INTERVIEW: Kelley Armstrong, author of “Last Stand”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

“Last Stand” tells a fairly typical story of a small group of post-zombie infection survivors.  Or, at least, it seems fairly typical at first…

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I love zombie movies, and I wanted to play with one of the genre tropes–the last band of fighters, struggling for survival.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Some stories come hard, and some flow quickly.  This one really flowed for me.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Well, I’m the oddball then.  Most of my stories aren’t overly personal.  The only personal aspect here is my own love of zombie movies.  Sorry!

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

None for this one.  I’ve been writing paranormal fiction for so long that when I do research, it’s only for settings or technology, neither of which played a role in this 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?

The appeal for me–and presumably for some readers/viewers–is two-fold.  First, it’s the ultimate threat–the endless undead horde that you can’t kill.  They’re essentially human (not hundred foot tall monsters or killer bees) but you can’t really fight them.  They’re hard to kill and even when you do, more take their place.  Second, they allow us to explore our own death fears.  For some, they’re a very literal symbol of death–mindless, relentless, inescapable.  For me, I explore that idea through actual zombification.  Being a zombie would be a living death.  In my book series, a zombie is a fully cognizant human soul trapped in its rotting corpse.  In this story, I’ve taken it from another angle.

What are some of your favorite examples of zombie fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Brian Keene’s The Rising because it takes a familiar concept–the zombie apocalypse–and manages to make it seem fresh and original.  David Wellington’s Monster Island because, again, we see the zombie apocalypse taken in a new direction, with page-turning results.