About the Author:Robin currently lives in Arkansas, with her husband Mark Spitzer. She enjoys cooking, fishing and teaching writing at the University of Central Arkansas. Her book, Brains: A Zombie Memoir, is releasing today and is one of the most refreshing, brilliant books I've read to date!
Hi, Robin! Welcome to Rex Robot Reviews- I am thrilled to have you here today. I would like to say thank you for taking the time to give our readers a little insight into your wonderful world of Jack Barnes and BRAINS!
1. Robin, which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Jack Barnes, the main man, the leader of Zombie Army. Brains is first person in Jack's voice, so he had to be fun to write. I like Jack because he's pretentious and a little pompous--he's the kind of guy that likes to show off his knowledge in casual conversation. But in Brains, he gets his comeuppance. It's hard to be a blowhard when you're a zombie. Along the way I tossed in a bunch of popular and high culture references, which was a blast. Jack can't help but compare all of his experiences to literature and movies, and so I got to do it too.
2. What inspired your book Brains?
I love zombie, horror, and slasher movies. I even like torture porn. When Shawn of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead came out in 2004, my allegiance shifted from humans to zombies. Then Land of the Dead came out in 2005, and at the end, it's clear that Big Daddy (a zombie) just wants to survive and find a home. That clinched it. The zombie's story needed to be told.
3. If Brains had a soundtrack, which songs would you choose?
The Misfits, "Braineaters"! In a very early draft, part of Jack's backstory was that he was a punk in the eighties (conveniently, so was I!). So it was sprinkled with allusions to that era. Black Flag, X, The Ramones. A few references remain, actually, but I took most of them out because they didn't fit his professor image. Strangely, during my first revision I listened to Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head obsessively, which is pretty far from the Dead Kennedys, but it made for soothing background music.
4. Would you rather see Brains on the TV screen or the big screen? Why?
I would be so lucky if Brains was adapted in either medium, I wouldn't complain! Both would be awesome, but the big screen is where I've seen a lot of zombie movies--you can really admire the gore in its glistening redness and the moans are loud and all THX. The ideal scenario would be a movie where Jack was played by Michael Douglas and I got be an extra zombie!
5. How would you say that your interests influence your writing?
In general, I try and write about what I know or am interested in, so that I don't have to do a ton of research and I stay engaged with the material. For example, I love Hello Kitty and just wrote a short story called Hello Kitty Hell (inspired by the website too) about a woman who thinks her unborn baby is actually Hello Kitty. I used my existing knowledge of Kitty culture as a base and then had a ball buying books and looking at websites with all the crazy HK products like the HK gun! I also took the opportunity to buy Kitty schwag. Same for Brains. In addition to being a zombie fan, I teach at a university--so it was gratifying to make fun of professors and that whole milieu. I'm also interested in a lot of the things Jack is--Walt Whitman, rock and roll, philosophy. I just take it a few steps further for writing.
6. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I play guitar in the post-punk grrl band the Conway Twitties. We sing about black and hairy tongue disease and auto-erotic asphyxiation, among other things. I also teach writing, go fishing with my husband, bake bread and brownies, read, and occasionally make really bad "outsider" art. (It's only outsider because it's lame!) And I like to drink beer too. In the spring, I garden and play on a kickball team called Marquis de Sod.
Check out the Conway Twitties! Robin rocks it.
7. Where is your favorite spot to read/write?
Funny you should ask! It used to be the dining room, but just yesterday I bought a desk and chair and commandeered a nook upstairs in the bedroom. It has a huge picture window looking out at the lake. The physical space can be most anywhere, but it should be quiet, warm, and have a window with a view. I like to be alone and silent during the first draft--I welcome distractions during revisions.
8. If you can take the books of only one author with you to a desert island, which author would you choose? Why?
Joyce Carol Oates. She has written so many books it would take a while to get through them all. I love her novel Zombie--which isn't about the living dead, but a serial killer. It's gruesome and scary.
9. So, what comes after Brains? Excited about any other releases or works in progress?
Yes, I'm writing a novel now--it's still the first draft, so I don't know how it'll end. All I can say is it's about a woman named Constance who has the supernatural ability to kill people by imagining their deaths in full-color mental detail. Most of the deaths are, by the way, accidental. And gross. Of course, this gets her in a lot of trouble with the police and her friends and family and even some people who want to hire her.
10. Do you have any upcoming events? If so, where can your readers find you?
I'm only doing physical events locally (so far!). August 14 I'll be signing books at Hastings here in Conway. And in October I'll be reading In Fayatteville. And of course I'll be lurking around the internet!
Thank you so much for joining us, Robin!
Everyone needs to check out Brains!
It is a MUST READ and I NEED a sequel!!