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Bane of Kings interviews VM Zito, author of the currently-available The Return Man, a fun, enjoyable and post-apocalyptic zombie-horror novel, which has been reviewed here (also by Bane of Kings). This is also technically part of a blog-tour, promoting the launch of The Return Man, so here’s hoping that everything goes to plan. This also happens to be TFF’s first involvement in a blog-tour, so let’s hope this all goes to plan.
Bane of Kings: Your first novel, The Return Man, has just been published this month. For everybody who’s unfamiliar with The Return Man, how would you go about introducing the novel to somebody who would be interested in buying it?
VM Zito: THE RETURN MAN takes place four years after a zombie outbreak splits the USA in two. Out west, the Evacuated States are full of the dead, while the eastern Safe States are zombie-free. But there are many grieving survivors whose friends and family now roam the West as zombies. The hero, Henry Marco, is a professional corpse tracker that you can hire to find your zombified loved ones and put them out of their misery. When the new government hears about Marco, they order him on a crazy, suicide mission into the Evacuated States to exterminate a mysterious dead doctor. But they won’t tell him why…
Bane of Kings: When it comes to zombies, who would you say is your favourite author of zombie fiction?
VM Zito: I’d have to nominate Max Brooks, the author of my favourite zombie book, WORLD WAR Z. I love his inventive “journalistic” approach to story-telling. Not just one narrative, but many interwoven.
Bane of Kings: And, who is your favourite author outside of the zombie sub-genre?
VM Zito: That’s a much harder question! It may seem like a cop-out, but I don’t really have a single favourite author. Among my faves are John Banville, William Styron, Ray Bradbury, Alan Moore, Jack Ketchum, and probably dozens more. They’ve all deeply affected me as a reader at one time or another.
Bane of Kings: If you survived a zombie outbreak, what would be your reaction? Where would you go? Who would you take with you? Would you try to save anything?
VM Zito: My general plan after a zombie apocalypse would be to 1) change into clean underwear, then 2) flee north to rural unpopulated areas where subzero winters can freeze zombies solid. I would take with me only my wife and daughter, my dog, my collection of Spider-Man comic books, my coffee maker, some Dunkin Donut K-cups, my Playstation 3, my favourite pillow, and several copies of THE RETURN MAN that maybe I can use to barter for food and water along the way. I’m quite practical like that.
Bane of Kings: Which book do you wish you could have written, and why?
VM Zito: Hmmm. My gut is telling me THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger. The combination of sci-fi and love story was moving and utterly heart-breaking, but it also wowed the puzzlemaker in me who enjoyed the snap of every piece into position. EINSTEIN’S DREAMS by Alan Lightman comes a very close second. Beautiful, poetic, and fascinating. It makes me wish I were a physicist.
Bane of Kings: Will we be seeing more work from you soon? Are you planning on returning to the world of The Return Man, or are you going to be looking elsewhere?
VM Zito: Hopefully yes, you’ll see more! The story world of THE RETURN MAN was constructed to allow for many more potential “returns,” so there is definitely the possibility of a sequel. At the moment I’m developing an unrelated novel — a supernatural sort of mystery that takes place in the backwoods of Vermont.
Bane of Kings: What book(s) are you reading at the moment? (Note, this can include fiction and nonfiction.)
VM Zito: I’m usually reading 2 books simultaneously; I keep one at home and one at my office. Right now I’m halfway through THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (and digging it). I just finished the graphic novel MAUS by Art Spiegelman; I’ve been meaning to read it for years, and I beg anyone who hasn’t yet to go get it right now. Next up for me: THE LAMPLIGHTERS, a cool horror novel by Frazer Lee.
Bane of Kings: When did you want to become an author and what was your first piece of written fiction?
VM Zito: Ever since high school, I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t really work too hard or start putting in the hours until I was in my late 20′s. My very first published piece was a short horror story titled “Bloodstream,” about this creepy secret aquarium run by this mysterious cult; you can only visit at night, if you’re invited, and the main attraction is… well, I can’t reveal the big shocker!
Bane of Kings: What would you say that the pros and cons of being an author are?
VM Zito: The best thing about writing is being able to introduce new ideas into the enormous, always-expanding library of everything-ever-written. It’s awesome to think that a short story or novel you’ve written could be something that somebody reads and remembers for the rest of their lives. Horror fans may forget my name, but if they remember reading THE RETURN MAN, then I’ll feel extremely honoured.
For me, the biggest con is the solitary time commitment, assuming you really want to get work done. The hours I spend working upstairs in my office are hours away from my family. Maybe someday I’ll have the luxury of being a full-time writer; but for now I do my writing mostly at night, after my daughter is done with homework and getting ready for bed. I’d much rather be down on the couch, reading or watching silly television with my wife. Luckily, I have a very supportive family, but it can be a strain.
Bane of Kings: What do you do when you’re not writing?
VM Zito: Besides writing, my passion is trail-running. Out in the forest, away from everything, the earth skipping under my feet as I juke and jump over rocks and roots and streams… that’s when I really feel alive.
Bane of Kings: When it comes to the zombie sub-genre, what would you say has been the biggest influence on your work?
VM Zito: Hands down, the Romero “Dead” films defined the zombie mythos that I love. Writing THE RETURN MAN was like playing in a sandbox that George Romero built; I had the sand and all the little plastic shovels and toys that George left behind. The challenge was to sculpt something new in the dirt.
Bane of Kings: What are you most looking forward to in the rest of 2012?
VM Zito: Here’s something really scary: I’m turning 40 this summer. I’m not looking forward to that, but I am really excited about my birthday celebration — a 27.5 mile trail race up the mountains of Peru to the Machu Picchu ruins. It’s a vain, futile attempt to conquer my mortality, but it’s going to be epic and awesome!
Bane of Kings: On a final note, is there anything else that you would like to add?
VM Zito: Only that I hope you all enjoy THE RETURN MAN, and thank you very much for the chance to introduce myself!
And that’s all for now. Well, what can I say – this is my first Interview and I’m glad that it turned out well. Hopefully, this is the first of many Interviews from me, so look forward them when they come. If you’re interested in learning more about VM Zito and his The Return Man, you can do the following:
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/VM_Zito.
Like The Return Man on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheReturnMan.
Visit the website of The Return Man: http://www.thereturnman.com/.
Watch the book trailer for The Return Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stXSM8A5IqY.
Check out my review of The Return Man: http://thefoundingfields.com/2012/03/the-return-man-bane-of-kings/.
Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and a prolific reviewer who can be found on many places on the internet usually under the same username – when he’s not trying to catch up on the many seasons of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.