Please welcome Scott Kenemore to The Qwillery. Scott's most recent novel is
which was published earlier this month by Talos.
: 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
: 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
: 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? TQ
: What's next?Scott
: I have a novel about a haunted hotel
coming out in October, also from Skyhorse/Talos.TQ
: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.Scott
: Thank you for having me!