Well, we’re here today on Two Voices…One Thought, with our all-time favorite Zombie Author, J. Cornell Michel.
Are we giddy? As hell!! Jillian is one phenomenal writer with a delicious appetite for what we love best…..horror!! This lady has written and published four successful books. We first met her having heard: “Jordan’s Brains: A Zombie Evolution,” was nominated for the 2013 Best in Horror award by What Horror Looks Like.
Once we read the book we were hooked and have been huge fans ever since. It’s funny because Inion and I were at a writing workshop years ago in Georgia and heard the speaker say that Zombies were making a comeback. We were like…furreal? They’re making a comeback huh? But the truth is, Zombies never left. They just blasted on the scene with more panache and a greater hunger for flesh only the modern day zombie brings with it smarter writing, better acting and an end of the world thrill that has yet to be matched!!
No longer can one say that they’re not into that genre and that it doesn’t offer them anything in the way of plots, quality acting or big-budget-films. With movies like:
I Am Legend
World War Z
And actors linked to them such as: Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Woody Harrelson, Milla Jovovich and Timothy Olyphant the box office is sold out every time.
As a fan of the video games logging hours and hours of addictive zombie slaying, the industry has made way for a multi-billion dollar industry of edgy zombie-killing madness that leaves the player tired-eyed and their only dilemma being whether to use a Molotov cocktail, chainsaw, an AK-47 or a machete.
But if you want to get your fix of zombies through books….look no further, because we have the queen of the dead right here and ready to interview. The only thing that could be better than this is seeing those books of hers on the big screen!!! Her list of babies include:
Jordan’s Brains A Zombie Evolution
Where’s My Dinner?
Zombie Zeitgeist Short Stories by J. Cornell Michel
‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas
We just so happen to own three of these horror gems but today will be focusing on the last one we read: Where’s My Dinner
In the mid-1950’s, a virus begins turning only women into zombies. As fearsome female flesh-eaters rampage, society begins to crumble.
(INM) What inspired you to set a story in the mid 1950’s?
(JCM) It was a time when women were pressured into making careers out of taking care of their children and homes, which is wonderful if that’s what you want to do. But during that time women were discouraged from having careers outside the home. In a culture that associates money with power, the women of that time weren’t recognized as being powerful because most of them weren’t contributing financially. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to create a story where women in the 1950’s were liberated…by zombies!”
(INM) Was there a lot of research that went into that aspect for authentication?
(JCM) Honestly? I watched a lot of Marilyn Monroe movies. Well, I actually re-watched them. I was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe during my college years and watched her Diamond Collection on VHS over and over on my 13-inch television. Does that ruin my zombie street cred?
(INM) *Of course, not! You are still the zombie goddess.*
(INM) Rose-Lynn is a phenomenal heroine; one of our favorites of the year to be honest. Could you tell the blogosphere a little bit about her?
(JCM) Thanks, I’m glad you liked her! Rose-Lynne was fun to write. I actually based her on my mother, Lynne Cook, and my great-grandmother’s cousin, Rose Feld. They were both novelists and powerful, graceful women. Rose-Lynne is the kind of woman who speaks her mind and refuses to conform to what society expects of her. She was never interested in having kids or being a housewife, so she unapologetically pursued her career in journalism, never letting anyone make her feel like she was less of a woman.
(INM) Rose-Lynn and Ralph had a beautiful relationship that wasn’t quite stereotypical for that time. (I personally think they should be voted sexiest couple of their decade) What was your inspiration for that extraordinary couple?
(JCM) In my mind, they’re the perfect couple because they respect each other. I think that’s the most important aspect of marriage. If you don’t respect each other then your marriage isn’t going to last very long. Also, they enjoy each other’s company, and that’s a big part of married life – just hangin’ out!
(INM) There’s that typical alpha-hero and then there’s Ralph. Sensitive, secure in himself, proud of his wife, not afraid to stand behind her and even prouder to stand beside her; Mathair and I think archetypes like this should have their time in the spotlight. How do you feel about the stereotypical hero and the differences between them and Ralph?
(JCM) Hollywood loves the strong silent type, but I find that boring. I prefer chatty, amiable heroes. I’d rather spend an evening (or a zombie apocalypse) with Seth Rogen than with Keanu Reeves.
(INM) There are so many nuances to your story yet the theme of female empowerment is consistent, more specifically the security in one’s self. Is that something you wanted to bring to that particular era?
(JCM) Absolutely! There are female empowerment themes in all my books. I really didn’t plan on Where’s My Dinner turning out to be so focused on self-acceptance, but it happened organically as I was writing. There’s way too much emphasis on superficial beauty, and young’uns these days aren’t taught to value their true selves. The media is too busy shoving unattainable beauty ideals in their faces in order to sell them products. If you ask me, the beauty industry is the real horror show, which is why I insert bits about self-acceptance in my books whenever I can.
(INM) Beautifully said, Ms. Michel! Preach!!! lol
(INM) We promised no spoilers so I have to wiggle my way around this next question. You have such unique zombie spins in your novels and quite often there is a sympathetic edge; like you want your readers to empathize with the monster. Have you always identified with the zombie lore in that sense?
(JCM) Great question! And, yes, I have always sympathized with monsters. We humans sometimes forget that we’re in this together. Sure, we all have a bad day and act like “monsters” to those around us every once in a while, but life is so much better when we treat each other kindly no matter what. When I see someone acting “monsterly” (it happens pretty much every day on the commuter train), I try to put myself in their shoes and not judge them. And when I act like a monster I hope people will go easy on me too.
(INM) As in any genre and history we like to pay homage to those who paved the way. Writer-director George A. Romero needs no introduction to horror fans, having almost single-handedly invented the modern zombie film as we know it. Tell us, Jillian, how this man has inspired you and your writing?
(JCM) George Romero is a genius! Of course, I love Night of the Living Dead, but my favorite movie of his is Day of the Dead because the heroin (played by Lori Cardille) kicks some serious butt! And I love Bub, the zombie who is befriended by a scientist. Romero has a way of humanizing his monsters, especially in his later works. In Land of the Dead, he “sticks it to the man” when zombies infiltrate a city where all the rich, snooty folks are holed up. The 1% sure are tasty!
(INM) Zombies are in the now and trending; Inion and I can remember when the literary world announced their comeback. What do you think it is about Zombies and the “End of World” theme that appeals to the readers?
(JCM) I think post-apocalyptic stories tend to be more popular when people are feeling unstable, like the apocalypse could happen at any moment. With all the war, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty these days, I can understand why zombies are trending at the moment. Plus, they’re fascinating because zombies are human, but you can’t reason with them or ask them politely not to gnaw on your face – it’s quite terrifying!
(INM) Now we want to randomly pick your brain (verses eating it like a zombie lol) and ask you some zombie questions. We were just wondering if you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse and if you were what would be your go-to weapon?
(JCM) No contest – a machete. You never have to reload it, and it won’t run out of bullets. It can also easily penetrate a skull and destroy the brain (I’m assuming).
(INM) Hell yeah!! A lady who knows how to handle a blade & defend herself is sexy!!!!
(INM) Are you the slicin’-dicin’ zombie slayer or the selfless survivor searching for a cure to save mankind?
(JCM) Both. I plan to slice and dice whilst searching for a cure. That’s what I consider “having it all!”
(INM) What is your favorite zombie movie of all time?
(JCM) Ahhhhhhhhhh!! This is such a tough question. I don’t know if I can pick just one. Can I give you a top five?? In no particular order:
- Shaun of the Dead
- Day of the Dead (the 1985 version, NOT the 2008 remake)
- Juan of the Dead
- Dawn of the Dead (the 2004 remake)
- Zombieland (didya know they’re making a sequel?)
(Inion) *Fan –girl moment* OMG, I didn’t know they were making a sequel to Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead is my top fave zombie movie of all-time. Simon Pegg is brilliant!!
(Mathair) *Clears throat* Um…. Inion… interview…
(Inion) Hee hee, sorry.
(INM) Jillian, if you had to pick, would you prefer fighting the Romero zombies of the seventies (slow, sluggish, gory eaters of flesh that seem to just keep on coming);
The cracked-up, parkour jumpers from “Day of the Dead” and “I Am Legend”;
The neighborly ghouls that appear like those you once knew from “The Crazies”;
The zombie tsunami – 12 second transformers from: “World War Z”;
or the mutated supernatural freaks from “Resident Evil?”
(JCM) Hands down, I’ll take the 1968 Night of the Living Dead zombies any day over the speedy ones that have recently become popular. I Am Legend scared the hell out of me, and it’s because those monsters were way, way too fast. I don’t think corpses should be faster than humans. It’s unnatural ;)
(INM) What’s next for J. Cornell Michel? What are you working on?
(JCM) Actually, since I had my baby girl last year, I’ve started writing children’s picture books, and my first zombie book for little kids will be out later this year. It’s about a little purple zombie who’s frustrated because no one’s afraid of her because she’s so darn cute. Picture books are my main focus these days because having a ten-month-old baby to take care of doesn’t leave me much time to sit down and write for hours at a time. I hope to get back to writing novels eventually, but for now I’m focusing on picture books.
(INM) Congrats, Jillian; she’s beautiful!!
(INM) And the last question which my son, Vincent/Inion’s brother asked us to relay to you: “If you had one place to hold up in a Zombie Apocalypse and you could pick any place in the world. Where would it be?
(JCM) That is an excellent question! I just watched one of those shows on HGTV called Island Hunters. It’s about well-to-do folks who have millions of dollars to spare and want to buy their own island (must be nice). Anyway, one of these rich couples had $23 million to spare and bought an island in Fiji. It was completely secluded and small enough to defend the perimeter, but big enough to be able to grow your own crops and comfortably house plenty of humans and animals. So my dream location to ride out the zombie apocalypse is a secluded island in Fiji. I need to start saving up my allowance so I can afford a $23 million island :)
(INM) If you would have told us we’d end up on an island after doing a horror interview we would’ve laughed!!! But here we all are in Fiji. Awesome interview Jillian! For all our blogging community, we have one of Jillian’s books to giveaway to one lucky commenter. So be sure to comment!!!
Thanks again to the Queen of Horror herself, J. Cornell Michel. Below you’ll find the links to purchase her books; but please wait to see if you’re chosen.
Jordan’s Brains: http://www.amazon.com/Jordans-Brains-Evolution-Cornell-Michel-ebook/dp/B00DB9IUPO/ref
Where’s My Dinner: http://www.amazon.com/Wheres-My-Dinner-J-Michel-ebook/dp/B00XLKIHK6/
Zombie Zeitgeist: Short Stories http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Zeitgeist-J-Cornell-Michel-ebook/dp/B00ILON6EO/ref
‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/Twas-Before-Christmas-Cornell-Michel/dp/0692330720/ref