Karen Stever Interview

After getting a signed CD from Karen Stever, I decided that I had to get to know her a bit more…
When I listen to Playground Isolator, it’s sound(s) remind me of music that I would listen to late at night back in the ’80′s. That is, not the average Top 40 that everyone pretended to be into, but the hardcore
music that was made for the fans of music. Stuff like Pixies, Concrete Blonde, Bad Brains, and Black Flag. Music that had a REAL sound to it, not today’s resampled unoriginal crap.
Recently I had the opportunity to ask Karen Stever, the talent of this album, some questions. And to be honest, I could not pass up getting to know her a little better.

I’ve listened to this CD more times than I can count! In my opinion one of the best features of the CD is that the CD cover also has the lyrics printed inside. Often I’ll take the lyrics (not just with this CD but with any one that I purchase) and read them like poetry. Then I’ll go back and read them as I listen.
It gives me a few different ways to interpret what my ears listen to.

Karen, when I listen to these songs I cannot help but feel you poured a lot of soul and emotion into them. I want to thank you for sharing that personal connection with us.

Karen: I don’t necessarily remember most of the emotion poured into it, a lot of it was from a place of blur. I actually wasn’t going to share it with anyone. I wrote it so coded because I didn’t even want some people to see it. It was a really big step to be able to share it after all.

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Interview with Zombie Cop Illustrator Szymon Kudranski

To go hand in hand with our interview with Jeff Mariotte, I am chomping at the bit to
talk to the illustrator of Zombie Cop.
You all know his work from previous comics and other areas of fantasy. As most of you
are aware, I used to own a hobby shop several years back, Game Masters. It was there that I was introduced to the artwork of Szymon Kudranski with his illustrations. I remember some
Marvel Masterpiece cards he did, and research through some old cards that reveal illustrations for Fantasy Flight Games.

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Interview with Zombie Cop Creator Jeff Mariotte

Not everything that ZombieMall.com is associated with involves zombies.  Well, not exclusively.  I was contacted a few weeks back by Jeff Mariotte, author of several genre’s of books, from Spider-Man to CSI: Miami, to Star Trek, to Conan.  These are all subjects that I have certainly had an interest in, but when he told me about a new project he was working on, a Graphic Novel about a cop who is slowly turning into a zombie, well..  I was as giddy as a school-boy.

I usually weave my questions from the subject in which I am trying to promote. In this case, Zombie Cop.  However, Jeff, with his history of writing, has such an extensive library to choose from; please forgive me if my questions go astray.

ZM:  Jeff, I’ve read that the idea for Zombie Cop came from an conversation you had with an editor in regards to another zombie project.  Can you give us a hint as to what that project is?

Jeff:  What happened was that I was at Comic-con in San Diego, talking to an editor about what his needs might be.  He mentioned that zombies were hot, but that he already had a zombie book going.  My mind started feverishly looking for an angle on zombies that I had never seen.  The basic idea behind Zombie Cop came almost fully formed–that we’d be watching the disintegration of this decent cop as he was living (or dying) through the process of becoming zombified, all while trying to solve the mystery of how the zombie plague began.   That editor didn’t bite, but the idea wouldn’t let go of me, and I refined it a few times, but that’s still the main thrust of the story.

ZM:  Let’s talk about Zombie Cop a bit.  In what year does the story take place?

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Interview with Author Sheldon S. Higdon

In running ZombieMall.com I’ve had the pleasure of encountering several horror writers. I think I’ve read more in the past four months than I have all last year. When I ran across Sheldon S. Higdon I knew at some point I was going to have to have an interview. Over the months I’ve gotten to know this guy, and ya know?… He’s a crafty one! What makes him all the more interesting is that he has not confined himself to just writing a novel. He has a comic book that is currently being illustrated, has had several stories published in various magazines, and even has a short script in development with an independent filmmaker in L.A.! To that end, let’s crank up this interview!

I had heard once that you tried to act like a zombie and got your nuts kicked, what was that all about?

It happened during the first year of the Zombie Walk. Sometime ago. There were thousands of us dressed up as zombies shambling through the streets of Monroeville. And there was this hot, bloody girl next to me dragging herself forward, and I thought it’d be funny to grab at her and try and bite her. The only problem was I didn’t expect her to knee me in my Swedish meatballs. Now that I look back on it, I probably shouldn’t have done the Zombie Walk naked. No wonder people veered away from me. But hey, at least I met my future wife that day! Who knew? Okay, so I’m completely lying about the whole event. It never happened. Sorry, it’s the writer in me.

Actually what you’re referring to was an article I wrote about my take on writer’s block. In it, I liken writer’s block to that of being a zombie. Whereas your brain dead in either situation. Can’t think. Have to run on instincts, if you will. And in it, my wife does knee me in the nuts. And so far, she’s never had to do that in real life. Thank __________! (Fill in your deity here.)

I’ve seen your credentials; you have a good number of writings published in various magazines. Can you recall what it felt like to land that first publication?

What I remember…is working on another story. I didn’t celebrate or anything and I didn’t tell anyone except for my wife, of course. But, really, I just continued working on the next piece.

Lately it’s been hard for me to find or even make time to write, when you are not writing what do you do with your time?

I write. And occasionally go to the movies when I’m drained, to get away from the world for two hours. Or read. But when I have free time, I write. Now come next spring that’s going to change because of the upcoming birth, but I’ll just rearrange my schedule (once I can figure out what that’ll be) and write accordingly. If I have to I’ll write on diapers, bottles, receiving blankets, etc. I already write on napkins and toilet paper and whatever else I can find when I’m not at my computer, so it’ll make no difference. But either way, I write. You make the time!

Aside from horror, what other genre would you like to explore writing in?

I would like to try my hand at a Mystery, as well as Science Fiction. Maybe even Crime. And definitely Comics. As a writer you have to adapt or you won’t last long.

What is something that truly frightens you?

Horror writers don’t get frightened; we frighten everyone else.

I’ve got two children, both saw Star Wars pretty much since they were a week old; and several times since then. My daughter looks up to me each time the Fox Fanfare plays, regardless of the movie she goes: “Star Wars?” I understand you are due to have your first child. I’ve heard rumors that the child will grow up on horror and Star Wars. What age do you think you will expose him/her to their first horror movie? Do you already have one picked out to watch?

As for Star Wars that’ll pretty much be a given since my house has a room that’s purely a storage unit for my countless boxes of Star Wars toys—all unopened (geek, I know.) I used to be a serious collector of toys (Star Wars, Spider-Man, X-Men, anything Horror, etc.) and occasionally I still buy them but only if it’s horror related. But no matter, this child will have toys galore until he/she is thirty.

Now the horror side of it is a tad bit different. I saw my first horror film—”The Crawling Hand”—on late night television when I was a young kid. Not really a scary movie but when your mother acted as if her own hand was out to get you just as the hand in the film did, it scared you. So for my own child that first horror film probably won’t happen until they’re about twelve or so. But if he/she gets into my film collection then it very well could be earlier. I remember seeing “A Nightmare on Elm Street” at the theater when I was thirteen. And if I remember correctly the film was rated R, but I got in because I knew the owner. At thirteen I had connections. LOL! Hopefully my kid won’t have connections. But, seriously, it’s very hard to say. There’s really no ‘real’ answer.

And no, I don’t have a specific film picked out. But one of the Universal Monster films wouldn’t be a bad choice. Start with a classic, I guess.

When the impending doom/plague of zombies breaks out, what will be the first thing you do/would do, and where on the planet will you go?

I’d take my family up to my Fortress of Solitude that lies in northern Maine where a buddy of mine has enough guns, ammo, food, and water to get us by for quite some time. And once we run out of all of the aforementioned supplies, then I’d say, “Inyuk-chuk!” and grow to a gigantic proportion and stomp the hell out of all of the zombies; therefore, saving the world.

What were the last three books you read?

“Survivor” by J.F. Gonzalez, “Kill Whitey” by Brian Keene, and “Cuts” by Richard Laymon.

In closing do you have anything you would like to plug? The floor is yours!

I have two stories appearing in the upcoming anthology Northern Haunts where all of the proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. Also, another feature article that I wrote will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the Portland Magazine, as well as a story appearing in Werewolf Magazine.

And while I’m waiting to hear on other work, I’m currently tightening a ‘longer’ short story that may be published as a chapbook. And in between a few other short stories, I’m working on a novel.

Everyone’s welcome to visit me at: www.myspace.com/sheldonhigdon

Sheldon, thank you for your time and thanks for the interview!

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Interview with Michael Arnzen of Audiovile

I want to let the world know, Audiovile is NOT an audio book. It is really in it’s own class of audio actually, “spoken narrative”. My first experience into the world of “spoken narrative” was in 1991 with the Group 2NU and their track Ponderous. I was hooked in finding as many of these types of CDs as I could. It was not until 1994 that I found my second “spoken narrative” CD, Cyborgasm (I will leave that CD for another blog for another time). I had to wait until 1999 for my second chance at another 2NU CD, this time it was called 2NU2. I’ve always had an attraction to this type of medium, this spoken word set to music. I’ve been searching high and low to find a new fix, as 2NU seems to have dropped off the face of the planet. But I also wanted something darker. Something with a bit more “bite”. In 2008, Raw Dog Screaming Press sent me a CD of Michael Arnzen’s CD, Audiovile.

Audiovile is exactly what I needed and I got it exactly when I needed it! I drive a lot. I mean, A LOT. Each week my car probably clocks in close to 200 miles. Okay, so that’s not a huge amount, but it seems like a lot to me. I hate driving. Audiovile has fixed that for me. It’s not something I can pop into my CD player at home and listen to, I’ve got a wife, a 4 year old daughter, and a 2 month old son.

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Interview with author of Monster Island, Dave Wellington

Recently I had the chance to sit down and shoot some questions over to David Wellington, author of Monster Island, Monster Nation, Monster Planet, 13 Bullets, and 99 Coffins.  This guy is one hell of a nice guy and agreed to give me an interview here.  I love the words he has crafted, and the bottom line…  This guy is good at what he does!  Are you ready for an new era of horror?

ZM: You have books about zombies, vampires, and werewolves.  You definatly go with a horror theme.  I’ve read that you started out with Sci-fi in some of your unpublished works when you were younger.  Do you have any plans to revisit that genre in the future?  Or explore other genres like fantasy or romance?

DW: I never thought of myself as a horror writer, but once you get associated with a given genre it’s hard to break out.  The bookstores want to know what shelf to put your books on.  Your fans have a certain expectation that your next book will be just like your last one… but different.  When an idea comes to me I write it down, whether it’s horror or not; lately I’ve only written horror because I like monsters, because I’ve been thinking a lot about monsters.  But I have a book coming soon that’s not horror at all.  It’s a Young Adult Thriller, if it needs to be categorized at all.  And I’ve got a great idea for a science fiction book with horror elements, set on a planet orbiting a black hole.  And I can’t even begin to tell you how many fantasy projects I’d like to do.  The only two genres I think I’d feel totally uncomfortable with are what they call “literary” fiction (despite what some writers seem to think, the newest and least developed of the genres) and no-nonsense romance.  Though I never like to say never…

ZM: I realize a good amount of the characters and experiences in your books are extensions of your background and real life experiences, have you ever written yourself, as a character, into one of your books, one that you identify with most?

DW: I’ve never put myself in a book consciously, because I think of my own life as so boring nobody would want to read about it.  I write, all the time, and when I’m not writing I wish I was writing–my wife has to constantly drag me away from the computer to go to parties or even out for dinner (she’s very patient about it–usually).  That being said, after I finish a book I often go back and look at the characters and realize that I’ve been exploring some part of my own psyche with them.  Dekalb from Monster Island is probably the most like me, in ways I don’t like to explore.

ZM: If an impending doom-plague of zombies broke out, what would be the first thing you would do, and where on the planet would you go?

DW: Well, first I would panic.  Then I’d probably load my wife and my dog and some supplies in our car and drive as far west as we could get.  The fewer people around, the fewer zombies and the easier it would be to survive.  There are places in the Southwest that would probably hold out quite a while because they’re just about deserted.

ZM: What is your favorite color?

DW: Green.

ZM: What is one of your simple fears, for example, I cannot sleep with my feet hanging off the bed (monsters live under there, ya know!) ?

DW: I’m afraid of getting hit in the head by flying objects.  I don’t know why, and it’s not like a phobia.  But every time I walk through the park and someone is playing baseball with their kid, I kind of subconsciously duck and pull my head in because I expect to get beaned.  Maybe it happened once when I was very young–I don’t remember.

ZM: Have you ever seen a UFO?

DW: No.  I was obsessed with UFOs for a while in the late 90s, not with the idea that they were real but with the stories that abductees and believers told about them.  There was a weird consistency to the stories, as if they couldn’t possibly be making it all up, and some great fantasy ideas came out of the most paranoid ravings.  I think my favorite is still Alternative Three, which is the idea that UFOs are actually human spaceships getting ready to take all the rich people to Mars, where they’ll weather out some kind of doomsday back on Earth.  I know enough about Mars to know that no matter how bad things might get here, it’s worse there, but still it’s a great story.
 
ZM: Sometimes when movies are made the director or makers will place an easter egg into the film, for example in I Am Legend there is a Superman/Batman poster. Have you ever written an easter egg into any of your books?

DW: Oh, there’s tons of stuff, most of which wouldn’t make any sense to anyone else.  The one that leaps to mind first is that I was getting married while I was writing Monster Island, and my wife demanded to be put in the book.  So there’s a zombie in a wedding dress that nearly gets Dekalb.  Then there’s the cameo appearances, not so much easter eggs but fun continuity gaffs.  I like to think of my books as all taking place in alternate universes.  In one universe, there are zombies, in another there are vampires.  So there’s an Amish wizard character in Monster Planet (he’s not really Amish, but close enough) who is defending his family against the zombies with particularly ghastly magic.  Then he also shows up in the vampire books, which aren’t so apocalyptic, as a good guy.  It started out when I killed off a character in Monster Nation, a central character who you never actually see die on the page.  The readers started saying he wasn’t dead, even though I left him impaled on a red-hot spar of a crashed helicopter, with zombies crawling toward him.  Even after I had some characters discover his very dead body in Monster Planet, people still kept claiming he wasn’t dead–it was just a fun joke on the website.  So I had to bring him back for my werewolf book, quite alive and well and living in a peaceful retirement in Colorado.  That was fun.

 ZM: I also read where you try to remove outside influences when you being to write, do you have any rituals or traditions you go through to get in the mood before you begin?  What about when you complete writing one?

DW: Not so much rituals but just conditions I need to write–or I thought I needed them.  It had to be perfectly quiet, I had to be alone in the house, and I had to play and win a game of computer solitaire to get my brain jump-started.  Then a friend of mine, who is also a writer, told me she writes every single day, regardless of where she is in the world or what’s going on around her.  I was amazed by the thought, and inspired.  Now I can write on a packed airplane, or in the park with screaming kids running all around me because I have this thing in my head that says I have to write every day no matter what.  When I finish a project I don’t do anything else that day.  Not a thing–I might eat dinner, and I might watch TV (which I never do otherwise) but I need to decompress and let the book go, if only for a little while before I start revising it.

ZM: What would happen if a Zombie attacked a Vampire?  if a Zombie attacked a Werewolf?  if a Zombie attacked an Alien?

DW: A zombie that attacked a vampire would get its head ripped off.  The vampire would not be affected.  A zombie that attacked a werewolf would probably get eaten, which is nicely ironic.  The werewolf might get a stomach ache.  A zombie that attacked an alien, well, that’s an interesting case.  Most likely aliens don’t have DNA like we do because they evolved on a different planet, so they would just be badly injured and probably recover.  If their DNA was similar enough to ours, though, you could get zombies in flying saucers.  You could get zombies in space.  Excuse me, I need to go write something down…

ZM: What were the last 3 books you read?

DW: I’m currently reading and enjoying Broken Wings: Genesis, by Bo Savino, who I met at a Star Trek convention in Florida.  Before that I read two Terry Pratchett books: Interesting Times and The Last Continent, which is as close as Pratchett ever gets to writing a true sequel.

ZM: What were the last 3 movies you saw?

DW: Let’s see, Speed Racer (which is brilliant, and I don’t care what you say, I loved it), Iron Man (which is brilliant and I loved it–we all agree on that, right?) and the Battlestar Galactica pilot miniseries, which was brilliant but which I had issues with.  When did science fiction get so grim?

ZM: Many thanks for the Interview! 

DW: Thank you, Brian.

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