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My guest today is Al K. Line.
3.5 readers, you might want to log off Twitter for a moment.
Al’s the author of the Zombie Botnet series. The mayhem begins when a devastating computer virus delivers subliminal data packets via social media, turning computer users the world over into murderous creatures.
A resident of rural England, when Al isn’t busy writing, he spends his time with his wife, sons, and dogs, the latter of which he notes he has too many.
NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=AL
Q. You’re the twenty-first zombie author I’ve interviewed this month and I have to admit, I honestly thought I’d of heard it all by now, but people becoming zombies via a computer virus? For the less tech savvy among us, can you explain how this works in your books?
A. Sure. Ven, the woman behind the “bit of bother,” lets loose a computer virus designed to infect millions of devices and allow her to get up to no good. Unfortunately, it all gets a little out of hand. The virus she unleashes has been compromised and the data packets go viral. An embedded subliminal message in the form of a video basically rewires the brain of anyone that views it and then it’s game over — welcome to zombieville.
Q. How did you come up with this idea?
A. The term zombie botnet is well known within the hacker community, it’s a way of describing a huge array of devices that have been infected and can be manipulated for all manner of nefarious naughtiness. What if the zombie botnet really could do as the name implies? It came from there.
Q. Everywhere I go, people are glued to technology. Phones. Laptops. Tablets. Everyone’s checking Facebook, Twitter, or some other site and usually the latest update is something as trivial as “I just blew my nose.” Do you think we might be zombies already?
A. I love technology, use it daily, and my career relies on it, but yeah, it can get out of hand. It’s the change it has caused to society that I find most interesting, making people slaves to the latest trend or social media platform — let’s face it, if we lose our internet connection for a few minutes we begin to panic, right? This is what the series plays on: our inability to look away. The first thing we do when we hear of a disaster is to check Twitter or Facebook, well, what if those platforms are the very ones causing the problem? People would still look, they can’t help it. It’s too ingrained into the fabric of our techno-reality now to ever go back.
Q. I notice this series is actually considered half-horror/half-comedy. I have to say, the idea of society being hoisted on its own technological petard seems rife with the ability to provide social commentary, not to mention a joke or two. Personally, I’m so addicted to social media that if all I have to do not to become a zombie is not check Twitter, I’m not sure I could do it. How are you able to combine humor with horror, when the two normally don’t mix well?
A. You gotta see the funny side, right? It’s the whole premise. Yes, there is social commentary, but it isn’t judgmental. We all have our obsessions, our hangups and our needs, and the absurdity of how the infection is caused screams for a bit of a laugh at our own expense. Plus, to be honest I can’t help myself. Characters suddenly appear on the page (I mean computer screen really) and they often happen to be rather comical — there’s no stopping it once the words somehow jump from my brain to the developing book.
Q. Al, your book features people being turned into zombies via subliminal messages. Just now, a real live zombie actually just jumped out of my computer screen. Have you ever heard of such a thing happening in zombie lore and any ideas on how to defeat such a menace?
A. Oh, loads, it happens all the time. The best thing to do is to scream really loud and run really fast — only pausing to update Facebook and check if anyone has posted anything on Twitter that could help in 140 characters or less.
Q. Thanks for the interview, Al. Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?
A. Nope. You’re going be dead any moment. Actually, should I even be answering this? Hello? I knew it, dead already, brains all over the floor. There’s probably some zombie granny chewing on your intestines at this very moment. Oh, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authoralkline
Yeah, I get the irony.