Undead Authors: My Interview with Iain McKinnon

25 05 2011

Iain McKinnon is the author of 2008 Zombie Apocalypse Thriller Domain of the Dead. Along with four others Permuted Press novels, Domain of the Dead was recently released in audiobook form as part of Audible.com’s Zombiefest.  I recently reviewed Domains of the Dead as part of my May Zombie theme, and you can find that review HERE. Iain was kind enough to take a few moments and answer some of my questions.

Bob: As I said in my review of Domain of the Dead, your novel seems to be one that truly embraces George A. Romero’s vision of the undead. How much of an influence has Romero had on your work?

Iain: Romero for me is the God Father of the zombie phenomena. He and Russo set the ball rolling. Regardless of how divorced the zombies are from the ones in Night of the Living Dead you still have that film at the source. Unlike a lot of writers and film makers I still believe that the Romero shambling brain damaged monster is scarier. The lurching soulless cadaver plodding inexorably for you holds an infinitive possibility for terror. So yes I am a purist, I work off the inspiration Romero instilled in me and I’m very pleased when people complement me on that.

Don’t get me wrong though as much as I loved Romero’s early work I haven’t slavishly followed the cannon he established. There are some subtle differences in the Zombie contagion I have imagined but the core is still true to Romero.

Bob: What do you think would be a more dangerous impediment to us as a species surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, scientific Hubris, or callous, close minded bureaucrats?

Iain: Apathy. Yeah I’m sure in a crisis like the Zpoc there would be scientists who exacerbate things, there would be petty bureaucrats who engender life to follow rules but I think apathy would be the biggest danger. In survival there is the 10/80/10 rule. In any emergency situation 10% of people take the wrong course of action, 80% will do nothing until told what to do and only 10% will have the wit to identify what is needed to survive. If the Zpoc is like any other disaster in human history the inability to act will cause 80% of us to perish.

But I don’t think the Zpoc will cause humans as a species to die out. There are still a large amount of indigenous peoples in the world who survive in remote areas off the land to whom the Zpoc would have little impact. It’s us in the developed world who will crash and burn. With out electricity and super stores we would descend into anarchy in a matter of days. Urban area’s would become hell on Earth with the living causing as much havoc as the dead.

Bob: How involved were you in the audiobook production of your novel? What are your thoughts on the final product?

Iain: I’ve had no creative control over the audio edition of Domain of the Dead but as it’s an unabridged edition and I’m not a director so I’m not sure how my input could have helped? Audible.com did ask me to write and read a forward to the audio version which I was only to happy to do. I’m not convinced my Shatneresque ramblings bring any thing of value to the production but I got a big kick out of recoding it.

As for the rest of the book I love Karl Millers voice I think he brings a fantastic level of gravitas to the production. I enjoyed his take on the characters, I deliberately write with a very minimalistic style so to hear how much detail Karl pulls out was wonderful.

Bob: I thought Domain was one of the grimmer views of a potential zombie outbreak that I have read. What hope does our society have of surviving if there is a rising of the undead, like the CDC seems to be trying to prepare us for?

Iain: I think hopes for western society surviving a zombie out break are laughable. Unless they catch it right as it emerges we have no chance. Look at the recent flu pandemics. The 1918 one 32% of the population were infected and the morality rate was about 10%. 3% of the worlds population died in less than 12 months. Even though there wasn’t the same levels of connectivity in the world (no intentional flights) the disease spread to even the most remote locations and did so a mater of weeks.

Bear in mind here that we still have no effective medication against the Flu which is why resent flu pandemics have cause such panic.

Now what if the contagion was 100% deadly? And compound that with the corpses of the deceased reanimating and attacking the living. How long you think it would take for things to break down? Even just the panic caused would tear society apart.

So no I don’t think the CDC or any organization or Government would be able to protect us.

Bob: If the Zombie Hordes were closing in on your town and you needed to make a break for it. What items around you house would you prioritize in taking with you, in order to fight off the undead?

Iain: Here’s my survival plan. Sit tight. If it’s the shambling zombies my house is well enough stocked that we could sit it out for the first few weeks. This would be the most dangerous period as civil unrest will be rife. During the first few weeks your biggest concern is other survivors. People can be irrational and dangerous so in my opinion it’s best to avoid them in the beginning.

Once the worst of the unrest has passed take stock. If the zombies aren’t too thick on the ground then is it worth while staying in an area I know well. If not I pack up get on my bike and head north.

Just in case the worst does happen I have an escape and evade kit (both at home and in the trunk of my car). The kit has everything I need to survive (over 100 items of survival gear on a 30 lt back pack).

Bob: What would be your essential zombie reading lists, whether it be Zombie Fiction, or novels to help you survive an outbreak?

I have three books in my escape and evade kits all pocket edition to save on space and weight: The SAS Survival Guide, First Aid Manual, Guide to Edible Plants.

The other item I’d recommend is a map.

But more than having the books is having the knowledge. The books should be there for reference, you need to have already practiced the basics. There’s no point a reading a book to learn how to light a fire when your cold and hungry in the dark.

Bob: Without giving too much away, what should we expect from Remains of the Dead?

Remains of the Dead is a concurrent story. We follow the party who at the end of chapter one in Domain of the Dead were left behind on the mainland; Cahz, Ryan Cannon and the others.

Remains of the Dead is a much tighter novel than Domain of the Dead. In Remains of the Dead we only have four or five characters and we follow them over a period of about 16 hours (as opposed to Domain of the Dead where we had seven or eight major characters we follow over a 24 hour period).

It’s a much longer novel too, its about 15000 words longer than Domain of the Dead. I would say Remains is far more intense with a lot more action than Domain. It’s also a much darker novel, a lot more emotional.

The few fellow authors who have read the reviewer edition have all given me positive feedback. Walter Greatshell likened it to Kirkmans The Walking Dead. Joe McKinney even said it was one of the scariest zombie books he’d ever read “scenes so intense they left me stunned”, which was one hell of an accolade.

This is my best writing to date and I can guarantee if you liked Domain of the Dead you’ll love Remains of the Dead.

Hopefully Karl Miller will be available to do the audio version of this too..

You can purchase the audiobook version of Domain of the Dead at Audible.com.



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