March 7, 2016
We are thrilled to have Jeff Strand on the blog today to celebrate the release of his book
The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is so bad, it could wake the dead…
After producing three horror films that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it's time to make something epic. In fact, they're going to make The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz as the lead.
Hemmed in by a one-month timeline and a cast of uncooperative extras, but aching to fulfill Alicia's dreams, Justin must face the sad, sad truth: he may, in actuality, be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever.
Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!
Happy to be here. I’ll try not to cause irreparable damage to your blog.
Describe your book in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)
THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER is a comedy about three friends who decide to make the ultimate undead epic. Many, many things go wrong.
What was your inspiration for writing this book? Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?
When I was a kid, I wanted to make movies (though because I am an ancient beast, these were Super 8 movies, not digital). My friend Todd and I made a stop-motion movie with our Star Wars action figures, and though the experience was not fraught with disaster like in the book, our expectations were completely unrealistic. We thought this was going to get a theatrical release! So when I was brainstorming ideas for my next novel, I decided that there was a lot of comedy potential in a story about ridiculously ambitious kids making a movie. And, of course, based on the current culture and my own love of the genre, it made sense that they’d be making a zombie flick.
Tell us about the main character(s).
Justin is extremely passionate about filmmaking, and also willfully blind to the realities of his budget, resources, and perhaps even talent. He’s definitely a “big picture” guy. Nothing will stop him from achieving his overall goal…but he’ll change the smaller details of that goal on a moment’s notice. His friend Gabe is much more practical. He’s the one who thinks that if you’re going to write a scene of wide-scale zombie carnage, you should have some sort of plan for how to actually capture it on film. The two friends balance each other out. And Bobby is just a go with the flow kind of person, because when a project is headed toward almost certain disaster, you need somebody who’ll just go with the flow.
Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?
My favorite part involves somebody accidentally dropping a boom mic. You’re probably thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound so great! What a weak answer to this question! Is he even taking this interview seriously?” but I assure you, in context, the boom mic drop is a delightful moment.
Was there a specific part in the book that you had an especially difficult time writing? If so, why?
Moviemaking is changing at a crazy pace. There’s a film production aspect to my novel GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY) that is laughably outdated now. So while I wasn’t going for a timeless quality with THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER, I did need to be conscious of not writing something that would feel dated for the kids reading it five years from now. For example, I’d originally planned to have a Kickstarter campaign play a big role in the story…but how will the process of crowdfunding change as we rocket toward 2020? I didn’t want to write something with the equivalent of kids checking their MySpace page.
What sort of projects do you have going on right now. Any new books coming out?
This summer I have a horror novel (or you could call it a macabre love story!) coming out called BLISTER. Meanwhile, the deadline for my next young adult novel for Sourcebooks is rapidly approaching. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s a comedy about a teenaged magician–the Penn & Teller kind, not Harry Potter. My novella COLD DEAD HANDS will be out…..actually, I’m not sure. I’m not really supposed to be talking about it. Forget I said anything. And I have a completed comedic fantasy novel, THE ODYSSEY OF HARRIETT, that’s currently with my agent.
It was great having you on the blog today! We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success!!
Thank you! Sorry I spilled Mountain Dew on the chair.
“I don’t want to make terrible movies anymore. I want them to be big. I want them to be important. I want them to be longer than ten minutes.”
“All right,” said Gabe.
“We should change our filmmaking process. We should write a script first.”
“I thought you always said that following a script would restrict your creativity on the set, and that the best ideas are those that filmmakers generate on the spot.”
“I’ve said a lot of things over the years,” said Justin. “This time we need a script. We don’t have to stick to it word for word, but we should have one.”
“Is there a blister on my tongue?” asked Bobby, sticking out his tongue. “I can’t tell if it’s a blister or just a piece of fry.” Justin and Gabe couldn’t understand what he was saying, since his tongue was sticking out, but they’d known him long enough to get the general idea.
“It’s a piece of fry,” said Justin.
“It won’t come off. Why won’t it come off?”
“Okay, fine,” said Gabe. “We’ll have a script.”
“And a budget.”
“You can’t make the greatest movie ever without a budget,” Justin told him.
“Now we’re making the greatest movie ever? I thought we were just making one that didn’t suck.”
“Do you know how old George Romero was when he made Night of the Living Dead?”
“Right. So we’ve got a while to catch up. That example didn’t really make the point I was trying to make. What I’m saying is that we should be ahead of the curve. We should be making movies that people can’t believe were made by fifteen-year-olds. I want people to be stunned at what we’re making. I want people to accuse us of being genetically enhanced.”
“I’m all in favor of that,” said Gabe. “I just feel like we should set our sights a little lower. We keep saying we want to make a zombie movie. Maybe instead of the greatest movie ever, we make the greatest zombie movie ever.”
“The greatest zombie movie ever would, by definition, also be the greatest movie ever.”
“Zombie movie. Good choice, Gabe. And we’re going to commit ourselves to this project. No safety net. No excuses not to finish. Nobody is going to say this isn’t a real movie.”
“I really can’t get this fry off my tongue,” said Bobby. “The cheese is like superglue.”
Gabe ignored Bobby and shrugged at Justin. “Okay. So if we’re doing a real movie, how do you propose we raise the money?”
Justin stared into Gabe’s eyes with a steel gaze, and then after a dramatic pause said, “Any…way…we…can.”
“I don’t know. Crowdfunding. A bake sale. Insurance fraud. We’ll worry about that later.”
“I think we should worry about it a little bit now.”
“I’m in an ambitious mood. Don’t bother me with reality right now.” Justin picked up a fry and dipped it into the runniest patch of chili. “We can do this. We can make a three-hour epic that will revolutionize the film industry.”
“How about we make half an epic and go for ninety minutes?”
“Actually, we should let the story decide for itself how long it needs to be.” Justin ate the fry. “Are you in?”
“I don’t like that you’re giving the story a consciousness of its own.”
“Are you in?”
“I’m in,” said Bobby.
“I’m going to Indiana for the summer, remember? The day after school gets out.”
“Okay, so that gives us a month. We can do it. Are you in?”
“Are you in?”
“You’re also deranged.”
“Are you in?”
“You’re insane, deranged, and scary.”
“Are you in?”
As he had many times during their ten years of friendship, Gabe looked resigned to his fate. “Yeah, I’m in.”
Bobby seemed to notice something behind Justin. He smiled. It was a wicked smile, the kind of smile a person gets when the thoughts currently floating in their brain are nothing but the purest evil.
“What?” Justin asked, the evil aura making him suddenly uncomfortable.
“I know who we should cast in the lead.”
Bobby pointed to a booth at the other end of the restaurant. “Alicia Howtz.”
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!