Joshua Cook has been plucked from Wisconsin and has landed in the Pacific Northwest. After attempting his hand at numerous career choices, the call of becoming a writer was so loud that he could not silence them anymore. Josh is now a Writer-For-Hire, producing content for websites like Yahoo, Google, BuzzDock, and personal clients.
But I'm more interested in what's he's just published. It's an anthology of short stories called "Alice in Zombieland". It chronicles a world not dissimilar to our own. Except, you know there's zombies everywhere. He was gracious enough to provide us with an excerpt from his new book with which to whet our appetites. If you'll pardon the expression.
“Alice, what are you doing?!” The night air was calm, with a slight chill to it. As Gee screamed for her life, mist could be seen forming on every word. “Why are you doing this? It’s me, your sister.”Mist was also emanating coming from her little sister’s mouth. This was not from her breath, as she was not breathing, but from the fresh meat within her mouth. Sixteen year old Alice has just recently taken to gnawing on her older sister’s arm.Gee pulled her left arm back and swung as hard as she could, landing a punch squarely on Alice’s nose. The sound of crushing bone was heard as the force of Gee’s hit shattered her little sister’s nose.“I am just so hungry, Gee. I…must…feed.” Alice, looking pale and sickly, clumsily advanced on Gee. While blood was beginning to leak from her nose, Alice never faltered in her advance.“But why me?! You know better.” Gee ran as fast as she could through the thick Washington forest, hoping to find any place to hide. Quick glances backwards showed her the dark lines of necrosis had advanced even further along Alice’s arms. Soon the black death would be making its way to her neck, and then her brain.With confusion and panic setting in deeper, Gee felt the ground suddenly slip away from her as she toppled into the darkness. The slippery mud had caused her to lose footing and slip into a deep ditch. As soon as she regained her footing, she realized instantly that both of her legs were broken. With step after excruciatingly painful step, Gee continued her escape attempt with Alice quickly closing in.“I’m sorry, Gee.” Alice grabbed at her sister with a grey and blackened hand. Her hands are unable to get a hold, but sharp nails manage to tear at Gee’s jugular. Instead of screams, blood was now escaping through her open mouth.Alice continued her attack, unfazed by the shower of blood. She dropped to her knees, leaning over her tortured victim. As Alice tore a thick chunk of Gee’s neck out, she is riddled with emotions. The hunger was growing ever stronger. Alice could feel it taking over her young and wispy body, but somewhere inside her was also a sense of sadness. She knew what she was doing was wrong, yet somehow it felt like it is the way things were meant to be now.“NOOOO!!”
(Used with permission)
So Joshua, we know a little bit about you already, but why don't you give us something about you that isn't in your bio.
I'm a pop culture fanatic. Well, I guess I should say I used to be a pop culture fanatic. With everything that has gone on in my life in the past year, I have been yanked from my pop culture roots; though my professional goal is to make enough money to be able to enjoy my pop culture once again. Yay!What is one thing that might surprise people who know you.
The highlight of my pop culture career was back in 2007. I was living in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at the time which is right on the border of Illinois. Tryouts for the second season of VH1's World Series of Pop Culture had a stop in Chicago, so a couple friends and I formed a team - Slow Children at Play.
There were about thirty teams trying out. Step one was a timed written test. I felt like I was in school, which is actually right in my wheelhouse. I've always been a nerd. Every team member had to get a passing score for the team to move on. Only three teams made it through, and Slow Children at Play was one of them. Next stop, meet with the producers and production team on camera. Woo-hoo, right? Not exactly.
If anybody has seen the World Series of Pop Culture, they know that having some sort of uniform was pretty standard. Ours weren't ready. Strike one.
Team names came from the realm of pop culture. Ours did not. Strike two.
I am extremely shy. Putting me in front of cameras just freezes me up. I answered questions, but was not outgoing enough really. I had hoped that the energy of my teammates would pull us through. I was wrong.
That is the closest I ever came to being on TV, well minus that one time I went to see the Jenny Jones Show (true story).
I'm shy. My girlfriend pointed out that online I'm a social butterfly, but in person that is not the case. I don't make it a secret that I am extremely shy, but the extent of that shyness is surprising. I get terribly anxious and nervous when I meet anybody or do anything.And people's choice in genre intrigues me. So, why zombies?
As far as zombie writing, it just kind of happened. When I decided to start this journey, my life was pretty dark, so what better stories to tell than ones about death and danger? I've always loved zombies and the idea for Zombie A.C.R.E.S. stemmed from jokes at a job I had last year.
Early on in your book, you pulled George Romero into the mix. Anyone who knows anything about the whole zombie genre knows that he is the godfather of the undead. He is to zombies what Bram Stoker is to vampires. And you just dragged him into the fray with great effect. Is he your biggest influence?
I've always loved horror. When I was younger, my mom told me about Night of the Living Dead. That was the movie that sold me on zombies, like many zombie fans. At the time, it was the sheer creepiness of that film that hooked me. The actual film reels of NOTLD were not preserved in pristine condition, so unless you watch a remastered edition, you will still a grainy and somewhat jumpy film. The sound was cheap to begin with, so now it sounds sickly and atmospheric.
I watched NOTLD alone and in the dark that first time. The lights were back on less than half way through the movie. To this day, I still get chills whenever I watch George Romero's classic in the dark. So I guess the answer is yes, Romero is one of my biggest influences.
And finally, what is one piece of advice that you would give new writers starting out? I mean, it's a scary business out there and it can be daunting, what's one thing that helped you get to where you are right now?
Never give up. Chasing your dream is never going to be easy. I was told awhile ago by Lewis Cougill (GenXnerd.com) - If it was easy, everyone would do it. That is so true. The past year of my life has been some of the best and worst times of my life, but to be here and be able to say I created this is one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt. I highly recommend this to anyone who is even thinking about trying it out, just know that it is going to be a long hard road with a great reward at the end - creation.