Friday, August 22, 2014

Bigger Things for Big Foot: An Interview With Eric S. Brown

Eric S. Brown, a sci-fi and horror writer with a love for zombies set out, not long ago, to create a new kind of apocalypse. Little did he know just how big his Bigfoot War series was going to get. As of tomorrow, Bigfoot Wars will hit the big screen, as a feature film starring Judd Nelson and C. Thomas Howell. The movie is available in stores starting September 2.

Eric took the time out of preparing for tomorrow's Red Carpet event to talk faith, fiction, and bringing mythology to life.

A Flame in the Dark: So, Bigfoot Wars: The Movie. That’s pretty exciting -- as an author, I mean.
Eric S. Brown:  Yes it is!  It's crazy for me right now.  My life almost feels surreal. I am running around doing photo shoots and interviews to the point of where it's even hard to find time to write.

AFitD: Tell us about Bigfoot. How did you get into that as a concept -- particularly the idea of a large-scale battle for survival?
ESB:  I have always loved apocalyptic fiction.  I wanted to do something that was end-of-the-world, but a different kind of monster than the zombies I had spent so much time writing before Bigfoot War. Growing up in the south, I was terrified of Bigfoot. I channeled that fear into the first book of the series and by the grace of God it became a huge hit. And even now, years later, the series is still going strong. The latest book, Bigfoot Wars: Redneck Apocalypse, is due out August 21st.

AFitD: You also write about zombies and kaiju (giant monsters) -- both of which, the latter in particular, tend to be relegated to film as opposed to literature. Do you write them that way, too -- more cinematically, as if you’re seeing them on the big screen?

ESB:  Yes.  My style has always had a cinematic feel to it. My work focuses on being fun and entertaining above everything else. It's also usually heavy on action, too, because I learned to write reading David Drake (the King of Military SF).

AFitD: So you’re a horror writer, and you’ve also been pretty outspoken about your Christian faith. Have you found it hard to reconcile those two positions personally?

ESB:  Somewhere around 2009/2010, I gave my work over to God. I stopped cursing in it and had never done sex stuff anyway. It was also around that time that my career took off. I went from being a totally indie guy to working with publishers as large as Simon and Schuster (who came to me, I didn't submit to them). And things have just kept growing from there -- movie deal, TV stuff, etc. I try to treat everyone with love and respect but I do try to witness to folks whenever the chance arises. Jesus not only saved my life, but through prayer as much as hard work, I ended up with a real writing career, despite being a high school dropout. So no, it's not hard for me personally to reconcile the two. I am only using whatever talent God gave me.   

AFitD: What about the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis: fans, publishers, editors, etc. Do THEY have a tough time reconciling your faith and your chosen genre?

ESB:  Sometimes. As I said, I try to treat everyone with love and respect. I have however been attacked before for my faith and a lot of folks just don't "get it". I can only be who I am, though.  

AFitD: How do you deal with the criticism, if any, about the gore, language -- heck, just the genre itself -- from others?

ESB:  Language in my books (even most of the co-written ones) is pretty toned down.  I just don't see the point of it.  I think some writers think you have to swear for "realism" or to be cool but that's simply not true.  You can tell a very engaging and powerful tale without resorting to cursing.  As to gore, well, the Bible itself has a lot of gore.  No issue there.

AFitD: As a Christian, how does your worldview inform what you write?

ESB:  It varies book to book. World War of the Dead may be a zombie apocalypse novel, but at its core, it's really a story about the power of God and one man's salvation. Other books, it's not really intentional like with that; but my characters often do pray, etc.

AFitD: So what's next? And what's on the horizon?

ESB:  Well, Bigfoot Wars: Redneck Apocalypse and a brand new Kaiju book from me are due out soon.  Later in the year, Great Old Ones Publishing will also be releasing an insect apocalypse novella that I co-wrote with a good friend of mine, entitled "Crawlers." I am currently at work on Murder World II: Kaiju Dusk with Jason Cordova and finishing my last book for Great Lake Films, who signed me to a five book deal to adapt their indie films and concepts to book form last year. Beyond that, we'll just have to see where God leads.

Thank you to Eric for taking the time to talk to us. Hit the links above to check out some of Eric's work, and don't forget to look for Bigfoot Wars in a movie section near you. And, why not check out the trailer, since you're here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Remaining: Biblical Apocalypse With Teeth

Coming in September from Affirm Films (Sony), The Remaining is an apocalyptic horror purportedly based upon the book of Revelation. It's already getting a bit of negative press, largely for being a Christian movie about the End Times (and, I suspect, its relationship in both timing and content to the new Left Behind movie). You can read an interview with writer/director Casey La Scala (producer, Donnie Darko) over at Christian Cinema or check out the official Sony page (Affirm's website, as of this writing, has nothing to offer).

The first trailer seems to offer a genuinely new take on the Rapture, and some other novelties. In style and tone, it's pretty reminiscent of other films in the genre, but overall the whole thing looks pretty promising amid the crop of already-released End Times thrillers.

The Remaining hits theaters on September 5. More info at The Remaining's official Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grave Robber's upcoming E.P. has a title - and a cover!

Check it out!

In The New "Left Behind" Trailer, Absence is a Fearsome Enemy

Life (and Death) In the Trenches: Deathwatch Reaches The Heart of Darkness

2002's Deathwatch (as of this writing, available on Netflix) is an atmospheric military horror set in the midst of World War I. The film is beautifully shot, and wonderfully acted by a cast that includes Andy (Lord of the Rings) Serkis and Jamie (Billy Elliot) Bell.

 A small British Army company fights its way through to a forward position inside enemy lines, and makes its way to a mostly abandoned trench. There, they find a single German survivor. On interrogation, the German reveals his belief that the trench is evil and begs the British to just leave.

The British Captain, however, sees the tactical advantage of holding a forward trench, and declares they'll be staying and making things a little more secure. The soldiers get right to work, tossing the German into a holding area and setting charges to blow up parts of the trench in order to give them less area to cover and defend.

When the charges blow is when things begin to take a turn for the drastically weird. At first, it's just a small oddity: a noise like a roar coming from the explosion site. It could be anything, really: even just the sound of supersonic air being blown through the various passageways. Some of the men are vaguely unnerved, but ultimately forget the experience and get back to work. Then the dying starts.

This works very well in the context of the film. The viewer is already slightly on edge because of the claustrophobic reality of war. Even in the early scenes, where the group is out in the open, you feel the tension of the air, the closeness of the barbed-wire, and the deadly surround of enemy gunfire. The trench, far afield of being a haven from the fighting, is steeped in horror from the first footstep inside. Bodies strewn throughout the trench are nearly impossible to distinguish from the walls and floors of mud. Nearly, but not quite. It isn't a refuge: the trench is a place of death. An open-air tomb.

The rain is almost non-stop, creating a muddy flood throughout. The whole set is dreary, dark, and, in the midst of all the dead, more than a little spooky. The trench does its work to bring out the personalities of the unit members, but it's in their treatment of the prisoner and each other that the men are really set apart.

All told, Deathwatch is a story about the prevalence and futility of human selfishness versus the rarity of mercy and virtue. The members of the British unit are all flawed in their own ways. Even while some of the soldiers are good and honorable men, they harbor a darkness, in some cases ingrained in their very personalities, and in some, planted there by too many months of fighting and horror. Yet, in the youngest character, Pfc. Shakespeare, there is a naive innocence. He joins the military as an idealistic youth, and even all he's seen around him hasn't quite managed to kill his overall optimism and belief in in humanity. It is this, Shakespeare's undying grace and mercy toward his fellow man even in the face of so much hate, which serves as the crux to this story.

On one level, you could say Deathwatch is just another story about man's inhumanity to man. But I think it Deathwatch isn't simply about one person, but an entire world. It's about the inhumanity inherent in all of humanity, and the way that underlying evil can cling to, and ultimately destroy, our very souls.
goes far deeper. Because, like war itself,

But, inside that deep, bleak darkness, there exists too a glimmer of hope. That as the Human Soul rots within, there is remaining that spark of grace, of love, which may yet bring salvation.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bits & Pieces 07.04.14

Sanctuary author Pauline Creeden has joined the author panel for the Contagious Reads Women in Horror Facebook "Convention." The convention runs July 13-20, with Pauline's Q&A on July 15.

Author Mark Carver has released an omnibus edition of his Age of Apollyon Trilogy. The trilogy checks in at 781 pages, and is currently available on Kindle, with a paperback scheduled to drop soon. Carver has also made the first chapter of Book 3: Scorn available online, via Wattpad.

Know of book releases, movies, blogs, happenings, etc, which would be of interest to our readers? Drop us a line at aflameinthedarkzine (at) gmail (dot) com!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

God and the Undead, Part 2: In His Image

In the last installment of God and the Undead, we sought to answer the question, "can a Christian write about zombies?" This question is part of the central theme of this series, and of much discussion among Christian writers, critics, and academics. Our conclusion to this introductory essay ran:

Perhaps there are no vampires, no zombies, mentioned in Scripture. Perhaps their very existence is the stuff of fantasy. To put it bluntly, so what? Is the God of the Universe somehow diminished in a fictional world where the dead walk?

The critical thinker may well be wondering whether or not, however, that's even the point. After all, the Apostle Paul observed in 1 Corinthians 10,

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. (vv23-24, NKJV)

So, we can suppose, perhaps a better question than "is it okay" is, "is there a compelling reason for Christians to write or read about the Undead?"

Well, yes, actually. More than one, in fact. But we'll touch on some of those at a later time. For now, I want to concentrate on a single metaphor. Yes: a metaphor. That the zombie is, indeed, such an apt metaphor for so many things in our spiritual and physical lives is, in fact, one of the compelling reasons we have for not completely dismissing it as a tool in our writing arsenal. Quickly, just to quell the oncoming arguments: Yes, metaphors are important; that's why Jesus used them pretty much always (your Sunday School teacher called them "parables"). Through storytelling, we are able to reach audiences who may otherwise turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, to anything that even carries the aroma of Gospel. Paul (again) referred to this as "becoming all things to all people." Should we fail in confronting people with the truth of Christ, simply because they refuse to read Amish fiction?

So, today's metaphor. You and I -- all of us -- are created in the image of God. We touched on this reality in the last installment. In the Bible, this is a single line, but inside that line is the single most profound truth of our identity. Before we fell, when we were formed whole and unblemished, Man was created to reflect God's image. You might even say the Human Self is God's single greatest revelation of His nature.

God, we believe, is a Trinity: God, the Father, Christ, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As much many of us have heard this, the real head-scratcher is how, exactly, that's supposed to work. Well, as beings created in His image, does it not make a bit of sense to look, not to the clover or the egg or whatever other clever simile we've devised, but to our own selves?

Man, you see, is also three distinct personages. I touched on this idea in an earlier essay, Amber Shades And Funhouse Mirrors:

We have a body and a mind, and we also have a soul. Unlike God, however, our trinity of parts is often at odds. Our bodies, in the pangs of hunger, may seek to consume anything that might sustain us. Our minds, however, will caution us to be picky: not everything the body wants is good for it. It is the mind that wrestles to temper the desires of the body with common sense. But it is the soul which allows us to ignore the will of both Mind and Body to determine not only what is desirable, but moral.
What is a zombie, after all, but pure carnality? Stripped of will, of the power to reason, of conscience, the animated corpse exists for the sole purpose of feeding its hunger.

So, the makeup of our very beings give insight into the nature of God, in a sense (one could argue that God is the perfection of the fallen human trinity: God the Mind, Christ the Body, and the Spirit); but also a deeper insight into our own natures.

The zombie shows us, in the singularity of its purpose (to consume), how we were created for something more. We aren't simple animals, slaved to our instinct. That would be carnality alone. Carnality is action devoid of reason, and certainly devoid of morality. Were we merely some great cosmic accident, an ape with higher reason, our decision-making would begin and end with survival and propagation. Evolution demands it. Instead, we do stupid things. We knowingly self-sacrifice, not just for our children, but for others as well. We fall in love with each other, based not on physical compatibility or their potential for optimum procreation, but on less quantifiable criteria. We make decisions, in short, defiant of what is arguably our biological Prime Directive to survive as a species.

What can explain this disparity between biology and sociology? How is it that humanity -- and humanity alone -- seems to be more than the sum of its biological parts?

These are the questions with which we are confronted when faced with the undead. If the zombie represents us in our most base, as who we aren't, then how do we define who we are?

In Part 3, The Mall-Walking Dead And Other Social Metaphors