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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Q and A with Author Jonathan Maberry

TROY McCOMBS: When did you start writing and why?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve always written. Actually, let me rephrase that –I’ve always been a storyteller. Even before I could write I was telling stories with toys. All through school I wrote for school papers and journals. I began selling magazine articles while I was in college, then began writing nonfiction books (mainly on martial arts and self-defense), and then in 2000 I wrote a nonfic book on the folklore of vampires and other monsters. That book, THE VAMPIRE SLAYERS FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD was the only thing I ever wrote under a pen-name (Shane MacDougall).

Then in 2005 I wrote my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. That gave me a taste for fiction. I did five more nonfiction books, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (2006), THE CRYPTOPEDIA (2007, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction), ZOMBIE CSU (2008), THEY BITE (2009) and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (2010). Nowadays I concentrate on novels, short stories and comics.

TROY McCOMBS: Can you tell us a little about your book?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My latest novel is DEAD OF NIGHT, a standalone thriller about the outbreak of a new kind of zombie plague. A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave.  But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects.  Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry.  Infected.  Contagious.  Small town cop Dez Fox and her partner JT are caught in a wave of murder as everyone they know and love die...only to rise again as the ravenous living dead. If Dez and JT can’t contain the plague inside the town limits, the infection will spread beyond all control. This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang…but a bite.

TROY McCOMBS: Care to share a brief excerpt or line from your book?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Here’s a link to read the opening of DEAD OF NIGHT

TROY McCOMBS: How many books have you written/published? Are currently working on any new ones now?

JONATHAN MABERRY: So far I’ve written over twenty nonfiction books, ranging from college textbooks, martial arts handbooks, karate school training manuals, and several books about monster beliefs around the world and throughout history. I’m currently writing my thirteenth novel.

TROY McCOMBS: Why did you pick the genre that you currently write in, and have you/are you ever going to try another genre?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I write in a lot of different genres –horror (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING), thrillers (PATIENT ZERO, THE DRAGON FACTORY, THE KING OF PLAGUES, and the forthcoming ASSASSIN’S CODE), movie tie-ins (THE WOLFMAN), young adult post-apocalyptic thrillers (ROT & RUIN, DUST & DECAY, and the forthcoming FLESH & BONE), and zombie horror (DEAD OF NIGHT). I love edgy stuff, and I love the strange and weird.

I have projects in development in other genres as well, including Steampunk, mainstream thriller, urban fantasy and others. I’ll try anything that sounds fun.

TROY McCOMBS: Who is your favorite writer, and why?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My favorite writer of all time is probably John D. MacDonald, author of the brilliant Travis McGee mystery series. My favorite living author is James Lee Burke. His novels are a nice blend of brilliant writing, deeply insightful character development and great storytelling.

TROY McCOMBS: Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My favorite novel of all time is I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson. It was the first true blend of science fiction and horror. None of the movie adaptations come close to capturing what that story is all about.

TROY McCOMBS: Tell us a little about your creative process…

JONATHAN MABERRY: Most of my stories start with a quirky idea that pops into my head. Sometimes it’s a line, sometimes a character will start speaking in my head, or sometimes a scene will just appear. When the idea has some real pop to it, I’ll sit down and write an outline. I always outline my novels.

I write for a living, so I have a routine that works for me. I usually write in a coffeehouse in the mornings –I wander from Starbucks to Starbucks. Then I head home to write in the afternoons. When I’m not facing a tight deadline I’ll work on one project in the morning and a different one in the afternoon.

I also teach writing classes and go on extensive book tours which includes guest appearances at writers conferences and genre conventions. It’s a busy life but a very happy one.

TROY McCOMBS: Where can readers find you or your books online?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My books are available everywhere online, at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at any bookseller.

TROY McCOMBS: What’s the best and worst experiences you’ve had as a writer?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My worst experience as a writer was getting involved in a business arrangement without a contract. That was a disaster that did a lot of damage, although it taught me some good lessons about the business. As a result I’ve become quite a successful businessman within the publishing world.

As far as my best experience as a writer? Selling my first novel was an incredible high point. But there have been so many high points since: winning the Bram Stoker Award (twice), seeing my novels hit the New York Times best-seller list, getting scouted to write for Marvel Comics, and so many others. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun!

TROY McCOMBS: What’s your ultimate goal as a writer?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I hope to see my books and stories transfer to TV and film in the near future. That’s the next goal.


Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer. He’s the author of many novels including Assassin’s Code, Dead of Night, Patient Zero and Rot & Ruin. His nonfiction books on topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop-culture. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, and textbooks. Jonathan continues to teach the celebrated Experimental Writing for Teens class, which he created. He founded the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founded The Liars Club; and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries, as well as a keynote speaker and guest of honor at major writers and genre conferences. Jonathan lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sara and their son, Sam. Visit him online at and on Twitter (@jonathanmaberry) and Facebook.


Praise for DEAD OF NIGHT:

“Jonathan Maberry is the top gun when it comes to zombies, and with DEAD OF NIGHT, he's at the top of his game. Frankly, I'm shocked by how effortlessly he moves between the lofty intellectual heights of T.S. Eliot's poetry and the savage carnality of the kill. DEAD OF NIGHT develops with the fevered pace of a manhunt, and yet still manages to hit all the right notes. Strap in, because Maberry's latest is one hell of a wild ride. I loved it.” - Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and FLESH EATERS

“Jonathan Maberry has created an homage to death itself and an homage to the undead that is as poetic as it is terrifying. It's a brand new and intriguingly fresh slant on the zombie genre that we all love!” -John A. Russo co-screenwriter of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

“Maberry is a master at writing scenes that surge and hum with tension. The pacing is relentless. He presses the accelerator to the floor and never lets up, taking you on a ride that leaves your heart pounding. It’s almost impossible to put this book down. Dead of Night is an excellent read.” —S.G. Browne, author of BREATHERS

"It would be enough to say that Jonathan Maberry had topped himself yet again with an epic zombie novel that is as much fun as it is terrifying.  But that he has also created a story of such tremendous heart and social relevance only further cements his place as a master of the genre.  It also doesn't hurt that in DEAD OF NIGHT he has created one of the most compelling heroines I've read in years.  Dead of Night blew me away!" --Ryan Brown - Author of PLAY DEAD

“Once again, Jonathan Maberry does what he does best; Take proven science, synthesize it and create something truly terrifying. In DEAD OF NIGHT, Maberry lays the groundwork for a Bioweapon that could very well create zombies in the real world. Combining great characters (I fell in love with Dez Fox from the moment she was introduced) and taut, blindingly fast action, DEAD OF NIGHT, is a runaway bullet train of a ride. This is Jonathan Maberry's best writing yet.” –Greg Schauer, owner Between Books, Claymont, DE

“Dead of Night stands drooped head and lurching shoulders above most zombie novels. The nightmare increases exponentially - from minor outbreak to major crisis with unstoppable speed, building to a heart-stopping climax you won't be able to put down.” --David Moody, author of the HATER and AUTUMN books

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