Greg – Why did you decide to get involved with The Year of the Zombie?
Rich - I was invited by David Moody, the boss of Infected books, one of my favourite writers and a master of apocalyptic horror – how could I say no? Plus it’s a great line up of writers, a cool project, and I got to write about infected abominations, so I would have been a fool not to take part!
Greg - Tell me a little bit about your protagonist from The Plague Winter. Is it a James Bond type, never in any real danger – always able to get out of trouble and into the leading ladies’ pants? Or more of the John Rambo type – skilled and deadly but with a heavy cross to bear? Or perhaps Ripley (Alien) – a strong female who can take charge and kick butt when she needs to?
Rich - The main character in The Plague Winter is an old man called Eddie, who is struggling to protect his grandson in the aftermath of the Plague’s outbreak. He’s a complicated man battling the demons of alcoholism whilst trying to keep himself and his grandson alive. He has no special skills or super powers, just the desire to survive; but the burden of his addiction and the heavy weight of his conscience both attempt to bring him down. He’s damaged and traumatised, and slowly losing what little hope is left. But he loves his grandson and would give his life to protect him. I like to write about normal people in horribly extraordinary circumstances.
Greg - You are transported into the location of the last book that you read (not your own book). Where are you?
Rich - I’ve just finished re-reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. That means I’m pretty screwed…
Greg - I am a huge fan of English history. I also know that I rarely visit the great landmarks in my own backyard. What is the most significant landmark in your “backyard” that you take for granted?
Rich - We’ve got Ham Hill Country Park about twelve miles away from us. The Hill itself once supported an Iron Age fort, which was captured by the Romans. It’s quite a cool place. There’s a pub there, too, which helps…
Greg - The zombie apocalypse is upon us. Who is your fictional zombie-killing partner of choice (from television or the movies)?
Rich - Shaun of the Dead’s best mate, Ed – we’d have such a laugh.
Greg - What is your earliest memory of being truly terrified?
Rich - When I was about four or five, I think – my family had this horrid puppet/doll thing which looked like a little boy and was about half the size of a real one. It had blonde hair like I did back then. And a snappy mouth and stubby fingers. I’ll never forget its glassy, staring eyes.
Greg - What is your all-time favourite horror book or movie, you know the one that always makes you jump 5 feet in the air or fill your pants?
Rich - My favourite horror movie is John Carpenter’s The Thing – it’s a masterpiece and still as unnerving as it was when I first watched it on VHS. The ‘resuscitation’ scene still gets me…
Greg - Where did you get the idea for The Plague Winter?
Rich - It just popped up in my head, one day, and it wouldn’t go away. One of those ideas that demands to be written.
Greg - Who is your favorite Scooby Doo monster?
Rich - The Mummy of Anka. Scary. But I was always disappointed that the monsters always ended up as some dude in a costume. They could have had a ‘real’ monster just once, right?
Greg - Do you have a plan for the apocalypse, or will you just wing it?
Rich - I plan to just wing it. The chances are I would die pretty soon anyway, so I may as well have fun while the world burns. I’d grab a cricket bat and a few blocks of cheese then go out into the wastelands to meet my doom.
The Plague Winter
Following the devastating outbreak of an alien virus, Eddie and his young grandson struggle to survive within the wasteland of Great Britain. They live day-to-day, scavenging among the ruins, trying to avoid the deadly infected that now roam the land. But Eddie has other demons to conquer: a longstanding drink problem that needs to be kept in check if he wants to keep both himself and his young charge alive.
When a stranger enters their lives, seeking help, Eddie is forced to make a choice that could alter their lives forever.
Rich Hawkins hails from deep in the West Country, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories. He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter's THE THING. His debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel in 2015. The sequel, THE LAST OUTPOST, was released in the autumn of 2015. The final novel in the trilogy, THE LAST SOLDIER, was released in March 2016.
2 Book Lovers Reviews
This week's guest is Rich Hawkins