SciFiChick.com was recently able to interview author Rob DeBorde to talk about his latest release PORTLANDTOWN and, of course, zombies!
Can you tell us a bit about PORTLANDTOWN in your own words?
Portlandtown is the story of the Wyldes, a uniquely talented family living in Portland, Oregon in 1887 who face off against an undead outlaw and his horde of living-challenged brethren. Okay, that’s the studio pitch. For the reader I’d add this: it’s not just about zombies. Yes, more than a few slack-jaws stumble their way through the pages of Portlandtown, but it’s much more of an adventure than the zombie apocalypse. Plus there are voodoo cowboys, steam-driven totem poles, and a tent-full of old-timey circus freaks. Zombies versus Old West oddities? Yup.
Who is Joseph Wylde?
Joseph is a husband, father, and owner of Wylde’s Booksellers & Navigation. The fact that he’s also blind has not hindered him in the slightest. In fact, he sees the world better than most, which makes him quite good at his side job helping to investigate and resolve delicate situations—the kind his clients would rather not talk about. He’s also a reformed criminal who once rode with a very, very bad dude known as the Hanged Man. Joseph would rather not talk about that.
Why do zombies and westerns seem to mesh so well together?
It’s the hat. Zombies look great in ten-gallon hats. Plus it’s a bit more of a challenge to take on the undead with only a six-shooter, a shovel, and not much else. And, of course, westerns are cool. Imagine the Man with No Name hunting zombies. That’s cool. Now imagine if the Man with No Name was a zombie. You see where this is going, right? Cool.
Zombies have become extremely popular lately. What makes PORTLANDTOWN stand out?
Besides that whole “Zombie with No Name” thing from my last answer? Well, this isn’t your typical end of the world scenario. Portlandtown is a supernatural adventure about heroes and villains and zombies—in that order. Don’t get me wrong—I love the undead—but I’d rather write a story that has more to it than just brain-munching. Plus there’s something else going on here, something I don’t want to give away, but it’s bigger than just battling zombies. Remember when I said the Wyldes were a “uniquely talented” family? There’s your clue.
Will this be a continuing series?
Yup. Portlandtown is the first “Tale of the Oregon Wyldes.” There’ll be more. The current cast will dominate for a while and then I plan to change things up, jump around in time a bit within the Wylde clan. Should be fun.
What’s next for you, after the PORTLANDTOWN release? What other stories are on the horizon?
I’ve got another novel brewing called Pumpkin Eater, about ghosts, skeletons, and Halloween. Yeah, more dead things. I did make sure to set it in modern times so I don’t have to do so much research. Writers are lazy.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.
I’ve been a freelance artist/graphic designer for about 15 years, during which time I’ve worked on professional sports logos, animated cooking shows, videogames, and more than a few book designs. The writing started with spec scripts and the odd Star Trek pitch before I stumbled into the food business. I wrote 55 episode of the Food Network series Good Eats, contributed to a few foodie magazines, and even wrote a cookbook about fish (FISH ON A FIRST-NAME BASIS). A few years back, I got tired of dishing about food and turned my attention to 19th century booksellers and the zombies who want to eat them. And here we are.
I read that your background is in art. Do you find yourself now preferring one over the other (drawing or writing) as an outlet?
Drawing is easy and writing is hard, but if I could only do one I’d be a writer. That said, drawing (designing, really—logos and such), does offer a break when I need it. And it pays better (for now).
Is a graphic novel a possibility?
Absolutely. I’ve been trying to get various comics off the ground for years, but the art has always been a sticking point. (I can draw, but I don’t have the patience for panel work. Again, lazy.) I’d love to tell Joseph and the Hanged Man’s back story in a graphic novel. I have a couple dozen other stories waiting to be told, as well. Know any artists?
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
Let’s see…Stephen King, Warren Ellis, Jim Butcher, Sarah Vowell, and Garth Ennis come to mind. I have a lot of favorite books (and graphic novels), too many to list so I’ll mention just a few: King’s It, 11/22/63, and the Dark Tower series (duh), J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Christopher Moore’s Lamb, Charlie Huston’s The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, Ellis’s Transmetropolitan, and Ennis’s Preacher. My newest favorite is Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It’s a blast (whether you grew up in the 1980s or not).
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you happen to be in Portland and find yourself at one of the (many) brewpubs, I’ll be the guy in the “Portland Zombies” hat. Let me know what you thought of the book and I’ll buy you a pint.