If you read my review of “Feed” (and I hope you did), you know that it is one of the better zombie novels to come down the pike in a while. Written by Mira Grant (an open pseudonym used by author Seanan McGuire), “Feed” is the first book in a planned series – “The Newsflesh Trilogy”. Set in a world 20 years after the zombie apocalypse, it’s a wonderful examination of how society survives the zombie plague, and what the difference is between learning to live instead of trying not to die. (Seriously – if you haven’t read my review, go check it out – I’ll wait).
On her website, Grant describes herself as having “made a lifelong study of horror movies, horrible viruses, and the inevitable threat of the living dead”. It’s no wonder that “Feed” was such a good read. I recently had a chance to chat with Mira about some of her experiences writing the book, the role of zombies in literature, and her preferred method for dispatching an unruly zombie hoard.
The Word Zombie: With “Feed” did you set out to create a great zombie story first and foremost, or did you set out to create a great story, that happened to involve zombies?
Mira: I set out to explore the zombie ecology of my post-Rising world, and everything sort of spiraled out from there. I realized pretty quickly that it had to be a great story that involved zombies, rather than the reverse, because this reality’s great zombie story happened twenty years ago.
The Word Zombie: I think that the story works really well as an exploration of the difference between the “truth” that is reported and the truth that happens. Do you see parallels between the control of information in “Feed”, and the way people consume their news and information today?
Mira: I do. Including the fact that sometimes, the way things are presented will completely obscure the reality of how important or trivial they are. “If it bleeds, it leads” is very standard, and that doesn’t always do the information, or the recipient, any favors.
The Word Zombie: The book’s main character, Georgia, follows a very emotional story arc – one that really invests the reader in her and her fate. When you started writing, did you know where that arc would ultimately lead her, or did you discover it during the writing process?
Mira: It was a surprise. A big, painful, “oh my God what do I have to do?!” surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been that surprised by one of my own books.
The Word Zombie: It’s my belief that zombies are among the best of literary monsters, primarily because the zombies themselves are often not the main thrust of the story. They serve as the impetus for readers to discover how the survivors react to and deal with adversity, and each other. How do you view zombie fiction?
Mira: Zombie fiction is human fiction. It’s a chance to pit humanity against something that is unstoppable and unrelenting, and see what happens to our inner natures. Shark fiction serves much the same purpose, only wetter. Zombies are the perfect opportunity to strip everything away but the core of man, and see what that core is capable of.
The Word Zombie: I read recently that you used the writing of “Feed” as a perfect excuse to watch every zombie film you could get your hands on. In your mind, who are the actors you envision as Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy, when you imagine a film version of the book?
Mira: Well, I watch every zombie film I can get my hands on, whether I have an excuse or not. If I were casting the film version of FEED, today, it would be Jason Dohring for Shaun, Allison Scagliotti or Rachel Bilson for George, Bryce Dallas Howard for Buffy, and Colin Ferguson as Rick. Also, James Gunn is my dream director.
Mira: Stuff. More stuff. Medical stuff. Stuff involving a lighter, a low-cut shirt, and a lot of yellow lights. Surprising stuff. Kansas.
The Word Zombie: Once the zombie apocalypse occurs (and I think we can all agree it’s a matter of when, not if), will you be going it alone, or looking to join up with a ragtag group of survivors? Also, do you prefer long-range weapons (guns, flamethrowers) or melee weapons (classic baseball bat) when dealing with a zombie uprising?
Mira: I’ve already got my ragtag group of survivors, and between us, we have a lot of weapons, a trained pilot, and a plane. I’m good. As for weapons, it depends on the type of zombies, but assuming Romero, I’m sticking with my shotgun/longbow/machete combination.
The Word Zombie: Would you agree with me the Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry is needlessly redundant – regular Diet Dr. Pepper is in an off itself, already a perfect beverage?
Mira: Absolutely. The only thing that should be added to Diet Dr Pepper is vodka.
If you would like to read more about Mira Grant or Seanan McGuire, visit them at: miragrant.com and seanamcguire.com. (I highly recommend the “Horror Movie Survival FAQ” on miragrant.com – it could save you life). I have to thank Mira for taking the time to chat with me. She has the (I hope not dubious) honor of being my first interview with an author. She handled my maiden voyage as an interviewer with both style and grace. She even made me look like I almost knew what I was doing…
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