zombie infection. But in exchange for this, they want some young, beautiful and above all women of childbearing potential. Haddox has been commissioned by New York’s president to comply with the aircraft that will deliver the elect women as payment for the zombie cure. Then follows a kalabalikartad journey both in the air and then down to the ground. And Haddox not only struggling with his doubts over human trafficking, but also meets including an amusing cannibal, a crazy cult leader and his congregation, and a clever guy who has so far done well alone in a kakfabrik. Zombie vaccine then? Without going into details, I can only promise that everything just gets worse and worse.
This is generally a fun book. Burke has some good ideas. As the Haddox use a dog during their mission. Small-size dogs that have the task of attracting any zombies, while her master enters a building. The dogs then go on like hot cakes is another story. The emphasis is however on the humor. If one did not tolerate the idea of ​​a zombie joysticks on an airplane you can see this review as a warning. Certainly there are serious undertones, as the letters to bereaved relatives, but others, who trade in fertile women are treated more as a bit odd feature of the new world. Ideally, the book in the chapter that describes the meeting with various survivors. Burke has created a bunch of really weird and funny characters.
The Last Mailman is a good first novel and is ideal for those who want a humorous and action-emphasized entertainment in a few hours. The author is careful to never let the pace be too slow and the replicas are often catchy. As cannibal old man who likes to barbecue zombies, making the other angry: “Oh, They can eat us, but we can not them?”

10 Questions For Eloise J. Knapp

I’m starting to get the feeling that I have to move.  For one thing, I’m only a couple of hours away from NYC where EVERYTHING happens.  Monsters, aliens, zombies, Godzillas. New York has a big target painted on it and I’m a little too close for comfort.  Secondly, if I’m making a list of people I want to endure the apocalypse with, it’s getting a little west coast biased.  When Tony Faville kicks me out of the Kings of the Dead, I’m going to wander around Seattle looking for Eloise Knapp.  Though if you’ve read her debut novel, The Undead Situation, you know that might not be the best idea either.  Her world is definitely every man for himself.  And one kick-ass woman.

I ask, Eloise answers…now:

KJB:  The Undead Situation.  It’s kind of out there, even within the zombie genre.  I’m friends with you on facebook and you look normal.  So where did this crazy novel come from?

EJK: To spit out the phrase we all know so well; don’t judge a book by its cover. My outward persona doesn’t reflect on what I can write, or where my imagination takes me. My writing comes from an entirely different part of me, one that I embrace fully while still maintaining that “normal” facade people see. I don’t need to look, speak, or act like a weirdo to write like one.

I bought the Kindle version just to avoid having this guy stare at me from the bookshelf

KJB: Your main character, Cyrus, seems to struggle with whether or not he is a sociopath.  Often it seems like he merely believes he would be better off if that were the case.  Is this how you feel as well?  The whole narrative, to me, comes off as pro-sociopath, at least within the confines of a zombie apocalypse.

EJK: Yes, I strongly believe the people who would be the most successful during the apocalypse are those who aren’t afraid to put themselves first, no matter what. What zombie movie doesn’t have a character make some kind of sacrifice, or die because of someone’s action? (Don’t answer that, I know some expert is going to name a movie…)  Cyrus struggles with whether or not he truly is a sociopath. He wants to be one. He knows life would be easier if he was, for example, more like Blaze who really does do whatever she wants despite social, external influences. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I want to become a sociopath in case of the apocalypse, but I’d glean something from them if I wanted to survive.

Challenge Accepted! The serial killer in Die-ner doesn't help anyone!

KJB: If Cyrus has any redeemable qualities, one of them has to be his love for his pet ferret.  Are you a pet owner yourself?  If The Undead Situation were to be made into a cartoon, should Pickle be granted the power of speech?  I personally think the pool scene would be improved if Pickle stuck his head out, spit a stream of water that has a fish swimming in it, and said, “I shoulda brought a towel!  Geesh!”

EJK:  I am a pet owner, but I’m a cats only person. And no, noooo! If it got made into a cartoon I wouldn’t want it to be silly. But yes, if we had to go the silly route, it would be interesting to see what kind of stuff Pickle would say. I’m sure she’d have some insightful commentary on anything and everything.

KJB:  Yeah, falling in a pool is always very serious in cartoons.  Forget I mentioned it.

Cyrus also loves candy.  What are some of your favorite candies?  You mention that Cyrus eats junk to cope with stress.  What bad habits do you yourself have, whether they involve stress or not?

EJK:  Cyrus has a major sweet tooth, yes. He loves all candies though, but that’s where our similarities end. I’m mostly a chocolate eater and rarely eat sugar candies, whereas those are Cyrus’ favorite. My worst bad habit is stress related. Whenever someone makes me mad I take it out on another person by being mean/snappy to them. Hard to admit, but it’s true. I try stopping myself, but it’s so engrained it proves to be a challenge.

KJB:  There’s a fine line we walk as creators of fiction where we need our Hero to be bad-ass, but if he’s too good, then there’s no conflict.  Bad things have to keep happening in order to propel the story.  Did you consciously say ” I’m going to create this asshole & then take him down a peg every chance I get?”  Or did you realize as the story went on that Cyrus needed to be somewhat incompetent in order for stuff to happen?

EJK: Neither. The story happened naturally. I never had to turn off God mode because Cyrus never had it on (uh-oh, gamer reference? Ha!). As writers of the genre we all (hopefully) naturally generate conflict in a story; you don’t decide. You know it has to happen so it does. I hope that makes some small amount of sense…

KJB:  Not at all.  Now, this is not a question.  I’m going to let you catch your breath and promote anything you want cuz I know you’ve got a lot of stuff going on as far as projects and creativity and whatnot.

EJK: Oh man, Z Magazine all the way! Z Magazine is one of my most labor intensive but rewarding projects. I do 100% of the design, and the majority of the photography and art. It’s like a super artistic, abstract anthology. It’s a magazine that is supposed to be written by zombies for zombies, so the articles and ads are from the perspective of intelligent zombies. We have it on Nook and Kindle, though the best way to view it (and I’m so serious about this) is in print. I also finished the second draft of The Undead Haze, which is a sequel to The Undead Situation.

Does it have Zombie Goofus & Gallant?

KJB:  I assume your sequel will continue right where you ended the first book.  Will there be more point of view shifts or will it again be 95% Cyrus?  Also, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of complaints regarding the big, honking loose end you left behind right in the middle of the book.  Will that be addressed?

EJK: Hmm, continue right where it left off? It doesn’t, actually. It takes place a few months after the first one ends. Technically you can read the second book without having to read the first and still know what’s going on. There will be another pov shift, but just one as it was in the first book. People sometimes complain that they don’t like it, but you know what? I like it; it makes sense for me and the story, and feels right so it stays. What loose ends are you talking about? If they’re the ones I think (Gabe/Blaze) then I can give you a loose yes, otherwise… depends on what loose end you’re referring to.

KJB:  Yeah, that’s what I meant.

What’s your typical day like?  Has your life or routine changed at all since becoming a big time published author?

EJK:  Big time published author? Ha, no… I don’t think I’m big time quite yet! Nothing has changed for the most part. I’ve met great people at conventions and all that, but otherwise I do the same stuff I’ve always done. You know, kill zombies, clean my guns, and act suspicious…. just kidding! I go to school, the gym, and visit with my family. I might spend a little more time online doing design, networking, etc., but otherwise everything is the same. When I’m a millionaire and have my books made into movies, I’ll get back to you. 

KJB:  What percentage of your readers are disappointed that The Undead Situation is not a zombified Jersey Shore spoof?

EJK:  Grrr, how dare you bring that up! But really, the timeline doesn’t match up. This question prompted me to do the research. The first season of Jersey Shore aired December 3rd 2009. My book also (huge coincidence) launched for Kindle on December 3rd, 2009. But since I started writing my book in 2007, and I doubt production [of] Jersey Shore started then. Clearly it was my idea first! Anyway, now that that’s out of the way… some people do comment and ask if it’s about the Situation being a zombie. They aren’t disappointed when I say it isn’t, but it makes me mad they ever expected it to be to begin with.

Zombies have better personalities

KJB:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?  It can be about anything.  This is the last question, so be inspiring and go out with some impact.

EJK:  Good grief, the pressure is on. It took me two days of pondering this question and I finally have an answer, albeit an abstract one. My entire life my family has supported every hobby or interest I’ve ever pursued. If I decided I wanted to learn how to knit or play the piano, they would support it just as much as they would me going out to shoot with my uncles or write zombie novels. It’s been that way my whole life, and I think they were indirectly giving me advice the whole time. They were teaching me to never restrict my interests because they weren’t cut of the same fabric. I was taught to be indiscriminate when it comes to my hobbies, which is how I’ve gotten to where I am in life.

KJB: I think you should learn how to knit pianos.  Thanks, Eloise!  Now for the goods:

Buy The Undead Situation on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Situation-Eloise-J-Knapp/dp/1934861588/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326346344&sr=8-1

Buy Z Magazine on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0062FUSRM/ref=sc_pgp__m_A2AOJ9HAU7FBYV_1?ie=UTF8&m=A2AOJ9HAU7FBYV&n=&s=&v=glance

Eloise’s official site, oddly enough, is eloisejknapp.com.

Did you think I was kidding about the kicking ass?

Coming Attractions

One of the best parts of this wild and crazy ride toward modest success as an author has been the new friends I’ve made and am still making.  I really enjoyed the interviews I conducted with some of them and wanted to do more.  And man, oh man, did my new comrades at Permuted Press answer the call.  My facebook alerts have been ringing off the hook.

Here is the murderer’s row of interviews I have lined up:

  • Jessica Meigs, author of The Becoming trilogy is such a good sport she has agreed to a follow-up interview featuring some questions I guarantee no one has ever asked her before.
  • Eloise J. Knapp (the J stands for Jumanji), author of The Undead Situation answers the tough questions.  We WILL find out what her favorite kind of candy is, damn it.
  • Bowie Ibarra, will take us Down the Road and will hopefully stop when we have to pee.
  • Zombie/superhero mash-up superstar Peter Clines will join me for a no-holds-barred geek-off as we discuss both zombies AND super heroes, believe it or not.
  • Rise, rise, rise (it’s a trilogy) for Gareth Wood!
  • Iain McKinnon, will take time out from ruling over the Domain of the Dead to answer some of my silly questions.
  • The incomparable Kim Paffenroth will be here!  We have a great show.  Stay tuned!  The digital short will probably be kind of funny.
  • Brace yourself.  Craig DiLouie!  THE Craig DiLouie will join me to talk about which season of Desperate Housewives was the best.  Maybe.  I haven’t started preparing the questions yet.
  • Bryan Hall will tell us what’s in Containment Room 7.  It’s probably scary!

Zombie Movie Night January ’12

2012 begins and the Zombie Movie Train keeps right on rolling along with no end in sight.  Next stop: Australia.  The film is Primal, which is technically about some evil ancient force that feeds on blood and rape, but I felt it qualifies as a zombie film, since said evil force turns humans into sharp-teethed super monsters that eat other people.  If that’s not a zombie, then you can just go to hell!  Oh, sorry, let loose with a primal urge for a moment there…

It’s the basic set-up here: group of good-lookin’ young people set off for adventure in the wilderness and things go horribly wrong.  Guess what happens to the first woman who has sex.  Give up?  She goes skinny dipping and turns into the aforementioned monster thanks to some water that has been tainted by the spilled blood of her friend, which inadvertantly ressurrected the evil force inside a cave they passed through.  Still with me?

The movie is pretty well-acted and thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The woman who turned into the killer primal beast seemed to be having a lot of fun with the role as she got to grunt and jump and howl an awful lot.  This is mostly a one monster show.  The climax degenerates into a weird escape through the cave for our last heroine standing that features slimy cave-tongues, a giant bad-CGI slug-thing and attempted slug-on-woman rape.  This stupidness almost ruins the movie, but it reallly doesn’t last long enough to do too much damage to my overall enjoyment.  It was a fun little monster flick that ultimately ended up in our Top 20.  My grade is a B+

Girls Gone Wild: Australia

 

Next up, it was time for another installment of “How Crazy is Japan?”  In theory, I enjoy me some wackiness from the Asian cultures but Zombie Movie Night hasn’t had much luck with it.  Bio-Zombie was pretty great, but Battle Girl and Vs. were both disappointingly boring.  Could Wild Zero swing things back in the good direction?

The short answer is NO.  The central problem is that there is so much Japanese wackiness that it impedes what is going on.  Right from the start, I really had no idea who I was supposed to be rooting for, or even what was going on.  There are about a dozen scenes of just plain weirdness before we even see our first zombie.  I like my wackiness to stay within the context of the story, such as in SARS Wars, but here, it takes the place of character development and plot.  Things eventually pick up a little when all the different threads and characters start coming together, but by the time this happened, it was way too late.  I was already checked out.  I don’t know, maybe this is a good movie in Japan that got lost in translation…but I doubt it.  The grade is C-.

I chose this picture because it included the only dialogue that made any sense in the whole movie.