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