Daily Archives: October 9, 2015

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 9 Interview – Devan Sagliani – Bringing Zombies to the Big Screen And Your E-Reader

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By: Special Guest Interviewer Video Game Rack Fighter 

Zombie movie buffs rejoice because today’s guest is none other than Devan Sagliani, author of the original screenplay for the movie HVZ: Humans Versus Zombies, a satirical thriller flick based on the live action role playing game of the same name. As if that weren’t enough, he also penned the Zombie Attack! series, The Undead L.A. series, The Rising Dead, A Thirst for Fire, and most recently Saint Death. Don’t forget to check out Escapist Magazine for his bimonthly horror column, Dark Dreams.

NOTE:  BOLD=VGRF; ITALICS=Devan

Thanks for taking my call, Devan. Bookshelf Q. Battler would have called but he’s too busy arguing with his ex-girlfriend, which leads me to my first question:

Q.   Is it possible for a group of zombie apocalypse survivors to make it when they’re at each others’ throats? I think we’ll work it out so don’t worry about us, but generally speaking, if you had to give a pep talk to a bunch of survivors to convince them to drop their petty differences and focus on staying alive, what would you say?

A.   I’m more of a loner than a leader these days, but if it the role were forced on me I’d probably remind them that no one makes it in this world on their own, that we all work better as a team, and that if we stick together we can not only survive this nightmare but also create a better future for all of us in the process.

Q.  You wrote a screenplay for a zombie movie. What was that experience like? Can you describe it for BQB’s 3.5 readers?

A.   The movie was based off of the live action role playing game Humans Vs. Zombies, or HVZ. I’d had an idea for a zombie movie in mind when I got the call from a director I’d worked with before and the timing was just right. There is a downside to working in Hollywood, which is ultimately the lack of creative control you get as a writer. That’s why I decided to make the jump to writing novels, so I could make all the decisions and know they wouldn’t get changed at the last minute without my knowledge or consent. After all, when your name is on something you want to be able to be proud of how it turned out and not feel like anything was compromised.

Q.   In Undead L.A., one might argue that the City of Los Angeles is almost a character itself. From a pilot hijacking a plane from LAX in order to flee the insanity to a detective on the trail of a case that begins in West Hollywood, you provide a great deal of detail about the city. How were you able to make L.A. leap off the page?

A.   I think the best answer is simply that I love this city with all of my heart. I was born and raised here in Los Angeles and at this point I don’t want to live anywhere else. Los Angeles will always be my home. I feel like sometimes the city gets a bad rap from all the people who come here looking to create a better life for themselves in the entertainment industry or make it in Hollywood. I wanted to show off just how amazing and diverse this sprawling metropolis really is. I think too that people who have visited L.A. or lived here for a while before returning to where they are from can enjoy reading about the characters moving through the same streets they remember, seeing all the landmarks, and eating at places they ate at while they were here. I know I always enjoy that when I read Michael Connelly’s books.

Q.   In Book Two of the Zombie Attack! series, your protagonist, Xander, is put in charge of a survivor colony. With the help of his wife, Felicity Jane, the couple deals with reconstruction efforts, constant zombie attacks, and a bloodthirsty group of cannibals. That last part brings a question to my mind – who’s more dangerous in a zombie apocalypse? Zombies, or the humans who take advantage of the chaos that zombies create?

A.   In the Zombie Attack series the zombies themselves mostly just move the action along as Xander does his best to deal with a host of perilous issues that now exist in the post Z-Day world. Zombies are absolutely dangerous, no question about it, but many humans are far worse than the biters because of the deliberate evil they act on in the absence of established law and order. I feel confident that this is how things would devolve in the event of any major crisis or apocalypse. One group of people would work to uphold the common good while the rest would fight over what they could get and set up their own territories like warlords. Let’s just hope we never have to find out!

Q.   At least 2 of BQB’s 3.5 readers are wannabe writers. What advice do you have for someone getting started in the writing game?

A.   First I’d recommend that they read ON WRITING by Stephen King. That book changed my life and got me writing novels. Then I’d suggest that they give themselves time to grow and don’t be impatient to get stuff out there before it is ready. Take your time to learn your craft and develop your own voice. Last but not least I would tell them not to sign any publishing deals until they know exactly what they are getting themselves into. These days there are a lot of small press publishers who will promise the sun, the moon, and the stars to get new talent but can’t offer much more than the writer could do on their own with a Facebook and Twitter account.

Q.   Thanks for your help, Devan. Before I hang up, do you have any last words of wisdom to help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Make sure you can lock down one area for you and your loved ones, that it is secure from the living and the dead, and then stock it up with as much clean water as you can get your hands on. That’s going to be a huge issue during the zombie apocalypse. Then go for the canned goods next and nonperishables. Then it’s all about medicine, fuel, and weapons after that. Aim for the head and don’t stop until they are dead! Good luck!

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 9 (Part 2)

There’s something about being chased by ravenous creatures of the damned that puts your body into overdrive. Adrenaline takes control and gives you that extra oomph you need, at least it did for me.

Zombie after zombie crashed into Alien Jones’ protective bubble, getting instantly vaporized.

East Randomtown was a small community where everyone knew each other, and I recognized many of the zombies that the Esteemed Brainy One was plowing through.

There was Edna, the lady who ran the beauty parlor and Sid the the old man who wandered around collecting tin cans to take back to the recycling center. I’d recognize his ‘stache anywhere, even on a zombie lip.

There was another zombie wearing track shorts and a whistle around his neck. That had to have been my old high school gym teacher, Mr. Culpepper. Sure, that guy was a dick, but I never wanted him to become zombified and then vaporized by an alien force field either.

Alien Jones was running as fast as his little green legs could carry him when suddenly, he slipped on an errant banana peel, careened face first into the floor, and dropped the force field.

We were screwed.

VGRF, Bernie and I huddled together, taking as many shots as we could as the beasts circled around us. It was pitch black but we could see the monsters’ yellow eyes drawing near and smell the fetid stench of their breath.

Seriously. Those undead dudes needed a mint.

“This is it,” VGRF said.

“Not yet, baby,” I said.

I turned around, hoisted the dummy, aka, the decoy human over my head and threw it as far as I could.

“Go get it, zombies!”

Have you ever thrown a milk bone across the room only to watch your dog trip over itself to get it? It was just like that. The zombies abandoned us completely.

Stupid zombies.

            Stupid zombies.

I found Alien Jones and helped him up.  Out came the force field bubble and we were back in action, running until we reached the end of the mall.

“This is it!” Alien Jones shouted.

I looked up and shined my flashlight.

The sign read “Hipster Hut.”

Hipster Hut was a small boutique store catering in the latest “I work extra hard to look look like I don’t care what you think about me when secretly I really do” fashions.

Their motto?  “Is there a store that’s better at bringing you the latest hip fashions than Hipster Hut?  Sure, but we doubt you’ve heard of it.”

Welcome to Hipster Hut.  Are you sure you belong here?  We're pretty exclusive.

Welcome to Hipster Hut. Are you sure you belong here? We’re pretty exclusive.

The store was empty, sans one zombie who kept walking into the corner, bumping his head on the wall over and over again.

Bernie raised his 9MM to take him out but VGRF put her hand on his.

“No,”  I said.  “He’s not a bad zombie.   He’s just stupid.”

“Gotcha,”  Bernie replied.

Alien Jones took the space phone from me, hit a button, and the store’s security gate closed.  A torrent of zombies crashed against it.

I knocked on the door to the back office.

An angry female voice yelled, “Go away!”

“Blandie? It’s me! Bookshelf Q. Battler!”

“Oh. It’s about time!”

Blandie - known for ripping BQB a new one early and often.

Blandie – known for ripping BQB a new one early and often.

The lock clicked, the door opened and out popped my ex-girlfriend, the voluptuously hot yet soul crushingly mean Bland Life “Blandie” Settler.

Yeah, I know like it seems as though I’m trying to make a point with that name, but I didn’t give it to her. You can check her license.

“Why did you bring nerds?”  Blandie asked, pointing to my posse.

“They’re my friends,” I said. “You remember Bernie.”

“Yo.”

“And this is my girlfriend, Video Game Rack Fighter.”

“Blech,” Blandie said. “A snow hat? You might as well just wear a sign that says, ‘I’m a lesbian.’”

“You were right,” VGRF said to me. “We should have left her here.”

Alien Jones stretched out his hand.

“Ms. Settler, I’m Alien Jones, Emissary of the Mighty Potentate, it is nice to meet…”

Blandie screeched like a howler monkey, kicked AJ in the face and punted him across the room.

“What are you doing?!”  I shouted.

I ran over to check on AJ. He was out cold. I scooped his listless little body up in my arms.

The Esteemed Ouchie One

The Esteemed Ouchie One

“What the f$%k is that thing?!” Blandie asked. “Is it a mutant zombie?”

“He’s an intergalactic adventurer and thus far, he’s been the brains of our operation, saving our asses at every turn, and you just put him into a damn coma!!!”

“Well I didn’t know,” Blandie said. “You think you’d give me a warning. ‘Hey. I have an alien with me.’ Is that too much to ask?”

“You’re right,” I said. “You’re ALWAYS right aren’t you? Everything I do is totally wrong and EVERYTHING you do is perfect isn’t it?”

“Oh here we go with your crybaby routine,” Blandie said. ‘Waah waah waah, I’m Bookshelf Q. Battler and I have a tiny…’”

“Awk-ward,” Bernie said.

I walked into the backroom and laid Alien Jones across Blandie’s desk. The group followed. Blandie shut the door and locked it behind us.

“So what’s the plan now?” Bland asked.

“I don’t know. You just auditioned for the Rockettes on my planner’s face.”

“Are you still on that? Typical BQB, always living in the past.”

“Typical Blandie. Never able to apologize for anything.”

I overheard VGRF whisper to Bernie.

“Wow. Did they always fight like this?”

“Y’all don’t even know the half of it, boo.”

Video Game Rack Fighter grabbed the space phone.

“I better call someone.”

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 9

At the entrance to Price Town, Alien Jones assembled a massive pile of laptops (ten percent off because Price Town has the best prices in town!), tablets, and game consoles, all hooked together with cables. Somehow, he connected that mess to one giant battery he formed by connecting thousands of smaller batteries together, and then attached everything to a dehumidifier which was, in turn, rigged up to a leaf blower.

“Switching from suck to blow now,” Alien Jones said, inadvertently paying homage to Spaceballs.  “Does everyone have their Sarah Lyons Fleming approved bug-out bags?”

“Affirmative,” VGRF replied. “And remember, if you see a zombie like Jaime Johnesee’s ‘Bob,’ don’t shoot him.”

“That’s quite a contraption, AJ,”  I said.  “But what did you need the troll doll for?”

Alien Jones held up the tiny little plastic guy I’d found for him.  It had a tuft of blue hair popping out of its head.

“I just think they’re adorable,”  the Esteemed Brainy One said.

“OK then,”  I said.

“Is everyone ready?” Alien Jones asked.

“One more thing,” I said.

I walked to the clothing section, grabbed a mannequin, tucked it under my arm, and rejoined the crew.

I never go anywhere in a zombie apocalypse without a decoy human.

I never go anywhere in a zombie apocalypse without a decoy human.

“Why are you bringing a dummy?”

“Insert joke about Bernie here,” I said.

Bernie was too busy admiring his duel 9mm automatics. (Conveniently located next to the toy aisle, come on down to Price Town!)

“This isn’t just a dummy,” I said. “It is a…decoy human.”

“What?”

“My sweet Video Game Rack Fighter,” I said. “Earlier this year, my life was saved thanks to the wisdom of one of the wisest sages in the self-publishing game.”

“Not the decoy wallet story again,” VGRF said.

“The decoy wallet story indeed!”

I put the dummy down, then pulled one leather bound wallet out of my jacket pocket and a second velcro wallet out of my pants pocket.

“This wallet,” I said as I held up the wallet in my left hand, “Holds my driver’s license, credit cards, and money. To be relieved of it from the likes of a common street hoodlum would be an arduous ordeal for certain.”

“All you have to do is call up the credit card company and have them cancel your old card,” VGRF said.

“This wallet,” I continued, ignoring my girlfriend’s protestations while holding up the wallet in my right hand, “is a distraction. NAY! An illusion. A decoy!”

“I’m sorry I asked,”  VGRF said.

“It contains one expired credit card, exactly three dollars, no more, no less, and a punch eleven and get your twelfth sub free at Sub Shack coupon.”

“How many punches?” VGRF asked.

“Ten. Come to think of it, I’ll be damned if some degenerate mugger is going to walk away with my free sub.”

I switched the sub punch card to the real wallet.

“A few months ago, as I was strolling down the street, a villainous desperado jumped out of an alleyway and demanded I turn over my wallet. Turn it over I did, yet little did he know I turned over a decoy. I walked away safe and sound and did not have to spend an hour on the phone waiting for an operator  to replace my cards.”

“So if your decoy wallet was stolen, then what is that?” VGRF asked. “A decoy, decoy wallet?”

“No,” I replied.  “A REPLACEMENT decoy wallet.”

“What if the mugger gets mad that you only have three dollars and blows your head off?” VGRF asked.

I pondered that question for a moment.  Failing to think of an answer, I chose to ignore it.

“Moving on,” I said as I picked up the mannequin. “This is a decoy human. If the zombies corner us, I can fling it in the opposite direction. They’ll go after it and by the time they wise up we’ll be long gone.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” VGRF said.

“No,” I said. “The decoy wallet is a brilliant invention brought to us from Dave, the wisest of all the self-publishing sages.  Dave is truly a gift from the creator, sent here to Earth to share his wisdom and advice on decoy wallets, book covers, and the lousy service at Olive Garden.”

“Oh right,” VGRF said. “Johnny, Sean and Dave of the Self-Publishing Podcast. You love those guys. Why don’t you call Dave? He co-authored a zombie book series.

“What?” I asked. “VGRF, please. As if a renowned celebrity/decoy wallet enthusiast of such a high stature would ever, EVER take a call from a peon like me. I love you baby but come on. Get your head out of your ass.”

“Whatever,” VGRF said. “Just a thought. Let’s roll, Alien Jones.”

This post dedicated to Self-Publishing Podcasters and All Around Awesome Dudes Johnny, Sean, and Dave, noted zombie writer and decoy wallet enthusiast.

This post dedicated to Self-Publishing Podcasters and All Around Awesome Dudes Johnny, Sean, and Dave, noted zombie writer and decoy wallet enthusiast.

The little guy yanked the cord on the leaf blower and started his device up.

“Remember,” he said. “This is a primitive recreation of a vaporization cannon, so it will only be capable of firing one shot. After that, we’re on our own.”

“Got it,” I said.

“Open the gate on 1,” my intergalactic colleague commanded.

AJ had set his space phone up so all I had to do was hit a button to make the security gate open. The Esteemed Brainy One was able to hack just about any electronic device with that thing.

“3…2…1!”

I hit the button. Slowly, the gate rose. The zombies, who’d been standing there for over a week, just biding their time, yearning for a chance to tear into our flesh, stampeded toward us like a herd of wild buffalo.

Alien Jones pulled the trigger and a bolt of blue light reduced over a hundred zombies into nothingness. Their particles simply floated away.

We walked into the mall’s main thoroughfare. It was dark and we weren’t able to see anything. I shined my flashlight and was able to see a group of zombies gathered around a waterfall in the center. They were too busy bumping into each other to notice us, but that would surely change.

The waterfall had stopped flowing days earlier and had become just a mere tepid pool of water.

“Turn out the light,” Alien Jones said. “It attracts them.”

I did as instructed.

“Take my hands, humans,” Alien Jones said. “I can see in the dark.”

VGRF and I each grabbed an alien hand. Bernie, the odd man out, grabbed hold of my backpack strap.

The Esteemed Brainy One led the way. I could hear the zombie gurgles and groans grow louder.

“Are we there yet?” Bernie asked.

“No,” AJ answered

“How ’bout now?”

“Silence human.”

I could hear footsteps moving towards us.

“Humans?” Alien Jones asked.

“Yes?”

AJ let go out our hands, outstretched his, and made another force field bubble, misting all oncoming undead.

“RUN!”

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