Jason Brant, author of Gehenna
, agreed to answer some questions for me. I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did.
What made you decide to write about zombies in the old west?
Iím a geek. Zombies? Awesome. Cowboys? Awesome. Zombies eating cowboys? Yes, please! The story actually started as a full blown comedy, and it was to be called Zomboys
. When I started writing it, the story changed dramatically, and it became a lot darker than I had originally intended. Of course, the humor is still prevalent as Iím not sure I could even write a book without putting some jokes in it, but the zombie action became a lot more sinister and, of course, gross.
How long have you associated the scriptures you quoted in Gehenna with zombies?
My knowledge of the Bible begins and ends withÖ OK, so it never actually begins. Beyond the obvious Jesus/zombie jokes that have been bouncing around the internet for years, Iíd been told that there were other references to the dead rising in the Bible. When I looked them up, I couldnít believe it. These scriptures are part of what directed the book to take on a more serious tone. I felt that using the Bible as a possible explanation for what was happening in the story brought a bit of weight to it that I hadnít initially intended. So how long had I associated the scripture with zombies? A few weeks.
What were your thoughts when you first heard about the 'zombie attack' that took place in Miami, Florida?
Finally! My years of preparation would pay off! I really am one of those guys that has a plan for the zombie apocalypse. After hearing that news I told my wife it was time to start oiling up the olí shotgun. As crazy as the situation in Florida was, the one that happened in Maryland really caught our attention. The guy that ate his roommateís heart lived about ten miles from our house. I should probably start stocking canned goods.
Do you have any more zombie books planned?
was going to be a standalone novella. However, Iíve had two things repeated to me over and over since I released it: you canít eat and read it at the same time, and hurry up with a sequel. I take both of those as compliments by the way. So Iíve been giving some serious thought to doing at least one more, and it could be soon.
In Echoes the main character suffered a traumatic brain injury while stationed in Iraq. Do you know any people that this actually happened to? If not, who or what was your inspiration for this character?
In my previous career, I was a contractor for the Department of Defense. I primarily dealt with the personal effects of wounded or deceased soldiers, so I had a lot of exposure to the effect war has on people. My brother has a purple heart as well, though not for a traumatic brain injury. The character of Ash gets parts of his personality from my experiences, my brothers, and the fact that I just absolutely love smart asses.
The telepathy angle is an idea Iíve had for about a decade. I think I drank those brain cells away, because I canít remember where the inspiration for it came from.
Do you believe that there really are telepaths, even those who can control the actions of another person?
Nope. Even though all of my books are about telepathy, zombies, ghosts, and other fantastical things, I donít actually believe in any of them. Itís been my experience that when people tell you they can read your mind or talk to your dead Aunt Jemima, they are either con artists or nut jobs, maybe even both. My wife actually had a roommate who told her that two spirits were following her around. Then again, she didnít know that fast food was bad for you, so I wasnít entirely convinced of her claims.
Are you working on another book now? If so, would you tell us what it is about? When do you expect to publish it?
My current work in progress is about two college students who win a contest to be interns on a special episode of a ďGhost HuntersĒ type of television show. You know, the kind where they always manage to see the face of a spirit when none of the fifty cameras are pointed in the right direction. Their experiences go well beyond what is typically captured on one of these shows. This book should release in July. Sequels to Echoes
will follow toward the end of summer, or early fall.
When did you realize that you were meant to write?
Iím still not sure that Iím meant to write. What I do know was that I hated my job working for the government. My degree is in television and film production, but I pushed that career to the side when I met my wife and decided to stay on the east coast to be with her. Writing novels is something I had never even considered before six months ago. When the idea of working on books instead of screenplays hit me, it just felt right.
Do you plan out the entire book before you begin writing? Or do you just sit down and write?
Iíve never worked from an outline. I did have a large portion of Echoes
planned out in my head before I started to write it, but after I got twenty pages in I changed the entire story. With Gehenna
, I just sat down and let it play out. This style allows me to work with the flow of the story, rather than trying to rigidly follow any preconceptions I had.