Summer of Zombie Blog Tour: Chewing Braaiiinns with… Joe McKinney – Special Edition!

We’re still going strong on the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour and today we have an interview with Joe McKinney! What? You haven’t heard of Joe? Impossible! But let’s get you all acquainted anyway…

Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four part Dead World series, Quarantined, Inheritance, Lost Girl of the Lake, Crooked House and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories and Dating in Dead World and Other Stories. In 2011, McKinney received the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. For more information go to

Welcome Joe! So tell us: why Zombies? Is there anything specific that draws you to the genre?

Zombies and ghosts are the only horror mainstays that I actually find scary, which is probably why I write about both.  I figure if it scares me that it will probably scare readers too.  Plus, I like to do writer-type tricks like metaphor and subtext, and zombies lend themselves a great deal of storytelling flexibility.  And really, they’re just a ton of fun to write about, and that’s why I write, because it’s fun.

Tell us about your latest project.

My next zombie novel, THE SAVAGE DEAD, comes out September 3, 2013 from the good folks at Kensington.  A U.S. Senator has just managed to pass a bill that effectively allows U.S. law enforcement the ability to seize the profits of criminal activity worldwide, and within a very short time it puts some serious hurt on Mexico’s drug cartels.  Angered by this, one cartel declares war on the Senator.  They try to assassinate her in Washington, and when that fails, they unleash a bio weapon on the cruise ship upon which she’s vacationing.  This bio weapon turns the passengers to zombies.  And, just for good measure, the cartel has sent along a beautiful assassin to make sure the job gets done.  Now it’s up to Special Agent Juan Perez of the U.S. Secret Service to unravel the mystery behind this terrifying new bio weapon and fight his way through a cruise ship full of zombies in hopes of saving the senator.

Sounds great! I can’t wait for it! What makes your Zombies different, if anything?

The zombies in my Dead World Series are actually living people who have been almost entirely depersonalized by the necrosis filovirus.  Shortly after infection, and for several months afterward, the infected behave much like the classical zombie from Night of the Living Dead, but as the disease charts its course in its host the infected begin to regain more and more of their intelligence, even if they remain driven by rage and the desire to kill the uninfected.

That is different! Is there a Zombie novel that has influenced you more than any other? If so, what is it and why?

I can’t really say a particular zombie novel has been a major influence on me.  I think if I had to point to one book in particular that has influenced both my decision to write in the horror genre as well as influenced my particular prose style it would have to be Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, an anthology edited by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise.  From Thomas Hardy to H.G. Wells to Conrad Aiken to M.R. James to Oliver Onions and Algernon Blackwood, I love every story in that collection; and at this point, after having the book in my life for more than 30 years, I think I have read it cover to cover at least twenty times.  I fall in love with all over again after every read.

What are your top 3 favourite Zombie films?

You’ll get a different answer from me each time you ask me this question, so it goes for right now.  The original Night of the Living Dead.  That movie scared the ever-loving crap out of me as a young teenager and gave me my taste for zombies.  Next would be 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead.  I also really loved the short film Zombie in a Penguin Suit, if you’ve seen that one.  If not, go check it out on YouTube.

I’m back from watching Zombie in a Penguin Suit – fantastic! 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?

Look, if you write about zombies, you have The Walking Dead to thank for at least some of your sales.  I sometimes go to parties where perfectly proper people, people you’d never suspect of harbouring zombie love, will come up to me and in a stage whisper say, “Do you watch that show The Walking Dead?  Because I like that show a lot.”  It has gone a long way toward democratizing appreciation of the zombie genre.  It has done more than just about any other piece of zombie fiction to bring a small horror niche into the mainstream.

As we all know, music and slaying the Undead go hand in hand. Given these headings, what would be your Soundtrack to the Zombie Apocalpyse?

1. Overall theme for the Apocalypse: This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie

2. What plays when I kill my first zombie:  Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

3. What plays when you’re chased by the horde:  Jumper by Third Eye Blind

4. When you have to kill a loved one:  Your Song by Elton John

5. When you find a group of survivors:  Feeling Stronger Everyday by Chicago

6. Meeting a new love interest:  You’ll Accompany Me by Bob Seger

7. Making a Final Stand:  Bullet With Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins

8. You’ve survived it all:  Come Running by Van Morrison

9. Then you discover a bite mark:  Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin

10. End Credits:  Lonesome Valley by The Carter Family

Excellent choices! 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?

I’m set.  My gun cabinet is standing in the corner of my office, and inside I have a Mossberg 500 12 gauge, a Glock 22, a Smith & Wesson M&P 40, a Colt AR15, and a Smith &Wesson .357 revolver.

You may well survive Joe… Now let’s take a sneak peek into one of  Joe’s latest releases – Mutated: Dead City 4…

They outnumber the living 25 to 1. Those are the odds of being struck down – and resurrected – by the savage plague that’s sweeping the country, forcing survivors to band together against the dead. Even among the living, there is dissention. A new leader known as the Red Man has risen up and taken charge – and he’s nearly as dangerous as the hungry dead. Some, like Bob Richardson and his friends, strike out on their own. Because if the men with guns don’t get them, the zombies will. Fleeing the cities, Richardson and his crew find sanctuary in an abandoned farm. But their stronghold may not be strong enough. Something strange and terrifying is happening to the undead. They’re banding together. Working as a group. Hungering for a common goal: human flesh. And lots of it.

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

Thank you Joe for answering all of my questions. If you’d like to connect with Joe, you can find him on his website, Twitter, and his Amazon Author Page.

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