The Walking Dead Cast and Execs Reflect on Season 2, Hint on Season 3

The Hollywood Reporter has a great story highlighting the comments from the cast and producers of The Walking Dead about who got killed and why, and other great insight. The comments were made during a two-hour hosted panel at the TV Academy in Hollywood.

The show’s producer, Robert Kirkman, says he is testing AMC to see how disgusting the zombie kills can be. I think he would like to make things a little gorier.  “It’s my goal to get to that point, I want to know that limit,” he said.

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Promiscuville: Rise of the Dead, by Chris Wade – Book Review

I received a review copy of Chris Wade’s new book, Promiscuville: Rise of the Dead, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. Wade manages to captivate the reader with intense zombie action expertly described in scene after scene. Many times during my reading, I had to put the book down and check to see if any gore splattered on me; I felt as if I was there along with the characters.

Promiscuville is a very bad town – lots of prostitution, crime, adultery – a perfect setting for all hell to break loose. Wade seems to be making a statement on our current society with this book, and perhaps we should all take heed. The story starts off with Beth, a crazy woman being treated by psychiatrists for killing her wife-beating husband in a very disgusting and grotesque way. She claims innocence, but of course no one believes her. As I read about Beth, I felt that I was reading a cross between a Stephen King novel and a George Romero movie script. There was something creepy about this lady, so I wasn’t sure whether to like her or not. I was able to decide by the end of the book, though! Beth and a group of survivors have to make decisions if they want to stay alive, and not everyone makes good decisions.

I think Wade could have given us more background around the criminals – there is a lot of potential for weirdness there, but my imagination filled in the background for me, and I’m sure yours will, too. This is a great read, and I think Wade is on to something with the setting of Promiscuville. I can see a franchise of sorts similar to the famed town of Necropolis, with lots of ongoing stories as the town evolves through the apocalypse. Definitely worth your time to read this one.

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Map of the Dead – Your Guide to Survival

Jeff at Doejo has created (with help from Google and others) a real-time map showing points of interest to those surviving a zombie apocalypse. There are markers for gun shops,

doctors, gas stations, hospitals and police stations (stay away from these), and even the closest liquor store. When I picked a random spot on the map, it was nice to find out that beer was only 2 blocks away, provided it hadn’t been looted already. That would be a nice feature, an updated status on the liquor store’s inventory. The data comes from Google places as well as keyword searches, so the accuracy is limited. Still, it’s a great idea and perhaps we all should create a personal Google map of our area with accurate information and keep several copies in our bug-out bag.

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Plague Town, by Dana Fredsti – Book Review

The small college town of Redwood Grove will never be the same, and neither will student Ashley Parker. An outbreak of Walker’s flu has been running rampant through the town, creating bedridden and sometimes delirious citizens, many of whom die from the virus.  Unfortunately, they don’t stay dead for long, and they rise again with one horrendous goal: to seek out and consume fresh flesh. Welcome to Plague Town, a new book by Dana Fredsti. I received a review copy and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Parker, our heroine, recovers from the flu and returns to school, hoping to get on with her life. That’s not in the cards, it seems, as Parker and her boyfriend, out on a picnic, are attacked in the woods. Waking in the infirmary, she discovers she’s been bitten and begins waiting for the inevitable, which never comes. She discovers she is immune to the virus, and is drawn (in more ways than one) to a strange instructor at the college who turns out to be involved in a secretive paramilitary branch of the government whose mission is to track and destroy outbreaks such as the one in Redwood Grove.

Parker finds out she is a “wild card”, and there are others like her who have been recruited into the fighting group, trained, and sent out to fight zombies. Parker reluctantly joins the group and thus begins a new phase in her life – soldier. At first I was hoping that someone would put a bullet through her head; she seemed like such an annoying freshman, crushing on the young instructors, looking gorgeous, etc. However, as she began to mature (quickly) she changed and took the role of soldier seriously and with valor. By the end of the book, I liked her and was impressed with her level-headed thinking and her ability to handle the M-4 rifle, sword, and other weapons. Looks like humanity has a hope, and hope just happens to be beautiful, which is why I’ll think of this book as “The Rise of Ashley Parker.”

There are many surprises along the way for Parker and her newly-formed group of wild cards, and you’ll enjoy yourself as things get real ugly, real fast, which is of course why you read zombie novels.  The author, Dana Fredsti, is not a new author, but this is a new branch of her writing, and there are plenty more leaves on her tree. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, partly to see what Ashley will do next. If you’re a female fan of the zombie genre, get this book. If you’re a male, get this book – you’ll also like it.

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Matt Mogk talks “What You Don’t Know Can Eat You”

Chris Mackowski, of Scholars and Rogues posted a great interview today with Matt Mogk, the director of the Zombie Research Society. Mogk talks about the ZRS and a little of his background that led to the ZRS as we know it today.

“Zombie walks freak me out. Being surrounded by a horde of shambling undead…. It sounds like an actual nightmare – the kind of nightmare I wouldn’t want to have”
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Robert Kirkman Talks Walking Dead at Image Expo 2012

Robert Kirkman created quite the buzz at Image Expo this weekend in Oakland, CA, participating in a panel discussion about “The Walking Dead” comics and his upcoming projects. He gave a great Q&A interview with Comic Book Resources about his writing process and other topics.

Check out the video of the complete one hour panel discussion with Robert Kirkman, Norman Reedus, and Steven Yeun. At times the audio on the video is hard to understand but if you’re a Walking Dead or Kirkman fan, it’s worth watching the entire panel discussion.

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Police Officer Speaks About Zombie Defense

A Binghamton’s University Police Officer spoke to students about zombie preparedness and defense, during the second installment of the Zombie Student Association’s four-part series, “Zombie Survival Series”.

The officer, Lt. Mady Bay made comparisons between campus shooters and zombies, stating that in many ways the two are similar when it comes to defense. “Zombies aren’t thinking, and shooters aren’t thinking,” Bay said. “Both are distracted, and you can use this to your advantage.”

You can read more about the lecture in the student-run newspaper, Pipe Dream. Can’t wait for the next lecture.

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Interview with Jonathan Maberry About Dead of Night

Jonathan Maberry‘s new book DEAD OF NIGHT makes the zombie apocalypse real, with a very scary and plausible story that could happen today. Only Maberry could have come up with this one, and I’m glad he did – this book will remind you how close we all are to becoming rotting corpses.

I was able to ask Maberry a few questions about the book and his life, and I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say.

WZ: You’ve often said that you don’t write about monsters – that you write about people. Do you think one of the reasons zombies are so popular is that we like people stories, not zombie stories?

JONATHAN MABERRY: All great drama –hell, even all good drama—is about people. Not about events or monsters or problems, but about how those things impact the lives of the characters in the story. Moby Dick isn’t about a whale and it isn’t about God. It’s an exploration of how a psychologically damaged man is torn apart by his own disappointment with the universe. It’s about Ahab. And about Starbuck and the others. The whale –not so much. That’s why the whale isn’t actually onstage very often.

That’s certainly true of zombie stories. Look at NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Most of the movie takes place inside a house. Sure, we cut to scenes of the zombies walking around, eating bugs and banging on the doors, but that’s not the heart of the story. The real drama is a group of disparate people trapped together in a shared crisis. The same goes with both versions of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Most of the story takes place inside the mall. The zombies are the framing story. They are the shared threat, and that same story could place out with a nuclear war, a plague of locusts, Mad Max-style lawless bikers or any other disaster. The point of the piece will always be about how that disaster impacts the lives of the characters, warps their relationships, and strips away their affect.  That is the definition of drama.

Now, all that said, I have a second agenda when I write monster stories. I like to see people who believe themselves to be overwhelmed or helpless rise to their strength and discover their better natures in order to survive. It isn’t about the zombie at the door, it’s about the person who is summoning their courage and gathering their wits in order to deal with that threat.

WZ: I know you learned a lot about monsters (people) growing up. Can you give us a particularly heinous example of a people monster you learned about during those times?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I grew up in an intensely abusive household with a father who was a real monster. Not just to me, but to my sisters and plenty of other people.  Back in the sixties it was easier for a monster like that to hide in the slums of low-income blue-collar neighborhoods in the inner cities. People didn’t talk about abuse. Kids didn’t turn their parents in.

I was fortunate in that, because of studying martial arts, I was able to confront and defeat the monster in my life, and eventually escape that whole environment. I know a lot of folks who are less fortunate.  I think that’s one of the reasons I began teaching self-defense –to kids, to women, to the disabled, and to other groups. I wanted to see more people stand up to the monsters in their lives.

It’s no surprise that I write the kinds of books I write.

WZ: In DEAD OF NIGHT, a doctor works to create a virus that leaves a person’s brain consciously awake while their body rots six feet under. That’s an awesome premise, and something only a sick character would think of.  How did you think of this idea – what were you doing, where were you, etc., when this idea came to you?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a total science geek. I read every book and magazine I can find that touches on areas of weird science. Biology, virology, epidemiology, psychology, genetics…all of it. A few years ago I happened upon a book called PARASITE REX written by Carl Zimmer. A nonfiction book on parasites that was both creepy and brilliant. I don’t think I was even out of the Barnes & Noble with it before I had the idea for DEAD OF NIGHT.  I’d already used a disease pathogen (spongiform encephalitis) in my first zombie novel, PATIENT ZERO [WZ review], so I wanted something radically different but at the same time as scientifically plausible as I could manage.  As it turns out, Mother Nature has cranked out some very, very nasty bugs, bacteria and parasites.  I borrowed some ideas from her –and contacted Carl Zimmer to run them by him—and then I had my science.

After that I had to come up with a plausible reason why someone would manipulate parasites in order to made a bioweapon of this kind. I’d read a lot about the germ warfare of the Cold War era, and that gave me a start.  But I also wanted to include a tie to the Haitian zombies. For one of my earlier projects, ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, I’d interviewed ethnobotanist Dr. Wade Davis, author of THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. He’s the guy who figured out the chemistry used in vodou to create the zombies of that culture. So, I tapped him for some new info and folded that into the book as well.

The creepy thing is…the science in DEAD OF NIGHT is really close to ‘do-able’.

WZ: One of the main characters in the book, Dez, is a cop who is also a seasoned combat veteran. She’s a good person, but not many townspeople like her or her attitude, and that’s the way she likes it. She’s kind of a cross between a crusty detective and a Navy Seal. Did you know someone in your life or have some experience that you drew from when creating Dez? I only ask because she seems so real.

JONATHAN MABERRY: I taught self-defense for women for many years and I’ve seen so many women who have been damaged by life but who rise to redefine themselves and recapture their power. It’s an amazing thing to see. Men rarely appreciate how powerful women can be. I drew on those experiences when creating Dez. She’s one of the most complex characters I’ve put into a book. The hard and thorny outer shell is all scar tissue from a life of terrible loss and pain. Beneath the surface, though, there are wounds that haven’t healed.

That’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing novels like DEAD OF NIGHT. You start with characters that might otherwise be stereotypes, but then you dig down into their lives, you look for the forces –positive and negative—at work in their lives.  That’s where the real story is.

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Princess Leia and Stormtrooper Zombies

I ran across this image on BoingBoing – first time I’ve seen this done, and this is done well. The image is part of Vill4n0′s flickr collection from Megacon 2012.

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Walking Dead Season 2 Part 2 Sets Rating Record Again

Looks like the wait for part two of Season 2 of “The Walking Dead” was worth it for the AMC network, because we all tuned in last Sunday night for the return of the series. According to Nielson, the episode pulled in 8.1 million viewers, another record for cable TV, beating the record set last fall during at the beginning of Season 2.

The episode created more questions than it answered, and who knows where the second half of this season will lead us – one thing is for sure, it will be awesome. Check out next week’s episode trailer.

AMC announced it is going to shoot 16 episodes for Season 3, and will keep the format of breaking the season into two parts like they did with Season 2. Seems to be working OK that way. Last month, “The Walking Dead” was nominated for three Golden Reel awards.

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