Please welcome Scott Kenemore to The Qwillery. Scott's most recent novel is Zombie, Indiana which was published earlier this month by Talos.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Scott: Hi, there! Thank you for interviewing me about Zombie, Indiana!
To answer your question, I've always enjoyed creative writing, and have been writing stories and essays since I was a kid.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Scott: I tend to outline large narrative events in a novel ahead of time, but still find myself getting ideas in the moment when I'm writing, and sometimes this informs the plot in important ways. (I still smile whenever I see the "plotter versus pantser" bifurcation, because my friend, the poet Chris O. Cook, would always use the verb "pants" to mean "to pull down a man's pants when he is not expecting it." Thus, I am pro-pantsing in all senses of the word!)
The most challenging part of writing for me is probably getting the wording right in revisions. It ain't glamorous, but it's so, so important.
TQ: Describe Zombie, Indiana in 140 characters or less.
Scott: "A horror novel and political satire about the great state of Indiana!"
TQ: Tell us something about Zombie, Indiana that is not in the book description.
Scott: Larry Bird, Damon Bailey, Reggie Miller, and other Hoosier basketball icons play a role in telling the story (though they don't directly appear as characters).
TQ: What inspired you to write novels about zombies? Why set the series in the Midwest (Ohio, Illinois, and now Indiana)?
Scott: I've lived all over the Midwest, and I like to write about the small regional differences-- including differences of temperament-- that can separate Midwestern states.
I like to attack places with zombies because of the stress-test that a zombie outbreak creates. States act one way when the economy is booming, there's no natural disasters, and the country is not at war. They act in entirely different ways during a crisis. I think zombies create an interesting kind of crisis.
TQ: Please tell us about your zombies. Are they more like the George Romero zombie or something else? What do you think is the appeal of zombie fiction?
Scott: My zombies are slow and stuporous, very like Romero zombies. I like slow zombies because there's sort of no excuse for getting eaten by one. They're missing limbs. They're illiterate. They can't run. But they're still going to eat you, because you're going to make bad choices and get brought down by your own vices. That's something I find compelling as a storyteller.
I could write tens of thousands of words about why zombie fiction holds appeal for folks, and still not hit every angle. So I'll just say that, for me, zombies have a sort of blue-collar appeal as monsters go. They are the least pretentious entity in the horror pantheon.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Zombie, Indiana?
Scott: I lived in Indiana until about 2002. Then, last summer while I was writing the book, I went back down and scouted many of the locations where I knew scenes would be set in Zombie, Indiana. I went to Indianapolis, Southern Indiana, and the caves on the border with Kentucky.
TQ: In Zombie, Indiana, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Scott: The hardest was probably Kesha Washington-- an African-American scholarship student at an expensive private high school in Indianapolis. Creating this character was a conscious decision to challenge myself as a writer, because I find so many renderings of adolescents in horror fiction to be flimsy and obnoxious. I wanted to see if I could do a better job.
The easiest character to write was Indiana Governor Hank "The Tank" Burleson. His short-sightedness and venery were a joy to limn!
TQ: Please give us one or two of your favorite lines from Zombie, Indiana.
Scott: Unlike many of my favorite writers--Gore Vidal, Victor Hugo-- my writing does not generally lend itself to producing aphorisms. I do, however, smile upon recalling my governor-character's dismissal of Wisconsinites:
"Idiot Cheeseheads to the last. They had selected a cow for the image on the reverse side of their state quarter. That had given Burleson a deep sense of satisfaction. There was nothing to fear from these gentle bovines. There never had been."
Perhaps this small calumny will suit your purposes?
Talos, May 6, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 376 pages
In the third book of his Zombie series, Scott Kenemore brings the explosive horror thriller of an undead outbreak in the city of Indianapolis. Zombie, Indiana takes place during the same timeline as the outbreaks in his books Zombie, Ohio and Zombie, Illinois, and has the same punch as the previous two.
Zombie, Indiana explores the impact of an invading zombie horde on a trio of Hoosier protagonists . . . each of whom have some dark secrets to keep. When the governor’s daughter mysteriously disappears on a field trip, IMPD Special Sergeant James Nolan, scholarship student Kesha Washington, and Governor Hank Burleson must all come together not only to find the governor’s daughter, but also to undertake a quest to redeem the very soul of the state itself . . . all while under constant attack from the living dead.
With humorous, memorable characters, tense action sequences, and brutal zombie violence, Zombie, Indiana will put readers in mind of some of the most compelling works of popular fiction. At once a mystery, a thriller, and a horror novel, Kenemore strikes again with this rollicking tour through America’s heartland that is nothing but a tour de force for zombie fiction fans!
Talos, October 1, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 392 pages
The sequel to the bestselling Zombie, Ohio, this explosive supernatural thriller from Scott Kenemore tells the story of three Chicagoans who have been thrown together by a bizarre, interconnected series of events during the first twenty-four hours of a zombie outbreak in the Midwest's largest city. A partnership is crafted between a pastor from Chicago's rough South Side, an intrepid newspaper reporter, and a young female musician, all of whom are fighting for survival as they struggle to protect themselves and their communities in a city overrun with the walking dead. Between the barricaded neighborhoods and violent zombie hunters, the trio encounters many mysterious occurrences that leave them shaken and disturbed. When the mayor of Chicago is eaten by zombies on live television, and a group of shady aldermen attempt to seize power in the vacuum, these unlikely friends realize that they have stumbled upon a conspiracy to overthrow the city . . . and that they alone may be qualified to combine their talents to stop it.
Zombie, Illinois will delight devoted zombie fans and put readers in mind of some of the best recent works of supernatural horror. You will be left shocked, horrified, and craving brains! This novel will grab you from the first page and not let go until the riveting finale.
Talos, February 8, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages
When rural Ohio college professor Peter Mellor dies in an automobile accident during a zombie outbreak, he is reborn as a highly intelligent (yet somewhat amnesiac) member of the living dead. With society crumbling around him and violence escalating into daily life, Peter quickly learns that being a zombie isn’t all fun and brains. Humans—unsympathetic, generally, to his new proclivities—try to kill him at nearly every opportunity. His old friends are loath to associate with him. And he finds himself inconveniently addicted to the gooey stuff inside of people’s heads.
As if all this weren’t bad enough, Peter soon learns that his automobile accident was no accident at all. Faced with the harrowing mystery of his death, Peter resolves to use his strange zombie “afterlife” to solve his own murder.
Skillfully combining the genres of horror, humor, and film noir, Zombie, Ohio weaves an enthralling and innovative tale that any fan of the current zombie craze is sure to relish. Followers of detective and horror fiction alike will find something to love about Zombie, Ohio—a tale of murder, mystery, and the walking dead.
Scott Kenemore is the bestelling author of the Zen of Zombie-series of humor books, and the novels Zombie, Ohio, and Zombie, Illinois. He was born in New York, grew up in Indiana, and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.