Interview with Horror Author and Editor Armand Rosamilia

1.     You seem to like zombies.  Any one movie or book that ignited that passion?

The Rising by Brian Keene. Before that book I was a big fan of zombie movies, but never read anything. I didn’t think it would be something I’d like to read about, since most zombie movies follow a pretty strict format. I was pleasantly surprised when I read Keene’s book, and then devoured the rest of them. Then I went looking for more…

2.     Do you find it easier or more enjoyable to write male or female protagonists?  If you have a preference–why?

Strangely (and I blogged about that not too long ago), I don’t have a preference. I used to write strictly male characters because I’m a male and didn’t think I could do justice to a female main character. When I started writing the Darlene Bobich stories (Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days 2) she flowed and it was so easy to write her. I’m interested to see going forward how many male vs. female leads I write.

3.     If you could pick one weapon for a zombie fight, what would it be?

Isn’t the machete the go-to weapon? It’s quiet, easy to carry, and lightweight. Using rifles and pistols draws too many zombies. Either that or a blunt toothpick… now that would be the true test of a zombie killer.

Personally, all I need are these guns right here [flexing and kissing my biceps].  But I respect your choice, Armand.

4.     What monster was under your bed or in your closet as a child?

Great question! Every weird, evil and/or alien creature in Dean Koontz books. When I was ten or eleven I started reading all of my mom’s horror books, especially Koontz. Then I’d be under the covers in bed hoping The Ancient Enemy from Phantoms wasn’t in the closet.

I cut my teeth on Koontz, too.  Good times.  Good times.

5.     Any tips or insights into your writing/editing process that you think are unique or worth sharing with us?

I use index cards each day. I pull a fresh one while the coffee is brewing and make a reasonable list of what I need to do that day, either a word count (2,000 word goal) or finish a story or another chapter, read some submissions for an anthology, check e-mail, things like that. As I finish things I cross them off the index card and feel like I’m getting somewhere, instead of huge goals like ‘write a 50k book’. If I can hit 2,000 words a day on the first draft I’ll have that in 25 days.

6.     Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

Death Metal, because it was the first great moment I had in publishing where a publisher simply loved it and didn’t want to change a thing about it. It was my first real release through another publisher besides anthology stories. Even after 40+ releases, it’s still my favorite. The publisher called it urban horror, but it’s really just a thriller. Very graphic, lots of violence, drug use, profanity, and (I think) a unique plot.

7.     Fast zombies/smart zombies—some traditionalists think that they shouldn’t be done.  How about you, Armand?  Is there anywhere you “won’t go” when it comes to zombies?

I’m not a fan of fast zombies, yet my favorite zombie movie is the Dawn of the Dead remake with Ving Rhames and they’re fast. I’m more into the traditional zombie, although having some twists is always good for the genre. In my “Dying Days” extreme zombie series, there’s the added pressure that the zombies don’t just want to eat you, they want to sexually violate you. I never cross the line into graphic rape but the threat is always there. In “Dying Days 2” I added yet another twist, which I won’t spoil.

8.     What is the most compelling reason you can give someone who has yet to read your work to pick up one of your books?

I have bills to pay. Actually, I think my zombie stories are more than just survivors constantly being attacked by undead. A reader recently pointed out how many pages in between zombie mentions in a couple of my books, which is a good thing. It’s about the people thrust into this situation and what they do. Sometimes the worst enemy is still living.

9.     Do you use a common mode of transmission for the zombie disease in all of your books, or do you switch things up?  Care to give us a peek into how your zombies began, your patient zero, as it were?

Nope. I’ve purposely left it wide open. In the Darlene Bobich short story “Rear Guard” I have some characters talking about the various rumors they heard on how this all began, offering widely varying accounts. I never mention how it started, and I might never give the one solid reason. I think it adds a bit of mystery to the story.

10.     If you were conducting this interview, what question would you be dying to ask yourself?

Easy question. Armand, why are you so damn sexy? Oh, wait, wrong interview. I would ask myself ‘if you were conducting this interview, what question would you be dying to ask yourself?’ and then just keep looping it over and over until I passed out.

The Sexy Beast Himself

The Sexy Beast Himself

11.     Who is your favorite serial killer?  Doesn’t mean you like the person—I just want to know the case you are most curious about.  I think we all have at least one.  Something about trying to see into the mind of someone so grotesquely twisted to see if anything in there makes the tiniest bit of sense.  Who’s your Jeffrey Dahmer, Armand, and why?

Ed Gein, because he influenced so many authors and filmmakers (Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, Bambi – OK, maybe not Bambi). This dude was sick, and did some crazy stuff. I’ve read several books about him, watched every movie they made about him, and “Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer is one of my favorite songs ever. Fascinating.

I was always partial to Blind Melon’s “Skinned” for my personal fave Ed Gein anthem.  It just makes killing sound so happy and carefree!  There aren’t many songs that can really work a kazoo.  Slayer makes me want to jump into a pit and come out with random teeth imbedded in my elbows. 

Both are good in their own way–just depends on what mood you’re in and how much vodka is in your system. 

For our collective listening pleasure, I will provide both.  🙂

I had to pick that version because Scooby Doo is at the concert.

And on those ass-kicking notes, I would like to thank Armand Rosamilia for stopping by and sharing a little bit of his crazy.  It was a pleasure.

Don’t forget to check out his books, boys and girls.  Much like Slayer, they are fast and furious–and a guaranteed good time!

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Female Horror Authors Writing Male Characters (and Vice Versa)

I’ve been mapping out a tale in my mind for the past week or so.  Initially, I thought that my main character would be a guy.  Initially being for about a day.  And then I got to thinking that I would much rather it be a woman.  Why?  I can’t say, exactly.  I know that I enjoy writing strong female characters.  The thing about this one is that she is flawed–psychologically scarred, tough-as-nails, and an alcoholic.  All of the traits the original character possessed only minus the penis.  I didn’t change the character, only the sex of the character.

The feeling that my MC would be better as a female got me thinking about women authors writing male protagonists, and conversely, men writing women leads.  There is no law against it.  If you do a good job with your voice, your characterization, your authenticity; your story will fly, right?

But is there a stigma where women horror authors are concerned?  I know my dad, a rabid horror reader when I was growing up, just about refused to read female authors.  I remember picking a horror novel for his birthday present, going by the blurb on the back (and let’s be totally frank, here–by the creepy cover).  My dad’s reaction was “I don’t read women authors.”

I didn’t get it.  I’m still not sure that I do.  I’ve always given equal billing to the sexes, I think.  Sure the horror I read was dominated by male authors and the romance, YA, chick-lit was all…chicks.  I don’t think that was a conscious decision on my part.  That’s just the way the numbers generally play out.  There are the exceptions.

I wonder if that author had used a manly (or at least ambiguous) pen name, would my pop have given her a fighting chance?  Would he have seen through her duplicity via her naturally feminine voice?  I know I read it and liked it, but, hey, I’m a girl.

See this article…

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/he-said-she-said

The author seems to be saying that employing less gender-specific style and dialog will make your work more appealing to a wider audience.  Makes sense to me.

But what about my main character–a little rough around the edges, even manly in some ways–will her less-feminine attributes make her more likable for male readers?

I don’t plan to change my name.  And I doubt I will play “Pin the Penis on the Protagonist” before I am done with my story.  Maybe guy readers will never get close enough to find out if it’s any good.

At least I can make my dad read it.  I’ll bring my festering outline to life for that alone.  I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite author these days. 🙂