Originally Posted by Dark Mark
Spoilers here but this is a Q & A now folks...
What led you to pick the places that Boon and Walker visit on their ride and were there any that got dropped from the novel?
I'm aware of the Alamo and what happened their but as I'm not an American I probably don't fully understand its cultural significance. Did you have any alternative endings for the story or was it always this one?
Given the ambiguous ending would you ever consider revisiting these characters or is that it? Having warmed to them during the course of the novella I was left wanting more.
Mark, when I started the story I knew that it would end in Texas, at the Alamo. Once I decided to start in Buffalo, rather than Pittsburgh as I originally thought, it made sense that the characters would want to go someplace warm, and to people who have never been there, LA seems more glamorous than Florida (trust me, it isn't). From there is was just a matter of looking at a map and choosing stops between the East coast and the West coast.
The Alamo has always had a special place in my heart, as has the Custer's Battle of the Little Big Horn. I grew up with Disney's Davy Crockett mini-series. Their original trilogy of one hour episodes ended with Davy at the Alamo, swinging his broken rifle at Mexican soldiers - it would have been too upsetting for children to see their hero killed after growing to like him so much, and this ending captured the spirit of what the Alamo represents to many Americans (The more recent version of THE ALAMO a few years ago also ended with Crockett and a few survivors facing insurmountable odds, and the series finale of ANGEL did something similar). Since my story is about America, and has a bleak ending, it made sense to end there.
But there is another aspect to the Alamo, one which many of my friends in Texas choose to ignore: America fucking stole Texas from Mexico - we were the bad guys! One theme expressed in this book - by the friendly preacher (who is actually based on George Romero!), and by the Indians on the reservation, is that America is a stoeln nation, built on blood, and payback is a bitch. I don't know if Canada has any rosier of a history, but in the minds of Boone and Walker, it's sort of an idealized escape (like Sanctuary in the movie version of LOGAN'S RUN). And this is one reason why it was important to me to feature the right wing extremists in the middle of the book: it wasn't arbitrary political posturing, those people are perpetuating this sort of blood history (and before any people on the right who haven't read the book give me "what for," I stab the left as well).
It's been interesting for me to read reactions to the ending, because I don't find it ambiguous at all. I set out to do something with this book that most zombie novels haven't done, which was to go straight to the source: the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. George Romero and John Russo kicked us in the face with that one - they killed the hero! - and they had a lot of political subtext, a genuine point of view. Boone and Walker end up at the Alamo, where all of the American "freedom fighters" were killed by their enemies. Texans are holed up there, with no ammunition and no food, and their surrounded by thousands of zombies, just like the Texans were surounded by thousands of Mexicans. And Boone has been bitten, and he's laid out like and soon to turn. Walker sits in his friend's room, with that little girl on his lap, and a single bullet in his gone, holding his best friend's hand. And the chapter numbers, which have counted down from 10, reach 0, and there's a blank page. Those folks are dead meat, no two ways about it, and Walker stops writing. No rescue helicopter shows up. The End.
So there will be no sequel and no prequel. BUT - when I pitched the idea as a full novel, I did have another episode early on which I never wrote, which involved Boone and Walker stopping at a prison to spring Walker's brother who's been doing time. I won't tell you what happens, but I came up with an explanation for "fast moving zombies." I may write it as a short story some day. This also sorts of fits in with the whole Alamo motif: after DIsney aired the third episode of their Davy Crockett trilogy, they realized they had created a cultural phenomenon, so they filmed two more episodes which took place before Crockett's death.
Meli: I know you've been on vacation!