Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jonathan Maberry and Janice Bashman, Guest Bloggers & Authors, Wanted Undead or Alive

I invited authors Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman to have some fun and interview each other.  And, since Jonathan blew out his knee, and couldn't do the U.K. tour, they might as well do a guest tour here.  Their book, WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, hit the stores today and it’s an interesting read. The book deals with the struggle of good vs evil in world myth, literature, comics, film, pop culture and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Peter Straub, Charlaine Harris and many more; and the book is fully illustrated by top horror, comics & fantasy artists.


Thank you, Jonathan and Janice.

JONATHAN MABERRY: WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE covers a lot of territory. What do you love most about the book?

JANICE GABLE BASHMAN: There’s something in it for everybody. If you’re into vampires, we cover it. Ghosts—we cover that too. Heroes, villains, zombies, monsters, werewolves, vampire hunters, serial killers, FBI profilers, charms, talismans, comics, film, literature, television, etc. It’s a super fun read with tons of interviews and original art. It’s all about the struggle of good vs evil, which is fascinating, isn’t it?

MABERRY: Absolutely. The good vs evil thing is not only fundamental to our human experience, it’s reflected in so many ways in our daily lives. It influences acceptance and prejudice, likes and dislikes, trust and distrust. It’s the core of ‘right and wrong’ and ‘good and bad’, which are wildly subjective concepts.

We’re an adversarial and predatory species, so we tend to demonize anyone who is either different or on what we perceive as the opposing side. We see this in religious wars all the way down to community team sports.

Analyzing the concept of good and evil at all these different frequencies opens a lot of windows into who we are. It’s always enlightening but not always a happy view.

BASHMAN: I really enjoyed talking with the many people we interviewed to get their take on the subjects. It’s so interesting to hear what they had to say about the struggle between good and evil. It doesn’t seem to matter if the fight occurs in fiction, on film, in comics, or in real life—it’s definitely a hard fight, and one in which both the good and bad guys are determined to win. These monsters are really evil—they’re demons and vampires, werewolves and nasty ghosts, villains and serial killers; and it takes a strong hero to kick evil’s butt.

MABERRY: Without a clear grasp of the nature and scope of villainy we can’t appreciate the nature and scope of heroes. And we love heroes. That harkens back to the days when the first ‘heroes’ were those members of primitive tribes who provided food, found shelter, defeated enemies, and taught others how to be strong.

Over time we expanded our view of heroism in a lot of different ways. We now regard champions of civil rights as heroes, and people who dedicate their lives to worthy causes. People who are out on the leading edge of medical and scientific research. The word ‘pioneer’ is often replaced by hero if the thing they discover is deemed to be of great social value.

But strangely we also slap that label on people who aren’t actually doing anything heroic. Sports figures for example. Okay, there may be a degree of physical courage involved in facing the defensive line-up of a pro football team, but that isn’t heroism. Going into the World Trade Center while it was burning to try and rescue people…that’s heroism. And don’t get me started on ‘guitar heroes’.

We love to tell stories about our heroes, so if a reporter isn’t covering a police beat or a war, he tends to amplify the feats of sports figures into heroes. It’s another part of who we are, and it underscores our need to hear that the age of heroes hasn’t passed.

BASHMAN: Really, if you look at any form of storytelling from the beginning of time to the present, there’s always a struggle between a hero and a villain. It’s the story of our lives; storytelling just takes that concept and expands on it, often exaggerating the circumstances to entertain. No one wants to be caught on the wrong side of the fight, that’s for sure, so we root for heroes to win and the villains to lose.

MABERRY: The clash of good vs evil is on every page of history, and we’ve tried to capture that in WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE. It gets a little tricky because the further back in time you look, the harder it is to separate fanciful or allegorical stories from real events. I mean, we can accept that Samson may have lived and been a true hero and great warrior, but slaughtering a whole army with the jawbone of an ass seems a bit of a stretch. Just as we can look at the story of the Trojan War and see how it suggests that good and evil are entirely based on which side of the walls of Troy you were; but the wooden horse story may be fiction, and Ulysses’ encounters with sirens and the Cyclops are fairytales. Or, perhaps fables…wild, but with a point.

The clash between men and monsters—vampires, werewolves and the like—appear in every culture around the world, and many of the stories have very similar structures. Take vampires…in most legends the vampire is a ghostly creature who preys on the living (often friends and family) and takes from them some essential thing. Sometimes it’s blood, sometimes it’s health, or life essence, or sexual essence. The natural reaction is to defend against such monsters—and indeed to label them as monsters.

However when you step back and look at this from a big picture perspective, you can see that the labeling process is actually an attempt by people to make sense of the seemingly inexplicable. Prior to the late 19th century religion was far more common and personal belief virtually universal. Given that, we can postulate that people believed in some version of God, and that God was the good guy. Now, throw into the mix an unseen force that kills people. To accept that this is part of God’s plan doesn’t fit. It throws the universe out of balance. However, to accept the possibility that some unseen force whose nature and intent is antithetical to God makes more sense. People understand conflict. So, it becomes easier to believe that a monster of some kind did the dirty deed. The result? Balance is restored and the people move closer to their faith. Many churches in many lands fostered this belief, and it’s likely that many clerics also believed this. After all…in the 10th century, who really understood that improperly buried bodies could spread microscopic things like bacteria? Who understood about viruses?

We delve into a lot of that, but at the same time we respect everyone’s beliefs. After all…we’re theorizing, too. Even writers need to balance their universe.

BASHMAN: It was definitely a lot of fun writing this book; and I learned so much during the process, including the many ways to kill a vampire, how to fight various mythic monsters, and what FBI profilers do in addition to profiling serial killers. What about you?

MABERRY: Hey, I got to interview Stan Lee, so I’m happy as a clam.

Seriously, writing this book—and the others I’ve done in the past—is a rich and wonderful learning experience. Like most writers I’m a knowledge junkie, and having real experts share their insights, insider information, and wisdom is amazing. No matter how much I know about a subject I always learn more.

That’s why I believe that people are really going to dig WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE. No matter how much they know about vampires, ghost hunting, serial killers, werewolves or the other things that hunt us in the dark, there’s always more to know. Some of it’s fun, some of it’s scary as hell, but all of it’s fascinating.


Thank you so much, Jonathan and Janice.  As soon as I get back to the library, I'm ordering Wanted Undead or Alive for the collection.  I think I'll have a number of fans for this book.


Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and a writer for Marvel Comics. He has written a number of award-winning nonfiction books and novels on the paranormal and supernatural, including THE CRYPTOPEDIA, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THEY BITE, ZOMBIE CSU and PATIENT ZERO. Visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/.

Janice Gable Bashman has written for THE BIG THRILL, NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicegablebashman.com/.

8 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This book and its authors sound like a lot of fun! Love the good vs. evil theme and you can't miss with a book that covers vampires, ghosts, heroes, villains, zombies, monsters, werewolves... Great stuff!

Lesa said...

You're right, Elizabeth. I think it's a can't miss topic.

Sheila Beaumont said...

Sounds fascinating! I've put it in my Amazon cart.

Rita said...

How I wish you had a 'share' button on your site. I would like to post this interview many places so folks who aren't on your blog list will know about this fun read.

Lesa said...

It does sound fascinating, doesn't it, Sheila?

Lesa said...

Sorry, Rita. I'll look into that for the future. But, if you'd send the link to a few you know are interested, that would be great.

Janice Gable Bashman said...

Rita-

You can copy the following link when you share and it will take people directly to this page:
http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2010/08/jonathan-maberry-and-janice-bashman.html

Thanks for the support everyone - the book was fun to write and I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it.

Lesa said...

Janice,

Thanks for sharing the link since I didn't have the time on vacation to work on it.

And, thanks for the guest blog!