Tuesday, August 26, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Stephen Kozeniewski
1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
When I was a very young (and, let's just admit it, precocious) lad, I had the unique opportunity to meet Charles Dickens. It was at a book signing at a local Barnes and Noble, and Dickens was sitting there eating fish and chips out of a garbage bag. When my Uncle Rutger and I reached the head of the line I gave the old gasbag the death stare. He looked down at me and said, "Yes, young fellow, and what can I do for you?" So I just looked him straight in the eye and said, "Well, which was it, a-hole? The best of times or the worst of times?" Dickens chuckled and leaned back in his chair. One meaty index finger, crusted with grease and fish oil, pointed heavenward. "But, that, my boy, is for YOU to decide." And so I did.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
People are probably getting tired of hearing this, but Brian Keene inspired me to become a horror author. Today it kind of doesn't matter what books I enjoy reading because I spend most of my time reading novels by friends, peers, and authors I owe personal favors. One of the hazards of having a great community supporting you, I guess.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Braineater Jones?
More interesting is perhaps what I was NOT inspired by. Most people who have read the novel assume I'm some kind of noir savant who spent a childhood reading Elmore Leonard and can instantly recall trivia about Humphrey Bogart, like that he always wore swimming trunks under his clothes. I actually have no idea what Bogey's stance on undergarments was, and, in fact, I never read a mystery novel until last year. Every facet of the noir milieu in BRAINEATER JONES came to me through cultural osmosis, primarily watching cartoons, sketch shows, and similar parodies. In fact, I only just learned the difference between "hardboiled" and "noir" a few months ago. Pretty good job for a total faker, though, huh?
4. Why choose zombies as your main paranormal focus?
There's a saying in the army about second lieutenants: their symbol is a gold bar because gold is valuable, but malleable. I think the same way about zombies, and not just because of all the dead-eyed stares I've gotten from second louies over the years. Zombies are eminently whatever you want them to be. Want them to be a symbol of crass consumerism? Done. Want them to be a force of nature? Done. Want them to be intelligent, fast, or silly? Done. You can do pretty much anything with a walking corpse. They don't have all the rules that tie the hands of, say, a vampire or a werewolf author.
5. Was there any intended symbolism behind it and how the zombies behaved in your book?
Well, yes. I worked as a secretary at a substance abuse clinic for a few years and I was pretty fascinated by the phenomenon called "cross-addiction." This is a super-dumbed-down layman's explanation, but basically some folks will trade their addiction to something hazardous, like alcohol or cocaine, and become "addicted" to something healthier, like church or even sometimes AA. In my book the zombies are cross-addicted from human flesh to alcohol, which I thought opened up some interesting questions about what "healthy" really is. But I wouldn't read too much into it.
6. Will we ever see "Braineater" again in the future, or a story similar to this?
Indeed! I'm working with the narrator of the audiobook, Steve Rimpici, and a very great animator named Zee Risek to put together a pitch for a BRAINEATER JONES animated series. Zee is planning to pitch to some of the major television networks at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in September. So, fingers crossed!
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
I've already done some work on science fiction and vampire novels. Someday I'd really like to do some fantasy or steampunk. They definitely have a different feel than what I usually work on.
8. If you woke up like "Braineater", what would you do?
The novel is basically my answer to that. Braineater and I think very much alike. I think the way he muddles through amnesia and undead wackiness is about the apex of what I could expect from myself. More likely I'd probably be a great big complacent dummy and die in a gutter from lack of alcohol.
9. If zombies were real and you were a "breather", would you leave them alone or do something about it?
Hmmm, me right now? I'd probably live and let live. It would be kind of exciting to think that I might end up alive after death, and I wouldn't want anyone hassling me. Now, if I had been raised in the '30s I'm pretty confident I'd feel differently.
10. Would you like to see Braineater Jones in theaters? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?
I never have a good answer to this question. One reviewer said that Bruce Campbell would make a great Braineater, and I find it hard to argue with that. I've always liked H, Jon Benjamin (the voice of Archer and Bob from Bob's Burger's) so I think he would be great for the voice of the Old Man. The others I'm not so sure about. Scarlett Johansson might make a good Kumaree. I liked her in Eight Legged Freaks.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
God willing, not working a day job anymore.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
Drinking. Oh, you mean in like an existential way? Like, if I had never taken up writing what would I be doing to fritter away the hours? Most likely black tar heroin.
13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
Oh I alluded to this before but I'm working on a vampire novel tentatively titled HUNTER OF THE DEAD which has been contracted with Permuted Press. That probably won't be released until 2016, though, I think. The next thing you'll see come out that I worked on will most likely be the AT HELL'S GATES anthology edited by Devan Sagliani.
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
Well, I have no idea if I'd be any good at a collaboration but I know that's not the point of this question. In a perfect world I'd love to work with Jonathan Maberry, Brian Keene, or David Wong. Meanwhile, back in the realm of reality, I think I might actually be able to set up a collaboration with Ian McClellan, Shana Festa, or possibly Bill Braddock.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Thanks for having me! As for three surprising thing: hmmm...
1) I am an unabashed fan of Avril Lavigne (yes, STILL!)
2) I am an Eagle Scout.
3) I once asked Robb Armstrong, the creator of Jump Start, to draw me a picture of Calvin and Hobbes instead of his characters.
Find Mr. Kozeniewski online via:
Amazon Author Profile
Facebook (LIKE page)