There is a whole Texas thing going on in zombie fiction. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but there is, and a lot of it seems to be focused on San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country, which lies just to the north. My stuff takes place in Texas, for the most part, but so too does that of Rhiannon Frater, and J.L. Bourne, and my latest guest, Mr. Bowie V. Ibarra. It’s one thing to see your hometown turned over to the zombies, but quite another to see it done so well, and in so many different ways.
Just in case you haven’t heard about Bowie V. Ibarra yet, let me tell you a little about him. He is the author of the ‘Down the Road’ zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster. His latest book, “Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul” is the story of a young girl who inherits a museum in San Antonio, unaware that an awesome secret lies beneath its showrooms. It is currently available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. (You can check out all his books here.)
Bowie and I have been Facebook friends since way back. We both did some work through Permuted, and first got to know each other through Permuted’s online forum. But it seemed odd to me that the two of us should be working in the same field, and living in the same city, and yet had never met face to face. I guess that’s the curse of this Internet age though.
In the end, it took giant fighting robots to finally bring us together.
My wife and I were out on one of our occasional dates. We went to see Pacific Rim (great movie, by the way) and as we were leaving the theater, this guy grabs my shoulder and says, “Hey, you’re Joe McKinney!” At first I thought it was somebody I’d once arrested, because that happens from time to time, and so my right hand drifted to my side, ready to pull my pistol, if needed.
Then the guy says, “It’s Bowie! Bowie Ibarra!”
“Oh shit!” I said. “Dude, awesome.”
He was there with his beautiful daughter to see King Kong, and as the crowd filed out around us, the four of us talked about life and writers and giant fighting robots. It was a wonderful denouement to a great night out at the movies, and an experience I will forever treasure.
So now, please welcome Bowie V. Ibarra!
Joe McKinney: Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream. I’m glad you could swing by. You’re no stranger to zombie fiction. Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing? How do you approach the genre?
BOWIE V. IBARRA: Sure thing. I’m the author of the ‘Down the Road’ zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster. Very much like your ‘Dead City’, it takes place in our great Lone Star State. The books all stand alone and don’t have to be read in any order, but there is a great thread that followers of the series will appreciate.
My approach is total Romero style. As per the themes of my books and many others out there, I present the only solution being humans working together against their common enemy.
JM: The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. Are you prepared? Would humanity win?
BVI: No way am I prepared. I’m a goner if it goes down now.
JM: What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever? (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here. I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)
BVI: Oh, man, there’s some amazing zombie books out there, and I’ve really never read one I didn’t like. I’d hate to make a list and leave out some of the greats I’ve read. But if one stands out, it’s Wayne Simmon’s ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’, a bizarre, horrific, and wonderful spin on the ‘dead rising from the grave’ tale.
Movie’s are easy: Night of the Living Dead ’68. It’s the movie that inspired me to put pen to paper.
JM: What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?
BVI: A few come to mind, like ‘Machete zombie’ in ‘Dawn…’ as well as ‘Tom Savini getting hit by a truck’ zombie in the same flick. But my fave is ‘Cemetary zombie’ killing Johnny by smacking his head into the tombstone. It’s what started it all.
JM: I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us. Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period. Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past. Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life. What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?
BVI: I’ve read the perspective that ‘Night…’ was a metaphor for the old order returning to crush or repress the new order of things. The American flag prominently displayed in the cemetery at the beginning representing the ‘dead’ old order (and ‘living’ old, if you consider the Mr. Cooper contingent) and their eventual rise to attack the radical youth to preserve the old order. We all know about ‘Dawns…’ commentary on consumerism, ‘Day’s…” science vs. fascism theme, and even ‘Land’s…’ 99% vs. 1% before it was cool.
But its current popularity has an essence of cruelty to it. There’s a kind of selfishness to it, or perhaps permission to act cruelly to another human being. The zombies are dead, so it’s okay to bash their heads in. I admit, that was part of the original appeal to me with ‘Night…’ It seems more prevalent now, however.
But I sincerely hope people can see that the real truth of zombie apocalyptic entertainment, or any challenge humanity faces, is that humanity can overcome any and all obstacles they face if they just work together for the common good.
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