Interview: Scott Kenemore, author of Zombie, Indiana

Please welcome Scott Kenemore to the blog! Scott dropped by to talk about his new book, ZOMBIE, INDIANA, and more!

scottkenemoreThe 3rd book in your Zombie series, ZOMBIE, INDIANA, just came out! Will you tell us a little about it?
Absolutely. This book is the tale of a zombie attack on the state of Indiana, where I grew up. One of the three main protagonists is the governor of the state, and much of the story is told from his perspective. I feel like a lot of zombie novels and movies dance with the idea of what “headquarters” might be doing during a zombie outbreak—how are the government and armed forces faring?—but it’s usually a very small part of the tale. I wanted to write something I had never seen represented—a zombie tale where fully one third of the story takes place at the highest echelons of state government, and where the reader sees exactly what is going on at the governmental level as well as on the ground and out in the communities.

Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I was born in New York, and grew up in the American Midwest. I studied creative writing at Kenyon College and Columbia University. I’ve always liked writing, and horror writing especially. I think the formative creative moment for me was bicycling to my local library at age 10 and checking out my first book by H.P. Lovecraft, whom I’d heard referenced by other writers I liked, and mentioned in role-playing games. I remember reading two stories—“In the Vaults” and “Pickman’s Model”—setting down the book, and thinking to myself: “This might be the best thing anyone has ever done, ever.” As an adult, I have continued to feel largely the same way.

zombie indianaWhat’s one of the first things you remember writing?
I can remember trying to write my own imitations of Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was about 8. I’d glue pictures of monsters to the yellow legal pads I wrote on to serve as the illustrations.

What kind of research have you done for the Zombie series, and what have you enjoyed most about writing it?
I’ve lived for at least 2 years in every state in the Zombie series. For Zombie, Indiana, I went back and scouted locations I wanted to use, including downtown Indianapolis, Southern Indiana, and the caverns along the border with Kentucky.

Why horror, and why zombies? Why do you think zombies are so popular in books and film?
I’ve always liked horror. I think that horror novels—and artworks, comics, and movies—plumb areas of the psyche that are special and deserve our attention. I think that a lot of mainstream, non-genre writing is sort of like lithium; it takes away the lows but also the highs. I feel like if you want to explore the really remarkable aspects of the human experience, you need a spectrum where very terrible, in addition to very wonderful, things are able to happen. In particular, I am attracted to horror that involves a shift of paradigm in which the narrator or protagonist realizes he or she has been very, very wrong about something he or she thought they knew for certain. Examples of this would include almost all of Lovecraft, and stories like Poe’s “Some Words with a Mummy.”
I think zombies are having a cultural moment right now because it’s hard times, and they are a blue collar kind of monster. A monster that fits in with a recession. They aren’t fancy. There’s not a lot of foreplay to them. They’re the Joe Six-Packs of the monster world.

What authors have influenced you the most in your work?
Lovecraft, Poe, John C. Gardner, Borges, Conan Doyle, Hugo, Kelly Link, Stephen King, Tim Powers, Toni Cade Bambara, Raymond Carver, Allan Moore, Gore Vidal, Ramsey Campbell, Robert W. Chambers, Charles W. Chesnutt, P.F. Kluge, Peter Straub, John Horner Jacobs, Laird Barron, and many others.

If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Great question. Probably “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” by H.P. Lovecraft.

What are you currently reading? Are there any books that you’re particularly looking forward to this year?
Right now I’m halfway through Charles Palliser’s new novel, Rustication. I’ve been a Palliser fan for years. I think Betrayals might be the most criminally underrated book of all time!

I recently inherited a collection of the complete De Maupassant short stories from a relative who passed. It was printed in 1910 and is about 12 volumes long. I will probably start that next.

What’s next for you?
I have a novel about a haunted hotel coming out in October of this year, also from Skyhorse/Talos.

Keep up with Scott: Website

Read an excerpt from ZOMBIE, INDIANA

In the third book of his Zombie series, Scott Kenemore brings the explosive horror thriller of an undead outbreak in the city of Indianapolis. Zombie, Indiana takes place during the same timeline as the outbreaks in his books Zombie, Ohio and Zombie, Illinois, and has the same punch as the previous two.

Zombie, Indiana explores the impact of an invading zombie horde on a trio of Hoosier protagonists . . . each of whom have some dark secrets to keep. When the governor’s daughter mysteriously disappears on a field trip, IMPD Special Sergeant James Nolan, scholarship student Kesha Washington, and Governor Hank Burleson must all come together not only to find the governor’s daughter, but also to undertake a quest to redeem the very soul of the state itself . . . all while under constant attack from the living dead.

With humorous, memorable characters, tense action sequences, and brutal zombie violence, Zombie, Indiana will put readers in mind of some of the most compelling works of popular fiction. At once a mystery, a thriller, and a horror novel, Kenemore strikes again with this rollicking tour through America’s heartland that is nothing but a tour de force for zombie fiction fans!

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