Slacker is the word most people would use to describe me. It has been many months since I’ve posted on my blog. It’s not that I’m lazy. I have a three-month-old daughter who takes up 99% of my time. I love her with all my heart, but I’ve had little to no time to spend with zombies. Once she’s a little older, I’ll introduce her to zombie culture. But for now, I have to pursue my zombie passion while my baby girl is napping.
Happily, I had time to be interviewed by one of my favorite zombie authors, A.S. Thompson. He’s the accomplished author of The Longest Road zombie trilogy. If you haven’t read The Longest Road or The Change yet, head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of each. The third book in the trilogy will be out very soon. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in the series!!
Without further ado, here is A.S. Thompson’s zombie-centric interview with me.
An Electronic Sit Down with J. Cornell Michel (by A.S. Thompson)
I had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely and talented J. Cornell Michel. A breakout writer, Jillian is the woman behind a string of recently released fiction and science fiction stories- all of which have received fan praise and critic acclaim.
Despite what I have come to know about Jillian, there is still so much to be discovered, so I thought it was time to get together for a little one on one…
ME: Hey Hey Jillian! Thanks for taking the time to chat!
JILLIAN: Hi! It’s a pleasure to do another interview with one of my favorite zombie authors!
ME: Alright so let’s get into it. You and I have personally gotten to know one another over the past couple years. We even had the chance to get together for an awesome Bay area dinner. But for the fans who don’t know the fun-loving writer from the East Coast, tell us a little about you.
JILLIAN: I’m just an average girl with a zombie obsession. My friends might say I’m a zombie addict, but it’s not that serious. I could quit zombies anytime. Anytime. I just don’t want to quit.
ME: (chuckling) Never quit. Not to quote “Tommy Boy,” but why say no, when it feels so good to say yes? And you keep saying yes to zombies- I for one, won’t judge. As a matter of fact, I’ll join ya.
JILLIAN: The more the merrier! Zombie fans are the best (laughs). Let’s see what else…when I’m not reading zombie books or watching zombie movies, I’m writing stories about the undead. My day job is a little less exciting.
ME: Oh ya? What’s that?
JILLIAN: I work in a patent law firm during the day to put food on the table, but my real passion is writing. Unfortunately, I live outside of San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country, so writing doesn’t pay the rent. It is a fun hobby though, and it pays for my coffee (smiling).
ME: And I know how much you like your coffee. You have even had some “Zombie Coffee” once, correct? What was that like?
JILLIAN: Oh, yes, that was one of my favorite spots on the East Coast. I loved wandering around Washington, D.C. on my lunch breaks, and one day I came across a sign that said “Zombie Coffee.” My two favorite things in the world were combined to make a delicious cup of joe! I used to be a Starbucks gal, but once I discovered Zombie Coffee I never looked back.
ME: Speaking of zombies, there is much debate going on when it comes to the genre. Some say it’s the next big thing, others consider it a fad that’s fizzling out with the over-saturation. As a huge zombie fanatic, and avid watcher of “The Walking Dead,” what do you like most about zombies and where do you see the genre going?
JILLIAN: Fad? Fizzle out? How dare you, sir! (playfully heated) Just kidding. I’ve also heard it suggested that the zombie genre will soon become obsolete because it’s so overdone, but I disagree. The zombie genre will be around for a long time because people are fascinated by the apocalypse, and there’s nothing more frightening than your loved ones dying, coming back to life, and then trying to eat your face.
ME: I think I can speak for most when I say, yes, let’s keep our faces on our bodies. What do you like most about a post-apocalyptic world?
JILLIAN: I’ve always been interested in human behavior, and the way people interact when the world is falling apart is fascinating. I’d like to think that we humans will help each other survive once the zombies overrun the planet.
ME: So why are zombies so popular then?
JILLIAN: Well, they aren’t popular because they’re sexy or romantic. People love zombies because they’re so damn scary, and everyone likes to be frightened once in a while. Except my mom. She hates zombies and the horror genre in general. But I forgive her and love her anyway.
ME: I’m sure mom will thank you when you save her from the zombie apocalypse. Alright, let’s switch from the living dead for the moment. What can you tell us about your most recent work?
JILLIAN: My latest book is actually not a zombie book (gasping). I had a baby girl a few months ago and wanted to write a story she could read before her eighteenth birthday. I wrote a young adult novella while I was pregnant called “The Genesis Reversal” by Jillian Cornell. It’s a story about what the world would be like if God had created Eve first and women were the dominant gender. Writing outside the zombie genre was strange; I kept forgetting I didn’t have to kill half my characters.
ME: Like your other stories, it sounds very unique. I can’t wait to read it! Besides “The Genesis Reversal” is there anything else?”
JILLIAN: Yes! Just in time for Christmas, I published a zombie version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but I changed “Night” to “Bite.”
ME: Love the title.
JILLIAN: Thanks! It made me feel like Bill Nighy’s character in Love Actually when he released his single “Christmas is all Around” …except we’ve changed the word “Love” to “Christmas.” ‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas is actually pretty cute. I wrote it with my mother-in-law because she adores the old Christmas poem, and I obviously love zombies, so we combined forces and came up with our own version of the classic holiday tale.
ME: I just read it! Fantastic stuff. Thought it was very creative; great rhyme scheme. Even the artwork is bloody fun- literally. Okay, so zombies to futuristic fiction, I have to ask, where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
JILLIAN: I get my inspiration from real life. I’m sure most authors say that. Humans are fascinating creatures, and if you observe them long enough you’re bound to get a little nugget to add to a story. Most of the snarky observations in my first book, Jordan’s Brains, were inspired by people I interacted with.
ME: Okay, being the first interview I’ve done, you’re going to be the first person to do this. I’m gonna call it the “Thompson Twist” – It’s basically a random question I want to throw in the middle of the interview to mix things up. Are you ready?
JILLIAN: Ready! Hit me with it!
ME: Alright, you’re trapped on a desert island, let’s just say, to ride out the temporary zombie apocalypse- even though we both know you’d prefer to be in the craziness. But what three books, movies- and yes, on my desert island scenario you have power but only for entertainment- and food items do you stock?
JILLIAN: Excellent question! Three books: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Zombie/Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story by Ian McClellan- funniest zombie book I’ve ever read, and The Longest Road by A.S. Thompson- action packed and good for a desert island vacation.
ME: (Blushing) Oh Jillian, you’re much too kind. Since I don’t want readers to think I plugged my own book in this chat, give us one more book.
JILLIAN: Well, I guess I can’t say “The Change” by A.S. Thompson, lest I get in trouble (chuckles).
ME: (laughing) No, sadly my boss won’t allow that answer, but thanks.
JILLIAN: Okay, I’ll bring my copy of 900 Miles by S. Jonathan Davis. Classic zombie gore with a twist!
JILLIAN: Three movies: Shaun of the Dead, Day of the Dead- the original 1985 version, not the crappy 2008 remake- and Hope Floats. Not! The third movie I’d bring is the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead- a surprisingly awesome remake.
ME: Great calls! Dawn of the Dead remake is one of my favorites. I love the part when they are up on the roof sniping celebrity zombie lookalikes. And “Shaun of the Dead,” if I recall, you have a bit of tradition when it comes to that film. Care to share?
JILLIAN: Indeed I do. Every Halloween my family and I watch Shaun of the Dead while we wait for trick-or-treaters. We also watch Army of Darkness and our new favorite, Tucker and Dale Versus Evil. We’re the cool house that gives out full-size candy bars. We take Halloween very seriously (smiles).
ME: Now the food.
JILLIAN: Three food items: Chili Cheese Fritos- I’m a health nut. Chocolate in any form, and Honey Nut Cheerios. I’d probably survive for about a week on said desert island, but at least I’d have excellent zombie literature to ease the pain.
ME: No way. You’re a survivor. That’ll be a vacation for you. After, you’ll return to the post-apocalyptic world rejuvenated. Okay, getting back on track, you come from a lineage of writers and have quite the resume to-date, what advice can you give to aspiring writers?
JILLIAN: As a writer who doesn’t sell tons of books, my advice is to write for yourself. That’s probably terrible advice, and many successful authors would scoff at me for telling people to write for themselves, but writing to please others can be draining. I write as a release; something I turn to for a creative outlet at the end of a long workday. Even though writing for yourself may not bring popularity or much money, it feeds your soul- like Chili Cheese Fritos.
ME: (Grabbing my stomach) You’re getting me hungry. Now I want Fritos. Sorry, go on.
JILLIAN: If you write a book for yourself and nobody else likes it, it softens the blow a bit because you’ve accomplished something and stayed true to yourself. But if you write your book to become the next bestseller or to please others, and nobody likes it, then it seems like a big waste of time. Writing, editing, and publishing a novel take a tremendous amount of time and energy, and if your heart isn’t in it then I don’t think it’s worth it. But if you want to make the big bucks, I suggest you read “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months” by John Locke. Compelling stuff.
ME: Great advice. Seems like you have a pretty good “quality over quantity” of life outlook.
JILLIAN: Speaking of quality, I’m in the mood for some Fritos. Too many Fritos shout-outs? That was my last one. Promise.
ME: I know you’re a busy mom, so I’ll wrap this thing up. Since fans are gonna ask, how can they best get in touch with you whether to ask questions or check for updates? Basically what social media/info can you divulge for all those stalkers out there?
JILLIAN: I love chatting with fellow zombie lovers, so please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Or you can keep up with me on my social media accounts: https://twitter.com/JordansBrains and https://www.facebook.com/JCornellMichel and you can check out my blog/website https://jordansbrains.com/
ME: There you have it ladies and gentleman…the humble, the talented, the ever so entertaining, J. Cornell Michel. Thanks again for chatting!
JILLIAN: The pleasure was all mine. Thanks for interviewing me!