INTERVIEW: Joe R. Lansdale on DEADMAN’S ROAD, Zombies, and What Scares Him the Most

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Edgar Award-winning Hap and Leonard mystery series (Mucho Mojo, Two Bear Mambo), and the New York Times Notable Book, The Bottoms. Over 200 of his stories have appeared in outlets such as Tales from the Crypt and Pulphouse, and his work has been adapted for The Twilight Zone and Masters of Horror. Lansdale has written several graphic novels, including Batman and Fantastic Four. He is a tenth-degree black belt and the founder of the Shen Chuan martial art.

Tachyon Publications has just released Joe’s new book Deadman’s Road, and Joe was kind enough to talk about the weird west, zombies, and more!


Kristin Centorcelli: Deadman’s Road is described as “Deadwood meets The Walking Dead.” Would you consider that accurate? Will you tell us a bit more about it?

Joe Lansdale: Deadman’s Road contains Dead In The West, written in 1983, appeared in 1986. So it came first, but I had plenty of influences from Weird Western film influences, and the popular Romero zombies. Its biggest influence was the weird western film Curse of The Undead. It was about a vampire, but it inspired me.

KC: You’ve written quite a few stories with a “weird west” theme. What do you enjoy most about writing fantastical westerns?

JL: That’s a toughie, but I think being a fan of both horror and westerns is the primary reason. Comics also influenced me a lot. They always mixed genres. I liked that and followed suit. It just gave the story an interesting feel. And I love westerns.

KC: There are also zombies in Deadman’s Road. Why do you think everything zombie is so popular lately and makes them so appealing to so many?

JL: When times are bad horror is popular, and Armageddon is popular I think because we would all like to have a more workable world.

Now we know due to modern technology everything going on everywhere, and bad news sells, and makes us paranoid, so why not a zombie apocalypse?

KC: Writing the scary stuff is nothing new for you. That said, what’s something that you find truly terrifying?

JL: That’s simple. People. Nothing is scarier.

KC: You’ve worn many different hats in your writing and tackled many genres. Do you have a favorite?

JL: You know, I don’t, but they all are my favorite at the time I’m writing them.

KC: No doubt you’ve been a huge influence to many young writers. What authors have made a big impression on you?

JL: Bradbury, Twain, Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Flannery O’Conner. Glendon Swarthout. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, James Cain, Dashiell Hammett, so many. I couldn’t make the complete list if I worked at it all day.

KC: What’s next for you, this year and beyond?

JL: Right now I’m writing a historical about a black cowboy in the old west, and a crime screenplay with my son. I’m also working on a Hap and Leonard novel.