Author of "How A Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse" Steven Bereznai, dropped by ThePageisPrinted for a chat about his latest book
You’re not one to stick to any one genre – what made you decide to tell a Zombie story?
Like many people, I have a fascination for what the end of the world could look like. I've also been itching to try my hand on one of the big three of the horror genre, vampires, werewolves or zombies. The latter won out because I've never been able to get the opening of Dawn of the Dead out of my head, where a quiet suburb is transformed into a scene from hell. I wanted to do something like that, but my own take on it.
It’s a hugely popular genre – did you have any inspirations in mind when you wrote “How a Loser Like Me…?”
In addition to Dawn of the Dead (see above) Fatal Attraction played a part in my mind. I love Glenn Close and wanted to catch some of that growing insanity. In the case of "How a Loser Like Me", the main character Marty is not only contending with the living dead, but also the ex who totally devastated him. When we first meet him, he's got his life back together again. He's got a great fiancee. He thinks he's got it all figured out. Everything's coming out Marty. But as he loses everything, he has to face whether he's really changed since that breakup or is he still that same loser. Just when he needs to be at his strongest, he's feeling his weakness as his ex chips away at him. She, in turn, is growing increasingly psychotic.
How people react to the Zombie Apocalypse is a key part of the book – and feels very real compared to other zombie films/programmes/books etc. How do you think you would react? Do you think you’d survive?
Lol, that is such a great question. I know I've watched/read a good zombie yarn when I find myself imagining what I would do in that scenario. I've got a crowbar, but now that you've asked it may be time go cross bow shopping :). Clearly, I need to work on my survival skills. To put it in Walking Dead terms, I'm season one Carole, but I think I have the potential to be the bad ass she grows into; I just need to find my Daryl.
The characters give the book a real heart – they’re likeable and recognisable from the off. How did you conjure them up, and how did you get in their mindset when writing?
They are definitely not based on me (wink). I can relate to the characters for sure. I've experienced versions of what Marty has gone through, using "game" to woo someone only to find out I've bitten off more than I can chew, and I've faced the emotional consequences of that. Being with a taker isn't so much fun, even if they are a "10." Also, as someone who was a couch potato growing up, and who got into fitness late in life, I also relate to Marty's struggles to play catch up, never quite measuring up to long-time or natural born athletes. But, he keeps going and so do I. It was also lots of fun writing the "villain" Heidi. She's strong, smart and beautiful. If anyone in the book is a survivor, it's her. And of course there's Marty's best friend Gary. Writing that bromantic straight-gay friendship was very much inspired by the bros in my life.
If someone were to make a film (or a tv show) of your book, who would you cast in the lead roles?
There are so many options. I could see James Franco playing Marty or an in-shape Seth Rogen, which I guess would be Chris Pratt.
For the hot but dumb trainer Devon, a shirtless Colton Haynes, Charlie Carver or Zac Effron type would be delightful.
Tessa Thompson won me over in Thor: Ragnarok. I could see her playing Heidi very nicely.
You’ve covered the Superhero genre and the Zombie genre recently – do you have any other genres you’d like to tap into?
I've got a YA fantasy novel sitting in a drawer. It's actually the first book I ever wrote. I'll get back to it one day.
Lastly – what’s next for Steven Bereznai?
I'm currently working on the sequel to the YA dystopian book I Want Superpowers. There's so much more to explore in that world. It's fun getting back into it.
Steven Bereznai - thank you very much! You can read a review of Steven's latest - "How a Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse", here