By Derek Gunn
Zombies eating hamburgers and drinking whiskey! The American dream for the zombie apocalypse? Well not quite. Peter Giglio has presented a unique take on the now all too familiar zombie theme. Rather than becoming a ravenous horde that destroys civilisation, zombies become work drones that appear to be a great untapped resource. Of course the strain on the economy for the living is so bad they may prefer a full blown feeding frenzy rather than the slow death by economic ruin.
This is not a horror or a zombie novel. Well, it is but only in that both themes figure prominently. It is more a social statement that draws on humanity’s strengths and failures. Can a zombie love a living person? Are they self-aware? All these questions are posed in a surprisingly thought-provoking novel.
The publisher is quick to suggest that there are parallels to Philip K Dick and I can see where they are coming from. However, I felt Peter Giglio has managed to lift himself out of the mire of being merely compared to past masters and has created a story that stands on its own without the need for comparison. There really isn’t anything that I have read quite like this. It is disturbing, the longevity of the dead makes more sense in this story than in most and so comes closer to home; and it is worrying, our economy or way of life really could not support itself if we still had to feed the dead (I’m sorry ‘Second Lifer’ is the correct term) as well as the living.
Fifteen years ago Second Lifers began to rise after a young man, more concerned with love than in changing the world, makes a wish. The world changes drastically as the second lifers have to be cared for and fed, there are many parallels to this in our society and this is what makes to novel particularly insightful. No one reading this will be able to ignore the obvious message, but it is not all about the message either. There are moments of genuine humour, surprise, and shock.
I do not want to discuss too much of the plot here as this story needs to unfold without me ruining it for you. Suffice it to say that this novel will serve to clean your palate like a sorbet between courses.
Peter took some time out, and responded in record time, to some questions that may give you an insight into a rising star’s frame of mind.
The ‘Zombie’ Book is a tough market with some very heavy hitters dominating – What do you feel your book brings?
I wanted LESSER CREATURES to be unlike any other zombie novel, and I think I succeeded for the most part. From a young age, I was enthralled with the work of Philip K. Dick, particularly his explorations of the line between life and death. What would a zombie novel from PKD look like? This is my attempt to answer that question. Also, the current zombie obsession (a thing that won’t seem to die) works into my book’s plot.
LESSER CREATURES certainly takes a very different approach to other works. Was this always the plan or did it change during the writing process?
A bit of both. Yes, I planned the novel to be different, but there are some strange touches in this one I didn’t foresee. I’m thrilled with the way it turned out.
Would you consider this a social commentary or a horror novel?
It’s a hard book to define. There are horror elements here, social commentary, a good dose of satire, explorations of romantic love, and science fiction. A lot going on in this book. But, by design, LESSER CREATURES isn’t busy. I like to think it’s layered in a way that sets it apart from other mash-ups. In fact, I had no specific genre in mind. I had a story to tell. I told it.
Can you give us an understanding of how your writing process works?
I outline, and I think the story through for a long time. Once I’ve nailed down the beats, I write 10-14 hours per day. I’m not a particularly fast writer, but I don’t mess around when I’m in the act. Books become obsessions while I’m working on them, and I’ve been known to wake in the middle of the night and rush to the computer to write down new ideas. My process is somewhat different for every book, and I try not to fight my work with rigid routines.
If you were given one paragraph to convince people to buy your novel what would it say?
Rather than toot my own horn: “This is a triumph. This is what the zombie had the promise to be all along. I loved every word of this book. It fed me when I was looking for inspiration.”—Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award®-winning author of THE SAVAGE DEAD and INHERITANCE.
In between work and writing do you have any time to read? Who do you enjoy most?
My favorites are William Goldman, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, Richard Yates, and Ray Bradbury. I go back and read them often. Tom Rob Smith’s CHILD 44 and Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS were, for me, the most entertaining books of the past 15 years. Joe R. Lansdale consistently produces brilliant work—I read and love everything of his. Hard to pick just one.
My coming-of-age novella, WHEN WE FALL, will be released by DarkFuse in a limited edition hardcover and eBook in April, and I’m working on the third book in my Sunfall series, SUNFALL SECRETS, with my fiancé Shannon. I co-wrote a screen adaption of Joe R. Lansdale’s THE NIGHT THEY MISSED THE HORROR SHOW with Scott Bradley that’s starting to get some attention, but it’s hard to predict the future of film projects.
LESSER CREATURES is released in December from Dark Fuse Publications. If your interest is piqued you can find more information at Peter’s website. Peter is a busy man with five novels, short stories and screenplays to keep him occupied. Having read this one I will have to check out his other works. Let’s be honest, anyone who Joe R. Lansdale trusts to handle one of his screen adaptations has to be taken seriously.