Today on Days with the Undead we have author Stephen Kozeniewski. For those of you who haven’t heard of Stephen, let’s take a moment to get to know him…
Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.
During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.
He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.
Welcome Stephen! Now let’s get to the questions… Tell us about your zombies? If the dead were to rise, do you think you’d stand a chance against them?
Ah, good fortune for me! The deadheads of BRAINEATER JONES are not only intelligent and generally on the wagon with their flesh-eating habits, but I would also have something they wanted: booze. You see, Jones and his ilk need alcohol to keep their brains pickled and, thus, functioning. Bonus luck for me: the dead are all consigned to the ghetto known as The Welcome Mat, so for the most part I wouldn’t even encounter them unless I went down there. Wow, I may just have written the most human-friendly zombie novel ever!
What was your first experience with zombie media (movie, book, comic, etc)? Was that experience what drew you into writing the genre?
My first experience? You know what that was? ‘Round about ’97 or so my dad had Starz…or, no, I don’t think he did. I think it was like a free Starz weekend or something. Anyway, this batpoop movie came on and I was just, like, absorbed watching it. Couldn’t look away. And this being the ‘90s, before our TVs just told us what we were watching, the only way to find out the title would have been for me to switch over to the TV Guide channel and wait for the scroll, but I couldn’t without missing a big chunk of the movie because it was on a premium channel and there were no commercials. Anyway, I stepped into this zombie movie about halfway through, so I missed the beginning, but I definitely caught the ending where the main character suddenly was revealed to be the actual mute, and his mute gravedigger friend was revealed to actually be the main character and I was like, “What?” And that movie’s name was…”Cemetery Man.” And now you know the rest of the story.
Now it’s time for the Pop Quiz: The item to your left is your only weapon during the Zombie Apocalypse. What is it and what do you think are your chances at survival?
A jar of Vaseline? (Sorry, the computer I’m writing this on also contains the internet.) Hmm, well, maybe I could slick up the ground a little bit and maybe one or two of them would trip. Overall chances of survival: .072%.
Yeah… I think you’re SoL! List your five favourite pieces of Zombie media:
All right, then, let’s go for the trifecta (or pentafecta in this case): “Dead Alive,” THE RISING, The Walking Dead, Season 1 only of The Walking Dead, and…All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Splamf! Nailed all five mediums. (Sorry, I’ve never listened to a podcast.)
You technically didn’t need to list one in each category… But it’s good that you did! We all know that we sometimes have bad luck. Keeping that in mind, what song do you think would get stuck in your head, playing over and over again on an incessant loop?
Oh, this just happened to me! That cup-banging song by that girl from Up in the Air.
Thank you Stephen for taking the time to answer my questions!
Now let’s take a quick look at Braineater Jones… Don’t forget to click on the cover to be taken to Amazon!
Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.
But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.
As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.
Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.