Sometimes you simply have to invite a proper British man onto the show to class the place up a bit. To that end, I have the pleasure of introducing Giles Batchelor. He’s published his first short story with the All Things Zombie group and I wanted him here, go get Jack’d before he was captured by the mass media and swept up into a tornadic wind of fame.
JW: Zombies. Why do we love them so? Why do we want that escape from reality into a world an overwhelming majority of humans wouldn’t survive? I’ve always held true that part of the attraction of the genre lies in the metaphor ? the frightening similarity between the undead and the zombified-billions that walk the planet day in and day out. There are days, however, that I wonder if the attraction to the zombie runs a bit more shallow. Could it be the very idea of shutting down the brain and mindlessly shambling about has its own appeal? There is a saying that we’re all very familiar with ?
Ignorance is bliss.
Would a zombie-level ignorance be akin to Nirvana? Do we, as human creatures, long for those moments of bliss-like escapism? It is, after all, one of the main reasons why the vast majority of people shut down in front of the television.
GB: Let me start, by saying, Thanks for having me, I look forward to all the trappings of this fame you predict in my future. You are correct (as usual) I am British, but proper and class may not be words usually associated with me. I don’t talk with a plummy accent or have a silver spoon shoved in my *** .
As you say majority of us are already mindlessly shambling along through a day to day routine:- Work, eat, sleep repeat. Would simplifying it even further to Eat, Shamble, repeat be more attractive? Yeah sure, I love the ability to turn off from reality, lose hours in front of the TV or a really good book.
Who knows what goes on in the mind of a zombie, perhaps the human personality is flying off on the most insane acid trip hallucinations while the body is shambling around, occasionally chewing on a nice chunk of flesh?
I’m tempted to think most fans of the genre are on the other side though. Wishing their monotonous routines could be disrupted; Their boss could be shot in the head, they wouldn’t need to think about being polite to hundreds of people every day, or just to not have ‘those’ family visits.
This of course doesn’t count for me, i’m pretty sure that if the zombies come, I’ll be eaten in the first 24 hours. In fact my darling wife has already threatened to trip me as a distraction so she can escape with the kids.
JW: Family does tend to put a wrench in the survival works. One of the issues I have dealt with (in both the I Zombie series and on Zombie Radio) is procreating during the apocalypse. You have children ? you know how challenging it can be to care for them and navigate the waters of a sane society with them at your side. Imagine what it would be like with a massive population of the undead, riots, and a consortium of power-starved mad men doing their best to slay the dragon of humanity. With that in mind, I always advocate apocalyptic-level protection if you’re going to get your groove on when the poo hits the propeller.
And what of a polite society during the apocalypse? Here in America we won’t have a problem dropping into the realm of “me first”. But I would imagine our brothers and sisters up north in Canada might not find that so easy. What about jolliest of jolly olds ? England?
GB: Family is a hard enough challenge in a functioning society. There may be some benefits to the downfall of said society but a lack of available childcare will not be one of them. Plus those who have had children since the advent of TV will know that being able to put the TV on even if only for a little while is a saviour of the parents sanity. As for protection, there will probably be plenty enough available to go round, but as a man it would be worth reliving your spotty teenage youth and keeping a rubber in your pocket. Just in case you manage to find that one still alive member of the opposite sex who has an itch to scratch. Also nobody wants to have to send out a raiding party with a wish list including a tube of canesten to solve the other itch that has resulted from a less than careful encounter.
Will us English with our stiff upper lip maintain a polite society; Yes we’ll all sit around drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches (trimmed crusts of course) and then Tally ho, shoot the zombies with Great Uncle Waldorf’s antique shotgun, but not in the presence of a lady in case it disturbs their delicate mind. In reality instead of a Jeeves and Worcester re-run I’m saddened to say that having seen recent news footage from English supermarkets of the black fFridaysale. I really don’t think a portion of the population will have a problem letting the politeness drop by the wayside.
When it comes down to it and the shit hits the fan, the survivors will have to resort to the Darwinian adage – survival of the fittest – and I think that the fittest probably won’t wait in line, or hold doors open for a lady.
JW: Survival will be tricky, that’s for sure. No matter if you have an infant, a teen, a spouse, or just yourself along for the ride. Truth be told, the vast majority of the people on this planet aren’t really prepared to survive. This is especially true in America. Thanks to the convenience of modern living, we’ve collectively grown soft. Without air conditioning, heat, autos, showers, toilet paper, ice ? we’re done for. It’ll take some serious adjustments to acclimate ourselves to the new world order.
Okay, before we break through the finish line tape, I have to bring this up ? you have a story included in the All Things Zombie anthology. First and foremost, what made you submit and second, what was your response to getting accepted?
GB: You just had to go and mention the book, not like having a story published isn’t the best thing thats happend to me this year, it’s been my favourite topic of conversation for weeks so of course i’ll answer these questions (please do excuse me if i go on a bit)…
A couple of years back I joined a creative writing club at my work (it’s a college so that isn’t as unusual as it may sound) it went for a little while, and we had some fun, but i didn’t really produce anything more than maybe a flash fiction piece (200-ish words) and i’d been meaning to write something more weighty ever since. In the same time period I’ve really got into the Zombie scene with Facebook groups like All Things Zombie, and had made some excellent friends with authors and the like (before i just used to read, now i spend as much time talking about books as reading them). When the opportunity to write for the anthology came up I felt like I had friends who could support me and help and so I was in a place to have a go. I wrote the first draft, and sent it to an author friend who also features in the anthology; He ripped it apart, not for the writing, but for the plot (or lack thereof). He helped me to understand what needed to be in there, and listened to me bouncing ideas till i got to the story I submitted. For that support I am truly thankful (you know who you are).
When I submitted I was pretty confident with my story, and I shared it with a small group of friends who I knew were also looking to submit their first ever story. I got really positive feedback and was stoked. However they shared their stories and I was blown away, I didn’t know if mine would stand up and be good enough to get in alongside theirs and others from ‘professionals’. When I heard that My story had made it to the anthology in I was beyond over the moon, blimey time has passed and i’m still over the moon. It’s almost a pinch myself moment every time I remember.
I’ve always been a consumer of the creative arts, but have never considered myself a creative person. I can’t draw or paint and music; well tone deaf and rhythmically challenged are the phrases to be used. So it’s kind of a vindication that I can create something and has really inspired me to try to write something longer. That’s my aim for 2015, It may be no good, but I will have done it – exorcised that one novel that everyone is supposed to have in them. If people like it, and it gets published all the better, but I will be writing it for me primarily. A lot of the excitement comes from being able to share this with my friends whose stories also got selected (if mine did theirs had to) so thanks to Lana Sibley, Shannon Walters and Ramona Martine too.
You’ve got a story in this book too! I’m guessing that you don’t have quite the same buzz I do being as it’s just a small fish in your literary output. Do you however agree that what has been produced as a first time publication with such a mix of established authors and first timers is pretty damned special?
JW: I was actually thrilled to be asked if I wanted to include a story in the collection. And I didn’t go about as if I were one of the pros helping to bring up the rest of the group. You see, this was a chance to include a story in an anthology of stories written by lovers of the genre. I am very passionate about horror and, especially, zombie fiction. I’ve been in other anthologies, but never one with people as equally passionate about spreading the word of the genre. That truly thrilled me and I was totally honored to be a part of it.
I’m one of those authors that feels like we only survive as a whole. I love helping new writers with their craft and navigating the all-too confusing waters of early publishing. If we don’t pay it forward, backward, sideways, upways, and downwards … what good are we?
And don’t forget to check out the All Things Zombie Facebook group, where you can discuss all things zombie and meet some pretty spectacular people!