Dark Faerie Tales is thrilled to have the talented Jay Bonansinga here today to discuss The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor and The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury, the first two books in The Governor Trilogy written in conjunction with Robert Kirkman. Sheila recently reviewed the audiobook versions of The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor and The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury. Click on the titles to read her reviews.
Jay Bonansinga is a New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including the Bram Stoker finalist THE BLACK MARIAH (1994), and the International Thriller Writers Award finalist SHATTERED (2007). Jay’s work has been translated into nine languages, and he has been called “one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers” by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Jay has won major film festival awards, including a Gold Remi at the Houston International WorldFest and a Best Comedy Feature at the Queens International Film Festival, and his 2005 novel, FROZEN, is in development as a major motion picture starring Dennis Haysbert (THE UNIT). Jay’s 2004 non-fiction debut, THE SINKING OF THE EASTLAND, won the Certificate of Merit from the Illinois State Historical Society, and is currently the source novel for the acclaimed musical “EASTLAND” at the Tony award-winning Lookingglass Theater. Jay’s recently released non-fiction work, PINKERTON’S WAR, out from Lyons Press in 2011, is a true historical thriller about the creator of the U.S. Secret Service. And Jay is currently hard at work co-writing a trilogy of original novels based on the universe of Robert Kirkman’s brilliant graphic novel, THE WALKING DEAD (the inspiration for the mega-hit AMC series of the same name). Jay is also a Visiting Professor at both Northwestern and DePaul universities where he teaches screenwriting.
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DFT: In the first book, why did you choose Phillip to be so haunted by his own internal demons yet become the original group’s de facto leader?
Jay: Much of this was already cooked up by the great and powerful Robert Kirkman — I’m the one who simply puts the rotting flesh on the bones of the story — but I think this character was critical to set up a lot of things in the story and in Woodbury — not the least of which is the BIG twist at the end of the first book. Plus… I think you want a bad-ass leading your group. I would want the governor on my side in a dark alley, and then later, I would politely get the hell away from him.
DFT: Do you believe that Phillip’s fractured mind is an attribute or a hindrance?
Jay: Oh man I totally LOVE the weirdness of “Philip’s” mind — it jibes perfectly with the desperate times and the almost feral nature of protecting your family and friends no matter what the cost. I guess you could say it cost Philip his sanity.
DFT: What would you say about Phillip that makes him so much more interesting than some of the other Walking Dead characters?
Jay: I always tell my creative writing students to make your heroes flawed and nasty, and your villains sweet and sympathetic… and I think Philip is the ultimate villain — savage, creepy, and yet almost sympathetic, full of love and neediness and warmth.
DFT: What was behind the decision of making ROAD TO WOODBURY from an outsider’s perspective?
Jay: Again, this was Robert’s decision early on – he gives me an 8-page outline and I turn it into a 400 page book — but for me, as a writer and storyteller, the outsider perspective works beautifully. You need to see the freakiness from a character that you identify with, and you process it through Lilly’s point of view, and you go: “WHOOOOA KEEMOSABI, GET ME OUTTA HERE.”
DFT: Almost all of the characters have significant addictions (i.e. drugs, sex, violence), do you believe that to be the likely outcome of surviving a zombie crisis? Why?
Jay: Oh my God yes… oh my God… if it were me, I would be drunk or stoned or zonked out on Xanax the whole time… I mean… well… not that I have any experience with these things… this is just a hypothetical… right?… um… anyway… from what I’ve read, a martini and an ambien, and maybe some superficial sex, can make a zombie apocalypse go down a heck of a lot easier.
DFT: What are the motivations driving Phillip once he takes on the mantle of “The Governor?”
Jay: He feels as though he is loved. He feels as though he has the family that he so tragically lost. He feels whole. In a very warped, twisted, creepy way of course.
DFT: What are we likely to see for the last installment, without giving too much away?
Jay: You’re going to see a TOUR DE FORCE of action, a ZOMBIEPALOOZA, where all the strands and characters and storylines that have been both explored or hinted at come together!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!!!!
DFT: Are there any plans in the works for back stories of some of the other characters?
Jay: Yes… but that’s as far as I can go and stay breathing… otherwise, if I told you, I would end up in a trunk. Or zombie lunch.
DFT: If you were to meet someone who has not seen either the show or read the comics, how would you a) sum it all up and b) entice them into reading or watching The Walking Dead?
Jay: It seems like everybody working in this field always says, “Well, you know, it’s not really about zombies. It’s really about characters, or the human condition, or love, or the electoral college…” or some such crap. I would tell people it is pure, unapologetic, kick-ass survival horror that does not pull any punches. It is like rock and roll for the imagination. There’s a lot of action and sex and violence and cool stuff that will make you shudder, scream, laugh, and gawk. If you like classical music, wine, Oprah, and stinky cheese… this may not be for you.
DFT: Who is your favorite character and why?
Jay: Easy… so easy… hands down… no contest… the inimitible, sexy, exotic, dangerous, take-no-prisoners MICHONNE and her gorgeous dreadlocks and bad-ass kente sword.
DFT: What would you do if there was a zombie outbreak?
Jay: Take Xanax, enjoy stiff martinis, use lots of porn… and hide. (See question 5)
DFT: What item(s) would you suggest that people have in case of a zombie outbreak?
Jay: Xanax, Ketel-One, lubricant, ambien, porn, valium, bandaids, a vibrator, Neosporin… and a chain mail suit.
DFT: Who do you normally root for in a horror movie; good guys or the monsters, and why?
Jay: Always the monster… even in zombie stories… because there always going to be characters like Shane and Laurie whom you just want to see get eaten.
About this Book:
The zombie plague unleashes its horrors on the suburbs of Atlanta without warning, pitting the living against the dead. Caught in the mass exodus, Lilly Caul struggles to survive in a series of ragtag encampments and improvised shelters. But the Walkers are multiplying. Dogged by their feral hunger for flesh and crippled by fear, Lilly relies on the protection of good Samaritans by seeking refuge in a walled-in town once known as Woodbury, Georgia.
At first, Woodbury seems like a perfect sanctuary. Squatters barter services for food, people have roofs over their heads, and the barricade expands, growing stronger every day. Best of all, a mysterious self-proclaimed leader named Philip Blake keeps the citizens in line. But Lilly begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. . . . Blake, who has recently begun to call himself The Governor, has disturbing ideas about law and order.
Ultimately, Lilly and a band of rebels open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem and destruction when they challenge The Governor’s reign . . . and the road to Woodbury becomes the highway to hell in this riveting follow-up to Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga’s New York Times bestselling The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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