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From Pen to Machete: TW Brown & His Body Count [INTERVIEW]

Are you ready for another zombie mash-up? I’m personally getting as tired of mash-ups as much as I am tired of zombie survival guides, but I decided to give TW Brown’s Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales a chance. Brown has put a modern spin, as well as infected twists, on the Grimm tales. While this mashup could encourage young minds to open up to classical literature, especially with eye-catching illustrations before each tale, it’s going to be a little harder to please a well-read zombiephile.

If you are looking for terrifying undead horror that will have you shopping for machetes & metal shutters, this book might not be for you…but, if you’re into zombie humor such as Zombie Haiku or Breathers, this will be right up your darkened alley.

I found the book quite humorous: nothing like checking in with FourSquare during a zombie outbreak. Most of them take place in a post-apocalyptic setting, with a few describing the beginning of a localized outbreak. Every single character is sure to remind you of someone that you know. Some of my absolute favorites were The Zombie Whisperer, Cindy Rallie, and Buck’s Blunder.

However, the Grimm titles are listed in German, so I had hard time recalling the original stories for comparison…and I was disappointed with the amount of zombie scenes. Some tales barely had any undead reference, while others didn’t seem to convert to the modern world very well at all. I don’t fault Brown for the latter, but — having read his previous work — I expected far more zombie interactions than were delivered.

Over the past year or so, Brown has proved to be a prolific writer, pounding out the Zomblog series and the Dead series, as well as editing anthologies such as Hell Hath No Fury and Chivalry Is Dead, although Eye Witness Zombie is still my favorite collection from MDP.

In the following interview, I asked Brown about his Grimm zombie tales, as well as his other undead work…

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It actually started in grade school. Every time the teacher assigned a writing project, I’d go nuts with some crazy story. In fact, I think I wrote the first unofficial sequel to Jaws using all my classmates as characters.

What do you see as the influences on your writing?

The list is long on who I really delve into, but I try to learn something from everybody that I read. I’d say that if I had to pick one person who really pushed me into writing, as cliché as it probably seems, it would be Stephen King. The earlier version, I must admit I stopped reading him about 15 years ago.

You have quite a few series out: Dead, Zomblog, and Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales. Do you have something against stand-alone novels? Why so many sequels?

I have always been a fan of the series. I think it allows for more growth and development. Plus, I was always the kid who put down a book when I finished reading it and said, “But then what happens?” As for Zomblog, it wasn’t ever actually supposed to see an audience. It wraps up in August with the third book, Zomblog: The Final Entry. The Grimm project will be a conversion of the 201 tales. It just wasn’t feasible to put them in one volume. Dead was planned to be a multiple book series from the start. I already have an idea for the ending of the final book (there will be 12 in all). I do have a standalone that I want to get busy on next year called Uncivil War, which is about a full-scale modern day race war in America that rips the nation apart.

Have you ever used current events or news headlines in your work?

I think I might weave things in from time to time, but I try to leave reality behind when I write, so it is a rarity.

Do you ever come up with a scene that scares yourself & leaves you wondering where it came from?

Garrett in the Dead series. I always have to stop writing for a while after his scenes. I knew I wanted somebody bad, I had no idea he would show up. That is probably some of the most unsettling stuff to write. And he has done his job…folks hate him.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

A few. One told me that I was terrible and that I was delusional if I thought I had a lick of the talent that Stephen King did. A few ask when the next book comes out. Some just tell me that they really enjoyed the story and look forward to the next one. I actually wish I heard from more.

Do you think you will be sticking with zombies, or will you be taking a break to pursue other horror and/or genres?

I want to work on other things. That said, I don’t think I’ll ever give up on zombies. My love affair with them goes back to the 1970s and with Dawn of the Dead. However, I have 4 books in Dakota that I want to write as well as the previously mentioned UnCivil War. There is also a very disturbing story dancing in the darker shadows of my mind that I am considering.

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