Tell me about WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE.
JANICE GABLE BASHMAN: WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil deals with the struggle of good vs evil in film, comics, pop culture, world myth, literature, and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, Laurell K. Hamilton, L.A. Banks, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente, Peter Straub, and many more; and the book is fully illustrated by top horror, comics & fantasy artists.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Our book starts with good vs evil as a concept and then we chase it through philosophy, religion, politics, literature, art, film, comics, pop-culture and the real world. It’s such a complex topic, one that’s fundamental to all of our human experience, from evolution to the formation of tribes and society. We take a look at it historically, mythologically, in terms of storytelling from cave paintings to literature, we track it through pop culture and into our modern real world.
The book has a real sense of humor, too. We have fun with the topic as well as bringing a lot of information to the reader. Plus the book is illustrated with forty black and white pieces and eight killer color plates. Artists like Chad Savage, Jacob Parmentier, Don Maitz, Francis Tsai, David Leri, Scott Grimando, Jason Beam, Alan F. Beck, Billy Tackett and more.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
MABERRY: I’ve been researching this topic in one way or another for many years. My grandmother introduced me to a great deal of folklore, and almost all of folklore is tied to some aspect of the struggle of good vs evil. Over the last ten years I’ve written several books on the subject of the supernatural and paranormal. WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE was part of a package of five I sold to Citadel Press in 2005. The four previous books are: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (2006), THE CRYPTOPEDIA (2007; winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer); ZOMBIE CSU (2008; winner of the Hinzman Science Award and the Black Quill Award); and THEY BITE (2009; co-authored by David F. Kramer). WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is the natural conclusion to the series: after delving so deeply into the monsters and things that go bump in the night, I wanted to focus on those creatures (human or otherwise) who stand between us and evil.
And this book allowed Janice and I the opportunity to write about the complex struggle of good and evil from so many different points of view, from biblical conflicts to super-hero battles.
Do you have any favorite pop culture monsters?
BASHMAN: One of my favorite monsters is the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because he’s a sympathetic character. He has both monster and human qualities in him. He’s not pure good or evil, but a mixture of both. He is an ugly and looming creature who only wants someone to love him, but he doesn’t know how to find that love. In the quest to do so, he murders, which leaves him distraught and ultimately sends him into the darkness where he goes to die. In WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, we explore that whole good vs evil idea as it relates to monsters, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, real people, and more.
MABERRY: I have two favorites. The Stregoni Benefici, who were vampires that were captured by the Church and ‘reformed’ (meaning ‘tortured’) until they accepted God and afterward became assassins for the Church. The other is the Benandanti, a race of werewolves from Italy and Germany who fought monsters in order to protect humanity. Even the Inquisition could not torture them into saying that they were evil, and they let them go free, giving them the nicknames ‘The Hounds of God.’
I’m working on a novel now, BOOK OF SHADOWS, a modern-day counter-terrorism thriller that incorporates both legends.
|POISON by Peter Mihaichuk|
Tell me about your writing and research process.
BASHMAN: The actual research process was quite intensive and took a lot of time. WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is full of facts yet they’re presented in a fun way which makes for an easy read. In addition to the research, we interviewed tons of people, including Stan Lee, John Carpenter, Charlaine Harris, Peter Straub, Rachel Caine, Amber Benson, Lucienne Diver, and Christopher Golden. Between the two of us, it took us about a year to research, conduct interviews, and write the book.
MABERRY: Luckily we live in the age of emails, Facebook and Skype, all of which make the process of interviewing extremely easy and efficient. These days you can find virtually anyone through social media, websites, blogs or emails, and reaching out is a snap. Most of our interviews were conducted via email, which allowed us to reach experts all over the world.
BASHMAN: We each came into this project with our own strengths and that made it easy to decide who should tackle what part of the book. The most difficult aspect was finding one voice that worked for both writers so that the book read like one person wrote it. We accomplished this fairly easily, with some trial and error, since we had worked together on a number of articles in the past.
MABERRY: We also divided the book according to personal interest and existing knowledge base. I tackled stuff that played to my strengths—vampires, comics, pulp fiction, etc. Janice played to her strengths. She’s writing a book on thrillers, so she tackled serial killers, etc.
I agree that finding a single voice was a challenge. We’re different kinds of people and different kinds of writers, but now, even I have a hard time remembering who wrote what. Janice even picked up my smartass sense of humor—which means that I may have caused her some permanent damage. On the other hand, she’s an enormously disciplined writer, so I hope I picked up some good writing habits through osmosis.
What's next for you?
MABERRY: This has been my most productive year to date. Between novels, nonfiction books, short stories and comics (for Marvel), I’ve had something new coming out every month, and often multiple things coming out in a single week.
My latest release is ROT & RUIN, my first young adult novel. It’s set fourteen years after the zombie apocalypse and kicks off a new series that will be released in hardcover by Simon & Schuster. Next up I have my third Joe Ledger thriller, THE KING OF PLAGUES, hitting stores in March from St. Martins Griffin. I also have three mini-series from Marvel in the pipeline. MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER is already running, and it’s a post-apocalyptic existentialist adventure. Very strange, even for me. BLACK PANTHER: KLAWS OF THE PANTHER kicked off in October; and then in January we launch CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, a five-issue Marvel Event that follows Cap from World War II to present day. And my graphic novel, DOOMWAR, also debuted in hardcover in October.
I’m currently writing DEAD OF NIGHT, a standalone zombie novel to be release by Griffin in June.
BASHMAN: I just finished a proposal for my next non-fiction book; it’s still under wraps so I can’t share the details at this time. I can say that dozens of key players are already on board for the project and it’s sure to be a fun one. I continue to write for various publications, and I’ll also be shopping a young adult novel shortly.
THE CRYPTOPEDIA, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THEY BITE, ZOMBIE CSU and PATIENT ZERO. His latest novel is ROT & RUIN. Visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/.
Janice Gable Bashman has written for THE BIG THRILL, NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicegablebashman.com/.