I’m beyond thrilled to have Jonathan Maberry on the blog today as part of his Dead of Night Shambling Blog Tour! As you may know, Jonathan is the author of the Joe Ledger series, the super popular YA zombie series with Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay, and quite a few other novels, not to mention, he’s also a comic book guru. Yeah, he’s a busy, busy guy, so I’m thrilled that he took the time to answer my questions! Also, be sure to visit all of his tour stops for lots of cool posts and interviews, and of course, do check out Dead of Night, because it’s the awesome. You can also read an excerpt of Dead of Night-then I dare you not to snag a copy!
Please welcome Jonathan back to the blog!
Jonathan, you’re an old hand at writing zombies, with Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, the Joe Ledger series, and in the brand new Dead of Night. What direction do you see the genre going in?
The zombie pop culture genre has been staging a quietly subversive revolution for decades. Unlike most monster stories, zombie stories aren’t about zombies. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone.)
The thing is, zombie stories have always been about something else. George Romero’s films have all been built on a foundation of metaphor. Racism in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, rampant American consumerism in DAWN OF THE DEAD, the build-up of the Reagan military-industrial complex for DAY OF THE DEAD, and so on. The top zombie novels are the same. WORLD WAR Z is an indictment of the way in which politics and greed could create the right circumstances to allow a global pandemic to spread. Joe McKinney’s DEAD CITY takes an unflinching look at how the government let down the people of the Gulf Coast region during and after Katrina. And so on.
With my novel, DEAD OF NIGHT, I use the set-up of a zombie outbreak to explore the dangers of bioweapons research. And to explore issues of abandonment. Among other things.
So…why do we use zombies as stand-ins for real world fears? Largely because a lot of people wouldn’t read about bird flu or rampant consumerism or other social issues, but they will flock to a good zombie story. This has been the role of storytelling since it was invented.
Do you think it will just keep increasing in popularity?
Because the zombie has no personality, that monster is going to continue to be used as a vehicle for telling all sorts of important stories. There’s no bottom to that fishing hole. All that it requires is that the storytellers bring their A-game. So far…so good.
Do you have plans for more books featuring the Dead of Night characters/world?
DEAD OF NIGHT was written as a standalone, however there’s a chance I’ll write another novel down the line. I left it open for that.
In the meantime, there’s another story coming out that takes place at the same time but with different characters. That story is “Jack and Jill” and it will be in the anthology, 21ST CENTURY DEAD, edited by Christopher Golden. The anthology also includes new zombie stories by an A-list of writers including Orson Scott Card, China Mieville, Simon R. Green, Daniel H. Wilson, Elizabeth Hand, Dan Chaon, Duane Swiercyznski, Caitlin Kittredge, Brian Keene, Amber Benson, S.G. Browne, Thomas E. Sniegoski, and—with his first published prose—Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The anthology debuts in July.
Another short story, “Chokepoint” will be included in an online magazines. Details about that will be posted soon.
What are some of your favorite zombie novels/stories?
My favorite zombie movie of all time is the unrated director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD. I’ve watched it countless times. I also love the first four Romero films (of course!), Tom Savini’s under-rated 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the British flick, THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE, the great zomromcom SHAUN OF THE DEAD and (believe it or not), the first RESIDENT EVIL FLICK.
I already mentioned some of my favorite zombie novels, but really I have about a hundred favorites. I love zombie novels. I devour them.
And I’m a longtime fan of THE WALKING DEAD comic book and the TV series.
Speaking of The Walking Dead… What do you think of Season 2 so far?
I love the second season of THE WALKING DEAD for the same reason that a lot of folks criticize it: it’s all about character development. The comic is all about character development, and they’re doing a brilliant job of giving us a real story about real people. Much as the fanboy in me wants to see zombie mayhem, it’s always a less-is-more approach that works for me.
There was a bit of zombie action in the Joe Ledger series, and because I love it, I have to ask: Can you give us a taste of what Joe will be up to in Assassin’s Code (out this year)?
After having faced zombies in PATIENT ZERO, transgenic super-soldiers and immortal Nazis in THE DRAGON FACTORY, and the world’s most dangerous secret society in THE KING OF PLAGUES, Joe Ledger faces a another classic monster in ASSASSIN’S CODE. This time he’s pitted against warring religious secret societies and a terrorist campaign waged by genetically-engineered vampire assassins.
This is a special treat for me because my first three novels (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING), were about vampires. I love vampires. Scary ones –not romantic ones. I’ve written half a dozen nonfiction books about vampires and there are so many scary species of them in myth and legend. I borrowed some of that to build the Order of the Red Knights for ASSASSIN’S CODE. It was especially fun to pit Joe Ledger against opponents who are a whole lot faster and stronger than him.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
ASSASSIN’S CODE. A holy war fought with genetically-engineered vampire assassins. Fun stuff.
Then in May, V WARS debuts. It’s a shared-world vampire anthology that I cooked up and edited. It features novellas by Nancy Holder, Scott Nicholson, John Everson, Yvonne Navarro, Gregory Frost, Keith DeCandido, and James A. Moore.
The third in my post-apocalyptic zombie series for teens, FLESH & BONE, debuts in September.
Plus I have a slew of short stories coming out this year. One just hit stores, “The Death Song of Dwar Guntha”, a John Carter of Mars story in the anthology UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS (in hardcover from Simon & Schuster), and I’ll have a fantasy novelette, “Spellcaster 2.0”, in AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE, an anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kellner (September 4 from Ace). And lots of others. Even a story in an anthology called BEFORE PLAN 9: Plans 1 Through 8 From Outer Space.
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer. He’s the author of many novels including Assassin’s Code, Dead of Night, Patient Zero and Rot & Ruin. His nonfiction books on topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop-culture. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, and textbooks. Jonathan continues to teach the celebrated Experimental Writing for Teens class, which he created. He founded the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founded The Liars Club; and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries, as well as a keynote speaker and guest of honor at major writers and genre conferences. Jonathan lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sara and their son, Sam. Visit him online at www.jonathanmaberry.com and on Twitter and Facebook.
Praise for Dead of Night:
“Jonathan Maberry is the top gun when it comes to zombies, and with DEAD OF NIGHT, he’s at the top of his game. Frankly, I’m shocked by how effortlessly he moves between the lofty intellectual heights of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and the savage carnality of the kill. DEAD OF NIGHT develops with the fevered pace of a manhunt, and yet still manages to hit all the right notes. Strap in, because Maberry’s latest is one hell of a wild ride. I loved it.” – Joe McKinney, author of DEAD CITY and FLESH EATERS
“Jonathan Maberry has created an homage to death itself and an homage to the undead that is as poetic as it is terrifying. It’s a brand new and intriguingly fresh slant on the zombie genre that we all love!” -John A. Russo co-screenwriter of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
“Maberry is a master at writing scenes that surge and hum with tension. The pacing is relentless. He presses the accelerator to the floor and never lets up, taking you on a ride that leaves your heart pounding. It’s almost impossible to put this book down. Dead of Night is an excellent read.” —S.G. Browne, author of BREATHERS
“It would be enough to say that Jonathan Maberry had topped himself yet again with an epic zombie novel that is as much fun as it is terrifying. But that he has also created a story of such tremendous heart and social relevance only further cements his place as a master of the genre. It also doesn’t hurt that in DEAD OF NIGHT he has created one of the most compelling heroines I’ve read in years. Dead of Night blew me away!” –Ryan Brown – Author of PLAY DEAD
“Once again, Jonathan Maberry does what he does best; Take proven science, synthesize it and create something truly terrifying. In DEAD OF NIGHT, Maberry lays the groundwork for a Bioweapon that could very well create zombies in the real world. Combining great characters (I fell in love with Dez Fox from the moment she was introduced) and taut, blindingly fast action, DEAD OF NIGHT, is a runaway bullet train of a ride. This is Jonathan Maberry’s best writing yet.” –Greg Schauer, owner Between Books, Claymont, DE
“Dead of Night stands drooped head and lurching shoulders above most zombie novels. The nightmare increases exponentially – from minor outbreak to major crisis with unstoppable speed, building to a heart-stopping climax you won’t be able to put down.” –David Moody, author of the HATER and AUTUMN books