I'm excited to post a fun and informative follow-up with Isaac Marion. If you recall from a previous post, Isaac is the author of an upcoming zombie novel. Warm Bodies is the story of a zombie who befriends the girlfriend of one of his victims. This bizarre situation sets of a chain reaction that will change him and his fellow zombies.
Warm Bodies was first distributed when Isaac printed and sold 100 copies on his website, burningbuilding.com. It is now going to be published by Atria Books and should be available third or fourth quarter this year. Equally as exciting is the film adaptation of the book is being worked on as well with Jonathan Levine writing and directing.
Stay in the loop as the book and movie progress by frequenting Isaac's site, burningbuilding.com. You can also follow Isaac on Twitter.
Without further adieus, here's your opportunity to hear the inside scoop about Warm Bodies and learn what type of toy Isaac Marion would be!
Tell us a bit about your literary background. Previous works, publications, etc.
I've been writing pretty much constantly since I was 16, but "Warm Bodies" is my first publishing success---unless you count a review of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops that made it onto the McSweeneys website. (I don't.) Mainly I've just been writing short stories and posting them on my site. I'd love to publish a collection of those someday, but "Warm Bodies" is going to have to sell all kinds of copies before that's ever going to happen, In This Economy.
What is the basic premise of Warm Bodies?
A gradual apocalypse of wars and social collapses ended civilization years ago, so when the zombie plague arrived it was really just the final blow. Most humans are holed up inside fortified sports stadiums and zombies roam the rest of the world, forming loosely knit colonies ruled by the elder dead, who have decayed completely into skeletons. None of the zombies know who they are, what they're doing, or why they're doing it, they just float around in a fog, acting out their basic urges and ingrained habits. This starts to change when one of them, a recently-dead zombie named "R", makes a choice to rescue a young woman instead of eating her, and brings her back alive to the zombies' "city" in an abandoned airport.
It is difficult to create something unique out of the typical zombie; what were your inspirations?
I thought it was strange that just because zombies don't talk much, we assume they have no thoughts at all. What if they aren't actually mindless, they just don't care about anything? I thought it would be fascinating to get inside the head of a creature who has no memories, no identity, and whose hierarchy of needs ends at "food". Especially if somewhere in all that apathy and resignation, there was a little spark telling him he could be better than this.
How did you go about self publishing the 100 limited copies?
I just had some copies printed at a local print shop and sold them through my website, one at a time. It wasn't really a "self publishing" effort so much as releasing a demo.
From there, how did and what was the process involved in finding a publisher?
I got very lucky and had a string of amazing people help make that happen, starting with a part-time producer/screenwriter named Cori Stern, who literally StumbledUpon© the short stories on my site. She introduced me to a former film exec who passed the book along to producer Bruna Papandrea, at which point the book began circulating in the industry and eventually fell into the hands of my current literary agent, who then went ahead and got the book published in 11 languages and counting... It still seems fairly surreal but when the reality of all this finally hits me, I may quite literally shit myself.
It's rare to see a novel simultaneously get published and turned into a movie. How did this happen and what were your reactions?
It was just a wonderful chain reaction. The film deal went through much faster than normal, mainly because Bruna Papandrea is a badass. Books are my focus as a writer so it was a bigger deal for me to see the book get published than it was to see it get optioned, but I love movies almost as much as books, so the movie deal was the inch-thick icing on a cake full of Funfetti.
What inside scoop can you tell us about the upcoming movie? Release date? Actors? Will you be in it anywhere? As a zombie perhaps?
It's really early in the film process so there isn't a whole lot I can tell you about it yet other than that Jonathan Levine is an incredible director and writer, and after talking with him extensively about how to pull off all the visual and narrative challenges of this very weird story, I'm completely confident he's going to create the most unique existential zombie love story ever filmed.
Speaking of zombies, what is your background with zombies?
Most of what I know about zombies I've just absorbed out of the pop-culture ether. I grew up on comics and video games and fantasy novels just like any other nerdy American kid, so I was familiar with all the zombie rules and cliches, but I was pretty surprised to find myself writing a whole novel about them. It was never my intent to write a "zombie novel" in the sense most people think of; I just wanted to use that established mythology to explore some basic human questions, like what does it mean to be "alive" instead of just "animate"? Is it possible for humans to make the world better, or is it broken beyond repair? And is there any point in loving anyone if we're all just gonna die? Yes, zombies still get chainsawed and people still get their skulls pried open like eggshells...but I think anyone reading this book expecting a spoof comedy or horror splatterfest is in for a big shock.
So, while we're defending ourselves from a zombie horde, you get bit. After we are finished, do you ask me to leave you or pull the trigger to stop the inevitable?
Let me turn zombie and see what happens. Maybe I can do some good from the inside.
You are going to be made into a toy. Would you be a zombie or a hero/survivor?
Make me a Zombie Hero. Moral ambiguity is a huge seller in children's toys.
What accessories would you come with?
A record player and a box of Frank Sinatra LPs...that shoots water!
Favorite zombie movies and why?
If we're talking "serious" zombie movies, I'd say "28 Days Later", because it was the first zombie movie I saw that avoided being campy. On the comedy side, "Shaun of the Dead" is great, and "Fido" is an obscure gem that takes an idyllic 1950's "Lassie" setting and replaces Lassie with pet zombies. Hilarity ensues.
Any favorite zombie books?
To be honest, I'm only aware of three: "World War Z" which I keep hearing is great but I haven't gotten around to it, "Breathers" which sounds slightly too zany for me, and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", which sounds like a bad SNL skit stretched to novel length. Some people have called "The Road" a zombie novel, though, and that book absolutely floored me...can I count that...?