Chewing Braaiiinns with… David Wellington
Today I am joined by David Wellington, author of many books; notable among them is his Monster trilogy. If you have just crawled out from under a rock and have no idea who I’m talking about, this is point where you start to pay attention!
David Wellington was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Syracuse University and received an MFA in creative writing from Penn State.
In 2004 he began serializing his novel Monster Island online. The book rapidly gained a following, and was acquired for print publication by Thunder’s Mouth Press.
Since then, Wellington has published more than 15 novels, and has been featured in The New York Times, Boing Boing and the Los Angeles Times.
You can find him online at davidwellington.net.
Now that you’ve been caught up, we can delve into the questions. Why Zombies David? Is there anything specific that draws you to the genre?
Well, I grew up with zombies. I lived in Pittsburgh as a child, when George Romero was making his classic zombie movies. They used to show them in prime time every Halloween. I did my school shopping at the Monroeville Mall. So they were always sort of there, in the back of my head. When I first moved to New York City, it was a major adjustment. You would go down into the subway stations and there would be so many people there, people who were barely aware of your existence. I needed a way to process that adjustment, and zombies were where I went.
That’s a very interesting reaction to NYC, but it makes complete sense. Tell us about your latest project; published or otherwise.
My latest novel is actually my fifth and final vampire book, 32 Fangs. It ends the series that began with 13 Bullets. The series is my attempt to make vampires scary again. Looking at the covers might tell you if I was successful or not.
The Final Reckoning
Laura Caxton’s battles against the ancient vampire Justinia Malvern have cost her nearly everything—her badge, her freedom, her friends and family . . . maybe even her humanity.
And as she hides out in the deepest backwoods of Pennsylvania, pursued by the cops who were once her colleagues, Laura certainly looks beaten. But as Laura sees it, what little is left of her soul is perfectly adapted to the job of ridding the world of its last vampire. And thanks to the terrible clarity she’s found, Laura’s come up with a plan—one that will finish Malvern once and for all.
But the ever-wily Malvern has a few last aces left to play and is quietly dealing a hand that will involve a terrible fate for the few friends Laura’s got left. When the two adversaries meet for the last time in their most epic battle, the vampires will force Laura to pay a price far beyond anything she’s sacrificed before.
If you’d like to start at the beginning with 13 Bullets…
When a state trooper named Caxton calls the FBI looking for help in the middle of the night, it is Arkeley who gets the assignment-who else? He’s been expecting such a call to come eventually. Sure, it has been years since any signs of an attack, but Arkeley knows what most people don’t: there is one left. In an abandoned asylum she is rotting, plotting, and biding her time in a way that only the undead can.
Caxton is out of her league on this case and more than a little afraid, but the fed made it plain that there is only one way out. But the worst thing is the feeling that the vampires want more than just her blood. They want her for a reason, one she can’t guess; a reason her sphinxlike partner knows but won’t say; a reason she has to find out-or die trying.
Now there are only 13 bullets between Caxton and Arkeley and the vampires. There are only 13 bullets between us, the living, and them, the damned.
Thanks for telling us about your Vampire series. Technically it fits since vampires are considered to be undead as well. But let’s get back onto topic – what makes your Zombies different, if anything?
My zombies eat everything—not just brains, not just human flesh. They’ll eat anything organic—the bark off of trees, the gum they scrape up off the sidewalk. Human bodies are just a convenient food source. They’re also connected, in a sort of sub-telepathic kind of way, which allows other dead things to control them.
As a fan of the Monster trilogy, I’ve got to say that some of the downright creepiest scenes I have ever encountered are between the covers of your books. I’m still reeling from one of the scenes in Monster Island which I read for the first time six years ago. What are your 5 favourite Zombie books that you didn’t write?
There was the one where an intelligent zombie builds a rocket to go to the moon. He doesn’t need to breathe, you see, so he figures it will be zombie paradise up there. I wrote a story called Weaponized about the army using zombie soldiers, that could have been a book. The one about a zombie theme park, where nasty people can go and beat up zombies in exchange for tickets, and it gets out of hand, and the zombies have to defend themselves against ravening hordes of vacationers. Dead Zeppelin, about a Nazi superweapon. And the other nine volumes of my Monster Island trilogy. I could have written twelve of those. Yes, I know you meant what are my five favorite zombie books written by someone else. But I got carried away answering that one.
Sneaky thing you did just there, but I’ll let it slide – this time. What are your top 3 favourite Zombie films?
28 Days Later, and Shaun of the Dead, but the winner and still champion is Night of the Living Dead. Pretty simple, really.
Night of the Living Dead is still at the top of my list. Hands down! Do you think the popularity of The Walking Dead and its appearance in mainstream media has helped to increase the popularity of the genre, or has there always been such an interest?
The interest has always been there. People have made careers writing about how the zombie renaissance is already over, and zombies are on their way out. But there’s been a zombie movie released every year since 1966 (Plague of the Zombies), at least, and plenty more scheduled for the next five years.
Pop Quiz: if the Zombie Apocalypse were to occur right now, 5 things found in the room you are currently sitting will be your weapons – what are they?
Oh, I never play this game. I would be dead the first day, and I know it. I was a boy scout but I was terrible at it—I’d have no hope in a real apocalyptic situation.
Don’t count yourself out yet, David. You never know what will happen if you’re faced with a less than optimal apocalyptic situation. (Note to self: strike David Wellington off my ideal list of Apocalyptic sidekicks. Assign empty spot to suitable replacement, perhaps Chuck Norris.)
For those of you dying to know all about David’s Monster Trilogy, here’s a look:
It’s one month after a global disaster. The most “developed” nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive — in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world — and perhaps the evil genius behind it all. From the other side of the planet, a small but heavily-armed group of schoolgirls-turned-soldiers has come in search of desperately needed medicine. Dekalb, a former United Nations weapons inspector, leads them as their local guide. Ayaan, a crack shot at the age of sixteen, will stop at nothing to complete her mission. They think they are prepared for anything. On Monster Island they will find that there is something worse even than being undead, as Gary learns the true price of survival.
In the heart of America, in the world’s most secure prison, something horrible is growing in the dark. A wave of cannibalism and fear is sweeping across the heartland, spreading carnage and infection in its wake. Captain Bannerman Clark of the National Guard has been tasked with an impossible mission: discover what is happening — and then stop it before it annihilates Los Angeles. In California, he discovers a woman trapped in a hospital overrun with violent madmen. She may hold the secret to the Epidemic but she has lost everything — even her name. David Wellington’s first novel, Monster Island, explored a world overcome by horror and the few people strong enough to survive. Now he takes us back in time to where it all began — to the day the dead began to rise.
Set twelve years after the shambling zombie masses have overrun Manhattan, America, and the world, Monster Planet is the mind-blowing conclusion to what must be the scariest trilogy ever. Oceans of blood, scattered limbs, wanton violence, and general mayhem abound, along with revivified mummies, a Welsh sorcerer, and Wellington’s signature brand of cool high-tech weaponry and sly humor — zombies, after all, are the ultimate consumers. What do the undead want, aside from fresh meat? Do the steadily diminishing number of humans who have somehow managed to survive over a decade of living hell stand a chance on a planet where they’ve been reduced to the status of prey? It all ends here, on Monster Planet.
Thank you David for joining me today. If you want to get in touch with David, you can find his contact information at davidwellington.net.
Join me next week when my guest will be Stephen North, author of Dead Tide and others.