INTERVIEW: S. G. Browne, author of “Zombie Gigolo”

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

It’s a slice of life story about a reanimated corpse who provides a sexual service for other reanimated corpses and the unique issues he has to deal with.  Like sloughage and maggots and body cavities that burst at inopportune moments.

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

I wrote “Zombie Gigolo” as my entry into the Gross Out Contest at the World Horror Convention at Salt Lake City in 2008.  I’d just sold my debut novel Breathers and decided to take a couple of ideas from that and ratchet them up viscerally.  This is what I came up with.  I never actually expected it to see print.

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

It was challenging in the sense that it had to be between 3-5 minutes in length when read aloud for the contest, so I had to be frugal with my words, maintain a decent gross out factor, and cut out anything that didn’t move the story fast enough.  I’d also never written anything to be performed competitively before.  And in case you’re wondering, it took third place.

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

Um…um…

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

I don’t think I can share that without going to prison.  Or at least upsetting my mother.

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 think zombie fiction is appealing because zombies used to be us.  And we’re just one bite or infected wound away from becoming one of them.  I also believe they’re experiencing their current popularity because they’re no longer just the mindless, shambling ghouls we’ve known and loved for the past forty years.  They’re faster.  Funnier.  Sentient.  Plus there’s this constant fascination with the inevitability of a zombie apocalypse.  I mean, no one ever talks about the werewolf apocalypse.  That would be ridiculous.

As for my own decision to write about them, my novel and two short stories were written with the intention of showing a different size to zombies.  Giving them sentience.  Viewing the world through their eyes and what they have to deal with.  When you think about it, most zombie film and fiction is really about the people rather than the zombies.  My fiction is about the zombies.

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

Although this might sound a bit incestuous, I would have to say I tend to lean toward zombie anthologies, like The Book of the Dead or the original The Living Dead.  I enjoy them because of the diverse takes on the zombie mythology I can find all in one place.