måndagen den 14:e maj 2012

INTERVIEW WITH N.J HALLARD - WRITER OF BREAKING NEWS: AN AUTOZOMBIOGRAPHY

Hello and welcome to Swedish Zombie. We are happy to have you here. Would you mind giving us a brief outline for your book Breaking News: an Autozombiography?

Breaking News: an Autozombiography is a tale of a couple of PlayStation-loving stoners who love zombie movies. Desprite being well-equipped to deal with an actual zombie apocalypse through pop-culture know-how, they and their friends surprise themselves when it really happens by not only surviving the plague but doing their bit to kick-start society in England.

Tell us a little about your background

I'm a single father of a three-year-old. I am one of the last traditional sign painters in the UK, and have been in business for twelve years (I painted the Dubliner pub sign in Stockholm and have a pub sign up in the US compound in Kabul). I have hand-built a full Ghostbuster proton pack with suit. I have been an extra in several feature films, and acted and directed many others as a part of my degree. I am a keen archer and poker player. I am learning to play the guitar. I am three-quarters through the sequel to Breaking News: an Autozombiography (called Rising Up: an Autozombiography). I have just this evening applied to train to be a school teacher. I am also a bit of a smart-arse..

I've just about finished your book and I know you're up to writing a sequel. I think your writing is typically British as I sometimes hear Karl Pilkington's tone of voice and other times there's an air of Monty Python even. There's a certain ironic humour that is appealing to many Swedes, myself included. How do you find your own personal style as a writer? Your voice?

I love that is has the stamp of "Britishness" about it, even though we as a nation apparently don't have a clue what that is anymore. As for a style, I just started writing and I encourage everyone reading this who think they have a book in them to just get on with it. The 'voice' of the narrator in 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography' is my voice, because I didn't know how to write with anything else. It works well, I think, because I don't feel forced as a result of trying to be something I'm not.

When you're in the process of writing - how do you know that it isn't complete rubbish?

I don't, although belly laughs and cold sweats in equal measure when re-reading are good signs.

Why do you write about zombies?

I've always had a thing for zombies. They scare the living crap out of me, although I can see why lot's of people dismiss the genre as unrealistic. If I can make my zombie fiction seem even a little real, I am happy because I know I've given others a glimpse of my own fears. Zombies tap into that "half-way-house" that humans love and loathe in equal measures - just look at the number of rites-of-passage rituals we've developed as a species. Also, there's the fear of disease; the common nightmare of being paralysed against a creeping threat; death itself; a loss of loved ones; collapse of everything we know; and of course that challenge-fantasy of battling for survival with threadbare resources. That combo is a multi-win in my opinion.

How do you create suspense?

Time. It's the classic Hollywood trick to use a countdown of some sort. Also threats to things which would be common between me and most readers. Comedy plays its part too, for the purposes of irony, pathos and affinity.

Do you ever think about surviving a zombie outbreak? Are there any guidelines you'd like to share?

Yes, and I'm well-prepared for it. (see http://njhallard.wordpress.com/my-actual-go-bag/) The only reason I began writing was the wealth of scenarios my friends and I have discussed over the years.

How do you deal with the fact that some people in your book, or in any zombie scenario, seem unwilling or unable to understand what's going on?

Think about it. We all love the thought of a zombie apocalypse (well sort of), but your neighbour? Boss? Mother? There are a thousand things it could be before people believed it really was, and by then it's be far, far too late. Also, lots of people are pretty damned stupid.

You are an illustrator as well as a novelist. Are both equally important to you?

I think the illustrations in 'Breaking News: an Autozombiography' add a lot, but they were a complete afterthought. I know for some they were the highlights. Painting has been my bread and butter for well over a decade now, so in that respect I'm very grateful for my artistic skills. I absolutely love to paint a scene with words though, so I suppose it's swing and roundabouts!

Thank's a bunch N.J. for taking your time. It was nice talking to you - or really, sending e-mails back and forth.






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