Friday, August 9, 2013

Interviewing Steve French

  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing zombie author, Steve French.  He wrote the novel, 'They Feed: Bloodborne', which is the first in a series and is available at  On a side note, Steve French designed the cover for both of my novels at  Here's the cover of Steve's book.

 1. What inspired you to write your first zombie novel?
  Short Answer: I’ve always been a fan of George Romero’s ‘of the Dead’ series and I thought the whole survival horror zombie story would work well in fiction novels just as well as they might in a movie.
  Long Answer: I’ve always been a fan of zombie movies. Not all of them, mind you, because there are a lot of stinkers out there. I think I saw my first zombie movie in my early teens and was both chilled by the idea and yet fascinated as well. In my early twenties, I decided I wanted to write a novel in style of the movies I was familiar with and I began writing ideas down about how a zombie outbreak might happen and I even wrote a chapter detailing how the outbreak began in a hospital. Sadly, the story didn’t take off; I was missing a whole lot more ideas about where to go with it and I was missing the characters I needed to tell the story.
  I’ve wanted to start a zombie novel for years, but still it was not coming to me. About a year ago, I wrote down a premise for a novel idea, but still I was not feeling a story blooming. After watching the 2009 movie ‘Carriers’ on Netflix it finally came to me. This movie was about four characters fleeing a viral pandemic while on a road trip to California. It’s not a bad movie; it had some interesting predicaments for the characters to face and focused on character development and survival. It was only missing one thing: zombies. I thought the movie really could have had zombies in it and perhaps been a whole lot better.

  So I borrowed the general premise and synopsis of the story as inspiration for the outline of my zombie novel and tweaked it to work around the ideas I already had. All of the characters were replaced with characters of my own creation. Kayla Gray was inspired by a real person I know and I decided she must be the main character and the storyline must revolve around her mission to rescue her children during the outbreak. Nina Taylor’s role was actually inspired by a zombie short story idea I had about a pizza delivery girl who would need to deliver a number of pizzas during a zombie outbreak. Turns out that I was able to write her short story into the novel and make it work with the rest of the ideas I had. With two characters created, I began writing and it took off from there. The rest of the cast of characters just happened to come to me as I was writing the rest of the story.

2. How did you come up with the science fiction inspired concept of the origins of the zombie virus?
  I knew that if I was ever going to write a zombie novel that I would need to find a way to explain how the outbreak could occur. I could have went Romero way and avoided the question all together, hinting at possible theories along the way, and never settling for one, but I wanted the root cause of the outbreak to be discovered by the characters at some point in my story. I’ve been thinking about ways a zombie outbreak could occur for years.
  The idea of the zombie outbreak being related to a virus was Resident Evil game inspired. I wanted to do something a little different and put a new spin on that idea, however, and recalled an article I had read in a magazine about fossilized alien bacteria being discovered on a meteorite found during an Arctic Expedition. I liked the idea that the virus was alien in origin, but I didn’t want to go way off subject with a whole Roswell Incident kind of premise, so the idea of the virus coming to Earth via meteorite was perfect and seemed to be a somewhat plausible idea. Basing the idea on fact felt like it added realism to the story, but here I had a problem because I want a virus related zombie outbreak and not a bacteria related zombie outbreak. With a little research, I learned that it is actually possible for bacteria to carry, but not transmit, a virus. Voilà! I had my concept worked out, but the next problem was to figure out how that virus could be released. Easy enough to fix if some Government agency, working with scientists, bio-engineered the virus into what it needed to be.
3. I wasn't sure if some of the cities in 'They Feed: Bloodborne' were real or fictional. Stephen King writes in the fictional city of Castle Rock, Maine. Can you help me know if you primarily write in real settings or not?
  The answer is yes, or both, but it depends on the story I want to tell. All of the cities in They Feed are real cities and/or towns between Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado. Monument, Larkspur, and Castle Rock are all real towns here in Colorado and I have to wonder if Stephen King’s Castle Rock was somehow inspired by our Castle Rock.
  As for writing about fictional places, I do that too. My fiction novels ‘Sinister Presence’ and ‘A Dress In Red’ both take place in my fictional town of Misty Springs, Colorado.
4. Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?
  Absolutely! I’d love to have a movie option offered on any of my books, but YES, I would be particularly happy if They Feed or any of the other zombie tales I plan to write could be made into movies.
5. Keeping in mind that many of the best zombie stories out there don't even involve zombies, but are stories of isolated groups of people who must overcome their own differences in order to work together to fight an outside threat.  What are some of your favorite zombie stories and why?
  Carriers (2009): Decent acting and decent storyline overcome a low budget epidemic survival tale. I liked this one because it is character driven and does not get distracted by nonsense.  Would ‘Enemy Mine’ count? I liked this science fiction Robinson Crusoe-esque tale about two ‘men’ isolated and trapped on a hostile planet and working together to survive while coming to terms with and resolving their differences.
6. What made you decide to put out the 'They Feed: Bloodborne Companion'?
  I wrote and released the companion with the intention to give it away free for promotional purposes and I did give it away free as many promotion days as KDP allows. I also thought some readers might be interested in the background behind the novel and its creation process and also to include a sample chapter from the book. Also, I had removed the prologue from They Feed because it was lengthy backfill and distracts a potential reader from getting immediately involved with the characters and action of the story. Still, it was part of the story so I did include it with the companion for those interested.
7. What contemporary zombie authors do you admire?
  I’ve been reading Rhiannon Frater and Eric A. Shelman.  I like Frater because her stories are character-driven and mostly revolve around group dynamics and how the characters struggle to survive and overcome obstacles by working together to survive. Her descriptions bring her stories to life.  Shelman’s stories, compared to Frater’s, are faster paced and are more action-driven, but character development and depth seems to take a back seat.  When writing They Feed, I combined both their methods and styles to deliver a storyline that was character driven and paced with breaks for action and zombie mayhem.
8. I hear that your new book, 'They Feed Book Two: Pathogen' is coming out soon. Is there anything you would like to say about it to your readers before it comes out?
  Pathogen is in the works, but slow going; first I was distracted by writing ‘A Dress In Red’ and now ‘Beacon Point.’ What I’d like to say is that, this being my first attempt at a series, that I wish I had better planned the overall story arc and storyline of the series. To make Bloodborne work, I had to kill off some characters that were meant to develop further into the series and I kind of wrapped up things with the main character, Kayla. Derek and Pamela both were meant to make it further. Derek was supposed to live long enough to develop a relationship with Pam, but I got tired of writing for Pamela because I felt like he was being dragged along. Originally I thought it would be ironic if she had her baby before being killed off to leave Kayla fostering a child from the affair. If I had done that, Kayla would have wanted to settle down. That also meant killing off her kids–which was her motivating factor for the first book. Now I’m working on a new drive for Kayla and working out what new characters I want to bring in to help make that happen. Pathogen will still include Nina, Stan, and Marshall.

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