From The Passage by Justin Cronin
Full Name: Jessica Meigs
Nickname: Jess (Never “Jessie”)
Primary Specialty: Horror writer, with a focus on zombie apocalypse literature (for the moment)
Secondary Specialty: EMT
ZombieBloodFights.com - It’s great to have you here on the ZombieBloodFights.com blog, Jessica.
Jessica Meigs - And it’s great to be here!
ZBF - I want to ask your opinion, first of all, about this whole zombie thing. What in the world is the big deal about zombies and the upcoming zombie apocalypse?
JM - I think people have an inherent fascination in stories and settings that are far removed from their normal, everyday lives. When it comes to virtually any scenario, people like to ask themselves, “What would I do?” And the zombie apocalypse is no different.
As with any fight-for-survival scenario, people like to imagine what they would do or wouldn’t do if they faced that type of situation. And the concept of a zombie apocalypse not only does this, but I think it also gives readers of zombie lit and viewers of zombie movies an additional feeling of horror in that it puts such a real-life face to the potential apocalypse: the faces of everyone you know.
Can you even imagine having to face the possibility of killing someone close to you when they get zombified? A lot of people are like, “Oh, yeah, no problem, I’d bust a cap in ‘em.” But in a real scenario like that, if it was really happening, could you really, honestly say you could do it? I think that the whole survival question like that is a large part of why people are so fascinated with zombies and the zombie apocalypse.
ZBF - What got you started on horror and zombies?
JM - Well, I’ve always enjoyed zombie films. I hadn’t read much in the way of zombie books. But then I got my hands on the infamous World War Z by Max Brooks and my entire perspective changed. I started absolutely devouring zombie books. Most of them aren’t exactly memorable; but there was one, which shall remain nameless, that I read that was awful. The premise was fantastic, but the story itself was handled so horribly that I said to myself, “I can do better than this!” So I started to write.
My book The Becoming and its sequels are what resulted. Ever since, I’ve discovered there’s an entire culture devoted to these types of books and films, and it’s been fascinating and intriguing and just plain fun ever since.
ZBF - You work as an EMT, which I imagine is not the easiest of jobs. Have you found that experience helping lives has provided great storytelling material for your books?
JM - Oh, most definitely. One of the characters in my main group of survivors is Theo Carter, and he’s a paramedic. I couldn’t resist giving a character at least a variant of the knowledge I myself possess. He gets to utilize his skills in The Becoming, but it’s more evident in The Becoming: Ground Zero, which will be out this summer from Permuted Press. And, of course, a large portion of my new novella, The Becoming: Brothers in Arms, which is about Theo and his younger brother Gray, takes place from Theo’s perspective, including some rather bloody events in the back of an ambulance. That was very fun to write and was inspired by a time when I was out on a transfer and as we transported, I was sitting in the back of the ambulance thinking to myself, “If there was a zombie apocalypse, and I was trapped in the back of this ambulance, what could I conceivably use as a weapon that’s already back here?” Want the answer? Well, you’ll just have to read Brothers in Arms!
ZBF - You spent time writing your book, The Becoming, on BlackBerry devices. Why did you choose to do that?
JM - It wasn’t exactly a choice, at least not to begin with. When I started writing my novels, I did not own a computer, just a BlackBerry smartphone (the Curve 8310, if I remember correctly). I got access to a desktop computer maybe once a week when I was lucky. So I just used the tools that were in front of me and did what I had to do to get my novel written. After I actually got a laptop, though, I continued writing and drafting on my BlackBerrys as more of a challenge to myself than anything else. Also, it tends to come in handy when I’m away from my computer and at work.
ZBF - Tell us a little bit about The Becoming.
JM - The Becoming is a book that, while it takes place in the zombie apocalypse, isn’t about the zombies at all. It’s more a book about the survivors and how they try to, well, survive. It’s about their interactions, the events that take place around them, how they react to them. There’s bickering, bitching, arguing, moaning and groaning, but there’s also the pluses: friendship and support and helping each other, and even the seeds of a growing romance. I think in this effect, the series can actually appeal to those outside of the zombie fandom.
ZBF - This book is part one of a trilogy. Tell us a little about the subsequent novels that will follow.
JM - I don’t want to divulge too much, because it will absolutely ruin the great fun to be had for readers in them. I will say this, though:
The second book is titled The Becoming: Ground Zero. In it, a woman shows up to the safe house and completely turns the group upside down. Some serious conflicts arise, and the bloodshed really begins. And a conspiracy is unveiled that will totally shake the foundations of everything every character has come to know about the zombies and the apocalypse they’re living in. The book will be out in July from Permuted Press.
The third book is called The Becoming: Revelations. And things are, well, revealed in it. Lots of things. Earth-shaking things. New characters crop up, old characters are lost, and there’s even more bloodshed (because we can’t have a zombie novel without at least a little bloodshed). Also, someone goes missing. I can’t say who or what happens there. But it should prove interesting! I’m not sure when this book will be released, but I’m sure it’s obvious that it will be out sometime after Ground Zero.
ZBF - You mentioned your love of music and how it inspires you to put together playlists for things that you write. If we were to see the playlist for The Becoming, what are some of the songs we would find?
JM - Where to start, where to start? The playlist for The Becoming, which encompasses the entire series, is twelve hours long. There are 163 songs on that playlist, because I tend to add songs that inspire me as I come across them. Picking some at random, you’d find songs like “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” by My Chemical Romance, “Four Rusted Horses” by Marilyn Manson, “We’re In This Together” by Nine Inch Nails, “All the World is Mad” by Thrice, “We Are the Living Dead” by Atreyu and, obviously, dozens of others. 99.9% of the playlist is rock and metal music because, imo, that’s the only music worth listening to!
ZBF - When you have time to read, who are some of your favorite authors, and some of your favorite books?
JM - I read so much that I almost can’t decide, so I tend to fall back on old favorites: Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant (and I’ll likely love the upcoming Blackout too); nearly everything Jonathan Maberry’s ever written, especially Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay and, of course, Dead of Night; G.R. Yeates is one I’ve found especially fantastic, if only from a horror writer (as opposed to zombie writer) perspective: Eyes of the Dead and Shapes in the Mist gave me chills, and I’m about to start on his new one, Hell’s Teeth, with very high expectations. World War Z is a given, I believe. And everything in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series, including Boneshaker, Clementine, Dreadnought, and Ganymede. It’s zombie fic with a steampunk and historical twist, and it is amazing. And then Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots…
As you can see, I could conceivably go on all day with this, so I better force myself to stop now!
ZBF - What are some zombie movies you enjoy?
JM - Absolutely, bar none, my favorite zombie films are 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead (2004). These two films were incredibly influential on me and my writing, and I never get tired of watching them. Close behind them are the Resident Evil films, especially the first and second ones.
ZBF - As an EMT, what is some advice you would give for the people preparing for the zpoc?
JM - Collect your first aid supplies now. Don’t wait until the last minute. Medications, bandages, splints, all of it, will be incredibly hard to come by during a zombie apocalypse, especially medications that fall under the category of controlled substances (such as narcotics—which covers prescription painkillers in most cases) and antibiotics. I personally cannot stress antibiotics enough. Antibiotics are must-haves, so do what you can to collect what you can when it comes to those. As I show at some point in my trilogy (I won’t say when or what), antibiotics are incredibly necessary, and it’s something a lot of people don’t think about until it’s too late. Also? Health and beauty aids. Shampoo, razors, unscented soaps, deodorants. You can’t stay healthy if you can’t stay clean. Cleanliness is very important.
ZBF - Any other projects we can look forward to?
JM - At the moment, the aforementioned The Becoming: Ground Zero and The Becoming: Revelations. I’m also tinkering with a fourth and fifth book in the series, which are tentatively titled The Becoming: Awakening and The Becoming: Evolve. I’ve also started plotting for a paranormal/horror series involving a very awesome character and a lot of great ideas. I don’t want to reveal too much with that until I have a more solid plan for it, though!
ZBF - Where can readers find out more about you?
JM - Well, of course, readers can always visit my website at becomingzombies.com. I’m also really active on Twitter; my username there is @JessicaMeigs. And I can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/jessicameigs, and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/jessicameigs. I always welcome new friends to chat with at any of those sites!
ZBF - Thanks, Jessica.JM - Thank you for having me!
"“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
Bowie Ibarra is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster. His latest zombie book, "The Fall of Austin", features Texans in Austin fighting for survival. It is available in paperback, Kindle, and other e-reader versions.
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