Over the month I’ll be looking at a bunch of Aussie authors who write zombie fiction. Why? Well I do run Aussie Author Month myself, and while there are few Aussie names out there for zombies, they are damned good ones! Aussie Author Month also supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, so please help out if you can, whether by posting about it or donating.
First up, my mate Chuck McKenzie!
Why do zombies make good bad guys?
I find zombies far creepier, because they’re really just ordinary people who have been stripped of everything that makes them human. And generally, in fiction or the media, zombies form a sort of group organism that can’t be fought effectively by conventional means – no matter how many individual zombies you destroy, there are always more zombies coming at you, so there’s a sense of dreadful inevitability surrounding the prospect of a zombie attack.
Supernatural or biological zombies?
I much prefer biological zombies, as I find them more credible, and therefore much scarier. That said, there’s definitely a place for supernatural back-from-the-dead-seeking-revenge zombies on the frightometer. I also find it very effective when the (living) protagonists in a zombie tale have no real idea of why the zombies have arisen, again, because it’s credible.
What is your favourite/most influential zombie text and why?
The zombie book that most terrified me when I was younger was Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. It just sums up everything that’s terrifying about zombies – the loss of ‘self’, the transformation of loved ones into inhuman monsters, and the human inability to cope with death. More recently, I’d rate the novels of Mira Grant, Peter Clines, Tony Monchinski, Craig DiLouie, Walter Greatshell, Jonathan Maberry and Joe McKinney as the most consistently engrossing, terrifying and original in the genre. Jason Fischer and Felicity Dowker are also doing disturbing things in zombie fiction, and anything z-related by Robert Hood is a must-read.
Tell us about your latest/favourite story you’ve written on zombies and what you do to them
For all that I’m a huge zombie obsessive, I’ve not actually written much zombie fiction. My award-nominated short story, ‘The Mark of His Hands’, was a vodou zombie tale that put an alternate (and hopefully scary) spin on a major historical religious event. It’s probably my favourite zombie-related tale. I also have a soft spot for ‘Confessions of a Pod Person’ (Nys: Which you can buy here), which is about alien replicates (with the story serving as a sequal of sorts to Jack Finney’s classic horror/sf tale, The Body Snatchers) rather than zombies proper, but which examines many of the tropes and fears associated with the walking dead.
Do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?
When the walking dead come for me, I shall be employing the Ancient Babylonian art of cowering and screaming for help.