As a kick-off to our official monthly book club, we’re putting up discussion posts for our two in-person Dragon*Con book clubs. Up first, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry! We were fortunate enough to have Jonathan join us at con for a round table question-and-answer session on Saturday morning.
One common thread among questions led to a general discussion of: Where did the ideas and elements for this world come from? We already knew this about Jonathan, but he’s definitely big on research! While researching and writing the non-fiction Zombie CSU, he learned a whole lot about this subject matter. For example, did you know that Homeland Security has protocols in place for both fast and slow zombies? And even though in Rot & Ruin the origin of the zombies is unclear, don’t worry – it’s definitely there (and probably scientifically meticulous). We just don’t find out until later books.
He pulls a lot from his own experience as well. Like us, did you find the behavior of the adults who have been through the horrible ordeal of an apocalypse to be very real? Perhaps because Jonathan drew from his personal experiences with those living with post-military PTSD. And if some of the side characters seem to be fully realized… well, they’re probably based on real people. As Jonathan told us, “I figure some of my friends will survive the apocalypse.” So there they are! Like a certain theater teacher who heroically leads students out among the zombies…
Something else that our book club participants found interesting was the writing itself, including genre. Someone noted the short chapters without much transitional material, and Jonathan confirmed that this was a conscious choice. He likes to write scenes in books like in movies, where you don’t need to see every moment of how you get from Point A to Point B. “I like my stories to move!” he said. And when asked how he’d felt about writing YA, he said he appreciates that there was no need for precise genre lines. After all, he wrote Rot & Ruin as a western! But it’s also scifi, post-apocalyptic, dystopia… why choose just one? And despite writing YA for the first time, he didn’t edit himself, and felt free to do whatever he wanted.
The consensus among our book club participants was: We loved it! More, please! And of course we know that Rot & Ruin is a series, with the third book Flesh & Bone newly in bookstores now, but other than that, what’s next? Well, videogame fans might be interested to know that Jonathan still has a dream of working on a videogame that inspired part of Rot & Ruin… Gameland, but with a lighter twist. Think Tony Hawk + zombies – extreme sports kids competing to tag the undead. And if you’re loving Jonathan’s first foray into YA, there’s more coming there as well. Next up? A book about a teenage bodyguard.
Have any thoughts or questions about Rot & Ruin that you’d like to share? Comment here; start a discussion! And don’t forget to keep an eye here on the blog or join our book club Goodreads group to participate in future book clubs. (Our October book is The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver.) Though we won’t always be so lucky as to have the authors join us, we’re going to be sharing our own thoughts about each of our monthly books here. Happy reading!