INTERVIEW: Steven Gould, author of “Tameshigiri”

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

It’s about a sword sensei who takes three of his students outside their fortified township to look for his best student, missing for two weeks in the zombie occupied lands.  And also cut up zombies.  For practice.

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

I made the mistake of saying on Twitter something like “Ninja’s awesome.  Zombies awesome.  Ninjas AND Zombies?  DOUBLE AWESOME!”  John saw it and direct messaged me asking if I was writing such a thing.  I wasn’t but I said that I could.

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

I started it on Thursday and Finished it on Monday.  The worst thing about it was that I would lie awake at night wondering what it was really about.  I woke up on Sunday and knew.

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

I’ve been studying Iaido (Japanese sword as a martial art) for over twelve years.  The relationship between Rosa and her Sensei feels real to me.

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

Fortunately, as I said, not that much.   I did stand out in the middle of my backyard with a bokken (wooden sword) for a while, working on some of the moves.

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 scary thing about zombies, slow or fast, is that there will always be more.  It doesn’t matter how many you kill, eventually more will arrive.  Also, often they were people you knew before the rose or turned or were infected, etc.  And that is especially creepy.  Zombies are a palpable, biting representation of our own mortality.  And mortality stinks.  And it has rotting flesh.

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

I was particularly charmed by the recent film Zombieland.  Also, the classic Dawn of the Dead.  Zombies in a mall is just like real life.