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.
This time is Holly Kench, part of a new initiative called In Fabula-Divinos with Nicole Murphy. We’ll find out more about In Fabula-Divinos after Holly’s interview.
Why do zombies make good bad guys?
You mean the best bad guys?!
The fact that they are neither alive nor truly dead plays on many of our societal fears, and I think this is the essence of their horror. Their ‘inbetween-ness’ is fundamentally discomforting, and an ability to create a sense of unease is always a great characteristic in a good bad guy.
For me personally, though, zombies are intrinsically funny and terrifying, and I don’t think there could be a better combination of attributes for the perfect villain.
What are the limits of classifying a zombie?
I like my zombies undead, rotting, without a care in the world other than the desire for human flesh.
The thought of zombies with a romantic agenda makes me cringe. Zombies don’t care about romance, they care about eating people. This is, again, part of why they are such good bad guys. They are the people we used to love, but who can’t love us anymore, and instead want to eat us.
Physically, I’m not such a purist. While I think the classic slow, uncoordinated zombies are both funnier and scarier, I’m not opposed to fast zombies, especially if a reason for their speed is given. (I liked the idea in Eloise J. Knapp’s “The Undead Situation” that zombies only become slow once rigamortis sets in, but, until then, anything goes!)
What is your favourite/most influential zombie text and why?
That’s a hard one, because I just love the whole genre (some texts more than others), but I think the entire concept of zombies (and their various incarnations) influences me more than any one text.
Certainly, there’s no going past Max Brooks’ “The Zombie Survival Guide” in terms of detailed survival advice. It is hilarious, but also really clever. He has a survival plan worked out down to the last firearm and escape vehicle.
I have to admit that the “Resident Evil” films (especially the first) are comfort food to me, like a fluffy blanket or a tub of ice-cream. My current favourite text (film or novel) at the moment, though, would have to be “Planet Terror”. It asks a lot of questions about so many issues that are close to my heart (including feminism), and uses zombies to achieve it! Apart from anything else, it’s also really funny. I just love it. Unfortunately, I think I’m the only person I know who feels this way. Everyone else I force to watch it seems to find it either ‘offensive’ or just ‘weird’, but then, there’s no pleasing some people.
Tell us about “The Secret Life of a Zombie fan”
“The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan” is about two zombie enthusiasts who are excited by the thought of the apocalypse, and who believe that they are ready to deal with any zombies headed their way. They think they have a good plan, but when the apocalypse arrives, they discover that it’s not quite what they expected.
What are your plans for the zombie apocalypse?
I’d like to think that I’d take the zombie apocalypse head on. However, without the assistance of a machine gun for a leg (like Cherry Darling), I expect I will end up hiding under my bed and eating my weight in chocolate, while awaiting my likely fate as a zombie’s dinner.
And now to find out more about In Fabula-Divinos with the project founder, Nicole Murphy:
What is In fabula-divinos?
In fabula-divinos (Latin for The tale-tellers) is a project I devised to combine three passions of mine – editing, teaching and paying it forward.
I’ve been really lucky over my writing career to have some great teachers and mentors (and I still do) and I wanted to find a way to give newer writers a hand.
At the same time, I wanted to get back into editing. I love writing, I’ll never stop, but I really enjoy editing as well – taking a story, working out the good and the bad and then helping an author see that and fix it. Plus there’s always the glow that comes from making another person happy.
Over time, all those things coalesced into In fabula-divinos. Here’s how it works – I choose one story a month and I work with the author to polish it, giving them as close an experience of a professional edit as possible. At the end of the month, the story gets published at the website (http://thetaletellers.wordpress.com). Rinse and repeat with a new story
After a year, I’ll gather the twelve stories and, along with some friends that I’m going to con into taking part, I’ll publish an anthology. My hope is the sales of that anthology will help fund the continuation of the project.
Each participating author gets $100 and if the anthologies take off, they’ll get a percentage of the profits as well.
Why did you choose Holly’s story?
Firstly, Holly’s story appealed because of the end. It’s got a twist that you won’t see coming Second, it was a toss-up between her story and another and I decided that the first story I chose for In fabula-divinos needed to say something about me and the project. Holly was a woman, and Australian, and that got her over the line for this time.
What do zombies mean to you?
The thing that gets me about zombies is the wondering about how much of the original person is still in there. How aware are they of what they’re doing, what they’ve become? I think that’s why for me, my favourite zombie story is Felicity Gray’s Bread and Circuses, in Scary Kisses. I’ve just finished reading Jason Fischer’s zombie novellas turned novel, and the re-humans are in a similar boat for me – terrifying that they may have known all along what they’d done. That is really horrifying.