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Exclusive Q&A with The Burning World Author Isaac Marion

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In 2010 Warm Bodies, a book with a new kind of zombie, hit store shelves. It quickly became a bestseller and a major motion picture. Many years later the much anticipated sequel, The Burning World, will finally be released on February 7, 2017, kicking off with a multi-city tour.

In advance of that, New York Times bestselling author Isaac Marion found time to sit down to talk with us about the new book.

Dread Central: What’s the order of books in the Warm Bodies series?

Isaac Marion: Warm Bodies – An existentially troubled zombie fights to resurrect himself with the help of a fiery living girl. They accidentally change the world.

The New Hunger – A glimpse into the early lives of some characters and the early deaths of others and the crucial moment they intersect. A prequel that sets the stage for what’s coming.

The Burning World – The zombie population is in limbo. R is alive but doesn’t know who he is and isn’t sure he wants to. Then a militant relic of the old world shows up to “restore order,” and R has to take his journey of self-discovery on the road into the unexplored ruins of America.

DC: Are you nervous about expectations faithful readers have with The Burning World (review) being so highly anticipated?

IM: Very nervous, thanks for the reminder! I’m just hoping my readers aren’t expecting a simple rehash of Warm Bodies because the only reason I got excited about continuing the story was knowing how much bigger and weirder it would get. I couldn’t just keep writing about zombies falling in love. I wanted to take the concept all the way and really explore a world where corpses come to life and thoughts have power and how these characters fit into that world. I’m just crossing my fingers that readers are willing to take the leap with me.

DC: Warm Bodies was adapted for screen. Was that a good experience for you, and would you be open to having the rest of the series adapted?

IM: There were some drawbacks. The movie kind of overwrote the book with its own version of characters and events so now people will always think of Warm Bodies as a sweet romantic comedy, and R will always be a teenager in jeans and a hoodie. It changes my feelings toward my work somewhat when I know that the vast majority of “Warm Bodies fans” are there for the movie and might not even know about the book. There are times when I wish the story was still “mine.”

On the other hand, there probably wouldn’t BE any Warm Bodies fans if not for the movie. The movie gave me an audience. Not necessarily the audience I expected for my writing, but an audience. And watching the movie get made was probably the peak moment of my life. So yeah, I’d be ecstatic if another movie happened. Even if they butchered it, it would still bring people to the books, and that’s all I really care about.

DC: Warm Bodies was described as a “zom-rom-com.” That’s not how I would describe The Burning World. How would you describe the tone of the new book, and what made you decide to go in a different direction?

IM: I never thought that was a fair description of Warm Bodies. I think a lot of the labels applied to the book–rom-com, Young Adult, etc.–were really meant for the movie, which was younger and lighter in tone. But even so, the first book was lighter than this one. Things get pretty real here. It wasn’t so much a decision to “go dark” as it was just the natural way to tell this part of the story.

Warm Bodies was amused with its premise. It had to spend most of its time just getting the reader acclimated to a world where zombies are people, and it did a lot of that with humor. There wasn’t a lot of room to explore the implications of that strange world or the lives of the characters. I had to keep things relatively surface-level. Now I’m really diving into it, digging up their pasts and showing a wider view of this ruined world, how it got ruined and how it might be restored. So the tone changed to match the content, which is pretty intense stuff.

DC: The Burning World is a set-up for the final book in the series. What will that be titled, and what can we expect for R, Julie, and the rest of the gang?

IM: The final book is called The Living, and I wrote it back-to-back with The Burning World so it’s actually almost finished now. I’m hoping it can be released later this year so people can read the conclusion while everything’s still fresh. It’s hard to say much about the story without spoiling The Burning World because it picks up right where that one leaves off, but basically, it’s the journey home, the final confrontation with inner and outer demons. It’s less urban, weirder, and more primal, even cosmic. It goes to some very surreal, psychedelic places and has a lot of emotional release. It’s my favorite piece of the story for sure.

DC: On your website you mention that you were once almost decapitated. I think that’s a story we need to hear.

IM: When I was around 8, we lived on a hill with a very steep driveway, and I would ride my bike down it as fast as I could just for the speed rush. We had horses, and one day my mom put a rope across the driveway so they could graze in the yard… You can probably see where this is going. The rope burn on my throat was so bad it would lock my head in place every time it scabbed over. I had to take regular baths to soften the scab so I could move my jaw enough to eat.

DC: You self-published three novels prior to the Warm Bodies series. Are those novels still available for readers, and where would they find them?

IM: I always tell people it’s a stretch to call what I did “self-publishing.” I just printed a couple hundred copies and sold them on my blog. It was mostly a way to share the books while I worked toward getting a publisher. Without that tangible reward to work towards, it would have been hard to stay motivated since actual publication was always such a longshot.

But no, those books definitely aren’t available anymore. The first two were the beginning of an epic fantasy series that I started when I was 14, and they are… not readable. The third was a story that still excites me and I might actually come back to it for my next book, but that particular telling of it is dead to me. It does pop up on eBay sometimes though!

DC: It seems as though you’ve had a long and varied employment history, including working with foster children. How have these experiences colored your writing?

IM: The last couple jobs I had involved a lot of close contact with death and human misery. The foster care job in particular really impacted me because I was constantly surrounded by broken families and lives that had fallen apart. There were so many different reasons for these collapses, but with the sheer quantity passing in front of me, it started to blur together into some kind of monstrous amalgam of everything that’s wrong with humanity. That was my inspiration for “the plague.” The kids I worked with inspired the fierce resilience of characters like Julie and Nora. I dedicated Warm Bodies to the foster kids I’ve met. They meant a lot to me.

DC: You’re running a unique pre-sale campaign for The Burning World. When readers pre-order your book, they also get a free digital copy of the “bizarre post-apocalyptic newspaper” that guides the main character, R. What made you decide to do this?

IM: I’m always looking for ways to make the reading experience more immersive and involving. The Exed World Almanac is something that appears throughout The Burning World in crazed, hand-scrawled illustrations so I thought it’d be cool to release a special issue that’s written just before the book begins and kind of foreshadows what’s about to happen. When people order directly from my author site, Isaacmarion.com, I’m able to include it as a bonus.

Pre-orders are great for artists because they allow you to start promoting your work far in advance of the release date and get people on board in their moment of interest instead of expecting them to “stay tuned” for six months. The downside is that they’re so unsatisfying because you pay money and then nothing happens for a long time. I wanted to give people some instant gratification when they pre-order and also provide a little appetizer for what’s coming. And I just like writing the Almanac. It takes my brain to weird, crackling places.

Our thanks to Isaac for his time! For more info visit his social media accounts:

Instagram: @isaacmarion and @warmbodiesbooks
Twitter: @isaacinspace
Facebook: facebook.com/isaacmarionauthor and facebook.com/warmbodies

Synopsis:
Being alive is hard. Being human is harder. But since his recent recovery from death, R is making progress. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love; and the city’s undead population is showing signs of life. R can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart – building a new world from the ashes of the old one.

And then helicopters appear on the horizon. Someone is coming to restore order. To silence all this noise. To return things to the way they were, the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. The plague is ancient and ambitious, and the Dead were never its only weapon.

How do you fight an enemy that’s in everyone? Can the world ever really change? With their home overrun by madmen, R, Julie, and their ragged group of refugees plunge into the otherworldly wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find… a past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement.

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Buy Stuff From Eibon Press, Get More Stuff For Free

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Eibon Press have announced that they’re starting Black Friday a day early and will be running their specials for almost a week, through November 28th. This year, they’re doing something a little different, a little more interesting. Rather than reduce prices on their inventory, they’re doing a deal where depending on how much you buy from their store, you’ll get a certain amount of free swag in addition to your order.

The first tier sees anyone who makes a purchase getting two double-sided mini-posters featuring art from their upcoming Bottomfeeder and Maniac and The New York Ripper series. The second tier sees anyone who spends at least $30 getting a free copy of their VHS Comics titles Laserblast plus the mini-posters. The final tier is for those who spend $50 and more and that will net the mini-posters, the #1 issue of Laserblast, and a free copy of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell #2.

Lastly, five random people will receive an extra bonus gift, which they won’t reveal but promise that, “…you’ll love it!

All order cans be placed via Eibon Press.

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KISS Meets Army of Darkness in New Comic Miniseries!

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Dynamite Entertainment just announced that they are planning to bring two of their bestselling brands together in “KISS/Army of Darkness #1”. The new comic book series will unite the rock band with none other than Ash for some Deadite ass kicking.

The series will be written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims and illustrated by Ruairi Coleman. And the debut issue of “KISS/Army of Darkness” features three art covers from Kyle Strahm, Goni Montes, and Ken Haeser.

You can find all three covers below along with quotes from the creative team. After looking through all of that make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are about this new hybrid comic series in the comments below or on social media!

With Ash vs. The Army of Darkness, Chris and I were given kind of carte blanche to do whatever we wanted to the world of AOD, and we went for broke,” Co-writer Chad Bowers says. “We introduced some new characters and concepts, and built a legacy for Ash’s comics adventures that I’m immensely proud of, but not in a million years could I have guessed we’d get to continue that momentum with the added bonus of tossing the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band into the mix! I’ve been in the tank for KISS since I was in middle school. I remember buying the KISS tribute album, KISS My Ass for the Lemonheads (they covered Plaster Caster), which lead to me picking up Greatest Hits, and so on. But when I found out there was a KISS comic with blood in it, I signed up for life! Of course, I adore the songs (literally listening to Do You Love Me right now), but I’m just as obsessed with the way KISS transcends the music to become something of a genre themselves. It’s something I think about a lot, honestly, so no surprise, it’s a big part of our story too!”

“When it comes to Army of Darkness, I guess you could say that Ash is a bit of a gambler, but he’s nobody’s fool,” Co-writer Chris Sims says. “And since our first story was set back at Alan Shepard High, we’re looking forward to showing him some things that you can’t learn in school. Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the deep-cut lyrics now, but for real — if you thought Deadites at Homecoming and the Supernatural Military-Adjacent Response Team were taking Ash in a new direction, just wait until you see how we team him up with the Starchild, Space Ace, the Demon, and the Catman. In the grand tradition of the film, we’re tearing up the entire space-time continuum and if you think you know how weird this is gonna get… well, you sure know somethin’!”

“Having done some work for Dynamite in the past, I’ve really been wanting to get my foot in the door here for a long time so I can play in the sandbox of the amazing licenses they have,” Artist Ruairi Coleman says. “Chief among those, and high up on my bucket list, is Army of Darkness: Hail to the king, baby! So, when I was offered the job of drawing the KISS/Army of Darkness crossover, I couldn’t believe my luck! The concept is totally bonkers, but in a way, that would make complete sense in the world of Army of Darkness. Thinking about it, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done already and I’m honored (and more than a little intimidated) to be the guy who draws it.”

“After a more than 40-year career, KISS continues to be one of rock’s most celebrated bands, while Army of Darkness continues to be a staple in the comic book industry. We’re both honored to have the opportunity to work so closely with Gene and Paul to bring their world-renowned alter-egos to comics alongside our very own Ashy Slashy,” says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “The raging guitar chords and pyrotechnic spectacle of their stage shows could have come straight from the pages of the Necronomicon, and this epic battle between The Demon and Deadites will appeal to the hellions in all of us!”

Issue #1 will be available on digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, Madefire, and Dark Horse Digital.

The KISS/Army of Darkness miniseries event hits February 2018.

Synopsis:

KISS is on top of the world and rocking faces until the night disciples of The Destroyer show up and the band disappears. With the tour canceled, a young Ash misses one of the most important events of his life that will change his destiny. Now the Chosen One has to get back on the right path and join the KISS ARMY OF DARKNESS!

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Jason Lives Director Pitched Follow-Up: Jason Vs Cheech and Chong

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One of my favorite entries in the Friday the 13th series is director ‘s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. The mixture of old-school gothic horror and comedy is always a welcome treat around these parts.

But why wasn’t McLoughlin asked to write and direct the follow-up?

Actually, it turns out he was asked to follow up Jason Lives, McLoughlin recently told Mick Garris on the Post Mortem podcast.

But his pitch – Jason vs Cheech and Chong – didn’t go over so well…

“[Frank Mancuso Jr.] wanted me to do another film after we did Jason,” McLoughlin says. “And I said, ‘What are you thinking? I don’t know what it could be now.’ And he said, ‘Well, what do you think about Freddy (Krueger) and Jason?’ And I go, ‘But Freddy’s at New Line and the guys at Paramount have [Jason].’ And it’s like, ‘Well, we’re going to try and see if we can work something out.’ So, I started thinking about that, going, It doesn’t make sense. I mean he lives in one realm and — you know, I take this stuff very seriously, what realm a monster’s supposed to stay in. And he came back, he goes, ‘Eh, forget it, it’s not going to work anyway.’ And I said, ‘You know what? You guys own Cheech and Chong. What if we do Cheech and Chong-meets-Jason? They’re like camp counselors or something. It’s like, ‘Hey, man, I saw Jason out there.’ ‘No, man, that’s a myth.’ But he said, ‘You know what? No.’”

Too bad. While I don’t know how well a Cheech and Chong/Friday the 13th flick would go, with McLoughlin at the helm, the film would have at least been funny as hell.

Plus we already got these two knuckleheads in Part III.

Are you upset we never got Tom McLoughlin’s Jason vs Cheech and Chong? Make sure to let us know in the comments below or on social media!

You can buy Friday the 13th: Part VI – Jason Lives on Blu-ray HERE.

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