Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview with Jim Beck, author of Patient Zero

Jim Beck is the author of Patient Zero.  You can find my review of the book, as well as a giveaway here

 Thank you for taking the time to interview with Waiting on Sunday to Drown.  For starters, why don’t you tell us all a little about yourself?

 Let's see.  I'm a writer (obviously).  I'm married.  I have one son and one dog.  I've been writing for more years that I'd care to admit.  I've written a small creature feature, produced a feature and short, and had a brief stint writing for Pink Panther and Pals on Cartoon Network.  I love writing, movies, television, and reading.  I've had meetings with agents and producers, even at Paramount, but I'm still waiting for my big break.  Currently, I am finishing up a superhero story called Virgil: A Superhero Tale, and I have a couple of novel series (Alter Ego and Pest Control), what I call "TV in Prose," which each have a few episodes/issues published.  And I'm only getting started.

Why did you decide to write about zombies?

 At the time that I came up with the idea for Patient Zero, I had already written stories about aliens, time travel, superheroes, monsters, the devil, teens, etc.  Oddly enough, I started sketching out the story a couple years before the recent zombie craze started.  It just seemed like a challenging subject to write about, because zombies are typically background characters who only serve as fodder.  Which is why I wanted to write a story from the zombie's POV.

In Patient Zero the story is told from the point of view of the virus that causes the zombie outbreak.  I found this to be an interesting and a unique twist on the typical zombie story.  It was also interesting for me to get inside Bob’s head and read his reactions to the changes, which is something you don’t normally get to see in the movies.  What was your inspiration in telling the story in this style?

 I had written the story in screenplay form, and the original version wasn't written with any narration.  The idea for telling the story from the virus' POV came after I decided to make it my first full novel.  I knew there were a number of zombie books and stories out there by that time, so I wanted to help it stand out amongst the crowd.  And, as it turns out, it made the story more fun.

Do you have a process of setting the mood for writing? (ie. Like a soundtrack you listen to?)

I can pretty much write at any time, but I do better when there's not much sound.  I've tried writing when I have music playing, but I don't seem to be as productive.  From time to time, however, I will listen to a certain piece of music -- maybe AC/DC or an equivalent -- to get the right mood going, or to try and match what's happening in a given point of the story.  For example, if there was a bunch of action coming up, I might listen to something with a faster beat.  For a chase, I might switch to something silly like Weird Al.

What do you believe is behind the current fascination with zombies?

I really have no idea.  There have always been zombie movies and stories, but not quite so many.  Monsters seem to come in droves.  Vampires, zombies, alien invasions ... personally, I think we could use more werewolf stories (not just in a vampire-human-werewolf love triangle).

Do you believe that there is a real chance of a zombie outbreak someday in our future?  If there is a zombie outbreak, do you think it will more likely be a mutated virus, a government experience gone wrong, or something else?

Honestly, no.  In a strictly scientific sense, a zombie outbreak just isn't possible.  But the idea of it makes great stories.  If it were to happen, though, I would have to say a mutated virus.  I will also admit that out of all the end-of-world scenarios, I'd either go with this or an alien invasion.  Anything else sounds boring.

What is your favorite zombie movie?  Did you like zombie movies growing up or are zombies a more recent interest for you?

Zombies are a more recent interest.  I had the idea for Patient Zero when I met my wife, but hadn't written it yet.  My wife was a huge fan and, for the record, she was a zombie nerd (dressing up and all that) long before it was cool to be a zombie nerd.  Regardless, I scored major points when I told her my zombie idea.

Zombies have started eating people in the town next do yours.  Do you stay or do you go?  Who and what do you take with you to better your chances of survival.

That's a tough one.  It depends on the situation.  If my family was home, I might try to fortify the house.  I'd take all of our supplies upstairs, run water in the bathtub in case the water gets shut off, and find a way to destroy the stairs to keep zombies from climbing up.  If they weren't home, I'd have to go get 'em.  And of course, if I could buy some guns without a waiting period, that would be great, too.

If they ever make a movie out of Patient Zero who would be your ideal cast?  Who would be the narrator for the virus?

Well, let's see ... I've already earmarked Seann William Scott as a superhero for my next book, so for Patient Zero, it would be Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley on the Joss Whedon series, Angel.  He does extremely well as an everyman who slowly devolves into madness at times.  For Nate, I would say Johnny Simmons (from Jennifer's Body and Scott Pilgrim), because he was in a faux trailer for a movie I wrote a few years ago and he's immensely talented.  As for the narrator, is Morgan Freeman available?  He's played God, so surely he can pull off a virus.

What kind of zombie do you find scariest?  The slow moving addled ones that just want to eat everything in their path, or the fast moving ones that figure out how to open doors? 

Definitely fast, without a doubt.  Slow zombies would give us a fighting chance.  Trying to run from fast zombies would basically be an eternal game of tag.  And eventually, everybody loses at tag.

Check out Jim's book Patient Zero, and be sure to come back tomorrow for Jim's guest post. 

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