If you were a fan of 2009's Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, I've got some great news for you: its sequel, I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, comes out tomorrow! And you want to know the best part? It's every bit as good as the original, equally touching and funny and satirical, with plenty of zombie action! I devoured this book in two days; I could not put it down because it was so much fun.
I was lucky enough to speak with S.G. Browne, the author of both of these great books, about the sequel, the status of the Breathers film, the popularity of zombies, and his five favorite zombie movies.
Hi Scott! How's it going today?
I'm in Del Mar visiting a close friend and getting ready to go play Smash Ball on the beach, so I'd say today is looking good.
I loved I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus! It is hilarious, touching, and the perfect sequel to Breathers. What made you decide to write about Andy Warner again?
I'd never planned on continuing Andy's story unless I could come up with something fresh. The last thing I wanted to do was regurgitate the same ideas from the first novel. While I had a seed of an idea for a sequel, it didn't start to germinate until my publisher asked me if I was interested in writing a Christmas themed zombie novella. Add a little water and sunshine and some zombie compost and two months later, the idea bloomed into I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus.
I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus moves from horror to comedy to emotional scenes. Which is the hardest for you to write? What comes the most natural for you?
To be honest, I don't think too much about moving from one to the other while I'm writing. The different scenes are just a part of the story and if I'm telling it honestly, then the horror and comedy and emotion all come out feeling natural. So none of them are any harder to write than the others. But I do pay attention to make sure the emotional scenes don't get too sappy. I'm a sucker for It's A Wonderful Life.
Is this the last we've seen of Andy?
More than likely. Never say never, because then you have to start making excuses like a politician, but I'm not sure there's a whole lot more I can or want to do with Andy's story. Plus I have so many other stories in me clamoring for my attention that I don't hear Andy's voice.
Have there been any discussions about the film rights for I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus?
Nothing so far, but you never know.
What's the current status of the Breathers movie? How involved are you in the project?
The option from Fox expired but the producers (Diablo Cody and Mason Novick) and the screenwriter (Geoff LaTulippe) are still involved, looking to attach some talent and find another interested studio. That's all I know, which is about the extent of my involvement.
If you had complete control, who would you cast as Andy and Rita in Breathers?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson were both interested in the roles before the rights were ever sold. I don't know if they'd still be interested but I think they would be great. Before I knew of their interest, I'd imagined either Jake Gyllenhaal or Jason Segal as Andy, with Anne Hathaway or Emily Blunt as Rita. I wouldn't kick any of them off the set.
Why are zombies so popular? What do you think that says about us?
Contrary to most pop culture "experts" who believe the popularity of zombies is a reflection of global fears and the idea of horror as catharsis for an anxious society making commentary on itself, I believe zombies are popular because they've been taken out of their proverbial archetypal box. They're no longer just the shambling, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls we've known and loved for most of the past four decades.They're faster. Funnier. Sentient. They've expanded their range, become more well-rounded. And who doesn't enjoy a well-rounded zombie?
As for what their popularity says about us, I have no idea. Let the pundits fight that one out. I'll just stick to writing stories and making fun of human beings.
What authors did you read growing up that made you want to become a writer? Were you more into satire or horror, or another genre altogether?
I didn't read much as a kid. I preferred watching television and gravitated toward horror movies and sci-fi. I loved the old black and white films, like The Crawling Eye and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Eventually when I started reading (which wasn't until college), I consumed a steady diet of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and F. Paul Wilson. King is the reason I wanted to become a writer. I didn't get into reading comedy and satire until my mid-30s, though I've always loved dark quirky films like those by Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson, and the Coen brothers.
What can you tell us about Big Egos? When is it being released?
Big Egos is based on my short story, "My Ego Is Bigger Than Yours," which you can find in my eBook short story collection, Shooting Monkeys In A Barrel. (Yes, that's a shameless plug.) But the gist is that about 15 years in the future there's a designer consumer product that allows you to become a dead celebrity or fictional character for 6-8 hours. It takes role-playing to the next level and deals with the concept of people always thinking they'd be happier being someone else, especially someone rich and famous. It also deals with the question of what happens to your identity if you constantly pretend to be someone you're not.
As for when it's going to be released, the last I heard was August 2013.
Final question: in no particular order, what are your five favorite zombie flicks?
Fido, Night Of The Living Dead (1968), Shaun Of The Dead, Zombie (aka Zombi 2), and Dawn Of The Dead (2004, the director's cut).
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! Best of luck with I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus!
My pleasure. Thanks for having me. And for the well wishes.
I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus will be released October 30, 2012.
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