It’s a real treat to welcome today’s author to my weekly “Friday 5 Questions With” blog. Joe McKinney is most well-known for his amazing horror novels, but he’s a Renaissance Man of sorts when it comes to writing. He can do it all, and as his Stoker Award for Flesh Eaters can attest, he can do it very well. If you’re a fan of horror fiction, but aren’t familiar with Joe McKinney, it’s time for your introduction because he’s one of the best writers in the genre right now. Also, as an added bonus, Joe has agreed to sponsor a book giveaway today. More details about that appear after the interview. With that, here’s Joe!
First things first, the final book in the Dead World series came out this year. What’s it called and what should fans expect from it?
That’s right. It’s called Mutated, and it came out in September. The first three books in the Dead World series all took place right around the beginning of the outbreak. Dead City and Flesh Eaters describe how the outbreak started, and Apocalypse of the Dead, which takes place about two years later, shows how the outbreak goes global. Mutated takes place about eight years after Apocalypse of the Dead, and picks up on a lot of the themes and plot lines left off at the ends of the previous books. For example, in Apocalypse of the Dead we learned that the military found a cure to the zombie virus, but the hospital working on that cure was overrun before they could make use of it. The only person to escape was a simpleton named Nate Royal, who is immune to the virus and who wears a flash drive containing the cure around his neck. By the time Mutated starts, Nate has been wandering the ruins of America for eight years. He’s not doing well. In fact, he’s nearly dead from exposure and malnutrition. It’s then that he meets up with Ben Richardson and a handful of survivors who are caught in a war with the leader of a zombie army known simply as the Red Man. In my books the victims of the zombie virus are living people who have been zombiefied by disease, and that disease goes through several stages. Most zombies die off in the first stage, though a few become second and third stage zombies, progressively capable of more and more sophisticated cognitive acts, such as setting traps, deception and using other zombies the way fox hunters use dogs. The Red Man though is the first ever Stage 4 zombie, and he is a force none of the survivors could have imagined.
Aside from being an author, you also have extensive law enforcement experience. How does that play into your written work?
That’s right, I’m still an active duty police officer with the San Antonio Police Department, where I’ve gotten to do a little bit of everything. I’ve been a regular patrol officer, a disaster mitigation expert, a homicide detective, I ran the city’s 911 Center for a while, and I’m currently a patrol supervisor. It’s the greatest job in the world, and policing does figure prominently in my books. A great many of my characters are cops, and so I guess that’s the obvious way my police career works into my writing, but it goes beyond that too. Policing taught me an awful lot about human nature, its highs and lows, and when I write, I pull from that knowledge and experience.
I know you mostly as a horror author, but you also write other genres. What’s your favorite genre to write in…or are you more inspired by story versus genre?
Excellent question! Yes, it’s story for me. I’ve written horror, science fiction, non-fiction, crime, even some contemporary non-genre stuff. I tend to work with genre stuff most of the time though because that’s what I enjoy reading. That’s fun for me. But really, the story is king. The story will suggest what genre it needs to be.
To date, what’s your single proudest moment as an author?
I’ve hit a lot of milestones in my career. I remember with great affection my first professional story sale; my first book contract with a major New York publisher; my first multi-book deal; winning a Bram Stoker Award and getting handed the award by two of my literary heroes, Joe R. Lansdale and Robert McCammon; the first time Hollywood came knocking; and watching my Dad’s eyes bulge out of his head when he saw the check for one of my advances. But without a doubt my proudest moment came just this year, when I was taking my daughters to school. I was talking with one of the other parents, not really paying attention to what my youngest daughter was doing, when I heard her tell a group of her little friends, “Oh yeah, well my Daddy’s a horror writer.” Then she turned and smiled at me, and I felt like I was king of the world.
What’s next for you?
More writing! I have a haunted house novel called CROOKED HOUSE coming out any day now from Dark Regions Press; my collected zombie short stories in a volume called DATING IN DEAD WORLD from Creeping Hemlock Press; a sequel to DEAD CITY as part of the JournalStone Publishing Double Down series; a shared world novella for JournalStone in their Limbus II anthology; a full length novel called St Rage for Journalstone; a standalone zombie novel with Kensington, due out in September, 2013; and a new zombie series starting in 2014 called The Dead Lands for Kensington. In between I’ll be doing short stories and articles, and possibly publishing another collection of my non-zombie short stories. There’s a lot to do, for sure! Anybody looking for more information can check out my website, http://joemckinney.wordpress.com, for all the details.
Now…let’s talk about the book giveaway! Joe has graciously offered to give away THREE copies of his new novel, Inheritance, to three lucky readers of this blog. He’ll also sign them before mailing them out! So, here’s the deal. First off, this giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY. To be eligible for the giveaway, you need to comment on this blog with an answer to the following question: Do you believe in ghosts?
We will then choose three winners at random from all eligible entries. You have until Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm EST to comment on the blog to be eligible. Good luck and happy haunting!