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Sunday, April 8, 2012

ZOMBIES: INTERVIEW - Tonia Brown, Steampunk, and Sexy Zombie Stories

by Bowie V. Ibarra - Tonia, it’s great to have you on the blog.

Tonia Brown:  Glad to be here. I don’t have to actually fight zombies, do I? Cause I would totally suck at that. - LOL!  Not today, thankfully.  We only do that every fifth Wednesday.

I want to ask you about the experience you shared about one of our fellow writers, Paul Mannering, experienced sharing a dark piece of prose with an unsuspecting audience.  I’ve always felt art needs to make people feel something to be good.  But does the artist have a responsibility to edit their own free expression for the public, or should they write what they feel to remain true to their dark artistic vision, haters be damned?

TB - I think it depends on a lot of factors. If you want to reach a sellable market, then you must take your audience into consideration. You can’t write something designed to offend and disgust, then be surprised when it achieves that goal and no one wants to buy it. Then again, you might find just the market for both offending and disgusting. (I’ve certainly seen such things.) More luck to ya if you do.

That said, above all else it’s important to be true to yourself. Writing isn’t just about selling to a market. Writing is also cathartic, a useful tool to excise one’s demons. Those demons can be down right nasty, and the results almost unreadable. Again, as long as you keep in mind that not everyone is going to want to read those demons’ narratives, you should get along with the readers just fine. - Have you ever written anything that you felt strongly about that has ever rubbed people the wrong way?

TB - Not that I know of. As a Libra I tend to shy away from controversy. - Alright, let’s take the edge off and talk about a topic that could set either of us off:  Doctor Who!  When does the new season start and what’s the word on the street?

Classic Doctor Patrick Troughton
TB - Mmmmm mmmm mmmm! Love me some Doctor Who! As far as I know, the new season starts this autumn. Rory and Amy are leaving soon, and the new companion has been revealed. She’s a cutie too! I really look forward to getting back into the Tardis once more. - I think David Tennant was the Tom Baker of this era: Charismatic and talented.  I liken Matt Smith as the Peter Davidson of this era, having to fill big shoes.  What are your thoughts on Smith’s work in Who?

TB - No way! Matt Smith is totally a Patrick Troughton clone. From the goofy grin to the pratfallish comedy to the clever but silly one-liners. He could be Troughton’s son! - I imagine the episode “The Next Doctor” was a favorite of yours, with a strong ‘steampunk’ flare to it.  Tell me a little bit about Steampunk and its following.

TB - Holy cow! That is a hard question. Steampunk is often referred to as the “greatest era that never was.” Set in the late 19th century, it encompasses all of the romanticism of the Victorian Era— including the ugly bits— all the literature, all the scientific theories and political upheavals, then cranks up the technological level on the whole thing to eleven. - You’ve written several steampunk-inspired stories.  Tell us about them.

TB - I have had two stories appear in Steampunk Tales.

The first was Cold Boiler Blues, a humorous story about an inventor who owns his own coal mine to power his work. Trouble arises when his male staff goes on strike demanding, of all things, wives!

The second was Calliope. That story was a weird western twist on the old Pied Piper tale, complete with rats and lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood.

I have a few more steampunk stories in upcoming anthologies, some horror, some humor, and even one paranormal romance. 

I don’t want to say too much about them because they are all still in the works.

Under the name Regina Riley I’ve penned the erotic steampunk series Clockworks and Corsets. It’s a sexy adventure aboard an airship ran by an all female crew!

I also run a webserial called Railroad! which is part steampunk, part weird west, all adventure filled fun! The story follows the down and out gunslinger Rodger Dodger as he answers an ad for a job aboard a strange train filled with wild characters. - I’ve heard nothing but good about “Badass Zombie Road Trip”.  Tell us about it.

TB - With pleasure!

It’s basically a buddy story written in the style of the old “Road To …” movies from back in the day. Gotta love Bing and Bob!

Jonah loses his best friend’s soul to Satan, and has seven days to find it or lose his own as well. Trouble is, his best friend, Dale, is now a soulless zombie with his own hunger and needs, none of which concerns his missing soul. It turns into a cross-country road trip, where they eventually pick up a stripper who brings a special brand of trouble all her own.

It was one hell of a fun book to write. I had to keep reams and reams of notes to make sure the timing was right in relation to both the situations and travel time. I also had a map full of notes and scribbles and highlights. Some folks might have kept such things for the memories. I burned them. I was so glad to see the last of it when the book was done!

Folks have been really generous with reviews and comments about it. Humor is such a hard thing to gauge when writing. You read a funny line over and over, and soon it loses its punch, and you begin to worry if it was ever funny at all. But my Badass has been called everything from hilarious and laugh out loud funny, so that’s good enough for me! - Chip Fehd of had some good things to say about “Lucky Stiff”.  It’s an erotic zombie novel(?).  That’s an interesting combination.  How did you make such a dark an interesting combination work so well when you put it together?

TB - Lucky Stiff: Memoirs of an Undead Lover is my erotic zombie novel. It’s also my greatest love. It’s about a kid named Peter, who dies of an accidental overdose and is brought back via voodoo. He’s a sentient zombie that doesn’t want to eat flesh, so he learns to curb his hunger by consuming the power produced by the female orgasm, which means he must bring a woman to orgasm in order to eat. In essence it’s a coming of age story about a dead kid that learns the difference between being alive and living, and becomes a man along the way.
The story is awesome, and everyone who reads it seems to really love it. I have NEVER heard a bad word about it. Ever. But the trouble is so few people are willing to take a chance on it. The words zombie and erotic just don’t mesh well in folks’ minds. Go and read the reviews on Amazon. Almost all of them begin with something like, “I never would have thought the two went together…” Zombies and sex together at last, sounded like a good idea to me! - What are your thoughts on ‘steampunk’ inspired films like “Wild, Wild West’ and ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’?

TB - I am a huge fan of Wild, Wild, West, both the original series and the film. While I disagreed with many aspects of the movie, I sure did love that giant mechanical spider! WOOP!
League was kind of a let down. After reading the graphic novel, I expected so much more.
Other good films that are either steampunk heavy or just steampunk flavored are City of Lost Children, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, Steamboy, Nickel Children, and … well the list just goes on and on! - Who are authors you enjoy reading, and what are some books that you’ve enjoyed?

TB - I’ve been on a Gina Ranalli kick here lately. That lady has some writing chops! I also picked up a writing tips guide from Chuck Wendig that made me pee myself laughing. He’s a funny guy. But Lovecraft has consumed most of my reading schedule, because I have been working on a Lovecraftian inspired horror novel. - Can readers expect a steampunk zombie tale, or have I missed that already?

TB - Actually, since you mentioned it, my agent has been trying to sell one of those for me for a little while now. Fingers crossed someone picks it up. If not, I might end up putting it out myself. I plan on self publishing a post civil war zombie book here soon, so the steampunk zombie one may just follow the same path. - Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

TB - You can catch me at
And you can follow me @ToniaBrown1 - Thanks for taking the time to visit with us, Tonia. 

TB - Again, my pleasure, though I am quite relieved not to have to fight zombies. Thanks for that. And for the wonderful interview! 


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", was said to "...kick undead ass" by Johnathan Mayberry, New York Times bestselling author.  It is available in paperback, Kindle, and other e-reader versions.

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