Q and A with Scott Kenemore, author of Zombie, Indiana (+Giveaway)

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*Zombie, Indiana is now available on Kindle Unlimited. Click book cover for link.

What kind of zombie apocalypse are we dealing with in this series and what terrains do our characters encounter?

The zombies in Zombie, Indiana rise all over the state–and possibly the world– at the same time!  I think one of the elements that can make a horror or science fiction story effective is the author’s use of ambiguity and mystery.  One of the mysteries my protagonists are trying to solve is whether or not the zombie outbreak is localized to their state, their country, their continent, or whether it’s worldwide.  With breakdown of technology and traditional communication vehicles, this mystery becomes remarkably difficult to solve.

The terrains my characters encounter range from mostly-urban Indianapolis to the positively wild areas downstate.  I’m not the first novelist to write about the bleak existences of some residents of my former home state–I think of Frank Bill’s Crimes in Southern Indiana–but I was very interested in seeing how these areas would hold up under a zombie attack.

Also, slow zombie or fast zombies, dumb or smart? (unless that spoils anything)

My zombies are decidedly slow and dumb.  I like zombies that give characters no excuse to get eaten by them.  Zombies that are illiterate, missing limbs, easily confused, and move about two miles an hour.  Because then WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOU AND YOUR DECISIONS that this is the creature that ultimately ate you?

What’s the balance between zombie conflict and other forms, and what can you tease us with regarding the latter?

There are plenty of examples of zombie/human conflict in Zombie, Indiana, but the biggest conflict is probably between the government and the people of the state.  One of the three main characters in the book is the Governor of Indiana, and fully one-third of the story is told from his perspective.  Like a lot of recent Indiana governors, mine has weakened labor unions and pursued environmental de-regulations across the board in a “race to the bottom.”  Consequently (and in real life), Indiana now has four cities with “problematic smog” according to the American Lung Association, and now dumps more toxic chemicals into its own waterways than any state except West Virginia.  This governor is a man who dreams of ascending to the presidency one day based upon his record of successful hands-off government.  So what happens when his countryside is suddenly beset with swarms of murderous zombies?  If his entire platform is predicated on the position that state government– and certainly federal government– is NOT needed to solve most meaningful challenges, then how will he respond to THIS kind of challenge. . . and still remain electable?

Who are your characters and what makes them sympathetic or at least compelling?

The novel has three main characters.

The first, as outlined above, is the Governor of Indiana, who wants to get through a violent zombie outbreak without calling on the federal government–or any government–for assistance.

The second is a police detective who used to be a college basketball star, but who now does jobs handling special matters for the governor.  When the governor’s daughter goes missing during a cave tour in Southern Indiana, he is sent to investigate and finds that the undead are at work.  He is then forced to undertake an odyssey across the state to find the governor’s missing daughter and bring her to safety.

The final character is a scholarship student at one of Indianapolis’s most expensive and elite private high schools.  When her class takes a field trip to the caves in the southern part of the state, their tour group is attacked by murderous zombies.  Her classmate–the daughter of the governor–goes missing, and she barely survives.  Then she meets a policeman who is searching for the governor’s daughter, and joins him in his quest.  Along the way, she begins to suspect that she, the policeman, and the governor may be connected in ways she never would have imagined.

What makes your series stand out from the rest of the zombie books out there? What traditions does it stick to to please diehard fans of zombie fiction?

Diehard fans should find that there is ample carnage, zombie combat, and bracing action sequences to sate their appetites.

If my series stands out, it is because I’m interested in using zombies as a stress test to plumb the relationship between humans who coexist “just OK” when they are not under extreme duress…and to compare that to how they would act if the walking dead were at the door.  I am also interested in using a zombie outbreak to explore the relationships between entities like local government, religious congregations, and other community institutions.

Zombie, Indiana is the third book in this series. Is someone able to pick up this third book and start reading, or do they need to start from the first?

Yep, you can just dive right in!

I saw at least one of the books is told from a zombie’s point of view. How do you use this element to tell the kind of story you wanted out of this book and or series?

My first novel, Zombie, Ohio is told from the point of view of a hyper-intelligent zombie.  I liked the idea that a zombie contagion can be a virus, but that a few people catch it but be resistant to some of its effects.  For example, I had read that something like 1 in every 100,000 people who contract HIV don’t get sick.  They have the virus, and can pass it along to others, but they themselves never grow ill.  I liked the idea of a zombie who reanimated with no memory of his former self, but who could still talk and think and use his brain.  Zombie, Ohio is the story of a zombie trying to learn what kind of person he was, and what the circumstances were relating to his own death.

I will admit to being more of a fan of human povs in zombie stories because of the thrill of survival (finding a place to defend, saving loved ones, finding means for survival, etc). How do you stories incorporate these elements considering the zombie POV, or don’t they? If not, what focus and thrill replaces that?

I think a zombie has to be able to have a relationship to other people to be compelling.  The protagonist of Zombie, Ohio is part of a horde, but as he is capable of speech, he is able to create and maintain relationships with living humans at the same time.  In addition, I would say that my zombie protagonist still has “the thrill of survival” but in his case, he has to survive the zombie hunters.  That’s a whole other, unique kind of thrill, if you ask me.

kenemoredeadmanworkingScott Kenemore is the author of the horror novels The Grand Hotel; Zombie, IndianaZombie, Illinois; and Zombie, Ohio, as well as a series of undead-themed satire books.  He is a graduate of Kenyon College and Columbia University.  A member of the Horror Writers Association and the Zombie Research Society, Scott  lives in Chicago and is the drummer for the musical band The Blissters.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for AISFP. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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