Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?
The story takes the themes of the zombie outbreak and puts it in the middle of an Amish community.
What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?
I love to read zombie fiction but coming from a small town I was always disappointed and disconnected because most of the stories seem to take place in large cities. I wanted to consider how an outbreak would impact people in a small town. I’ve always been amazed at the will and strength of the Amish community to survive just about anything and found it to be a fresh and interesting perspective on the zombie theme.
Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?
I worked on the story in my spare time for several months, tweaking it from time to time. The greatest challenge was getting it down on paper exactly as I knew it in my head. That’s usually the challenge for anything I write.
Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?
I used to live and work near an Amish community. The settings I chose really came out of that. It’s funny now, when I drive through that area I can’t help but imagine the people I see as part of that story. I could even take you down a road and show you a farm house that I envisioned as the setting for “Rural Dead.”
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
I actually went to some Amish websites to do that research. Amish websites! Who would have thought it! I spent some time researching Amish customs and language, but much of this was too cumbersome to include in the story. The main thing I gleaned from my research was a few proper sounding Amish names and a few customs to add some realism to the story.
What is the appeal of zombie fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?
I’ve actually given that a lot of thought. I think we live in a world with big problems that have complicated solutions. Whether it’s terrorism or the economy or our own disease outbreaks of AIDS, H1N1 and whatever else is next, we’re frightened not only of the problems facing us today but the lack of clear answers. I think zombie fiction allows us to approach the idea of a very frightening pandemic outbreak with a very simple solution—shoot ‘em in the head. It’s still frightening, obviously, but it gives everyone a very concrete answer and makes us all think that if the worst came we could probably survive.
What are some of your favorite examples of zombie fiction, and what makes them your favorites?
I love the Romero movies and obviously (from the story) I’m a huge fan of Max Brooks. I also am an avid reader of “The Walking Dead” comics and a few other works (Dying to Live by Kim Paffenroth was a lot of fun).