AN INTERVIEW WITH NJ.HALLARD
I have just read the fantastic book from N.J.Hallard"Breaking news an Autozombiography"and i must say its pretty fantastic!
This guy is one of the best upcoming horrors writers around and i have been fortunate enough to interview him for this blog and for your pleasure!
An Interview with N.J Hallard.
1-From reading the book it seems very personal with a lot of the characters and indeed the dog,are these based on people you know?
Very perceptive - you're the first person to ask me this! Just under half the main characters in Breaking News: an Autozombiography are based on my friends and family. We've all spent so many hours talking about surviving a zombie apocalypse that any story I was going to write had to include them. But also as this was the first novel I've ever written, I suppose I wanted to make the writing experience as unthreatening and therefore as easy as possible.
Their character traits - and indeed those of the two dogs - made for an easy starting-point, enabling me to concentrate on the storytelling. But as the writing progressed, the characters in the book evolved to something beyond the actual people. Everyone who is in the book has read it (indeed for a year or so the ONLY people who had read the book were those who are in it - so it was tough working out if all the positive feedback I was getting was purely because people like reading about themselves lopping heads off zombies and looking pretty damn cool!).
As it turns out almost everyone who has read it now, says its a real page-turner - even those who don't know me or my little group of friends, so that was reassuring! For the legal beagles amongst your listeners, I have sought (and received) the express permission of every one of my acquaintances who makes an appearance in 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography'.
2-Within the book there are a lot of pop culture and zombie film references,were these your main inspirations for the book?
My main inspiration for the book is to get more people like you and me writing - so much creativity goes to waste these days. I want anyone to be able to self-publish their own 'Autozombiography', and use that word in the title without signing anything or paying any fees. The only thing I would suggest is that the structure of the outbreak in your book sticks roughly to the simple, generic timeline available on Baron Cissbury's blog.
England's people are still quite tribal, and our long history is in evidence all around us. This is especially so in buildings and structures (sometimes created for past battles) that could be adapted to protect humans from the undead - castles, keeps, caves, islands, tower blocks and the like. If you haven't played out your own zombie-survival narrative in your head, you're not a true zombie fan!
I wanted this book to inspire people to get writing, because I found creating a 300 page book far, far easier than I ever thought it could be. If you have ever discussed with friends what surviving the zombies would be like on, say, a docked passenger ferry, or in your boarded-up local pub, you need to write your own Autozombiography. I tried to touch on the possibilities in my own book, with my characters hearing rumours of other encampments - like how a Hell's Angels chapter sets up camp at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall - to inspire people to think of the coolest way they could survive in their area, and what shape their band of survivors might take.
As for the zombie film references, I wanted the story's universe to be here and now - including the fact that zombies exist in fiction, and therefore some people will know what to do already. This was a chance for the horror geek to reign supreme! But also I think the biggest cliché in zombie movies is when people look after a bitten friend - you KNOW these chumps have never seen a Romero movie. But what if zombies really came tomorrow? You, me and all your listeners would instantly know what to do, and I found that a fascinating concept to work with.
3-How are the sales of the book going?
Given that I have created, published and am marketing the whole book with a budget of less than £200... very well indeed! I dread to think how much the marketing budget for some fiction is. Money invested is directly proportional to copies sold, so I'm not going to be retiring anytime soon.
A big boost came when I finally got my head round Kindle and how to format a book for e-publishing. The main publishers - the people who hold the .pdf file of the whole book - are Lulu.com., and if you buy from them I get around 30% of the cover price of £12. I had to submit it to Amazon, because I'd be mad not to, and if you buy from Amazon I get less than 10%. However, if you buy the Kindle edition from Amazon for five quid or so I get 50% of the cover price as there's not physical layout for either party in terms of ink, paper or postage. However, by far the largest amount shifted have been paper versions sold from Amazon, so a sale doesn't necessarily mean a significant difference in my bank balance each time a book is sold. In a word, pretty well but I've not quite broken even yet! I didn't do it for the money though, in all honesty.
4-I see from your website that you fight against the zombies is constantly updated,when can we expect to see a sequel?
Well, I do know exactly what will happen in a sequel for 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography'. I keep the Twitter and blog events separate and kind of free from the constraints of time. I occasionally let the Baron post news on the blog which will back up the starting point of the sequel (about a year after the last page of the current book), such as re-fortifying the ancient barricades of Cissbury Ring.
Its a toss-up between writing a sequel and something totally different. I am confident that I can write another book, and I have lots of ideas. I am most excited by the direction I can take the inhabitants of the Cissbury Ring encampment though, if I'm honest. Time is another factor of course - it took four years from writing the first word to having the finished paperback in my hand. When I started writing it, print-on-demand didn't even exist! A second book will be at least a year, even if I started writing it tomorrow, but I have a two-year-old now, as well as a wife, mortgage and my own business. If anyone wants to give me an advance to write, I'd drop everything like a hot brick - er, except perhaps the family!
5-What do you think of the conversion from page to the screen in "The Walking Dead"
I am really O.C.D. with regards to 'reading' films and good TV, which are my passion. I always try to leave a gap between the publicity explosion for things I know I'll like, and actually watching it. Hence I haven't seen a single screen shot of the series, and as far as possible haven't read anything to do with the series (even though some people on Twitter seem to delight in posting spoilers). Hype can taint how I perceive a text, and I'd rather see it in as pure way as possible. I didn't know anything about Zombieland for example until the BluRay was in my PS3 and the first frame was onscreen.
I hate to have other people's opinions floating about my head as I watch something for the first time. Its about maximising my own enjoyment, and I can't recommend isolating yourself from a film's hype enough as a way to do this. Probably not what the host of a film podcast wants to hear, but there you are! So I can't say, but I will be buying the whole lot on BluRay when it is available. I have of course read the graphic novels, but I was bought them for my birthday whilst I was writing 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography'. They stayed on my shelf, unread, until I had finished the book.
6-Would you like your book to make it on to the big screen or even TV?
Does the pope shit in the woods?! Of course! I have even chosen the soundtrack for the trailer! If anything I had my other passion of video games in mind when writing the book. I love the open worlds of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead, but also the pinpoint visceral accuracy of shooting moving objects in Call of Duty (I hit 100,000 kills on Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare's online multiplayer the other day by the way). I really enjoy the customizable weaponry of Dead Rising and the collectable activities found in management games like Pocket Frogs. I think 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography' lends itself to all of these gaming passions of mine. But of course the holy grail is a movie.
7-If it were to be made in to a film,who would you have in mind to play the lead role and who wouldd you think would do it justice as a Director?
The main character in 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography' is unnamed throughout the book. He is an 'everyman' as far as I could make him, but he is me in essence. A video game would be great in the first-person, which means we never see the main character, but this would be almost impossible in a mainstream film.
Everyone in the book is rather unfashionably in their thirties, but I wouldn't want to change that. My money's on Sam Worthington (from the awesome Terminator Salvation; the dog's egg that was Avatar; and funnily enough the voice of Mason in the latest Call of Duty). He'd have to lose a bit of weight though, as he's pretty built but I'm more like under construction. I fancy seeing if Kate Moss can act to play Lou. Al would be played by a skinhead Colin Farrell. Jay by Jack Black, if he can muster a decent accent and a straight face.
The zombies would use the same green-screen technique from Terminator Salvation with a mix of prosthetics and CG - they built solid structures which half-covered green lycra suits. In post-production they modeled whirring cogs and pistons to map onto the bits of green left visible, which appeared to be within the bodies of the actors playing the various Terminators. In my world, the zombies would have cloth and flaps of prosthetic flesh covering the green body suits, but the CG element would be glistening organs and sinews which would appear to be inside their body cavities.
As for directors, I was very impressed with McG when I watched him on the extras of Terminator Salvation. However, my two old college friends have found much critical acclaim with their recent indie flick Down Terrace and I've worked with them on a sci-fi feature before (as production designer), so I'd have to give them first dibs. Actually, I'd probably direct it myself!
8-What is your favourite zombie film?
That's not fair. I love Night of the Living Dead for genuine creepiness, but Dawn of the Dead is my favourite Romero because it made such an impact on me as a young lad. It still really, really freaks me out. Shaun of the Dead was an absolute masterstroke, and I'll admit I am a little in love with Frost and Pegg. Zombieland was pretty awesome, but some of the decisions the characters made towards the end (er, close the gate behind you? Twats) spoilt it a bit for me, although Harrelson is magnificent.
28 Days Later is not a zombie film. Zombies don't run, and these ones are all still alive but infected, as far as I can make out. If I may quote from my own book, "...I'd rather watch Aliens, or Zulu...". Hence the remake of Dawn of the Dead, in my opinion, just simply chugged monkey cock for an hour and a half. That is a lovely opening sequence though, I'll admit. But, speaking as a genuine ex-film student, if you really want to see someone playing a dead bloke who WILL come and visit your dreams, look no further than Max Schreck in F.W Murnau's Nosferatu from 1922. Seriously.
9-Would you recommend any other good zombie fiction?
No. I just simply haven't read any which I was that impressed with. How arrogant am I?!
10-Any messages to your fans?
Just simply a huge thank you. I tweet on Twitter as the main character from the book, from the encampment, using a battered iPhone salvaged on a raid which somehow connects to the internet (this isn't in the book at all). Dozens and dozens of people from all over the world regularly interact as if they are surviving the zombie holocaust in their own encampment. This is the creative drive I think people should tap into to create their own Autozombiography - their imagination and creativity always take me by surprise. Thank you!
So there you have it folks!A great man with a great book and he is so great that he even gave me a copy of his booked"signed"as a contest prize!
So for your chance to win Please answer the following question,
How many Zombie Films has George a Romero made to date.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer.The contest will end on january the 5th so good luck!
If you would like to pick up a copy before your chance to win,it would make a great pesent for any horror fan it is available now on ww.amazon.com http://www.amazon.co.uk/ also on amazon kindle and lulu!
Please also when you get the time head over to http://www.njhallard.wordpress.com/ for all the updates on the zombie story a ton of other great stuff from Baron Cissbury!