SciFiChick.com recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Dempsey, author of debut novel Necropolis, from Night Shade Books.
Can you tell us a bit about Necropolis in your own words?
NECROPOLIS is a sci fi noir crime novel set in a dystopian future. The protagonist, Paul Donner, is a Brooklyn police detective. In the opening pages of the novel, Donner and his wife are shot to death in a bodega, apparently as they stumble upon a robbery in progress. But Donner’s death is only the beginning of the story. Fifty later, Donner is brought back to life by an event called the Shift—a process that reanimates dead DNA. The process is believed to be caused by a retrovirus. The world has managed to contain the infectious “reborns”—and also the normal people who may be carriers—to the plague’s ground zero in New York City, and is in the final stages of completing the quarantine by way of a series of magnetic geodesic domes called the Blister.
This new “reborn” underclass is not only alive again, they’re growing younger. Society has partially coped with this psychologically devastating event by retreating into a cultural fad of nostalgia. So in Necropolis, clocks run backwards, technology is hidden behind a noir facade, and you can see Elvis every night at Radio City Music Hall. Donner is not at all sure that he want to remain adrift and alone in this bizarre retro-futurist world of maglev Studebakers and plasma tommy guns. But consumed by guilt and rage, he begins a search for those responsible for the destruction of his life—his only goal to solve the mystery of his own murder. As he pursues this quest for retribution, it becomes apparent that the events of his own murder are intimately connected to the origins of the Shift, and ultimately they will bring him up against those who would use it to control a terrified nation.
Your reanimated characters are not really zombie-like, since they seem to keep their personalities and don’t crave brains. What was your thought process behind these characters and the science behind it?
I really never thought of reborns as zombies. Of course, as I was writing the book, zombies hadn’t become popular again (nor had the whole urban fantasy trend really taken off yet). It wasn’t until I sold the book that the comparison started to be made. I love zombies and other creatures of the night, but (don’t kill me) I was never much of zombie fan.