We've got a special guest with us today. Mr. Eric S. Brown, author of Bigfoot War and its follow-up due this month, Bigfoot War II: Dead in the Woods. I previously reviewed Mr. Brown's book, but wanted to sit down with the man himself and get his thoughts on his journey from zombie writer to Bigfoot mastermind.
Greg Mitchell: Thanks for being here, Eric! Let’s go back to the start. At what point did you decide you wanted to be a writer? What started you on that path and when did you finally embrace that life?
Eric S. Brown: I knew I wanted to write by the time I was in second grade. I grew up reading comics from The Legion of Superheroes to the Fantastic Four and the Micronauts. I never submitted anything until I was 26 years old though. It took my wife bashing me over the head to do it to get me started. My very first two tales were accepted and I just kept going from there. Around 2003, I declared that I was going to be a “zombie writer”. Now, in 2011, my writing really is a career and one I feel very blessed to have.
GM: I’ve heard it said you are the “King of Zombies”, and it’s true! I see your name everywhere, usually on a cover involving flesh-eating ghouls. Was this something you set out to do—writing a large number of stories in the zombie genre—or did this happen by accident?
ESB: No, I never said that. Dread Central and other places have called me that but the king of zombies is George Romero who created the genre as we know it today. In my early years as a writer, zombies were my one true love. 90% of work was zombie or zombie related. I was writing them before they were cool and mainstream like they are today. I worked very hard to try to make a name for myself in the subgenre and by the grace of God, I have a bit of luck at that.
GM: What is it that attracts you to the zombie genre?
ESB: I have always loved struggles against hopeless odds and the end of the world so zombies were just a good fit for me. They are both. A zombie story to me isn't a zombie tale unless the world is ending or gone. Plus zombies can work in any setting. Writing about them gives one a lot of freedom.
GM: You’ve also partnered with the late H.G. Wells to write The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies. I’ve yet to read one of these literary mashup novels, but I gotta admit this one sounds like fun. Was this something that you wanted to do? How did you pitch this concept to Simon & Schuster? How difficult was it to write something like this? What was that process like?
ESB: Actually I didn't pitch it at all. Coscom Entertainment came to me and asked me to do a “mash up”. I said yes and it became an “indie” hit. A year or so after its release, Simon and Schuster showed up on the phone asking for the reprint rights. It was insane how it happened and it has been a huge turning point in my career. As to writing it, no. I just read a lot of Wells and tried to learn his voice as best I could.
GM: Last year you released what you have called your most “personal” project: Bigfoot War. What a super-fun book. You’ve perfectly captured a B-movie on paper. How did Bigfoot War come about? What makes this so special to you?
ESB: Bigfoot War was an idea I had for a while. I was under contract to a company for a three book deal, all zombie stuff. I asked them if I could do it instead of all the books of the deal being zombie. They had faith in me and said yes. As to where it came from, I grew up loving horror and a big part of the non zombie aspect of that was Bigfoot B movies. I loved them but I always wanted more from them. Bigfoot War is not only my love song to those types of films but the movie I always wanted to see as a kid.
GM: I’d ask now, what is it that attracts you to Bigfoot? Any real life tales of the Sasquatch in your past?
ESB: Alas, no. I have no real life experience with Bigfoot or hunting him unless you count being in fifth grade and heading into the woods with a rifle and high hopes.
GM: Well, I would ask who would win in a no-holds barred slugfest between Bigfoot and a zombie, but, if the cover for your upcoming book Bigfoot War II: Dead in the Woods is any indication, I’ll be getting my answer soon enough! That is one insane cover! What can readers expect to find coming into the sequel?
ESB: Bigfoot War II: Dead in the Woods is the second book of the trilogy and brings my two favorite monsters together. You have everything that was cool about Bigfoot War with a zombie apocalypse thrown into the mix. There's also a huge David Drake element as the bulk of the military the reader gets to see is a unit of tanks stranded behind the containment lines of the initial outbreak. I hope it will be a fun read for those who enjoy a lot action.
GM: At what point did you decide to write a sequel? Was this always intended as a series, or did that come later?
ESB: Bigfoot War was originally intended to be a stand alone book but as soon as I was done with it I knew I wanted to do more. The other two books of the trilogy just kind of leaped into my head and I ran with them. I find it's often better to follow your heart as a writer than try to write for a market. If you're passionate about a project, it shows and the reader will feel that energy on the page.
GM: How far are you into the concluding chapter of the Bigfoot War Trilogy? Can you talk much about that? Or, what about beyond the trilogy? Might we have some more tales in the Bigfoot War universe to look forward to?
ESB: Bigfoot War II is slated for a late April release from Coscom Entertainment. I am working on book III amid a sea of other projects so I can't really give you a date on it yet. Coscom also has me editing an anthology entitled Bigfoot Among Us which should be out later this year. I'm also working on another project I can't talk about yet that is kind of the same nature as well exploring Bigfoot in short fiction. I have upcoming Bigfoot tales in several places including the Roadkill Cafe anthology from Knightwatch Press and Living Dead Press Presents magazine's second issue.
GM: There’s a small but growing movement on Facebook to see Bigfoot War turned into a movie—which I wholeheartedly support. Had you considered this being a movie at any point during the writing of it? I commented in my review that it read very much like a screenplay, and I think it lends itself to film very well. Was that always part of “the plan” (as much as these things can be planned), or is this a surprise to you, as well?
ESB: I wrote the book to be a movie. The Facebook page you mention though was created by a fan who really loved the book. I was very flattered by it and I certainly would love to see Bigfoot War adapted someday.
GM: I’m dying to hear some of your inspirations! You’re a self-labeled comic book geek (I can relate). What titles do you read? Or what about movies—what are some of your favorite fright flicks? Or, after writing about monsters all day, do you prefer a little romantic comedy to break things up? :p
ESB: The Legion of Superheroes and The Flash are my main two titles these days but I am a lifelong Marvel and DC fan. I could likely quote you the history of any character you named from either company. Books like the Doom Patrol and Weird War Tales are a huge source of inspiration for me but like I said, The Flash is my personal hero. My favorite bad guys are Captain Cold, Zoom, Dr. Doom and Baron Karza. As to horror films, I love just about anything zombie with Dawn of the Dead and its remake being my all time favorites in that genre. Some of my other favorite films include The Book of Eli, Ghostbusters, The Thing, and Dog Soldiers.
GM: So, what’s in store for Eric S. Brown? Are you setting out to earn the name “King of Bigfoot” too? What projects do you have lined up?
ESB: I would LOVE to become known more for Bigfoot than zombies. That would be amazing. At present I am working on Bigfoot War III, writing a lot of short fiction, and assembling two new collections of my work. My long term, fan boy dream though is to write for DC Comics. Long live the Legion!
GM: Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out and talk monsters, Eric. I wish you the best of success and can’t wait to read Bigfoot War II: Dead in the Woods.