"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

An Interview with Alex Granados

Alex Granados 
Alex Granados works in radio and print newspapers and has just taken a step into the waters of Indielit publishing for Crushed Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing with a new Zombie novel called Cemetery Plot.

He's been doing the rounds lately - skim forward to the bottom of the interview to find four other interviews with other bloggers - to promote his work which is garnering decent reviews on the circuit, as you would expect from someone with his pedigree. Zombielit readers are going to be well served by this novel, it seems.

The Wiz and his magic radar Orb managed to track him down in one of America's finest regions - that of North Carolina - and he agreed to speak around the Cauldron. Here's what he had to say.






Hiya Alex Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you? How did you come to write? Do you write for a living?

Hi Wiz. Thanks for having me. So, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. 



They tell me Raleigh is known as 'The City of Oaks,'Alex?

It is indeed, Wiz. 

Because of a lot of Oak trees about?

There are certainly plenty of oak trees. However, I work in Durham, which is about 30 minutes away, as a producer on a local talk show called The State of Things. It's a public radio program hosted by NPR veteran Frank Stasio. When I'm not doing that, I write a freelance column for the local newspaper, the News & Observer. I also practice magic.


 You know like disappearing coins and that sort of thing. I got into it a few months ago when I had to watch a documentary for work. It was about this magician who moved to Japan to do shows. 

He learned that the Japanese magicians were great at coming up with tricks but lousy at showmanship, so he made it his job to bring them up to speed. It was weird and engaging. I decided I wanted to be able to do some tricks, too. 

I've been writing since the fourth grade. Our class had a Halloween short story writing contest, and I wrote a story about (appropriately enough) zombies. The class was riveted when I read it out loud and I got hooked to the attention. Been writing ever since.  

How do you write? Are you a methodical 2.5k word a day grinder? Or an inspirational - lock-me-away-for-the-weekend kind of pantser?

I'm more of a 2.5k word-a-day grinder, except my chosen goal is 2,000 words a day. I settled on that during last year's National Novel Writing month. 

I got a late start and was trying to write 50,000 words in 25 days, so it looked like 2,000 words per day would do the trick. I've been doing that ever since.  

Tell us about Cemetery Plot, published two weeks ago?

Apocalyptic Zombie Classic


"This is a weird horror/sci fi hybrid. It came about when I was walking by a graveyard last year. It was one of those places reserved for the well off and relatively famous. The cemetery was, more or less, at capacity and I got to thinking about what would happen on a long enough time frame if we ran out of places to bury people. Would the world just be one big graveyard? "
The story came from there. I wrote two intertwined stories. One set in a world that is overrun with cemeteries due to a virus that spreads through the cremated ashes of the dead. Cremation was outlawed and cemetery space is at a premium. 

Into that story comes Vanessa. She was depressed, living in the 1970s and decided to take part in a Satanic ritual that would turn her into one of the living dead. Instead she woke up years later, unchanged and all too alive. A cemetery tycoon finds out about her and wants to experiment on her to find out the secret of her resurrection. He hopes to use that secret to clear the cemeteries and make room for more bodies... and of course put more money in his pockets. 

That storyline is mixed with another one set in the future of that world. In this future, a zombie apocalypse has taken place, and the action follows a living dead medium who makes his money bilking the rich. The two stories eventually converge and you find out how everything is connected.  
  
Do you think The Walking Dead should have ended at the end of the first series. Has the Apocalypse/Zombie genre reached its peak of popularity and/or creative limit? Or does it have somewhere else to travel?


"It's hard to say. If Season Two were all we had to go on, then I would say, yes, The Walking Dead should have ended after Season One. The second season was very slow going and only picked up the pace towards the end. Not enough to redeem it though. The third season looks like it's livening things up though, so there could be some redemption after all. Give me another season and I'll let you know what I think."

As for the zombie genre. I think it's time for it to go back to its origins in Haiti. The zombie idea got started because of the legend of zombifications in the voodoo religion of Haiti.  But the zombies they were talking about were completely different. They were victims, forced into an existence of servitude to people with powers greater than them. I think there is more to explore in that aspect of the zombie genre. 

Haitian origins? Zombie Flesh Eaters? Are Zombies real, Alex? Here's a chap who explains the origins of the zombie phenomenon.

  “Our source here is ethnobotanist Wade Davis. In 1982 he visited Haiti to see if he could learn the secret of the "zombie powder" that local sorcerers, known as bokors, allegedly used to reanimate the dead. As told in his 1985 book, The Serpent and the Rainbow,  Davis had little to go on but some tantalizing stories and a few contacts. Nonetheless, during his first week in Haiti he managed to meet two alleged zombies who'd been patients at a local psychiatric institute.  What's more, with the aid of a wad of greenbacks he was able to witness the manufacture of a batch of zombie powder. In a chilling passage he tells of a midnight trip to a graveyard where he watched a bokor and his assistants dig up the corpse of a recently deceased infant, portions of which - Davis is a bit vague on the details - were added to a witch's brew of plants, sea worm, toad, lizard, and fish.       As time went on Davis learned a bit about why zombies were created. Typically the victim had antagonized his family or neighbors, who hired a bokor to do him in. The bokor would spread zombie powder on the threshold of the home of the victim, where he would absorb it through his feet. After falling into a deathlike trance the victim would be buried then later summoned from the grave by the bokor, who would exploit the zombie as a slave. During several trips to Haiti, Davis was able to collect eight samples of powder. A number of the ingredients had psychoactive properties, but the most important, he concluded, was a potent neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, which was extracted from the puffer fish found in Haitian waters. The principal symptom of tetrodotoxin poisoning is paralysis--often the victim remains conscious, but his breathing becomes so shallow as to be undetectable and he appears lifeless. Davis claims some victims were thought dead but revived. Davis tells of providing samples of zombie powder to pathologist Leon Roizin, who tested them on rats. Roizin told him the animals became completely immobilized and unresponsive, though heartbeat and brainwaves were still detectable. After 24 hours the rats recovered, apparently without lingering effects. Davis never actually saw the creation of a zombie and concedes there is much about Haitian society he doesn't understand. But one might conclude that tetrodotoxin was the drug used to create zombies...” (Source: The Straight Dope)
 As for apocalyptic stories... I never get tired of them. I feel as though there is limitless ground for the exploration of the human condition in them. 

How do you market Cemetery Plot? What is your favoured method? Have you any tips for aspiring novelists on marketing their work in this most vicious and saturated of marketplaces?

I've got to say, I hate marketing. I do the usual Facebook posting thing, and I've done a fair number of blog interviews. I've also sent out my novel for review to various places and done a number of book signings locally. I don't really have any marketing tips for aspiring novelists... if anything, I need some! 


"Buy my book! Buy my book!" Indielit - modern
Tin Men (and women).

Marketing is a bloody nightmare, Alex.

You ain't kidding, Wiz.

Does your environment affect your writing? Is there anything about  Raleigh which influences your characters and/or plots?

I mentioned earlier the cemetery nearby that inspired Cemetery Plot. The setting of some of my other novels, or at least one anyway, is Raleigh, though I don't call it that. 


Northern Virginia
newspaper and magazine
editor
Really, all of my stories, characters and ideas come, in some way, from experiences that I've had, and since I've lived most of my life in Raleigh, it becomes the setting for many of them. I used to live in Manassas, Virginia, and I spent a number of years in Morgantown, West Virginia, so those also get jammed into my stories from time to time. 

Sentient zomboids - half alive, half dead - capture you while you are driving to the lake. You are tied up and taken to a cabin deep in the North Carolina woods and prepared for mutation. The previous owners of the cabin have left three books, two CD's and a DVD in a big suitcase you find in the cellar. In your ideal world, what would you wish them to be.

The Two CD's would be: Animals by Pink Floyd and a mix CD of crazy techno. 


Wiz notes: The third best Floyd album and one which divided critics at the time. Contains two classic Floyd moments, but is chiefly remembered for being the album where Roger Waters began to exert control - lyrically, at least - over the direction of the band.

Plus 

Some Crazy Techno Beats






The DVD wouldn't matter. I wouldn't be able to watch it after a couple of viewings. But just for the hell of it, let's say Koyaanisqatsi. 

I'm a bit the same with films, Alex. 

Are you, Wiz?

Yes. Much prefer reading and music. Here's Koya...





The three books would be:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Catch 22 PDF

Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut 



and for a bonus feature....



Hocus Pocus by Focus (live ultra prog version)

...and the collected works of Phillip K. Dick, if such a thing existed. 

What would be your three major tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse if you were the sole survivor?

One: Get a gun. 
Two: Learn to survive in the woods, off the land. 
Three: Find the most isolated piece of forest you can find and disappear in the middle of it.  

Or befriend Daryl Dixon?

That would work, Wiz.

What is your favourite zombie film? And which film, book or CD has had the biggest influence on Cemetery Plot

28 Days Later has got to be my favorite Zombie film, however the movies of George Romero, like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc., influenced me more. 


Classic opening shot in 28 Days Later.
Filmed at 5am outside the Houses of Parliament

Cemetery Plot utilizes many traditional zombie tropes, and those mostly developed because of Romero's vision.  

Which creative person would you invite for dinner. What would they be eating Chez Alex?

I would invite Kurt Vonnegut. 


Vonnegut Quote


He inspired me to write and showed me that reading could be fun. Unfortunately, he's dead, so he would be a zombie. That means that  I would probably be on the menu that night. 

That's OK though. If I have to go, having Kurt Vonnegut eat me for dinner is as good a way as any.  
  
What does 2013 hold for fans of Alex Granados?
I have a novel coming out April 1 from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. 

It's called Into the Cave. 


It's not horror exactly, more like fantasy. It follows a young boy from an abusive home who discovers that he can create worlds by writing them. He escapes into one of these worlds to get away from his father and ends up losing his identity. The story is him trying to find out who he is and learning to control his power.  

Alex, thanks for chatting with us. It's been an absolute pleasure and I wish you every success in the coming year.

Thanks Wiz!!

Buy Cemetery Plot here:

 http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Plot-Alex-Granados/dp/0615711448/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353356914&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+plot

Talk to Alex here:

www.facebook.com/AlexGranadosWrites

Read about Alex here:


3 comments:

  1. Fab interview, Wiz. The jacket cover for Cemetery Plot is fantastic ... love it ... thanks for introducing us to some wonderful writers :) n x

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  2. Excellent interview almighty Wizard. Loved the video clips - aways enjoy a chuckle on my coffee breaks.

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  3. If anybody is willing to give an honest review of my book on Amazon, I have a free ARC copy. Email me at agranadoster@gmail.com

    Alex Granados

    ReplyDelete