The Strange Dead Interview
- As a big fan of your work, I’m excited to read your newest novel. Can you talk a little about the book? (Without giving away spoilers of course!)
The Strange Dead, the first in a planned trilogy, begins 20 years into a zombie plague caused by errant nanobots introduced into the body through 3D-printed “smart organs.” The story follows Claire, a young woman with a bizarre ability, and Andre, a stand-up comic turned soldier, as they try to stabilize what’s left of civilization. Conflicting factions are waging secret wars against one another, while the dead increase in number and the world at large becomes increasingly insane.
- I’ve always thought the best zombie books and movies are the result of what the living characters do, how they survive. Zombies are just background stuff that occasionally comes into play. Agree or disagree?
Pretty much agree. The best zombie stories are people stories. Zombies themselves can be both horrific and wondrous, but you can’t build a whole world around that alone. That being said, I definitely like stories where there’s more to the zombies than the standard trope allows. Romero’s modern monster archetype deserves to be diversified and explored as much as the classic vampire or werewolf.
- The zombie genre exploded what seems like years ago. Some thought it would die out, but yet it has stayed strong. Why do you think so, and do you think it will remain so?
I think there will be peaks and valleys in terms of zombie popularity, but true to their nature, they will never die. The zombie is such an accessible metaphor and such a universally unsettling concept – “They’re us, we’re them.” Zombies can be used as a vehicle to address any number of fears or other common issues among us living types.
- Is there anything new that can be done with zombies?
Always! And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There are some purists out there who don’t want to see anything weird or radical done with the concept. And they’re free to enjoy the stories they like and leave the rest of us alone. As I said earlier, the idea of the zombie deserves to be explored further. That certainly doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the fundamentals, but we don’t need three thousand more versions of NOTLD. Romero covered it.
- Any more Kaiju/giant monster books coming?
Not at present – I really enjoyed writing Hell Walks but I think I said all I wanted to say on the subject. Of course, as me again in a year and I might have a series planned. There was a time when I thought I was done with zombie novels, but late last year I found the shamblers milling about in my brain again and all of a sudden I was more excited than I’d ever been about a zombie story. Cue the Strange Dead trilogy.
- Is there another genre or subgenre you would like to write?
I have a few ideas for children’s books (lock up the kiddies!). Some are silly and some are more poignant. After writing so many stories about Death as a person, I’ve thought about using the figure (or a likeness thereof) to address the subject of loss for children. As you might imagine, publishers are just beating down my door for that one. Or maybe they’re nailing boards across it. I haven’t checked.
- What do you enjoy reading?
I’ve been going back a lot to early dark fiction, things one might not necessarily consider “horror” but that contain the essential ingredients. I’ve fallen in love with Twain’s unpublished work, “The Mysterious Stranger.” There are different versions about – you can find some on gutenberg.org, and I’m sure there are annotated “definitive” versions for sale. I can’t even recall which version I first read, but I love that story. It blends the strange wonder of childhood with themes of nihilism and even an apocalyptic tone. Great ending.
- Slow or fast zombies?
I can go either way. My favorite zombie films are the original Dawn and Return of the Living Dead. The slow terror of the shambler is undeniably maddening. The animalistic frenzy of the fast zombie might not afford time to build suspense, but boy it’s a kick in the gut.
- What do you have coming next?
Book II in the Strange Dead saga. I’m also planning to self-publish an out-of-print novel, Unbound, which was originally put out by Library of the Living Dead. Once the SD trilogy is finished, I have a small-town thriller which has been on ice for a while but is ready to be written.
- Anything else you’d like to add?
I like turtles.
- 5 favorite movies and books?
Books – IT, Catch-22, The Mysterious Stranger, The Neverending Story, Interstellar Pig
Movies – Re-Animator, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Austin Powers, and of course Sophie’s Choice
- Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later?
The DOTD remake? Well, that one’s a lot of fun. 28DL is more grim and thoughtful. Both have some good scares, good characters. Dawn is one you can throw on anytime, but I think I’d have to go with 28 Days Later for its heart.
Check out David Dunwoody's Amazon Author Page.