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BRAINS!!!!!!!!!! A zombie fest with Dennis Finocchiaro

July 24, 2011

Arts & Literature, Interviews

by Alex Mcdermott:

Zombies are everywhere! The CDC is preparing for an attack. George Romero gave us the blueprint. Max Brooks gave us the fallout. Dennis Finocchiaro, author of The Z Word, continues the long line of zombie flesh-rotting fests. He recently sat down and gave me a brain-munching interview on his latest work.

Alex Mcdermott: Your book Z Word is very pop-culture centered. Why do you think zombies have become so popular lately?

Dennis Finocchiaro: Honestly, I think zombies were the next step in paranormal evolution. After a certain vampire series I’d rather not discuss, the media and people in general were looking for the next big monster. Why not a zombie? Zombies take the idea of immortality and twist it into something nobody would want. Plus everyone wants to think they would be one of the few survivors in a zombie apocalypse, right? So they read the books, watch the movies, and enjoy them.

When you think about it, films like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland really changed the zombies genre. Not only are they both quality zombie films, they also add a sense of humor to the horror. And people were looking for that after the absolute seriousness of Twilight. Those books and films ignore humor and focus on teen angst, and let’s face it, that stuff isn’t for everyone.

AM: Your work takes a cue from Max Brooks’ novel World War Z in its format. What advantages do you see to the collection of thematic stories style?

DF: Honestly, I have always been a lover and writer of flash fiction. I write short stories all of the time, and at some point I decided to try to come up with something different: flash fiction horror. So I took my adoration of the span of human emotions and tried to capture them in small snippets of life; instead of regular life, I imagined these snippets in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

As for World War Z, I enjoyed the format, but it read more like a history textbook than a novel, in my opinion. So while I enjoyed it, I also wanted to try to make it more about the survivors and less about how it all happened.

AM: The zombie genre runs from comedy to splatter gore and back again! Where do you place your work within the genre?

DF: The Z Word runs the gamut of human emotions. I wanted readers to laugh, cry, and maybe even fall in love with some of the characters. Yes, it has the gore necessary, but it also has love, hate, revenge and everything in between.

AM: What unique angle do you want to bring to the zombie genre?

DF: When I was writing The Z Word I was attempting to focus on the survivors and the reasons humankind has to survive. Forget killing the zombies. That’s been done. I wanted my collection to be about the twenty-something couple locked in their apartment, leaving its safety only for supplies. Make it about the father and son just trying to find a safe place to sleep, or the two little kids who hid under the house until it was too late. Surviving zombies has been overdone; I wanted it to be about humankind’s reasons for wanting to survive. A favorite song, a delicious meal, and of course, love.

AM: Some artists feel a bit trapped by George Romero’s classic definition of the zombie creature. How did his seminal work play into your development of the zombie?

DF: Romero is the father of zombies. Without him, the book wouldn’t exist. I love his films, especially Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead. He takes what we know of zombies and lets them evolve. Look at Big Daddy from Land of the Dead. He became a zombie leader and even had some semblance of rational thought. Romero is a genius in the genre.

AM: Some critics argue that zombies are a limited horror creature, and therefore the stories around them are limited. How would you address this criticism?

DF: There is no such thing as a limited genre anywhere. Who would have thought a book about wizards would be the next big thing when the combination of kids and magic had been so overdone? And how much did the Harry Potter series make? Anyone who tells you any genre is limited must be completely lacking in imagination. New ideas come up all the time, even in the horror genre. Just when we thought vampires were finished, we got Let the Right One In. I was completely tired of reading and watching vampires. But that book and the subsequent films were outstanding. There’s no such thing as a limited genre.

AM: Most zombie novels or films have a social or political subtext to them. What themes did you want to address in Z Word?

DF: I think what I want people to take from The Z Word is the idea of optimism. We take so much for granted in life. We can walk down to the store and buy a Twinkie (I think any readers would get this reference) but once civilization crumbles, it’s not so easy to find one. I want people to recognize the wonderful little things in life and really enjoy them. Zombies or not, it’s those small things that make our lives worth living. Sure, big events happen that overwhelm us with happiness, but they can’t happen daily. So I want people to stop and think about the things in their lives that make them happy and really enjoy them.

That, and I want them to know how to survive the zombie attack.

______________________________________________

Dennis is a Featured Member of DarkMediaCity.  You can also find him (and The Z Word) on his blogFacebook or on Twitter (@TheZWord).

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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