S.P. Durnin is the author of Keep Your Crowbar Handy (which we reviewed here) and is also an ongoing contributor on Buy Zombie.
Can you provide a brief summary of your novel, Keep Your Crowbar Handy (KyCH)?
“Sure thing. Think of KyCH as an ‘action/adventure zombie-mance’. It centers around a group of people (about a third of which new to each other prior to civilization going belly-up) trying to survive in a world pretty much owned of the shambling dead. Now, while there’s plenty of brain-smashin’, gore-soaked goodness in the novel, I tried to primarily focus on the interactions between the survivors of the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I chose to go that route because if I personally can’t identify with at least one character in a novel, I tend to not enjoy it very much.”
What was your motivation(s) to write in the horror/apocalyptic genre as this is your first foray into that genre?
“Honestly? Pure hate. Some might think “Oh, he wrote a zombie novel. He must really like zombies”. Nope. I hate em. I hate the thought of them. I can’t think of anything worse than the people I care about dying, then getting back up and trying to eat everyone else. That would probably fracture my psyche and either: 1- turn me a raving lunatic, or 2- change me into someone I wouldn’t like at all. Someone who’d do nearly anything to survive and take revenge on the mobile dead, because everything he cared about was gone… I don’t like to think about that very much, but to stay honest as an author I have to. It’s more than a little disturbing.”
What did you find difficult to accomplish within your book? The research, character development and arcs, regional locations, etc?
“Ha-ha-ha!!! Oh my god. The locations. The locations! Working with the local, Ohio based region was a piece of cake, along with the other areas I’ve actually been to, but let me just say that Google Earth is your friend. Especially the ‘street view’ in many cases. That’s because every, single location in ‘Keep Your Crowbar Handy…’, every town, every street, every building (everywhere!) actually exists in the real world. Hell, if someone really felt like it, they could follow the survivor’s route (beginning in Columbus, Ohio) and actually recognize everything along the way.”
How was the experience of seeing your work move from an idea to a rough draft to the finished product?
“Surprising to say the least. I never thought so many others would actually be so interested in KyCH. I really just wanted to write the kind of novel I’d like to read myself (if I wasn’t the one writing it, that is), and it seems that there are a lot of people out there who were waiting for the same type of story. I was shocked beyond words when the very first Amazon review went up, and it was a 5-star. I literally could not believe it.”
When you sit down and write what is your perfect writing environment, i.e., quiet, music, a specific room in the house? What helps get you in the mood? Watching classic horror films or…?
“I’d love to say I have some cool system that allows me to focus on the ‘dead in me head’ but if I’m to be honest, I really don’t understand where the act of creation comes from. I don’t focus, I don’t ‘tune-in and turn-on’, I don’t ‘become one with the cosmos’. I just turn on the laptop wherever I happen to be (usually at home), grab my smokes, and let the characters loose in my head. It’s almost like I’m watching a movie, or someone’s life as an incorporeal observer, and I just document what I see. ”
Who are 5 people, besides immediate family and nearby friends that you would want to be stuck or in a group with during an apocalyptic event not exactly a zombie outbreak but something that would affect life as you know it on a global scale? Why?
“Only 5 other people? And not family or friends? Hmmm… Well, I’d have to say I’d choose the following (in no particular order mind you):
- Michelle Viscusi, from Top Shot Season 4. That woman is a great shot.
- Chuck Norris. Because come on… it’s Chuck Norris.
- Gina Carano. Martial Arts enthusiast, does female voice-overs for video games, looks awesome in combat boots (Real ones, mind. Not the stupid high-heeled version of combat boots.).
- Any member of SEAL Team Six. Bad ass! Bad! Ass!
- Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun from the series Farscape). Because Hubba-hubba!”
In a hypothetical apocalypse, what would be your preference; viral outbreak, extraterrestrial event, zombies, natural disaster, etc, and why?
“Believe it or not, zombies (either viral or “demonic”) would be my very last choice. I think a natural disaster would offer far better chances of survival. Massive earthquakes, volcanoes, hell even the odd massive meteor shower would be preferable over hordes of the hungry dead advancing around the globe.”
What advice can you impart to authors just starting out who want to break into the horror/apocalyptic genre?
“Never give up, and never write for anyone but yourself. Be true to your characters, because they’re your creations. The moment you try to “force” your story/characters to go in a direction everyone is expecting is when you should put down the laptop, walk outside, have a smoke, take a jog, go to the gun range, whatever. You’ll know when something you’ve created feels right and whole.”
Who do you feel is directly responsible for your entry into the horror genre and specifically the inclusion of zombies into your work?
“To be honest, there were many people who influenced me, through works of their own, towards horror and fiction in general. To name just a few:
-John Carpenter with his classic cinema (The Thing, Maximum Overdrive, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York).
-Chris Claremont and his timeless, unforgettable 17 year run on Marvel Comics X-Men (Lila Cheney Tour ’88′!!).
-Craig Spector and John Skipp’s bloody, brilliant novels (Fright Night, The Light at the End, Animals, The Cleanup, The Scream).
-Late night TV host Elvira (for proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that horror and great cleavage go well together).
I’d have to say though (yes, somewhat predictably), that the person directly responsible for my interest in all things zombie was George A. Romero. When I saw Dawn of the Dead at the drive-in as a teenager, it was all over. From that point the shambling dead had me, and all I could do from then on was try to fight a rearguard action against my own obsession.”
What and who are your favorite authors and books, not in the zombie/horror genre? Tell us a little bit about them and how they may have affected your work.
“Oh boy, there are a lot of them so I’ll just name some favorites.
-Simon R. Green for sure. His HAWK AND FISHER series along with BLUE MOON RISING (prequel) and BEYOND THE BLUE MOON (latest), his SOMETHING FROM THE NIGHTSIDE novels, his fantasy/supernatural spy saga that began with THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TORC. All gut-busting funny, where his characters drop classic one-liners at each others expense in the face of reality-ending threats. That’s entertainment!
-Jim Butcher and his DRESDEN series. Harry Dresden, wizard/P.I. is one of us. He’s a regular guy who likes to eat a Burger King, shops at discount supercenters, drives a beat up 1970′s Volkswagen Beetle and has a ton of personal problems. Combine that with vampires, werewolves, homicidal Fae, angels, demons, monsters and gods? Man, the series is pure gold.
-John Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR novels. Serious sci-fi (spelled here correctly), humor, vibrant characters and more than a little space-based ass-whoopery. Love em.
-Diane Duane’s SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD saga. Brilliant. Just brilliant. I don’t know what else to say about these books. I’ve been a fan of this ongoing saga for 15 years and not a single one of her novels has failed to satisfy. I recommend them to anyone who reads fantasy, without a second thought or any reservations.
-Glen Cook’s GARRET P.I series (ANGRY LEAD SKIES, COLD COPPER HEARTS, PETTY PEWTER GODS, FADED STEEL HEAT, etc.). A hard-boiled detective in an alternate universe based on magic? Trolls? Selfish deities? Supernatural mobsters? Buxom redheads? Jokes between characters in the face of certain doom? Those are my kind of novels!”
If you had to do it all over again, the research, the writing, the search for a publisher, etc, what would you do differently?
“Damn… That’s a good question… I think I’d attempt to speak personally with even more small press authors. I’ve become friends with quite a few over the last few years (while writing KyCH), and many/most are regular people just like you and me. Which is a darned good thing. There are a lot of shady characters out there in the publishing biz, so when one of them messes about with someone’s work, thankfully word gets around. People don’t realize that authors (big name or small press, either one) talk to each other! No one wants to see someone have their creation jacked out from under them (or even worse, chopped into something they would never write!) so most are very, very protective of other author’s work and willing to go to bat for them if the occasion ever arises. That’s how it should be. We’re all here because we feel a deep, undeniable need to share our stories. We should (and do) respect each other because of that need.”
Do you have any plans to continue writing when you finish with your current project? This might be other projects in a different genre.
“Oh yeah. After the KyCH… trilogy is complete, I’ve got something totally different in the works. My next series will be fantasy/sci-fi based and I can honestly say there’s nothing else like it to date out there. Heh-heh! Boy-oh-boy… Folks thought zombies would be bad? They’re really digging the KyCH groove, but just wait until they get sucked into the next one. It’s going to knock em for a loop.”
Where can readers and fans alike find out more information about your books and upcoming projects that you’re involved in?
“Well, they can always check out me blog (I’ve been slacking with it and need to stop doing so!): http://survivingthehorde.wordpress.com/ and I like hanging about here on buyzombie.com too. I enjoy reading up on new novels, movies, cool zombie stuff. Still want the “blood-spattered shower curtain and shower mat”.
Or they can even find me on a certain social media site (Facebook). I actually enjoy speaking/talking with people/readers online because it’s very humbling! Keeps me grounded too, so I’m about most days at some point. I’ll happily answer any questions someone might pose to me.
Well… Within reason of course. No “cyber” or “50 Shades of” messages, please. Those just hit the old trash file.
Category: Zombie News