Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Armand Rosamilia, author of extreme zombie horror and editor of Undead Tales 2, an anthology of zombies stories to be released by Rymfire Books that will contain my short story “But It’s Not The End.”
So, first of all, how long did it take to grow that beard?
Beard? What beard? That bad-boy (I refer to it as my BadAss Goatee) has been there since I was 22, and I’ve been bald/shaving my head since then as well… twenty years growing it but never long until the last 8 months… it keeps getting longer and grayer by the day…
I can sympathize. I had a beard that was about five inches long that my wife called my “Osama beard.” When I got a respectable job, I had to trim it down.
Let’s start with Undead Tales 2. Now, most submission guides say they don’t want zombie stories unless there is something new about them. My story features intelligent zombies—zombies that have retained their pre-death personalities, but are still zombies. I’ve seen a few others stories like this, but not many. Do you see this as a new way zombie fiction is going? What else can be done to shake things up? [N.B. – In a completely self-serving way, I invite you to take a look at my very short story “Ascension” which brings a new twist on the zombie story: What if the zombie apocalypse is actually the next stage of human development?]
Very self-serving question. Love it. I think the same can be said about vampire and werewolf stories as well, right? Everyone wants a new twist on an old monster or a brand-new monster. Is there anything new? Each writer seems to think their idea is new enough. I’ve read too many that aren’t, but the ones I have read I like enough to follow that author.
I can’t imagine how hard that must be to wade through the slush pile and keep seeing the same thing over and over. As an editor, what do you want to see more of? Balls to the wall stories even if it’s stories we’ve seen 1,000 times? Or new and original ideas but the storytelling isn’t great?
I want a story to speak to me. I know that sounds cliché, but I’m a reader first. I want to dive into a slush-pile and the story that makes me forget I’m trying to pick stories for, say, Undead Tales 2, is the one I want to publish.
As a horror writer, I’m grateful there still are hard-core horror markets out there. Let’s face it: from its peak in the 80s, horror as a genre has died (and SF is not too far behind) while fantasy is in ascension. What do you think horror will need to do to come back? It’s hard to shock people these days, so what should horror writers be doing to attract readers? Is it a question of attracting main stream readers like King did or focus on the hardcore faithful and give them what they want?
I think you answered your own question. Next.
Actually, I think going extreme in either direction: go for the over-the-top gore and blood like (Carlton) Mellick or Edward Lee, or write more general horror that appeals to King and Koontz fans, people who don’t read horror exclusively.
Cool, I’ll have to check those writers out. So who else is writing great zombie fiction these days?
Besides me? Oops, did I say that out loud? Brian Keene (The Rising, City of the Dead) got me into it, although he says he’s done with zombies for now. I love Joe McKinney‘s work, he can do no wrong. Also Mark Tufo is superb and has such a rabid following it’s scary. I try to read as many zombie books as I can, and love anthologies of short stories to find new authors.
Speaking of your own work, you go for extreme horror. No holding back; these things are nasty, evil and brutal. Once upon a time, we had nasty, evil vampires. Think ‘Salem’s Lot. Then Anne Rice brought us broody but still dangerous vampires. Now, vampires are still brooding, but sparkly misunderstood bad-boys mooned over by teenage girls. Think it’s only a matter of time before we see sparkly zombies?
Hopefully never. But I’m sure it will happen, and that’s when the zombie subgenre will implode, become a joke, and a bad word that no one but the few true fans still like. But they won’t ever like sparkly zombies…
In your the Dying Days stories, your zombies don’t just want to eat people, but you throw in the threat of rape. That’s an interesting twist on the intersection of violence/sex/reproduction since a zombie reproduces through violence. Did you intentionally set out to explore this idea or did it just arrive in the writing process?
I wanted something a little different. The series began because I needed to write an extreme zombie novella for an open Comet Press submission period. I wrote Highway To Hell. The opening line is:
Randy watched, repulsed as the two male zombies took turns dead-fisting the barely-alive girl anally.
But there’s actually no rape scenes other than that in the book, and in the Dying Days series the thought of getting raped by a zombie is more horrific than showing it, I think.
Ew. That could be the most repulsive thing ever to appear on this blog.
Your output as a writer is staggering. Do you outline? Write organically?
I pull a brand new index card out every morning while the coffee is brewing and set myself some realistic goals for the day… 2,000 words, finish this short story, read 15 shorts for an anthology, edit something… then on the back I have my promotional goals: 75 Twitter friends that count, post new blog, read and comment on 6 other blogs, answer all e-mail, look for 5 new reviewers, play RavenSkye game on Facebook…
That’s a great idea!
Let’s get serious for a second. What do you secretly want to write but can’t tell anyone? Romance? A western? A literary story? I promise I won’t tell anyone (except the entire Internet).
I want to write raunchy erotica, crazy sex stuff that will make a hooker blush. No pretense, no big story, just people rutting like sheep. But not with sheep, because that will get you banned in some places.
And sheep are such a cliché. How about mountain lions or wolverines? It ain’t extreme ’til the one you’re lovin’ can maul your balls off with one swipe.
Speaking of which: A unicorn stabs a zombie through the heart with its horn: (1) The zombie is killed (2) The unicorn becomes a zombie unicorn (3) That’s the stupidest friggin’ question ever. (And stop mixing genres.)
My eleven-year old daughter will be very upset if you kill a unicorn. But a zombie unicorn would be the coolest thing ever! Or a zombie M&M, either one…
I’m thinking zombie M&M since all know unicorns don’t exist.
Thanks for stopping by Armand! And you get the last word:
Want to know more about the “Dying Days” series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway… also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot… nice and easy, right?
If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!
“Dying Days” series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series/