Today I’m joined by a newcomer to the Zombie scene – J.Paul Wallace. Or is it J.P. Kurzitza? All I know is that one is his horror alter-ego and the other is his real self… The long and short of it is this; we’re here to talk about his short story Ache which has been released on Amazon and guess what my little pretties – it’s his foray into horror and the Zombie culture. Let’s be gentle with him for the moment and we’ll see what falls out of his brain as shake him up a little…
J.P. Kurzitza was a jock for most of his life, a hopeless dreamer, and an unparalleled underachiever. He excelled in the art of time-wasting, and was also an accomplished procrastinator.
Somehow, in early 2000, he found a woman who was actually into procrastinating, wandering, underachievers, and they were later married in 2002. Their family began to grow rapidly, so much so that Kurzitza’s job wasn’t paying the bills. So, he and his wife made the decision for her to go back to work, and for him to become a fulltime stay-home dad.
Little did he realize that making this life-changing alteration would magically transform him into an author, but that is exactly what happened. Now, Kurzitza is still at home, has 3 boys, one girl, one cat, and one dog. His wife is still the love of his life, but a not too distant second is his passion for the art of storytelling.
So J.P., why Zombies? Is there anything specific that draws you to the genre?
So glad this is the first question, and I apologize in advance if I offend any of you fanatical Zombie lovers out there. I always wanted to at least attempt to write a horror story of some kind in my lifetime. It just so happened that with the recent resurrection (ha ha, get it?) of the genre, helped along by The Walking Dead, I figured that writing about Zombies was as good a place to start as any.
The biggest reason I wrote it, however, was because I was frustrated. I’m a big movie buff and love Romero’s first two Zombie films—both brilliant. After that, though, Zombies became very clichéd and unoriginal. More films and books were being made with little to no change to the Zombie culture. Zombies are undead; Zombies eat the living; Zombies can only be killed by assaulting their heads in some manner, blah, blah, blah. But more importantly to me, Zombies had no personality. I was tired of the lack of vision within Zombie stories, so I grandiosely set out to re-write the Zombie as a character itself.
Call me the Stephenie Meyer of Zombies.
The Stephanie Meyer of Zombies, huh? If you’re talking about success, I’m with you. If you’re referring to the Twilight version of a Zombie Apocalypse… That may be a different kettle of fish altogether. Though… Enough about the idea swirling around in my head! Tell us about your latest project; published or otherwise.
I have several published works, including two novels, two short stories, and three non-fiction works, but ACHE is my latest and only foray into the world of horror, or Zombies, to be more specific. Don’t be fooled by the preview on Amazon for ACHE. It is an 80 page short story, but you only get a very small sampling of the work. That’s because most of the text was converted into JPEG format. Why? I can’t say. You’ll have to read it and find out. So, instead of displaying the story as an 8000 word story (which it is), Amazon only reads it at roughly 2200 words, and sees the other ¾ of it as only pictures (which it is not).
Let’s take a quick look at Ache now:
A struggling writer, and soon-to-be father, is coaxed into keeping a diary chronicling his wife’s pregnancy in hopes of snapping out of his creative funk. However, what started nine months ago as a beautiful and wondrous journey ultimately turns into a firsthand account of his agonizing metamorphosis into something truly hideous.
He will stop at nothing to keep his young wife and unborn child safe. But can he save them from himself?
Not just another Zombie story. This one’s got a pulse.
What makes your Zombies different, if anything?
Not only do I give the readers a great story full of emotion and anticipation, but I also give them a visual experience as they’re reading it. I took a very big risk with the way I published this story, but I truly believe it was the only way to capture the mood I wanted. If you’ve got a tablet reader, you’ll enjoy it even more.
Not only that, but I reinvented the Zombie character itself. Not so much physiologically, but mentally and emotionally. I asked myself the question, what if Zombies still had a fully functioning brain and thought, but had become slaves to their disease and couldn’t act on their thoughts, and could only give in to their primal, immediate physical cravings: eating flesh?
Without giving too much away, the story is told from the male protagonist’s point of view in a diary format. Originally meant to chronicle the day by day happenings during his wife’s first pregnancy, his diary quickly turns into a chronicle of his slow metamorphosis into “one of those things” milling about the alley. I know at its roots my story sounds like every other Zombie story I was talking about earlier, but I put a little more personality, a little more of a human element into my Zombie character than is out there right now.
As a writer of Zombie fiction, what are your 5 favourite Zombie books that you didn’t write?
Wish I had a better answer for you, but I don’t. Zero. Not because I don’t like any, but because I haven’t read any. Like I said, I’m a movie and video game guy when it comes to Zombies. Without trying to sound like I’m sucking up, Julianne’s will be the first I read.
First off, I’m flattered – thank you! I would highly recommend reading more in the genre however, because I think you’ll be surprised at the level of humanity and originality many of them contain. You mentioned earlier that you’re a movie guy, tell us what your top 3 favourite Zombie films are?
Night of the Living Dead (original), Dawn of the Dead (original), and Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters)
Good choices! You may have even redeemed yourself a little! 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?
No doubt it certainly solidified it. More so by it being on TV than in print format. But there’s always been an interest with the undead as evidence in all the horror films that keep coming out. It seems like every second movie has something to do with another take on Zombies, or the undead in some fashion. I don’t think it’ll ever go away.
Oh no. We can’t stop it! THEY KEEP COMING! But then again, why would we want to?
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?
Perfect. I’m in my office, and I’ve got a few little ditties that just might serve me well. At least until I come across a chainsaw or shotgun.
- My Swiss army knife. Great for corkscrewing some Zombie eyeballs.
- A utility knife, or OLFA knife. You know, the one with the retractable razor blade.
- An aluminum baseball bat. ‘Nuff said.
- A steel weight bar.
- A pointy trophy.
Thank you J.P. for spending a little time answering my questions. If you’re interested in connecting with J.P., you can find him on his website, on Twitter, or on either of his Amazon Author pages: J. Paul Wallace & J.P. Kutzitza.
Join me next week when my guest will be Jack Wallen!
Oh and stay tuned for the Coffin Hop festivities from October 24th to October 31st!