Continuing our hard hitting series of interviews with recently undead authors, we recently (as in this morning) caught up to John Scalzi, which wasn’t hard as he was sort of shambling aimlessly up and down the road. Figuring we’d never get the chance to speak to him again, since we live in Houston, we took the opportunity to as him a few questions.
SF Signal: How did you become a zombie?
Zombie John Scalzi: First, we prefer the term Undead-American.
It’s embarrassing, really. As you know, there was the zombie apocalypse — how could you miss it, right? And yet, well, I kinda did. I was wrapping up a writing project, and you know how it is. The world could end and you’d only hear about it afterward. So there I was, putting the finishing touches on the novel, and there’s this knock on the door, and it’s my neighbor Jerry. I open the door and take a look at him and start to make a comment about him really letting his hygiene go, and the next thing I know he’s gnawing on my intestine. And then he starts on my brain. But, you know, I’m using that. So I slapped him away from my skull. Basically, I survived the attack and became a zombie. As for Jerry, well. I took care of him. Piece of advice: Don’t open any of the barrels in the basement. You won’t like what you find.
SFS: Do you have any thoughts on how being a zombie will affect your future writing? Any hints you can give us on upcoming novels?
ZJS: Well, it’s harder to type with rotting fingers, for one thing. I tried some voice recognition software, but for some reason everything comes out as “wwwwuuuuuuagggghnnnngghh.” So my productivity is probably going to slip.
When I became an Undead-American, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor, made the obvious joke that my next book should be called “Dead Man’s War.” I had to eat his brain for that one. Also, clearly, I’m going to have to start writing about the prejudices the pre-dead have against us. Yes, we’re rotting. Yes, we’ll eat your brains. Yes, we slur our words. That doesn’t mean we don’t want your love. And your pancreas. and I suspect I’ll make that a theme of future novels. Especially about the pancreas. Mmmm… sweetmeats.
SFS: Earlier this year you campaigned for the presidency of The Science Fiction Writers of America. Seeing as how there many members of the SFWA who are old enough to qualify as being undead, do you think you have a better chance at becoming president in the future?
ZJS: See, now, there’s just another example of unthinking pre-dead assumptions. I’ll have you know that most Undead-Americans were relatively young when they crossed over. Young. But slow.
As for SFWA, it’s a hotbed of anti-undead sentiment. If you ever go to their private message boards you can see them muttering about how all these hot new undead writers are making it hard for honest pre-dead authors to compete. All I have to say to that it, hey. Get with the times. Write stories the undead want to read, with great plots, excellent characterization, and wild cranial feasts every five to seven pages, and you’ll be fine.
SFS: Speaking of the SFWA members, if you could eat anyone who as ever lived, who would it be and why?
ZJS: I have to tell you that science fiction writers are not exactly on the top of anyone’s list to consume. Why? Well, let’s just say so many of them are, uh, overly-marinated in their own stewings, and their cuts are excessively marbled. They ain’t exactly USDA Prime, is what I’m saying. I’m going to leave it at that.
Also, I have to say that if I were going to pick someone out of the historical record to eat, it’d probably be someone who needed eating. Pol Pot, for example, or Joseph Stalin, or any three members of Night Ranger or Matchbox 20.
SFS: Zombie John Scalzi vs. Zombie John C. Wright: who would win?
ZJS: It’s a pretty even match. He’s got the foot speed (on account he’s still got both his feet), but I’ve got the arm reach, especially since I can detach my right arm and use it as a club.
More likely, however, we would join forces and terrorize the nearest mall. Because don’t malls need terrorizing? You know they do.
SFS: You are world famous for taping bacon to your cat. Do you foresee yourself doing the same thing with brains (a sort of bacon-wrapped fillet braignon)?
ZJS: You know, a good brain doesn’t need anything else. Except maybe salt. But really: If you’re wondering what you should add to a brain to make it go down smooth, what you’ve got there is a bad brain. Throw it out. Get a new one. There’s six billion of ‘em out there. They’re not hard to find.
SFS: White meat or dark?
ZJS: Come over here and I’ll tell you.
And with that, the bastard tried to bite me. After a brief struggle, I managed to escape zombie John Scalzi with only a few scratches. Now, if you’ll excuse, I’m feeling a bit ill, I need to go lie down for a bit…