Saturday, February 27, 2010
Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight - After Life (Book Review and Interview)
Since the seventh grade, Alex, a retail slave, has secretly been in love with his best friend, Morgan, a web cartoonist. Amidst these distanced and inhibited lives, Alex and Morgan are suddenly faced with the literal end of the world. Corpses around the globe begin to hunger for the flesh of the living, and society crumbles quickly under the shock of the attacks. With the animated dead filling the streets, Morgan has no choice but to hide in Alex's apartment. While death is waiting outside the apartment every hour of the day, the two friends force themselves to rethink every social rule and emotional response in order to keep their sanity. Both of them will ultimately decide whether they should struggle to hold onto the life that they lost, or adapt to the change. In a world where only the numb can survive, Alex and Morgan must face their true feelings for the first time. Love, blood, and the undead.
I really liked this book. For the most part it was well written, say a few minor points where the story got a little chaotic, but it is a zombie novel after all. My favorite part of the book is the build of up the relationship between Alex and Morgan. It's starts off slow, but then after you get into the book a bit, you start to feel for the two and get emotional every time they start to get close or grow further apart. I got so into it, I yelled at my computer screen while reading a scene towards the middle where he rejects a sexual advance for her (idiot!). But of course, there are plenty of zombies and blood to go around for all you horror loving fiends out there. The scenes describing the zombies are graphic, gory, and just plain fun to read! So if you love zombies and a good love story, I encourage you to check out After Life! (Just don't get too emotionally attached and start yelling at the book, you'll just look crazy...)
The author, Jaron Knuth, took the time to answer a few questions, so enjoy!
Q: What inspired you to write a zombie novel?
A: The easy answer is George Romero, but I really feel like zombies continue to encompass and symbolize the new fears of each generation. Whether the analogy is racism, the mindlessness of consumerism, the spread of mutated viruses and biological attacks, or the dangers of communism/terrorism and the spreading fear that even your neighbor could be one of these evil people, zombies are a great symbol for our culture.
My own love of zombies probably stems from the post-apocalyptic/survivalist environment in which many of these stories find themselves. There is that romanticized idea that you don't need to be a special forces soldier or a martial arts master to survive in a zombie apocalypse. Just be smart and you could survive. That's an attractive idea.
Plus, describing the gore of eating flesh is just plain fun as a writer.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing the book?
A: It took about two months from writing the first page to the publication of the first edition, but I mentally worked out the story for months (years?) before I touched finger to keyboard. Once I started, I was writing full time, at least seven hours a day, usually at the same time of day. I need that kind of structure in order to be productive. For me, waiting for inspiration is a great form of procrastination.
Since the release of the book, I have continued the editing process. Being a self-publisher, I think one of the benefits I have is the ability to release updated text based on reader feedback. These versions included corrections on grammar, punctuation, and even a few sentence rewrites for clarity. Perfection is impossible, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop pursuing it.
Q: The book has a lot of emotional and love themes in it, could you tell what inspired the relationship in the book?
A: While the details of the love story stem from some very personal experiences, I think the basic story is very relatable. Most people have experienced some form of unrequited love, hid the love they feel from someone out of fear, or had a seemingly endless relationship come to a screeching halt.
While the plot of the book is definitely about zombies -- and is full of horror, action, blood, and gore -- the theme of the story comes from that feeling people get when a girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with them, they get a divorce, or even when a loved one dies. At the time it feels like the end of the world. Your life was a certain way and you just can't imagine it changing. The memories of these people from your past may continue to shamble down the streets, moaning, but eventually you adapt. Slowly you move on and accept your new reality.
Q: Where can we learn more about you, the book, and your upcoming projects?
A: You can find a Facebook fan page for my books by searching for Jaron Lee Knuth, and I am also on Twitter @jaronleeknuth. My books are available on Amazon.com ( bit.ly/jaronleeknuth ) in both print and Kindle versions, with the kindle version priced at only 99 cents. Other ebook formats can be found on Smashwords.com. ( bit.ly/jaronleeknuthebook )