Bowie V. Ibarra is the author of zombie books, thrillers and extreme sports novels. His first zombie novel, DOWN THE ROAD: A ZOMBIE HORROR STORY, was initially self-published, but subsequently picked up by Permuted Press. The story has made moved to a joint venture with Permuted and Pocket Books and was subsequently re-released. Since then DOWN THE ROAD: ON THE LAST DAY, and then the third installment, DOWN THE ROAD: THE FALL OF AUSTIN, were published. I had the pleasure of reviewing THE FALL OF AUSTIN and provide a cover blurb, calling this novel “zombie apocalypse delivered like a punch.”
Here’s the description: “When the dead rise, the living must unite. Officer Mike Runyard of the Austin Police Department and his partner, Derek Tucker, are stuck in the middle of a city overrun with the living dead. With resources and luck running out, Runyard is flung into a fight for survival among the living, the dead, and a wave of criminals released from jail into the streets of central and south Austin. Meanwhile, the U.S. military fights to reclaim Texas, with failure meaning the complete loss of the capital, Austin. A military Humvee traveling down IH-35, headed into the zombie-ridden city, holds the key to a plan meant to turn the tide in the fight. It’s a simple plan, but it’s a plan that’s about to fail with devastating consequences…”
I had the pleasure of meeting Bowie for the first time at the recent zomBcon in Seattle, and later interviewed him to provide insight into what makes this zombie author tick.
Craig: What have you contributed to the genre?
Bowie: I like to think “Down the Road” was part of the first wave of the Zombie Horror renaissance. So, perhaps, my book was a small cog in the machine that zombie horror has become.
Craig: What’s your best known work?
Bowie: Definitely the DOWN THE ROAD series from Permuted Press.
Craig: Tell us about it!
Bowie: It follows the journey of a regular guy down IH-35 south from Austin, TX to San Antonio as he tries to get home to San Uvalde. Along the way, he meets zombies, FEMA camps (before FEMA camps were cool), thugs, and finds an unlikely vengeance for a mystery from his past. The book is followed by two others, DOWN THE ROAD: ON THE LAST DAY, and DOWN THE ROAD: THE FALL OF AUSTIN. All the books can stand alone and are available from ZombieBloodFights.com.
Craig: What type of storytelling in the genre do you consider your niche?
Bowie: I would say very traditional. Dramatic structure. I don’t try to do anything revolutionary or outside the box. My foundation for my writing is the mantra, “Just tell a good story.”
Craig: What makes zombies so interesting to write about?
Bowie: I really think is the primitive desire to crush other human beings. As zombies, we could do just that without remorse or penalty.
Craig: As writer, do you prefer fast or slow zombies, and living or undead?
Bowie: Romero shamblers all the way. To be honest, I prefer the undead, as I know what they want and can deal with them. Other humans? Who knows what they’re after?
Craig: Building on these basic themes, what do you consider to be your own trademark or unique innovation as an author?
Bowie: I don’t think I do anything too innovative. However, you will always find a “conspiracy” angle to my works. One particular Amazon.com review called my work a “right wing tea party” zombie story. Now that’s hilarious!
Craig: Which writers do you particularly admire, and what did each teach you about the craft or profession of writing?
Bowie: It’s cheesy, but the classics, especially playwrights. Shakespeare, Moliere, Ionesco. Contemporary playwrights like Romulus Linney. For writers, Alexander Dumas could tell a story, brother. And in the modern era, King.
Craig: What is your favorite zombie metaphor in fiction or film?
Bowie: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD’s metaphor of the living dead as dying American culture exterminating the traditional family, U.S. unity, and eating both to nourish its rotting, sloth-like, mindless body, which could be killed quickly, leaving nothing but the remains of the past. Sad, but almost prophetic, huh?
Craig: In THE FALL OF AUSTIN, the third book in your DOWN THE ROAD series, every page is driven by intense conflict. Do you believe during the zombie apocalypse that people will primarily compete or cooperate to survive?
Bowie: Hell no. It will be every man for himself. Humans scare me more than zombies!
Craig: What is your approach to writing?
Bowie: Very traditional. I have to find a spark, though, see an ending that just blows me away. From there, the story forms, and I begin an outline that propels me to write because I want to get to that awesome ending. Some people complain about the raw, visceral, human nature of my stories. But even the complainers seem to agree that the endings always blow them away.
Craig: How do you complete a novel?
Bowie: Complete an outline, then first draft longhand until completed, second draft transfer to computer, third draft print out of second draft for red pen editing, fourth draft sent to an editor’s red pen to be transferred to the computer, fifth draft read aloud for the rhythm and music of the prose. That draft goes to the publisher for their own draft. And that’s it.
Craig: What is the best review you ever received on Amazon, and why did you like it?
Bowie: Ursula Raphael called the finish of DOWN THE ROAD: ON THE LAST DAY “the best revenge scene since THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.” Can you believe she compared me to Dumas?
Craig: What are you working on?
Bowie: Right now I’m working on a bit of a roller derby memoir of my time as Julio E. Glasses called LOUDMOUTH. It’s quite a painful story, so we’ll see how it goes.
Craig: What can we expect next from you?
Bowie: Get ready for BIG CAT coming soon. Keep an eye out with my social network at ZombieBloodFights.com. There’s a preview chapter you can find on the ZBF blog.
Craig: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing and zombies with us, Bowie!
Bowie: Thanks, Craig!