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Eric talks zombies with B.J. Burrow

Posted on August 15, 2011 by Eric Pollarine

B.J. Burrow is the author of a zombie novel called The Changed, which is published by Apex Book Company. B.J. also contributed stories to Apexology: Horror and The Zombie Feed Volume 1.

Flames Rising reviewer and zombie fan, Eric Pollarine, sat down with B. J. to talk undead, writing and a few other topics…

I’m going to be terribly frank, I haven’t yet, and I use the word yet because I’d like to, read “THE CHANGED,” however I have tried to get myself acquainted with the story, but for those that haven’t read it break it down for us.

    A guy goes to work one day and dies… but keeps on keeping on, if you know what I mean. And hey, he has bills to pay, so he needs his job. He has a fiancé and would still like to marry her. But there are some serious Civil Rights violations happening to the undead. To fight against this injustice, our guy launches a campaign for Senator. Vote Zombie! Power to the Decomposers!

    I know a great deal of other writers and creative types read Flames Rising and would love to hear how you got started with writing?

      I’ve been writing my whole life. Santa brought me an electric typewriter. I received my first rejection letter from The Twilight Zone magazine. I was thirteen years old.

      How do you like to work, music on, in a busy place, in a quiet room- though I imagine with the commitments to family it would be difficult to keep a sense of quiet.

        How I would like to work and how I am working are two different things. Right now, I wake up at 5:15am and start writing. At 5:30 this morning, my youngest came into the room to tell me she needed to pee, and I began laughing like The Money Pit Tom Hanks: ‘All right, 4 am! I’ll get up at 4 am! Ha Ha Ha!’

        Here’s what I would like: a man cave, with serious beers on tap, a sweet television, unlimited movies, walls filled with books, the desk from Deathtrap, and an elaborate computer system that someone else set up.

        No music. Quiet—except for, you know, the ocean.

        The next question is one I ask all authors that have penned a zombie novel, why do you believe that the zombie (as a trope/antagonist/etc) is so popular right now?

          I’m not your first zombie author? I don’t know how I feel about that.

          I think The Walking Dead comics tapped into a core zombie audience that has always been there—and hey, who likes horror and doesn’t like zombies? And the caliber of that series brought in the ‘fringe’ horror fans. And it made money, which always helps. Then, quicker than you can say, ‘Here’s an idea,’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies blew up.

          We will always have zombies.

          Quick Monster Rankings by Popularity: 1. Vampires. 2. Zombies. 3. Slashers 4. Aliens 5. Japanese Ghosts. 6. Demons. 7. Werewolves 8. Critters (insects, snakes, etc.) 9. Sharks 10. Big Things That Eat Cities.

          That’s the list. It never changes. And before you ask, no one gives a shit about Frankenstein’s monster.

          Have you always been into zombies? And if so (or not) how did you arrive at zombies as a viable vehicle for a political story?

            I enjoy all monsters—I’m all monster inclusive.

            I had the idea for The Changed about fifteen years ago, but my idea then was that zombies could vote, so all the electoral officials were obese. I know, an SNL sketch at best. But it stuck with me.

            Then I thought, what if a kid’s father was a Senator, and he died, and the kid had to kill him?

            But it still wasn’t right.

            It slowly evolved into what was published, with the kid being older, about to be married. When he dies, he’s the one who forms The Zombie Party and his father is the one trying to kill him—you know, to put him at peace, send his soul to heaven. Vote Zombie!

            I’ve read a few of your blogs through Apex now, and it seems as if you’re actually more of a film/cinema sort of guy, is film your preferred medium to tell a story or do you have a real preference at all?

            Quick Preferred Medium To Work In Ranking: 1. (and with a bullet) Novels 2. Film. 3. Television. 4. Short Stories. 5. Comics 6. Painting. 7…. If we get to 7, I’m gonna sit on the couch and watch football.

            Lightening round here we go…

              Boxer, Briefs or the almighty catch all, Boxer-Briefs?

              I write in Briefs—the tighter the better. The rest of the time it’s Boxers or I go Brazilian Style.

              Any Pets

              Two dogs. A Dachshund and a poodle mutt. I have no idea how it happened.

              What’s on your Ipod, unless of course you’re a Zune sort of person, in that case how are you listening to music these days, clay cylinders?

              AC/DC (a little band from Australia), Cross Canadian Ragweed, and anything New Orleans (Kermit Ruffins, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, etc.). Oh, and Mastadon.

              Favorite drink Alcoholic or otherwise?

              Macallan Scotch, legal age.

              Ok, lightening round over…I know, it was intense.

              How did “The Monster Hunter,” come about?

                I wanted to make a movie with my best friend, Allen Odom. We had made several ‘films’ as kids and it was always fun. It was natural to continue in college. The thing was, we needed a good idea that would lend itself to an “independent” film budget.

                One night, I woke up with this idea in my mind: What if two serial killers happened to pick each other as their next victim?

                The original title of the film was Natural Selection, but apparently that moved units for shit.

                Did you use a different approach when writing the film, as opposed to a novel, or did you use similar techniques?

                  Writing screenplays is so different than novels. So much more restrictive—you’ve got to write in such a truncated way it would make Hemmingway blush. By page 30, you are 1/4 of the way done. Period. If you go over 120 pages, your last name had best be Cameron.

                  I don’t know if that answers your question… I tell you one thing we did I’d never do with a novel, and that’s have people over to read it out loud. To do that with a novel—no matter how much whiskey you have—would turn brutal pretty damn quick.

                  A question that I’ve been tiptoeing around now for a few minutes, David Carradine? How was that news for you?

                    When I heard, I thought: that wasn’t suicide and he wasn’t alone in that room. I wasn’t shocked or anything—I think David would agree: everyone dies.

                    Can people get “The Monster Hunter,” on DVD or online anywhere?

                      You can que it up on Netflix, buy it from Amazon, and Apex published a series of blogs I wrote on the making of the movie.

                      Last but not least, any advice for other starving creative types out there?

                        For writers, I love Nick Mamatas’ book, Starve Better.

                        And really, there’s no reason to starve with Taco Bell around the corner.

                        And here’s the thing: in whatever artistic pursuit you chose, train every f***ing day.

                        About the Author
                        B.J. Burrow co-wrote the screenplay, The Monster Hunter, which premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel and stars David Carradine. The Changed is his first novel. he lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Melissa, and two daughters. he has won his fantasy football league four out of ten times. He is currently working on his second novel.

                        Find out more at BJBurrow.net

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                        One Response to “Eric talks zombies with B.J. Burrow”

                        1. Patrick Lane says:

                          Can’t wait to get Monster Hunter on dvd. Sounds awesome. I’m always on the hunt for a good zombie shit. Someone left a copy of a book I’d never heard before called the united states of armageddon special edition in the locker room of my gym so I read it and loved it. The European Union and its allies dispatch millions of genetically altered mosquitoes to the U.S. that bite the people and turn them all into flesh-eating zombies. It’s a sy-fi zombie type of read. Really different and thought provoking. Gurantee it’ll be a movie or tv series someday if we’re still here after December 2012.

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