As I fan of zombie fiction I stumbled across Eris S. Brown's Season of Rot and knew right away I had found a new favorite. Since that time I've been lucky enough to read A LOT more of ESB's always fantastic writing, be published along side him (in The Zombist), write an intro for him, and call him my friend. He is easily one of the most prolific young writers in the independent scene. I'm very proud to bring you a few words with Eric S. Brown.
Q. I think the best way to start these out is for you to explain your influences and inspirations to us. Start with what first made you want to write and work your way forward from there.
I guess the first thing that influenced me was comic books. I have read and collected them since I was four years old. On career day in the second grade, I wore a Green Lantern shirt and simply told my teacher I would be joining the corps when I grew up. She did not find that amusing. I read a lot of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert McCammon, etc. like any horror fan growing up in the 80s but it was folks like David Drake who made me want to write. I idolized Drake and still do to a degree. He is and was the master of military SF. I have a signed book that he sent me that is one of my most prized possessions. In high school, I got into a Lovecraft a lot. During this whole time, I was writing own stuff. Not originally material so much as fan fiction. I went so far as to write an entire “Alien Legion” novel as a kid for the super comic geeks who remember that series. Anyway, Drake was and is my hero. Without him, I never would have picked up a pen but Lovecraft is a big part of me too.
Q. I know you have had a BUNCH of stories published but do you still remember your first published piece?
A. Yep, who forgets their first? It was a zombie like virus tale called “Night Shopping” which ran in Burning Sky Magazine issue nine back in the day. It's been reprinted too many time to count.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. I am hard at work on Bigfoot War II and III. Book III is going to literally leave folks going “what the heck?” and amazed at the same time if I pull it off. It will be my masterpiece of horror written by a fan for other fans. I am also doing an interview series for Naked Snake Press's blog where I am interviewing tons of zombie authors. In addition to that, I am doing tales for a few more anthologies that have invited me to be in them and thinking about what I plan for the future after the Bigfoot War trilogy conludes.
Q. Okay, I’ve read ESB stories with fast zombies and slow zombies (and smart zombies, animal zombies, pregnant zombies, plant zombies, and six dozen other kinds of zombies) which do you prefer to write? Which do you prefer to read?
A. I enjoy writing fast, “28 Days Later” style zombies the most but I do like to shake things up from time to time. As to reading, I love them all. I have been a diehard Z fan since I first watched Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead as a child and always will be.
Q. I’m very excited about Anti-Heroes by you and THE Dunwoody! Can you tell me about it?
A. Anti-Heroes is a joint book featuring dark, superhero novellas from the two of us. The book was Dave's idea. He called me one night knowing one of my goals was to really get into writing superhero stuff and asked me to do the book with him. The Enslaver of Worlds, a very Lovecraftian monster like being, was something he'd dreamed up as child and he knew I had The Human Experiment featuring MY superhero Agent Death coming out from Sonar 4 Publications so we decided do a book that featured both of them. My novella “The Zombie Farm” is Agent Death's second adventure. You don't have to read The Human Experiment to enjoy it but it will be much better if you do.
(Interviewer Note: ESB and THE Dunwoody?!?! THIS IS ROCK!)
Q. You’ve really branched out this year with How the West Went to Hell (a horror western), Kinberra Down (Sci-Fi), Anti-Heroes/ The Human Experiment (Super Hero), and Bigfoot War ( Cryptozoological Apocalyptic Horror). In the middle of all the middle of all that you wrote sequels to three of the five stories in Season of Rot, all chock full of zombie goodness. With all those different genres which was the most difficult? Which was the most fun?
A. SF hands down. I love SF but unless I flat out blend it with horror, I don't do it well. Kinberra Down was my homage to tales like Alien and Screamers but it wasn't an easy book for me to write. Jessy Roberts kind of teamed up with me a bit on it adding about a tenth of the book and expanding some of the character stuff. She was great to work with. I am fan of SF, comics, horror in general, and zombies. I love it all and the whole reason I write is that I am a fan. It just makes sense that I would try my hand at all of it. The Weaponer, a post apocalyptic, zombie, western is likely the closest thing I have done to blending all my loves into a single book. It should be out from Coscom Entertainment soon.
Q. How far would you make it through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?
A. LOL. I have no idea. Likely not too far if there was beer and cigarettes involved.
(Interviewer Note: I happen to know that the Oompa Lompas smoke, drink, and curse like Tim Long but only during their lunch hour.)
Q. If you absolutely had to pick a favorite comic book character, which would it be?
A. The Flash. I grew up with Barry but love Wally dearly. Wally is a family guy like me and that makes him even cooler in my eyes. Plus, I try to write like The Flash. Though for the record, my favorite teams are The Fantastic Four and The Legion of Superheroes. I have huge collections of both and am a total Legion geek. As to my favorite bad guy, that would be Dr. Doom.
Q, If You-from-Five-Years-Ago saw you today what would he say? And what would you tell him?
A. He would say “Wow!” and I would say “Don't give up. Keep at it man.”
Q. Who said, “Calm down, you’re acting very un-Dude.”?
A.I have no idea on that one mate. Couldn't we just talk comics?
(Interviewer Note: Walter from The Big Lebowski. He is a human quote machine!)
Q, Which holiday has better candy, Halloween or Christmas?
Q. You have scared the hell outta me before, so I got to ask what scares you?
A. Snakes and Bigfoot. They creep me out man.
(Interviewer Note: ESB’s Bigfoot Monsters are scary as HELL.)
Q. It took me about a week longer to get these questions back to you. Did you write a new book in that time?
A. I just recently wrote Martin Kier and the Dead in a week. It's soon to be released from Naked Snake Press. That's the closest I have come lately. The books in the Bigfoot War series are taking some time because I want them to be my best ever so it will be quite a while until I wrap them up.
(Interviewer Note: Bonus action…I wrote the intro to Martin Kier and the Dead.)
Q. Quick, name drop five great independent horror talents!
A. Excluding you (since it’s your blog), David Dunwoody, Stephen North, Nick Cato, the late Z. A. Recht, and Peter Clines.
Q. Since you are a fan of comic books and I’m a fan of your books I wanna try something different. Let’s pretend there is an alternate reality of your town of Babble Creek from your story Bigfoot War. Now in this other Babble Creek the story starts the same…Jeff loses his dad and brother and is infused with a vicious thirst for revenge. He comes back to town and gets his revenge. He is standing in the clearing when the tribe of angry giant beasts emerges from the nearby trees. Now, the big difference in this other reality is Jeff has super telekinesis he acquired from government experiments from his time in the military. So please describe for me, in 1,500 words or so, what would happen if a tribe of raging Sasquatches attacked a super with a wicked hate for Bigfoot!
Jeff stepped out onto the porch and took a deep breath of fresh country air. It was hard to believe it was all over. Somehow it didn’t feel real. It felt as if there was something left to do. Jeff hopped over the porch railing to the grass and walked around the house, taking one last look at this place of nightmares before he headed to his car.
A roar erupted from the trees beyond the gravel drive. It was not the voice of the creature which had so long haunted him. It sounded different, as if it was a cry of grief not rage. He broke into a run. Jeff knew the voice belonged to another of the creatures and it was going to come after him like he had its kin. He took off in a run for his car. As he reached it, several more howling voices roared in the woods, a chorus of sadness becoming rage.
Jeff looked at the rifle lying in the passenger seat but decided this was a fight he could handle himself. It was only fitting. The government had made him a freak. He stood his ground and readied himself for what was to come. He could no longer keep count of the number of voices in the air. His heart thundered in his chest and sweat poured from his skin. If he was going to die today, he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. An eight-foot-tall creature lumbered from the trees. He could see it was female. Large sagging breasts hung from underneath the fur of its chest. Jeff concentrated and it's head exploded from the pressure of a telekinetic vise that crushed it into spray of bone shards and red mist. The headless monster flopped to the ground then lay still. No sooner had the body hit the dirt, than did the others come. They were of all sizes and shapes, male and female. The smallest looked to weigh a little over a thousand pounds and was a tiny in comparison to most of the others. A large male led the charge at him. The beast like creature stood nearly a dozen feet tall and the ground shook with each of its steps. Hulking muscles rippled underneath the thick layer of hair that covered its arms and legs. As one they bounded towards him. Jeff jabbed a hand forward and an invisible blade of mental force slammed into the throat the large male. With a pained attempt at a scream, it stumbled as blood washed over and streamed down the front of its body. It met his eyes and Jeff smiled as he saw the fear there before it took its last breath, falling before him. Jeff waved his arm sending a solid wall of power into the creatures' forward ranks. They were tossed backwards, many with broken ribs, fractured legs, and bloodied faces. It was time to make the conflict more personal. Transparent blades forged of his willpower formed in his hands as he ran forward to where the monsters were regrouping and still more poured from the trees. With a mental push, he flung himself through the air at the closest two, slicing one's forehead open that sprayed brain matter onto his hand and arm. He landed in front of the second, striking upwards at its chest. His blade pierced the thing's heart as its eyes grew wide and its breath caught in its throat. Jeff jerked the blade free and spun to face the mob gathering around him. At once, he saw there were too many. They had closed in so fast, the area was too confined from him to continue the fight with his blades. As they leapt onto him, he raised a shield of crackling energy over himself. Their fists and feet hammered into it pushing him to his knees. Blood leaked from his eyes, ears, and nose as he struggled to keep the shield up. With his last ounce of willpower he turned the shield into a wave of outward flying razor like shards. The four closest beasts were mangled and cut to bits. Several behind them suffered deep gashes and grazing wounds but none of them backed off. Jeff collapsed, his eyes falling shut, as hair covered hands grabbed his body and tore it to shreds in a fury of fear and anger.
KILLER DEATHMATCH! Ladies and gentlemen, Eric S. Brown!
Eric hangs out all in horror and zombie forums all over the web. You can also find him on facebook.
You can find his massive collection of dark fiction here...