Infernal Interview – Robert Kent Author of All Together Now: A Zombie Story

Robert Kent is the author of the young adult novel All Together Now: A Zombie Story . He runs the popular blog for writers, MIDDLE GRADE NINJA, and lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he’s hard at work on his next book. Robert was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for our inquisitive minds. I love zombies and a lot of you do too, Robert has taken the zombies and put them in the world of  young adults . I think you will be surprised and delighted as well as scared  with the story. There is gore and death, (how could there not be with zombies!?) but you will experience them through the eyes of  15 year old Ricky who is writing a journal while experiencing the zombie apocalypse. Now go out and get a copy of  All Together Now: A Zombie Story, I did and my review will be up soon. I have to say I am loving the zombies and cheering Ricky while praying for his safety.

Now for the interview and thanks so much Rob, not only for a wickedly smart Zombie tale, but for taking the time to speak to our readers. Check it out past the break!

 

Hi Robert, your novel ALL TOGETHER NOW: A ZOMBIE STORY  is aimed at young adults but seems to appeal to us older kids too. Did you never really grow up or are you just partial to the gangly awkward and oh so loveable almost adult humanoids?

I never grew up. Most of the time I write middle grade fiction. In fact, as I’m answering these questions, my collaborating illustrator Adam Smith (who designed the swell cover for All Together Now) is sitting across from me inking one of 70 illustrations for our next book (coming in 2014!). He insists I refer to him in this interview as “the real  talent.”

Originally, I was crazy enough to plan All Together Now for the middle grade market. But I’m a long-time zombie fan and I wasn’t going to let my zombie be less violent or gross just because children might be reading. My ideal reader is also a zombie fan, teen or adult. 8 pages into All Together Now, Ricky, my main character, comes upon two zombie parents who’ve eaten their baby.  13 pages in, he beats a walking corpse to death with a
baseball bat, and I’m just getting warmed up for the nonstop graphic violence that follows (including a slaughter at a daycare center).

Once I realized just how mean-spirited I wanted my horror story to be, I knew I had to change my character’s age from 11 to 15 as a YA novel can get away with pretty much anything (though I think I’m testing that boundary).  Plus, as my zombie novel is about a fear of conformity, teenagers turned out to be the perfect characters as the transition from teen to adult is all about conforming.

 

Who are your favorite horror authors and which if any have influenced you?

Great question! No writer starts from scratch. We all owe a debt to the writers who first captured our imagination. Obviously, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead was a huge influence on this novel, which is why I named the contaminated beverage responsible for the zombie outbreak “Kirkman
Soda.” Roald Dahl is always an influence in my work, whatever I’m writing, and
The Witches still scares me. Jack Ketchum is a long-time favorite author of mine. Off Season and The Girl Next Door taught me that horror could be scary in a philosophical way, haunting and offending long after the story ended. William Peter Blatty, Ira Levin, and Richard Matheson taught me most everything else. Mike Mullin and Courtney Summers not only inspired me with their own writing, but had a direct influence on me–Mike actually critiqued the book twice.

But I’ve read everything by Stephen King, most of it multiple times. He’s the best. My wife and I met in college and fell in love discussing
our mutual appreciation for
The Dark Tower. As King’s contemporary critics continue to die, he’ll be recognized for what he is: the Charles Dickens of his generation.  His short story “Home Delivery” is my absolute favorite zombie story and is instruction for me in writing not just my zombie fiction, but any fiction–that story is the perfect mix of fun and compelling literature.

 

What do you love and/or dislike about writing?

I love everything about writing. I even love publishing. I most love that moment when the characters stop acting in service of the plot and begin to emote and act on their own. I dislike that there aren’t more hours in the day in which to do more writing.


What scares you the most and have you written or plan to write about it?

I have so many fears, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m afraid of everyday people’s capacity to conform to group behavior, no matter how horrifying.  I fear it I myself and the people around me. All Together Now has exorcised some of that fear, but it’s also made me consider how many things I do just because it’s what men in my time and place do.

And bees. Bees scare the crap out of me. They fly in close where you can’t fight back. I’m addressing that fear in my next book.

 

Is there anything about you that would surprise your readers?

Yes, but I don’t want to be arrested, so I’d rather not say:)

 

Tell us about any future works and will zombies be involved?

My next book is the first in a science-fiction adventure series for middle grade readers. Alas, there’s no zombies in that book, but there are plenty of monsters and bees.

I think I said most everything I have to say about zombies in All Together Now. But never say never. If a good idea shambles my way and tears itself into my brain, I’m up for another round.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring horror writers?

The usual: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no other way to do it and no shortcuts.

Also, we’re all going to die sooner than we’d like and odds are high it will be painful. Write what you most love and do it today. Live how you most want and don’t be afraid. The ending is known and it’s a downer, so why not make the most of however much time you have?

Also, get critique partners and beta readers. Never publish without an editor. And above all, keep moving forward. No matter where you start, you’re nevee going to get where you want without moving toward your goal. How quickly you get there is largely up to you.

 

You are going to be a father very soon and congratulations! Is that more frightening than zombies?

Thank you and absolutely. There’s a reason I felt compelled to include the crawling corpses of infants in All Together Now.  Passages such as this one from chapter 38 are very telling: “A small, dead hand curled over the top of the crib, not strong enough to pull whatever was attached to those tiny digits into a standing position.”

 

What is your favorite flavor of brains, errrrrr, I mean ice cream!?

I prefer the brains of readers and Cherry Garcia ice cream.

 

In addition to your blog at middlegradeninja.com, Where can we follow you online?

The blog is the best place to catch me, though I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. But I’ve got interviews with literary agents, editors, and much better writers than me at the blog. Why would you want to follow me when you could read my interview with Richard Adams?

 

Thank you very much Robert Kent, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors and thanks for the zombies, I for one can never get enough of them. Go get your copy of All Together Now: A Zombie Story which is available at Amazon in paperback or for your kindle.

 

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2 Responses to “Infernal Interview – Robert Kent Author of All Together Now: A Zombie Story”

  1. [...] can check out my interview with author Robert Kent here. I am really looking forward to his next book! Posted in Books, Dark Reviews, Written Tags: [...]

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