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Interview: Q and A w/ Jonathan Maberry - on 'DEAD OF NIGHT'

Hear ye, hear ye! – potential spoilers loom below!
Zombie novel DEAD OF NIGHT (Review) was published last fall but recently released in trade paperback format.Author Jonathan Maberry was kind enough to answer some questions on his novel, Thanks a lot for your time Mr.Maberry!
Some quick background info:
Maberry has dabbled over the years with such things as being a NY Times bestselling author, being a multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and fiddling in the Graphic Novel/comics world by working with Marvel Comics. His versatility is not limited to the zombie fiction we refer to here, nor is it limited to the acclaimed Joe Ledger novels I have been rabidly consuming for the last year or two; Jonathan has written features and standard column work, he has written greeting cards (song lyrics?) and non-fiction. Jonathan also created and teaches an ‘Experimental Writing’ class for teen authors.
Visit him online at and on Twitter (@jonathanmaberry) and Facebook.
(Check out that awesome bookshelf. geeky figurines on the top shelf [Wolverine, Punisher]… middle shelf is all his books. Below the shelves, a pleased-looking bearded man that may or may not be Maberry.. only the government and his mother would know for sure.)

FNORDinc: ‘Dead of Night’ is a classic zombie novel, following some very solid principals of the genre. It does branch out into its own realm regarding the root cause of the “infestation”. What was the primary idea that spawned the wasp larvae at the core of the plot line? You are generally very well read regarding the science backing your stories, is this in the same boat? do I now have to be afraid of wasps along with bedbugs, hobo spiders, bird flu, prions, sexually transmitted idiocy, general malaise and illness, bad television…
JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a serious science geek. My favorite horror stories are the ones where we discover that there’s plausible science behind the Big Bad. I remember as a kid being terrified of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but at the same time being dissatisfied with the explanation of ‘radiation from a space probe.’ Even when I was ten that didn’t flush. And, let’s face it, science has never been that important to Romero. He had a different agenda with his stories though he’s now working on a movie adapted from THE ZOMBIE AUTOPSIES by my buddy Dr. Steve Schlozman.
So, my first zombie book was a nonfiction work called ZOMBIE CSU: THE FORENSICS OF THE LIVING DEAD, and for that I interviewed over 250 experts in different fields about how the real world would react and respond to events as describe in the Romero films. I spoke with plenty of scientists, from geneticists to molecular biologists, to come up with a reasonable explanation for everything a zombie does. I can so damn close that I took that science and used it as the b asis for my first zombie novel, PATIENT ZERO. For that story I used a genetically altered version of spongiform encephalopathy (a version of Mad Cow known as ‘fatal familial insomnia’).
When I decided to write DEAD OF NIGHT, I wanted new science. I’d read a great book called PARASITE REX by noted parasite expert Carl Zimmer. I contacted Carl and banged a few of my ideas off of him, and he gave me some advice to tweak my new approach the jewel wasp parasite. DEAD OF NIGHT has been called the most scientifically plausible zombie novel so far.
FNORDinc: With plot lines ranging from GHOST ROAD BLUES to Joe Ledger, to ROT & RUIN, you have to be hanging out in pretty deep dark pits of subconscious badness. After reading DEAD OF NIGHT this doesn’t look to be the exception. Every person in the novel is pushed to the point of breaking, both emotionally, morally, ethically, insert other ‘ally’ word here. Does spending so much time in an apocalyptic mindset cause any issue for you/ how do you recover after writing back to back books?
MABERRY: I doubt I’ve ever met a person who is totally free from psychological damage or emotional baggage. It’s part of what makes us each an individual. For my own part, I grew up in a violent and poverty-stricken neighborhood and in an intensely abusive family. I have my own battle scars. But I’ve seen how people myself included can rise above their damage to embrace their better natures. For my part, I spent over thirty years teaching self-defense to children, women, the elderly, the physically-challenged; and I developed defense programs for all levels of law enforcement including SWAT. In order to teach adequate and realistic defense you have to understand the mind of the predator. This is also a requirement for writers. We have to get inside the head of every character and see the world through their eyes. It doesn’t mean that we become them, but we do have to understand them.\r\n\r\nYou’d think that sort of thing might be dangerous, but it\’s actually quite cathartic. We explore good and bad behavior and the related cause and effect in our fiction. Ask any novelist –writing a novel is worth a year of therapy.
FNORDinc: You seem to have a knack for describing devilish undead walking corpses who spit black blood full of worms and infectious eggs. OBVIOUSLY, this is based on reality, it is too detailed to possibly be from imagination. When was the last time a stranger gushed black disgusting fluid all over you?
MABERRY: You should come with me to book signings.
FNORDinc: How were you able to confirm that you were not a risk to society after the fact as a drop of goo on a poorly scabbed hangnail could be the difference between life and mock-life? These are important points of discussion for all of us prepping for the end times.
MABERRY: Luckily, as a writer the closest I get to parasites or viruses is on tours of labs. However I do get those tours and it’s fascinating. Biological research labs, morgues, SWAT training ranges, military bases, ridealongs with cops. Writers have a great backstage pass. But we don’t take any of the bad things home with us.
FNORDinc: You have dabbled in Female characters in the past, but the character Desdemona “Dez” Fox was really one of the first I have read who held a tie for primary Protagonist. Kudos BTW, she was very well written, and from my male point of view, she was very female. Did you find it hard writing from the perspective of an opposing gender?
MABERRY: I find it easy to write from any character’s perspective as long as I give myself a chance to get to know them. One of the things about novelists is that when a book is simmering in the brain, characters start to talk in your head.  Sometimes to you, more often to each other. They gradually become real people. When that happens I start writing down what they’re saying. If you’re not a writer, this is a cry for help.

Also, novelists tend to build characters based in whole or part on people they’ve known. There are elements of several women I’ve known in Dez Fox. Good and not so good qualities but all real qualities.
FNORDinc: Do you ever have women who give feedback showing you are pretty far off base? As a male, I could be off base myself, so I am curious if any Fan–girl feedback has come your way.
MABERRY: I’ve had a lot of fan letters from women asking if I ‘consulted’ with women or had them vet scenes that are driven from a female point of view. I don’t. But I do try to get inside the head of each character. Male and female, young and old. And, yes, good and evil. As a novelist I’m a professional observer of people.
FNORDinc: My favorite question, not related to your book: While you are in the kitchen, elbow deep in mucky dishwater, a Djinn pops out of the artifact you are washing, he offers you the ability to co-author a novel with anyone, no holds barred. Who would you choose, what genre would you write, and why would we read it.
MABERRY: There’s really only one person I would co-write a novel with, and that’s my wife’s grandfather, Oscar J. Friend. He was long gone before I came along, but I’ve collected all of his writings. He was a pulp-fiction writer who churned out science fiction, fantasy, westerns, mysteries, horror and other stuff under half a dozen pen names. He even ghost-wrote some of the Saint stories. The rights to his works are back with the family now, so I’m considering posthumously collaborating with him to bring Oscar’s work into the 21st century. That would be a lot of fun.
For those interested, here are some cool quotes from the jacket of the book.
their opinions and mine are pretty similar, check my review for full details.
There were other blurbs, but these were my favs.
“Maberry is a master at writing scenes that surge and hum with tension. The pacing is relentless. He presses the accelerator to the floor and never lets up, taking you on a ride that leaves your heart pounding. It’s almost impossible to put this book down. Dead of Night is an excellent read.” –S.G. Browne, author of BREATHERS
“It would be enough to say that Jonathan Maberry had topped himself yet again with an epic zombie novel that is as much fun as it is terrifying. But that he has also created a story of such tremendous heart and social relevance only further cements his place as a master of the genre. It also doesn’t hurt that in DEAD OF NIGHT he has created one of the most compelling heroines I’ve read in years. Dead of Night blew me away!” –Ryan Brown – Author of PLAY DEAD
“Once again, Jonathan Maberry does what he does best; Take proven science, synthesize it and create something truly terrifying. In DEAD OF NIGHT, Maberry lays the groundwork for a Bioweapon that could very well create zombies in the real world. Combining great characters (I fell in love with Dez Fox from the moment she was introduced) and taut, blindingly fast action, DEAD OF NIGHT, is a runaway bullet train of a ride. This is Jonathan Maberry’s best writing yet.” –Greg Schauer, owner Between Books, Claymont, DE
“Dead of Night stands drooped head and lurching shoulders above most zombie novels. The nightmare increases exponentially – from minor outbreak to major crisis with unstoppable speed, building to a heart-stopping climax you won’t be able to put down.” –David Moody, author of the HATER and AUTUMN books


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