WB: Today, we are joined by author and zombie aficionado Michael S. Gardner. Hello Michael, and welcome to my Writer’s Blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
MG: Thanks for having me on, Donald! So… a little bit about myself, eh? Well, I’m a contract killer by day and writer at night. Can you imagine? I get paid to KILL. Sounds great! But, in all actuality, I’m just an exterminator. (Yeah, I know, the first thought would be much cooler for a horror writer.) I do tend to go out to bars with friends from time to time—I do have Irish ancestry running through these veins, after all. I enjoy video games, political discussions, and subscribe to a few conspiracy theories. These, well… they all make for good topics when it comes to writing. I try to be an overall friendly dude and do what I can to help my brothers and sisters in writing. That brings me the most satisfaction, I think. So, in a nutshell, that’s me.
WB: Downfall is your first novel and most successful work to date. What was your main inspiration?
MG: Ah, DOWNFALL, my baby. The inspiration for this novel came after reading Z.A. Recht’s PLAGUE OF THE DEAD. At the time, the genre had exploded. You could find zombies everywhere! And, in all honesty, it was that book that brought forth a thought that changed my life: “Hey, I can do this.” Not that I was a seasoned writer or anything, but it was the idea of bringing to life the stories my friend Stephen and I always talked about. Combine that with Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil (the BEST video games out), I came up with DOWNFALL. Though it took years for it to come out, I finally released it a few months back. Folks seem to enjoy it, so I can’t wait to see the response for the sequel.
WB: The Blood of an Immortal is a bit of a departure work for you. What was it like writing about pirates?
MG: It was a very difficult genre to write about, to be completely honest. A LOT of research went into that story. I had been asked to write a novella for an anthology and accepted without really knowing what I was getting into. (Sometimes, as a writer, that can really benefit you—it did for me in this case.) There are facts which need to be explored when you write, and you can’t always make things up on a whim.
That said, I had so much fun writing that story. I don’t toot my own horn, but I really enjoy re-reading that one. I grew so much as a writer from THE BLOOD OF AN IMMORTAL, so I have to say it was a very fruitful venture and look forward to diving back into that world here soon.
WB: You tend to write about zombies quite a bit. Was there a story or movie that really influenced you in this direction?
MG: This may sound cheesy, but everything about zombies enthralls me. Romero did it best in LAND OF THE DEAD: we are the zombies, the zombies are us. That is by far my favorite ZED flick, and it’s had the most influence on me to write about zombies as far as a movie goes. There is just so much that you can do in that type of world.
WB: Horror appeals to deeper and darker emotions than most genres. What scares you and how do you incorporate it into your work?
MG: We’re getting a little personal, man. But I’ll go ahead and spill the beans. We’re cool like that. What scares me the most, and I’m sure there are countless out there who will agree, is true loneliness. That’s when your mind gets the best of you. Think about your favorite scary scenes in any horror movie. I bet a few of them, if not more, deal with a character being alone, or feeling alone: the abductee being probed by malevolent creatures from another world, the kid riding his trike through the halls of a nearly empty hotel, the lonely survivor who hears a constant scratching in the walls.
I do my best to incorporate this into many of my stories. As many of my readers have said, I write about people. People sell the story, not the zombies, aliens, vamps, etc. At least not in my opinion. That ever-encroaching darkness, it really gets to folks. And I advise any writer out there who is looking to make relatable characters in horror first look inside themselves, be brave enough to bring out your fears, and write them down.
Thanks Michael, for your candor and for providing us a glimpse into your writing style and what inspires you to create such literary goodness. Michael S. Gardner’s works can be found at the following link:
Michael S. Gardner is the author of Downfall, Betrayal: A Zombie Novella, The Blood Of An Immortal, and numerous other works. When not writing, he spends his time playing Left 4 Dead and Borderlands 2. You can check out his blog at: www.atasteofterror.blogspot.com, where he interviews writers and reviews their books.