Welcome Scott M. Baker! Today is release day for his book, Rotter Apocalypse!
The zombie apocalypse is about to reach its inevitable conclusion, but not before it unleashes a few more nightmares on Natalie Barzagan, Mike Robson, and Windows.
After breaking away from the rest of the group, Natalie and her Angels succeeded in getting the vaccine to the government-in-exile in San Francisco where Natalie joins the military effort to clear the West Coast of the living dead.
Robson destroyed the rape camp that had kidnapped Windows, but not until after she had escaped. Along with the remaining vampires and a band of camp stragglers, he sets off to build a new compound.
Windows and the ten-year-old girl she rescued from the camp are taken in by a kindly widower who gives them the opportunity to start over and heal their wounds, emotional and physical.
Just as Natalie, Robson, and Windows are settling into their new lives, each will be confronted with a final life or death decision that will decide their fates.
How long have you been writing horror/thrillers and what drew you to the genre?
I’ve been writing horror since 2003 when I began The Vampire Hunters trilogy and published my first zombie-related short stories—“Rednecks Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” and “Cruise of the Living Dead.” I’ve been working on the Rotter World trilogy, which concludes with Rotter Apocalypse coming out on 30 October, since 2010.
This is not the first genre I’ve written in. I worked for the CIA for twenty-three years so, when I first started back in the 1990s, my first books were about espionage. The first two manuscripts were amateurish and mediocre, and I never got them published, although I did hone my craft while working on them. The third book was a techno-thriller about North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons and blackmailing the United States. I had an agent and several New York publishers interested in purchasing the book; however, after the terrorist attack on 11 September, the market for that genre dried up overnight.
Switching genres was easy for me. I’m a Monster Kid from the 1960s/1970s. You know the geeky type. I had a stack of Famous Monsters of Filmland in my desk drawer, all the Aurora monster models on display, and a poster of Godzilla on the wall right beside Farrah Fawcett in a bathing suit. Making the transition into horror also gave me more freedom. When writing espionage and techno-thrillers, I had to follow certain guidelines and keep the plots feasible. I don’t have to worry about those same restrictions with horror, and I’ve had fun with it. Over the years, I’ve launched a vampire apocalypse in Washington D.C., had an alcoholic mall Santa battle zombie reindeer, and terrorized New Mexico and Florida with giant insects. I’m not even close to being finished yet.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Coming up with the concept for the first book in the trilogy, Rotter World, was difficult because I wanted to provide an aspect on the story not found in every other zombie novel. I eventually settled on a plot involving vampires releasing a government-created Zombie Virus on mankind, only to have the living dead eat their way through both human and vampire species. A small group of humans and vampires who made it through the outbreak have put aside their differences and joined together in order to ride out the apocalypse. The détente lasts for several months until the doctor who created the Zombie Virus shows up at their camp and claims he has a vaccine that will nullify the outbreak, but it’s located in an underground military facility half way down the East coast. This small band that barely trusts each other now embarks on a road trip from Hell.
[SPOILER ALERT] In the sequel, Rotter Nation, the group returns to their base camp with the vaccine, only to find that the camp has been destroyed by a rape gang and everyone (except for one woman taken hostage) has been murdered. They split into two: one group travels west across a zombie-devastated country to bring the vaccine to the government-in-exile in Omaha, and the second attempts to rescue their friend from the rape gang. [END SPOILER ALERT]
For Rotter Apocalypse, I wanted to do something that is not frequently done in the genre, which is to show the final battles between humans and zombies. This is my favorite book in the series, and not because I cranked up the body count and gore to an all-time high. In a lot of the novels and films in this genre, the main characters fight until they’re eventually over run by the living dead. In Rotter Apocalypse, I explore how the survivors would reorganize and take the war to the living dead. The novel is violent, graphic, and depressing—which is exactly the feel I was going for.
If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?
There’s once cliché in horror that I’ve always hated (although it’s mostly confined to film), and that is the female character being a helpless, screaming victim. Thankfully, it’s a cliché that has been correcting itself over the past fifteen years. It’s the main reason I find it hard to enjoy slasher movies. Yes, there will be women (and men) who will fold under pressure in a horror situation, but they’re the exception, not the norm. In my vampire and zombie trilogy I have several characters that are weak, cowardly, and easily manipulated; it wouldn’t be realistic without them. However, I include strong female protagonists in every one of my books. If I have to battle aliens or the living dead, I want Ripley and Alice by my side.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on two projects that I’m very excited about. The first is a series of young adult novels set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a failed anti-matter experiment renders the world’s electronic devices useless and opens several portals between Hell and Earth, allowing hordes of demons to pass through into our realm. The story focuses on a small group of survivors who have figured out a way to reverse the process and travel around the world to close the portals. The second is an adult-oriented series that takes place during World War II and pits Allied intelligence officers against Nazi Germany, which is waging a secret occult war against the West. I received my Master’s Degree in modern German and Soviet Studies, and am a huge history aficionado, so this is a project I’ve been planning for years.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m done with zombies. I’m working with a close friend to flesh out (pun intended) a concept about a U.S. covert operation that uses programmed zombies as weapons, a project which of course goes FUBAR and leads to the inevitable apocalyptic consequences. Think of it as a cross between Night of the Living Dead and Zero Dark Thirty.
Favorite horror movie and book?
Only one? That’s like asking me to choose who is my favorite child.
Favorite zombie book: World War Z by Max Brooks. I loved the way that he breathed new life into the genre (again, pun intended) by covering the zombie apocalypse from the initial outbreak to the end of the war, and doing it an oral history format.
Favorite zombie movie: Resident Evil. It’s the combination of setting, building tension, and kick-ass action that makes this my favorite zombie movie. If I stumble across this movie while flipping through the TV channels before going to bed, I’m watching it no matter how late it is.
Scott M. Baker was born and raised in Everett, Massachusetts and spent twenty-three years in northern Virginia working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Scott is now retired and lives in Gainesville, Florida as a full-time writer along with his wife and fellow author Alison Beightol and his stepdaughter. He has written Rotter World, Rotter Nation, and Rotter Apocalypse, his post-apocalyptic zombie trilogy; Yeitso, his homage to the giant monster movies of the 1950s that he loved watching as a kid; The Vampire Hunters trilogy, about humans fighting the undead in Washington D.C.; as well as the novella Nazi Ghouls from Space (the title says it all). He is currently working on a series of young adult post-apocalyptic novels and a second series about Allied intelligence officers fighting Nazi occultism in World War II.
Scott has also authored several short stories, including “Cruise of the Living Dead” (a zombie outbreak aboard a cruise ship), “Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly” (an alcoholic mall Santa battles zombie reindeer), “Last Flight of the Bismarck” (steampunk zombies), “The Hunger” (cannibalism during a zombie apocalypse), “Lebenden Toten at the Gate” (Nazis versus zombies at Stalingrad), “From Space It Came” (a giant spider from space), and the novella Dead Water.
When not writing, Scott can usually be found doting on the two boxers and two cats that kindly allow him to live with them.