Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- Shock Totem #11—Available Now!
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
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Tag Archives: Daniel I. Russell
The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1 is the first anthology published through the new Apex Publications imprint, The Zombie Feed Books. It features zombie-fried fiction from seventeen authors, of which I am one. Recently, contributing author Maggie Slater offered up her blog for a series of three-question interviews with several of the anthology’s authors, so I am returning the favor.
Below you can read Maggie’s interview as well as those interviews hosted on her blog.
And if you’re interested, check out The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1. You can pick up your copy from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, or from The Zombie Feed directly. Get it on your Kindle or your Nook (or in any e-format from Smashwords) for just $2.99! Seventeen kick-ass zombie stories for $2.99! Can you dig on that?
1. The Writing Question: If you could sit down with one author, from any time in history to today, to get a writing lesson, who would it be?
I had three answers for this initially—Samuel R. Delany, Edith Wharton, and Roald Dahl. If I had to narrow it down, though, I’d pick Samuel R. Delany for several reasons. First, I’d love to just talk fiction with him—I’m about 90% through Dhalgren, and reading it as a writer is a little Twilight Zone-esque. All of Kid’s thinking and working and pondering the process and experience of creating a work of writing feels so intimately familiar, even as his process is different. I’ve also read Mr. Delany’s book About Writing which is hands-down the best book about the writing process I’ve ever read. It’s not an instructional manual, but almost a treatise on the creative endeavor. His discussions about the inner editor were very influential on me, and his emphasis on care when drafting, of really visualizing the scenes, works much better for me than the mantra “just write the first draft as fast as you can” which seems to work very well for others. His essays feel very close to a one-on-one discussion, as do the letters in which he’s critiquing a work sent to him, but it’d be great to get a few pointers in person!
So that’s one part. The other part is that whenever I read a novel by Samuel R. Delany, it reminds me of what writing can be. Not just in terms of style and poeticism, but in the sheer vividness of imagination, both in content and in execution. Reading his work always reminds me that I can push my own boundaries and play in realms that aren’t common in the books you’ll find on the bookstore shelves, that not all stories have to be told the same way. I can lock myself into tunnel vision pretty easily when it comes to “how you’re supposed to write”, so reading a good Delany novel can kick me out of that and set me on better paths.
2. The Horror Question: What used to scare you the most as a child?
Funny story: zombies, actually. Back in fifth grade, I went to a Halloween party a friend of mine was having, and they showed Night of the Living Dead Returns, which completely freaked me out. (I mean, it didn’t take much back then: I was terrified of ET, also.) Needless to say, after watching about thirty minutes of NotLDR, I left the room and couldn’t watch any more. For a month I didn’t sleep unless my mom was in the room, I closed my eyes whenever we passed any kind of structure that looked like a medical warehouse, and it seemed like ages until I could hear the word “paramedics” without feeling queasy.
That experience actually set me back probably five years: I actively avoided horror movies (or even not-so-scary PG-13s, like Jurassic Park) until I was about fifteen. Then I saw The Sixth Sense, and fell in love with it. I’d always loved ghost stories, but the film format always made me nervous. After that, and after realizing that I could watch certain spooky movies without getting horribly vivid nightmares afterwards, I started pushing my limits of tolerance bit by bit, until in college I finally watched Shaun of the Dead, and thus my fear of zombies was…well, not quite over—they’re still creepy as hell—but at least resurrected as a fondness, rather than abject terror!
3. The Oddball Question: If you could be friends with one fictional character, who would it be and what kind of venue would you meet at?
Oh, hands down (and this is rather like using one of my three wishes to wish for more wishes): Nero Wolfe. We’d meet at the brownstone, of course, on West 35th Street in New York City, and have a delightful meal (perhaps game hens) prepared by his brilliant chef, Fritz. Of course, Archie Goodwin would have to be there too, and (don’t tell my husband) I’d definitely let him take me dancing once in a while, just to keep my footwork sharp, of course. I certainly wouldn’t protest if Saul and Orrie and Fred joined us, and if Jackie Jaquette or Lily Rowan wanted to stop by, I wouldn’t mind at all! Then, after dinner, Wolfe would show me his most recent breed of orchid, and we’d discuss potting material, plant genetics, and books, of course. It’d be the perfect evening!
Maggie Slater writes in Maine, where she lives with her husband and two old, cranky cats. She has seen her work published in a variety of venues, such as Dark Futures: Tales of SF Dystopia, The Zombie Feed Anthology Vol. 1, and most recently in Leading Edge Magazine. She currently moonlights as an assistant editor for Apex Publications. For more information about her and her current writing projects, visit her blog at maggiedot.wordpress.com.
And if you’re interested in the rest of the Three Questions interviews…
I love me a good zombie tale. Dawn of the Dead is my favorite movie of all time, Romero is a god to me, and my first book is about those meandering, rotting corpses. So when I was sent The Zombie Feed, the new compilation put out by Apex Publications and edited by Jason Sizemore, for review, I was more than pumped to dive right in.
Inside this volume are 17 tales of zombies in all of their various forms. At first I expected a grouping of run-of-the-mill apocalyptic, undead stories. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how different the collection is, with how many various directions the authors took what very often are clichéd tropes and plot devices.
In order to adequately break down this fantastic collection, let’s look at The Zombie Feed story by story.
Not Dead by BJ Burrow: A woman wakes up on her deathbed, questioning if she’s still alive. A touching story of the nature of faith and what really defines humanity.
Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs by Monica Valentinelli: An original, if somewhat clunky, take on the origins of the outbreak and the privileged nature of the wealthy. It could’ve been spectacular given the original premise the author came up with, but it falls flat. A little too “Ah, gotcha!” for my taste.
Cold Comfort by Nathaniel Tapley: What is this? A zombie tale without a true zombie? A fantastic story dealing with the undead that only exist in the narrator’s head, as a Russian mortician whose wife is cheating on him communes with his recently-departed patients. Ironically enough, in this particular tale it isn’t the dead who should be considered zombies.
The Final December Day by Lee Thompson: This one follows more along the lines of a traditional zombie tale. A lone cop, searching for his long-lost partner on his last day on Earth, runs across a young photographer. An interesting take on the apocalypse where the zombies are simply drug-addicted, insane humans, and aliens roam the earth. I enjoyed the message, but it fell a little short. This is one short story that begged to be longer.
Broken Bough by Daniel I. Russell: A particularly heartbreaking tale of the end of the world, told from the point of view of a young family of three struggling with the ultimate decision. Truly sad, it makes you wonder what you might do should the unthinkable happen. Would you be able to take the actions necessary? Haunting.
The Sickness Unto Death by Brandon Alspaugh: A somewhat convoluted tale of the recently departed rising up, remembering their pasts and able to act as human, though they’re no longer living. A bit confusing, and written in a way that I think might seem like the author is trying to “put one over” on the reader. I’m all for an original, inventive story, but this one seemed too clever for its own good.
A Shepherd in the Valley by Maggie Slater: Now this one was creepy. A man, all alone and living in an old airport, has figured out a way to “tame” the dead. A heartening examination of a parent’s love and the sacrifices one must make in the face of absolute terror.
Twenty-Three Second Anomaly by Ray Wallace: Eh, I could give or take this one. The story of human experimentation and how exact science can be. Interesting, but the punch isn’t punchy enough and the emotions seems forced. Not bad, but could be better.
The Last Generation by Joe Nazare: Another very interesting and not-quite-zombie story. All people have fallen over and entered a state of non-death, and only a few wake up, albeit minus their memories and sense of self. An inventive story, but lacking in some important information (such as how do they remember pop culture references and not their names or pasts) that could have made the story much more affecting. Decent nonetheless.
Bitten by Eugene Johnson: One of the few standard zombie tales in the whole collection. A very short story of a bunch of folks trying to protect a house at the end of the world. It is what you’d expect.
Lifeboat by Simon McCaffery: A very entertaining story of a group of people surviving the apocalypse by sailing the ocean on a cruise ship. Intriguing and imaginative, the narrative takes twists and turns I never expected, coming out at the end in an intense, hell-bent-for-leather climax. One of the best in the bunch.
Rabid Raccoons by Kristen Dearborn: Now this is what I call taking a genre and flipping it on its head. A teen girl does her friend wrong, only to be assailed (possibly mystically) by zombie raccoons. A stupendous job of telling a story from the viewpoint of a young adult, this tale captures the sense of seclusion and fear beautifully. Great story.
Zombies on the Moon by Andrew Clark Porter: Another short tale, and while the imagery of a moon cluttered with zombies has stuck with me since I’ve read it, this is another example of a story that could use some fleshing out to be perfect.
The Fare by Lucian Soulban: The absolute best story of the bunch. A lonely man in the aftermath of the world’s end hires a mysterious cabbie to help him obtain closure for his past sins. A tremendous study of the human condition, of how guilt can guide our actions after a traumatic event, no matter if we were in the right or not.
What’s Next? by Elaine Blose: This is the only story that I don’t think belongs in this collection. It wants to be campy, describing a world where aliens bring about the zombie apocalypse, only to have monster after monster appear in their wake, but it comes off as amateurish. The rest of the stories in this collection are so strong and insightful, it seems entirely out of place.
Goddamn Electric by K. Allen Wood: Another ingenious story, imagining a “different” sort of zombie, when the skies open up during an apocalyptic storm and fry everyone who wasn’t smart enough to find shelter. High on anxiety and even (surprisingly) emotion, this story follows an old man who’s lived a long life and isn’t quite ready to give it up.
Hipsters in Love by Danger_Slater: This is the oddest story of the bunch. I absolutely hated it until I was a couple pages in, when I went back to the beginning and re-read the title. This is a complete farce of a tale, a satire poking fun at a certain segment of our modern culture, complete with kids and their ironic t-shirts worrying about obtaining some Pabst Blue Ribbon in the face of the undead. A highly funny romp, it’s the perfect choice to end this anthology.
So that’s it! In all, I’ll say this is well worth the read, and the best zombie anthology to come out in years. Congrats to Apex and to Jason Sizemore. You’ve collected something highly entertaining and even touching. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves this genre of story.
As mentioned here before, Jason Sizemore, owner of Apex Book Company, has released volume one of a new anthology series under his The Zombie Feed Books imprint. The anthology, simply titled The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1, features fiction from issue #4 author Lee Thompson, Daniel I. Russell, BJ Burrow, Monica Valentinelli, Simon McCaffrey, and many others, including yours truly.
[ click photo to enlarge ]
So how about a free copy?
Head on over to Jason’s website and check out the “bad-ass” contest he’s set up where two lucky—and creative—people will win autographed proofs of The Zombie Feed. You can find the contest here.
(Tip: Pick me!)