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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time for some Zany...Interview with Steve Hockensmith, author of Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Alrighty, as promised in the Be My Guest with Jane Austen and Steve Hockensmith, I've got some fun, xany, interviewy goodness for ya from Mr. Steve Hockensmith, author of a number of books, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which you may be familiar with, as I gave it a brilliant BR review. :}
Speaking of, there was a little contest attached to that, as you may remember, to win a prize pack from Quirk Books, and hey!  two of you lovelies won!  Congrats, dears!

Now let's get to it: 


(<--- yes, there are many pictures I could have chosen of Steve, but his Twitter 'follow me' pic wins, hands down...)

Book Rat: You wrote a zombie novel, which is different from your norm; discuss.

Steve Hockensmith: Since I’ve done mysteries up to now, I’m more used to writing about dead people. The kind that just lie there while other (living) people talk about them, I mean. But it didn’t feel like a big switch to try my hand at horror. All my books have suspense and action in them. This time, the suspense and action just happened to involve reanimated corpses. I had a lot of fun with it, actually. I especially enjoyed the opportunities to think up unique zombies: There’s a drowned one tied to a rock, a slithery one that’s only a torso, etc. Murder mysteries can be dark, but this was something else entirely. Fortunately, it turned out my imagination’s even sicker than I’d previously thought!

BR: In writing a prequel to P&P&Z (and P&P, for that matter) you had an interesting position: your story hadn't been written yet, so you had more control in some ways, but you were writing toward two stories.  What was that like?  What was the most frustrating aspect of keeping the continuity, and what was the easiest?  

SH: I found the prequel aspect of it -- writing toward a foregone conclusion -- to be really helpful, actually. Sometimes, it can be hard to pin down exactly what a story’s about, but that wasn’t the case here. The whole time, I knew exactly where we were headed and why. And it was fun to find ways to work in continuity here and there -- to throw in little bits of backstory the fans would hopefully appreciate. Truthfully, I can’t think of any downsides. I loved writing a prequel!

BR: In reading DOD, I got the impression that you actually liked Jane Austen; it was playful, more like you were joking with her, not making her the joke.  Is this correct?  Were there lines you weren't willing to cross, or was Jane fair game?

SH: Thank you! That’s exactly the impression I’d want a reader to come away with. The dedication of the book says it all: “For Jane -- we kid because we love.” That’s not a joke. I poke some fun in Dawn of the Dreadfuls, sure, but on the whole I think it’s very respectful, because I do truly respect Jane. Despite all the humor, it’s not a zany spoof or what the English would call a “pisstake.” I’m taking the established characters and situations fairly seriously. I think I did cross the line a few times in the first draft -- some of the humor was over the top. But in the end, we pulled back on the wackiness a tad because we wanted readers to stay invested in the story. 

BR: If you could impose a zombie infestation on any other book, what would it be?  And if you could redo any other Jane work, with any other odd slant, what would it be?

SH: I keep thinking a zombie murder mystery would be great, because the victims would all be running around with knives sticking out of their backs or whatever. Before the detective could even examine a body for clues, he’d have to catch it. We’ll see if I ever get around to writing something like that, though. As for Jane, it’s hard to think of another mash-up or reimagining that someone else hasn’t done already. I might have another PPZ book in me, we’ll see, but beyond that Austen purists have nothing to fear from me!

BR: What's the future look like for you?  Plans for upcoming works?  Plans for bomb shelters to weather the zombie apocalypse (zombocalypse)?

SH: I’m finishing up my fifth “Holmes on the Range” mystery at the moment. (They’re books about 19th century cowboy brothers who set out to become detectives just like their hero, Sherlock Holmes.) After that, stay tuned....

BR: Worse place to face a dreadful?

SH: Zombieland pegged that. The bathroom, for sure.

BR: Oh, god yes!  One of the many bits of wisdom to be found in zombieland...
Would you rather:
 -- be overwhelmed by zombies who crack into you like crab claws, or be munched very slowly by 1 determined zombie?
 -- eat dinner with the odious, long-winded Mr Collins, or be said Collins' dinner?
 -- same question, Mrs. Bennet...
 -- same question, Lord Lumpley (man, I wanted to hit him in the throat; well done on that)

SH: The quicker the better, when it comes to dying, so I guess the zombie buffet would be my choice. And I’d pick dinner with Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet or Lord Lumpley over being dinner. If it were all three of them at once, though, I might have to reconsider.

BR: Top 5 tips for surviving in a world of dreadfuls?
1. Stay in shape (so you don’t run out of pep in the middle of a sprint).
2. Stock up on books (so you don’t have to leave your bunker just because you’re bored).
3. Join the NRA and start stockpiling weapons now. If you wait until the zombie hordes descend, it’ll be too late.
4. Learn to love Spam (because that’s what you’ll be eating for the next 10 years...unless you don’t run across any abandoned grocery stores, in which case you’d better learn to love rat).
5. Abandon hope and prepare to meet your doom. Why be all disappointed when you finally end up an hors d’oeuvres?

BR: Top 5 tips for surviving in Regency England, sans zombies?
1. Get rich.
2. Don’t get sick.
3. Don’t get hurt.
4. Don’t go outside (lest you should become sick or hurt).
5. Don’t become a hermit (lest you grow sickly and hurt yourself).

Gee...kinda sounds like good advice for 21st century America, don’t you think?

Well put.  Great stuff, Steve!  Thanks!

There you have it, folks.  Some good stuff there, no?  I thought so, too.  Hope you enjoyed it, and just for a teaser, this is not the last you'll be seeing of Mr. Hockensmith and DOD...

I leave you with one of my favorite book trailers in recent times; the scene with Dr. Keckilpenny and his zombie butterfly net made my day.  Enjoy:

1 comment:

  1. LOL-pisstake. great interview! fun to-do zombie lists. looking forward to the next dod segment in june ;-D


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