S.G. Browne

10 Questions With Michael Boatman

Michael Boatman is the author of The Revenant Road, a dark horror comedy about a best-selling mystery writer who begrudgingly enters into the family monster-killing business and has to stop a supernatural killing spree while fighting off a hangover and trying to live up to his dead father’s reputation. Think Men in Black meets Shaun of the Dead.

I met Michael in San Diego, when we shared an author reading and signing at Mysterious Galaxy Books. A gifted actor as well as a talented writer, Michael has co-starred on Spin City and Arli$$ and is currently co-starring in the Lifetime television series SHERRI.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
The first time I ever really became aware of zombies was during an episode of The Night Stalker, way back in the ‘70’s. Darren McGavin’s character, Kolchak discovers that someone has resurrected a dead gangster and sent him around to kill off a bunch of other gangsters by breaking their backs. This zombie was a more traditional voodoo-based zombie: a dead man sent by a sorcerer to exact horrifying revenge on the sorcerer’s enemies. The climax takes place in an old auto graveyard. To stop the zombie, Kolchak has to find it while it lies dormant inside one of the abandoned wrecks. He has to exorcise the zombie by filling its mouth with salt and sewing its lips shut. I guarantee you, the moment when the zombie opens its eyes is one of the scariest, and funniest moments in television horror history.

What’s your favorite zombie film?
Night of the Living Dead is still the greatest zombie film, and one of the greatest horror films of all time. It never ceases to terrify me and I’ve watched it every year since I was in high school.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. Do you use a gun, a machete, or a Louisville slugger?
I’m gonna go for the Louisville. It’s more reliable than a gun and I could use the workout.

If you were a zombie, who would you eat first?
George W. Bush. A close second would be Maxim model/actress Sophia Vergara, but for completely different reasons.

What’s the first thing you ever had published?
My first published short story was called “The Drop.” It’s a story about a mentally retarded but unusually well endowed man named Cyrell Biggs. Cyrell plots to murder his abusive cousin/boss at the behest of the woman they both love. That story contains rude alligators, a homicidal black mermaid, Southern family dysfunction and a beatdown by crowbar. (I’m still proud of it.) It was published in Horror Garage magazine.

Who’s your favorite author?
I have so many favorites, but two guys tie for my number one spot: Stephen King and David J. Schow.

What’s your favorite book?
The Road. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn’t expect it to. It sets the bar for post-Apocalyptic survival stories and is simply the most horrifying, heartbreaking novel I’ve ever read.

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
Doritos. I can eat an entire duffel-bag of Doritos. Afterward I can sit there in my car, listening to my arteries clogging and still think, “Damn…that was good.”

Other than your favorite author/book, name something that inspires your writing.
Anger. I’m from the Midwest: Therefore I am deeply repressed. I’m the married father of four children: Therefore I spend a lot of time being wrong. Therefore I do my best writing when I’m pissed. I’ve written two and a half novels, dozens of short stories, six screenplays and a million un-mailed death threats. People see me on television and form one sort of opinion about me. Then they read my stories or follow me on Twitter or Facebook and they all write the same thing… “But you seem so nice.”

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
“The Six Million Dollar Man.”

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
I’m working on a novel about God, which is tough for an atheist. I’m also writing a short story about wizards in a post- apocalyptic Chicago.

Michael Boatman is the author of The Revenant Road and the short story collection, God Laughs When You Die: Mean Little Stories From the Wrong Side of the Tracks.

If you’d like to keep up with Micheal’s writing and acting endeavors, you can follow him at Twitter.com/MichaelPBoatman.

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Filed under: Interviews,The Writing Life — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 12:11 pm

Favorite Guilty Pleasure Film

Okay. Let’s just get this over with right now.

My name is Scott and I am a Waterworld fan.

That’s right. Waterworld. One of the most famous box office flops in the history of Hollywood, right up there with Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar, Hudson Hawk, Gigli, Battlefield Earth, Howard the Duck, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and Leonard Part 6.

It’s my favorite guilty pleasure film of all time. I can watch it over and over, from beginning to end, halfway into the film, two-thirds of the way in, doesn’t matter. I don’t know why I love the film so much. Maybe it’s because of the gills. Or the premise. Maybe it’s because it was such a ridiculous catastrophe. Or that I always get a kick out of Dennis Hopper. Or maybe it’s because I have a man-crush on Kevin Costner.

Okay, that’s admission number two. The Kevin Costner man-crush thing. Maybe it isn’t as deep as it was back in the 1980s when he was starring in films like The Untouchables, Bull Durham, and Field of Dreams, but it’s still there, lying dormant, ready to awaken whenever one of those films comes on TNT or TBS. I mean, come on, how could you not love him as Elliot Ness? What guy didn’t want to be Crash Davis? What guy didn’t cry when he asks his father if he wants to have a game of catch at the end of Field of Dreams? Admit it. Or live in denial. It’s your choice.

I even met him once, back in 1990 when I was working as a driver for a company that did post-production for the Disney Studios, finishing the television spots and theatrical trailers for all of their films. Costner was down the hall in another edit bay doing some work on what would turn out to be Dances With Wolves (which should have acceded it’s Best Picture Oscar to Goodfellas, but that’s another story).

We all knew he was at the editing facility (the Mustang he drove in Bull Durham was in the parking lot with a license plate that said CRASH D), so there was some buzz and I was thinking about what I would say if I had the chance to meet him. We were working on the Dick Tracy campaign (a catastrophe in its own right) and I was sitting on the couch, waiting for someone to tell me to take something somewhere, when a figure appeared in the doorway to my left. Before I glanced up, the figure said: “Is that Dick Tracy you’re working on in there?”

I turned to look and said “Yeah,” all at the same time. When I saw it was Kevin Costner, all of the lines I’d rehearsed had suddenly turned to static and I couldn’t think of anything else to say. So I just stood there and stared at him until he finally turned and walked away.

So that was how I met Kevin Costner. That was what I said. “Yeah.”

One word. Four letters. One syllable.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Waterworld is playing on TNT again.

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Filed under: Just Blogging,Movies and Books — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 7:21 pm

10 Questions With Carrie Ryan

Carrie Ryan is the author of the young adult novels, The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves set in a world several generations after the zombie apocalypse. A recovering litigator, Carrie’s a full time writer living in Charlotte, NC.

Even as a young adult, I didn’t tend to read any YA novels. I don’t even know if Young Adult novels existed when I was part of the demographic. But having read a number of them this year, most of them admittedly either about zombies or vampires, I have to say I found Carrie’s debut effort a transcendent read.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
I’d sworn off all scary movies ever since I was five years old and my babysitter talked me into watching Poltergeist by telling me how much I was like the little girl in the movie (same name, same blond hair, same closet full of stuffed animals). Of course, my parents came home and I never saw the ending and spent the next month unable to sleep with the lights off. Naturally, I wasn’t a fan of scary movies from that point on.

And yet, somehow during my second year of law school my fiancé talked me into going to the opening night of the Dawn of the Dead remake (I can only assume his argument went something along the lines of “It’s Durham NC, what else is there to do?”). I was terrified during the movie and yet so totally pumped up afterward. I couldn’t stop imagining what I’d do if the zombie apocalypse hit.

My fiancé fed my growing addiction with a steady diet of zombie movies and books — he even read The Zombie Survival Guide out loud to me (you can see why my first book is dedicated to him).

What’s your favorite zombie film?
That’s really an unfair question! I actually hated Night of the Living Dead when I first saw it because I was so frustrated the characters couldn’t get their stupid acts together. Then I found out that was the point of the film which I thought was brilliant. I also love Shawn of the Dead because it’s both so crazy hilarious and terribly sad and frightening — they were really able to tease out so many emotions with that film. And of course Dawn of the Dead because it started it all.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. Do you use a gun, a machete, or a Louisville slugger?
Machete. A gun’s only so good as the number of bullets you have and the slugger can (a) get slippery and (b) break.

If you were a zombie, who would you eat first?
The person standing closest to me. I’m lazy and I’m sure that quality will still remain after I’m dead.

What’s the first thing you ever had published?
Other than a few short stories in my college literary magazine, the first work I had published were two essays I wrote to get into law school. One of them was called “Torts vs. Tarts” and was all about how writing romance novels was going to help me be a better lawyer. Must have convinced the admissions office because I was accepted.

Who’s your favorite author?
I can’t play favorites! Right now I’m chewing through all of Jen Lancaster’s backlist because they crack me up.

What’s your favorite book?
I always feel weird saying this, especially since I write young adult books, but my favorite book is Nabokov’s Lolita. I just love the way he plays with language — all the tricks and wordplay and flat out gorgeous language. I also love the idea of taking a hideous subject and making the telling of it beautiful – it really messes with the question of how we define art.

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
I never feel guilty for pleasure. I do like to sometimes sleep late on work days just because I can and I also love sitting in the shower and going through all the hot water while I drink a really cold beer.

Other than your favorite author/book, name something that inspires your writing.
I get inspired by such random things: music, taking a walk, listening to people talk. I feel like if you relax you’ll find inspiration all over the place.

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
Ugh, I have one song stuck in my head which I just can’t put down. Hmmm… I know there’s a perfect song and I just can’t think of it right now. Looking at what’s most played in my iTunes, you’d think it would be “Praan” (which is the music to the Where The Hell is Matt video with him dancing all over the world). But usually my theme song would be something that would make you dance — “Hey Ya” would be a good one or Ben Folds Five’s “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You.” And now you see just how indecisive I can be in my life!

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
Next up is the paperback release of my debut, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, on February 8, 2010 and then The Dead-Tossed Waves, which is a companion to my debut, out March 9, 2010.

If you’d like to visit Carrie and learn more about her writing and her novels, you can find her at www.carrieryan.com. Or follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/carrieryan.

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Filed under: Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:08 am

10 Questions With Mark Henry

Mark Henry is the twisted author of Happy Hour of the Damned and Road Trip of the Living Dead, his Amanda Feral zombie comedy series that is equal parts snark, sex, and style. His heroine, Amanda, is a newly turned zombie navigating her way through Seattle’s undead club scene while jonesing for a vanilla breve latte and trying to keep her nails from breaking. Hey, it’s not easy being sleazy when your flesh is decomposing.

Although I haven’t had the chance to enjoy more than a few words with Mark, we have swapped meaningful glances on a couple of occasions. However, I have no doubts that most of the memorable comments from any conversation we might have would come from him.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
Oddly enough, my own mother played a hand in my zombie deflowering. Let me take you back. It was 1978, and little I was an impressionable child—and by “impressionable” I mean “prematurely pervy”—on my birthday that year, my mother went down to our local lending library and checked out a God’s honest film projector and canisters of George Romero’s classic reinvention of the zombie mythos, Night of the Living Dead. She presented it like a gangsta on the wall of our 1960′s era rambler in full of view of a rather jittery gathering of pre-teens. I’m fairly certain young minds were traumatized that day, stunted even. But not mine, I…was in love.

What’s your favorite zombie film?
It really depends on the day, but today I’m feeling goofy, so I’ll go with Return of the Living Dead, that 80s classic of zombie comedy. And here’s why. One, Linnea Quigley dancing on graves topless with bleached out punker hair. Yes, please. Two, “Send more paramedics” is one of the funniest lines in the history of ever. Three, Braaaaiiinnnnnsssss! Before this ground breaker, zombies were content to just eat any old body part and be satisfied that there was no better flavor to be found in a squiggling panicked victim. Return gave them a flavor fave, and I’m all about the food obsessions, so thank you Dan O’Bannon. You’re okay in my book.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. Do you use a gun, a machete, or a Louisville slugger?
Gotta go with the machete. I’m a cook, so I’m most comfortable with a knife in my hand, if I can’t choose wiener, that is—of course, a penis is not a weapon, and if it’s being wielded as such ladies, please purchase a machete.

If you were a zombie, who would you eat first?
Because, above all else, I’m a loyal husband, I’d have to say…my wife! Plus, I can smell her spleen and I bet it’s as succulent as they come.

What’s the first thing you ever had published?
A short story called “An Acquired Taste.” It was actually the birth of Amanda and Wendy and not at all good. Not. At. All.

Who’s your favorite author?
That’s a tough one, because I love different authors for different reason. King, Barker, Rice. Hell, Sedaris and Burroughs are huge for me. I even love Alexander McCall Smith. I’m obsessed with some cozy mysteries. Now you have me all discombobulated. I guess I’ll go with Stephen King. He was my favorite as a kid and young adult and I still buy his stuff, though not this last one, Under the Dome. I didn’t buy that one. I got one of only 100 ARCs printed, bitches. Read it and weep!

What’s your favorite book?
Definitely The Stand by Stephen King. I’ve got a boner for apocalyptic epics that aren’t completely depressing **cough**The Road**cough**. Plus, I kind of have to say it because Randall Flagg is following me on Twitter. It’s safer that way. (If you want to follow me, I’m mark_henry, go to it!)

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
God. I wish I felt guilt so this could be an easier question. I’ll tell you, I can’t resist the call of the Twitter. It’s so bad, I wouldn’t exactly call it a pleasure. Oh wait!!! I do have one. Gourmet Roach Coaches! There’s this one in Seattle that I’m obsessed with called Marination Mobile. It just won the Good Morning America best Food Truck in America and has the most awesome Hawaiian Spam sliders. Seriously, you’d sock your mom for these bad boys. Uhhhhhhh.

Other than your favorite author/book, name something that inspires your writing.
John Waters, the film director, is a huge influence. A bunch of my friends and I got into his early films in High School. Starting with the innocuous Polyester. I’m pretty sure that flick was my first exposure to 300 pound drag queens, but dammit, Divine was a lady and Waters crammed so much bizarre and irreverent imagery, characters and scenes into that one, I was hooked. Then of course we saw Pink Flamingos. What’s really funny is, I’ve been re-reading the third book in my series and was so proud that the dialogue read like a John Waters script. I almost wept.

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
“Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron. No question. If something can go wrong with me, it will. Every time. That’s no joke either. People in my life accuse me of being jinxed.

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
What’s next, thankfully, is the mass-market paperback reissue of Happy Hour of the Damned (Jan. 26, 2010), the first book in my Amanda Feral zombie comedy series. A trade paperback does not fare well in the urban fantasy genre, where readers are used to testing new authors for no more than $7.99. Add into that the fact that the publishing industry took some pretty big hits in the past couple of years and what I’m left with is a series in jeopardy. So I started this little campaign to promote the re-release. Learn more about Save Amanda Feral at www.markhenry.us.

A month later, Battle of the Network Zombies (Feb. 24 2010), my third Amanda book hits store shelves. In this one, Amanda’s hit the skids both financially and with new(ish) boyfriend, Scott. You know what could turn her shit around? A guest judging gig on a super seedy reality competition show! But when the star, an oversexed wood nymph, turns up charbroiled, Amanda must pull a Miss Marples (minus the fugly sweaters) and solve the crime with a film crew in tow. It’s, at least, 50 percent dirtier than anything I’ve ever written and I’m in love with it, hope everyone else will be.

You can visit Mark and learn more about Amanda Feral at www.markhenry.us. Or follow his musings on Twitter at mark_henry.

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Filed under: Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 8:21 am

10 Questions With Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby is another YA author, having jumped into the world of zombies in 2009 with Zombie Queen of Newbury High, a playful romantic novel about a high school senior who unintentionally turns her classmates into zombies. Who knew all of these high schools were meccas for the living dead?

Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting Amanda in person, I’ve known her through e-mail and Twitter for more than a year. I hope one day to have the chance to buy her a cup of coffee. Or maybe some braaaaains.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
Do we count Evil Dead as a zombie movie? I can never tell with these things but that was probably the first one I ever saw. Mind you, I was more concerned about the tree than anything else. Anyway, I went to see it with a group of friends at the drive-in back in the eighties! Does that date me?

What’s your favorite zombie film?
Shaun of the Dead closely followed by Fido and 28 Days Later.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. Do you use a gun, a machete, or a Louisville slugger?
Less known fact about zombies is that they really hate water so obviously I would go for my son’s turbo charged water gun (okay, and the machete because lets face it, purple and orange colored water guns don’t really look so tough).

If you were a zombie, who would you eat first?
Good question and considering that my motto is: you are what you eat, I think I would probably be ridiculously selective about what flesh passed my dainty little jaws, since no one wants to turn into a fat truck driver who has a builder’s bum. Or for that matter a school teacher with badly dyed hair. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think I’ll have to be a vegan zombie. I can do that, right?

What’s the first thing you ever had published?
You Had Me at Halo which was about a dead girl who got kicked out of heaven and sent back to earth in someone else’s body, in order to sort out her issues. Only problem is that they guy who owned the body hadn’t exactly vacated the premises so they are forced to do a bit of body sharing and soul searching all at the same time!

Who’s your favorite author?
Ack – this is an evil question. I seriously have so many favorite authors but Jane Austen is probably at the top of the list (and no, I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies yet but it’s on the list!)

What’s your favorite book?
Again an evil question and one that I refuse to partake in so the best I can do is narrow it down to my top five:

The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
I save guilt for boring things like feeding my kids too many chicken nuggets and not enough broccoli but when it comes to my own pleasure I’m pretty guilt-free. Which is probably lucky because I do spend a lot of time watching television and DVDs!!!!!! Right now I’m making my husband re-watch every episode of Friends and Buffy with me!

Other than your favorite author/book, name something that inspires your writing.
Movies and television. I have no desire to write them myself but I get endlessly inspired by watching them.

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
Obviously that would be “Eye of the Tiger!”

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
Fairy Bad Day is out in Spring 2011 and is about a teenage girl whose plans to follow in her mom’s illustrious footsteps as a dragon slayer are thrown into disarray when she suddenly begins to see fairies. Invisible, killer fairies…

Amanda Ashby is the author of You Had Me At Halo and Zombie Queen of Newbury High.

You can visit her at www.amandaashby.com and on Twitter at twitter.com/amandaashby.

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Filed under: Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 7:50 am