1. How did it come about that a group of high school students are adapting The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and do you see the irony in that?
It really was as simple as me getting an e-mail from the writer/director, Gianluca Spezze, asking permission to make the movie. (He’d already written the script!) It wasn’t technically a school project, but it was done under the guidance of their Advanced Video Production teacher, Pavel Vogler.
It’s high school kids making a movie about of a book about high school kids making a movie…but I think it’s more “meta” than “ironic.” What appealed to them about the project is that, as high school filmmakers, they could relate to the subject matter!
2. Who was the greatest competitor in the history of the television show Survivor and why?
I’m going to eliminate Boston Rob because he’s too obvious of an answer. So I’ll say Kim, the winner of Survivor: One World. Not only did she dominate in all aspects of the game, but she did it while frequently having to clean up strategic messes caused by people in her alliance. If they ever do Survivor: The Players Who Don’t Necessarily Have The Most Dynamic Personalities But Are Best At The Game, I think she’d win.
3. If you could choose between being a New York Times #1 Bestseller or getting an Oscar for a screenplay that you wrote, which would you choose?
Since I consider myself a novelist and not a screenwriter, I feel like “New York Times #1 Bestseller” should be the easy answer. That said, I dunno…an Oscar would be pretty sweet. Way more people are #1 bestsellers than have screenwriting Oscars. I’m going to go with #1 bestseller, but it was a very difficult hypothetical decision.
4. With it being far easier to make a movie today than it has been in the past, do you feel that the lowering of this barrier of entry has watered down the overall quality of movies, or has it opened up quality movies that would not have been made otherwise?
Both! I’d guess that if you were insane enough to try to watch every horror flick that came out, you’d find that the percentage of bad movies has gone up. But the number of GOOD movies out there is higher than ever before. And it’s easier to filter out the bad stuff; when I first became a horror fan, I often had no information about a movie beyond what was on the VHS box. At events like the Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio and the Nevermore Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina, you can watch new micro-budget movies for three days straight with an amazingly high hit-to-miss ratio.
5. How is it that you could write a novel entitled The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever without any zombies being in the novel?
Because “kids making a zombie movie are forced to use their knowledge of the undead when the REAL zombies arrive!” is too obvious of a premise. (And, yes, my then-agent did say, “So, then real zombies show up, right?”) There was never a point where I considered turning it into a legitimate zombie novel. It’s a wacky comedy about kids making a movie!
6. Why have you decided to hang it up as the Master of Ceremonies for the Stoker Award banquet?
StokerCon 2018 will be my tenth time as emcee, which seems like a good stopping point. I can’t do this forever! I was really happy with how the ninth one went, and I’d rather step down while the job is still fun, instead of waiting until I start walking off the stage muttering, “Boy, was THAT a dud year!” I’m looking forward to enjoying the Bram Stoker Awards banquet as a civilian.
7. How has it been working on various movie projects with your wife, Lynne Hansen?
With her adaptation of my not-yet-published novella Cold Dead Hands, the lines of power are clear: the book is mine, the movie is hers. I’m not really working on it with her; I’m basically just smiling and nodding while she makes all of the decisions. On her film Chomp, where I’m credited as Associate Producer, I did lots and lots of manual labor. She’s the boss.
8. Out of all of the authors you have had an opportunity to meet, who left you the most awestruck?
My first horror convention was one awestruck moment after another, but if I had to pick a single instance, it would probably be many years later when Peter Straub came up to me and said that he was fascinated by the idea that I wrote horror/comedy.
I had an after-the-fact awestruck moment not that long ago when I was walking down the hallway at a convention, and Jack Ketchum (who I’ve talked to many times) was going the other way, and we just did a quick “Hi, how’s it going?” as we passed each other. And it later hit me that I can do a casual “Hi” with Jack Frickin’ Ketchum (!!!) without soiling myself in amazement.
9. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?
I can’t narrow it down to one. I can narrow it down to two, if necessary: Douglas Adams and Dave Barry. That leaves out a few people, but I think readers of my work would not be surprised by either of those influences.
10. If you could create a Mount Rushmore of the four greatest humor writers who ever lived, who would you choose?
Douglas Adams, Dave Barry, Mark Twain, and P.G. Wodehouse.