Three months ago, Christopher Golden and I began a serial interview. Every Monday throughout the summer, I posted one new segment here at my blog. Throughout the course of our discussion, we've talked about his books, his writing habits, his favorite comics, and his love of The Wrong Trousers, among other things. Today, we're wrapping up the serial interview* with a Q&A focusing on his next YA release, Soulless, which comes out in October.
I'm going to say this very loudly right now and keep saying it until I'm blue in the face: If you like zombie movies and horror stories, you must read Soulless by Christopher Golden. As some of my favorite customers might say, this book is made of awesome. It's scary, it's action-packed, it's - oh, I'll save that for the review. I'm going to go talk to Chris now.
The dead come back to (un)life in Soulless. What prompted this macabre tale?
I find it interesting that our pop culture is so fascinated with zombies this decade, and I wonder if the reason movies about the war in Iraq fail and horror entertainment about the undead and torture are successful has to do with the way we're processing war and death now. The current generation of teens doesn't remember what the world was like before 9/11. The constant low-grade fear of terrorism is a part of their lives in a way that the Cold War was a part of my youth. In SOULLESS, I suggest that teenagers in 2008 are *ready* for catastrophe in a way that my generation wasn't. They're almost expecting disaster, and thanks to Hurricane Katrina, they have zero expectation that the government will be ready to help them when it comes.
Talk to me about the human characters that populate Soulless.
Phoenix is about to start college, but right now she's on a book tour with her father, a history professor and spiritual medium, with whom she has a very strained relationship. Matt and Noah are students at UMass Amherst who couldn't be more opposite from one another, but who are forced to rely on each other to survive. Jack is a Bronx kid, a member of a street gang called Smoke Dragons, with a lot of people wanting to hurt him even before the "uprising." And then there's Tania...she's a former Disney/Nickelodeon tween princess trying to launch the next phase of her career, while dealing with being outed as a lesbian in the major media and the breakup of a longterm relationship. The weird thing about the Tania story is that I came up with that before Lindsay Lohan started her current maybe-lesbian relationship. Tania, though, is actually heartbroken and trying to deal.
And the zombies? How did they become re-animated?
Phoenix's father, Professor Cormier, has written a book outlining the relationship between the spirit and soul, which he considers two entirely different things. This is not a new theory. Some societies have espoused such beliefs before. The idea is that the soul is the spark of divinity and that it returns to that divinity when the body dies. The spirit is the cumulative experience and personality of the individual -- their persona -- and often times that remains behind and becomes what we know of as ghosts. But it's the soul that provides the fundamental decency and conscience, and when the spirits are accidentally returned to their hollow bodies WITHOUT their souls -- animating them with what we'll call ectoplasm and sheer force of will -- they have only two desires...they want to see the loved ones they left behind, and they want to fill the hollowness inside them. When those two desires come together . . . you get zombies.
What's your general opinion of seances, in real life?
Well, the new X-Files movie tanked, but I've been using its subtitle most of my life. I WANT TO BELIEVE. I've never seen or experienced anything that has convinced me that spirits are real, but I'd like to. I *did* take a photograph in France a few years ago that any rational person would have to agree seems to show a specter of some kind. But it isn't incontrovertible proof, and that's what I'd need.
Soulless is your first book published by MTV Books. How did you get involved with that imprint?
The editor there, Jennifer Heddle, is someone I've known for a while and with whom I've worked before, though not for MTV Books. I had the idea for SOULLESS, and I asked. :)
And finally: Zombies vs. unicorns? (This question was going around author blogs last year. It's like Batman vs. Superman -- take it as you will, with who is better or stronger or who would win.)
Yumm. Send more unicorns.
And on that note . . . Thanks, Chris.