Sunday, December 19, 2010
An Interview with the Very Unique Tony Schaab
They could all be writer and author Tony Schaab. Okay. They are all Tony Schaab. Early on, Tony developed a gift to look at the world through eyes that peel away the outer layers and see what many of us miss – the natural humor we were all born with and carry with us throughout life.
But Tony, for whatever reason, also discovered humor in… zombies.
And that unique combination has magnetized him to undead lovers around the world. His humor-laden, tongue-in-cheek reviews are so sought after, he has taken a step I'm sure other critics are soon to follow. He compiled 50 favorites into the recently released book, "The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 1".
Tony's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, New Line Press contracted him for a stand-alone original story, and this multi-talented man has two novels on the brink of publication. Not to mention his short story, "On Ramp," was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. And, Tony's sci-fi/horror novella, "The Eagle Has Reanimated," was just this week nominated for the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award.
Q) Your innate humor permeates all you do. To what or whom do you attribute your comedic talent?
A) I'd have to say that my wit comes from a couple of primary sources. First, I have to thank my seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Hilker, for providing my younger self with his copy of the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by the late British author Douglas Adams. The book is a very satirical look at some of the things we as a society do that are pretty silly, even if we don't see it as such; it's written from the perspective of aliens that visit Earth, so it also heavily influenced my enjoyment of science fiction as well. The story really gave me my first exposure to satire and how comedy can be intellectually subtle yet effective at the same time. Another huge source of comedic inspiration is the great Mel Brooks; I grew up watching his hilarious movies, especially "Spaceballs," my all-time favorite film. An interesting side-note is that, now that I am a zombie and horror author, my connection with Mel Brooks has come full-circle, since his son Max Brooks wrote the popular and entertaining novels "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z."
Q) Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter. How do you think she's going to affect your life and writing? Children have a habit of altering our "set" course.
A) Thank you! Since she was just born on Valentine's Day 2010, I fortunately have some time until she's old enough to read anything that I write, which means I can keep working on horror stuff for a while until I have to worry about explaining some of it to her. Of course, you're right, children definitely throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans; I've seen the free time I have available to devote to writing decrease dramatically this year, not that I'm complaining of course. I just have to plan my time more effectively now; I do a lot of early-morning and late-night writing these days! As for my writings that she could read: I actually have an idea kicking around in my head for a childrens/young-adult book series that would combine sci-fi with a good dose of multi-level Disney/Pixar-ish humor, so hopefully that project can come to fruition and she could read that before digging in to any of the horror stuff.
Q) Horror in literature is on the rise. What do you think has rekindled growing interest in this genre?
A) I think it's a combination of a few different factors, but the biggest reason is most likely the increase we've seen in horror stories that cross over into other genres - comedy, drama, romance, and the like. Series like "Twilight" and "The Walking Dead" show readers that stories can effectively utilize horror elements and character types while having them do more than just "be scary" - there are many well-written stories that portray vampires, zombies, and all sorts of monsters having relationships, problems, etc., and these characters are really humanized quite effectively. I'm trying to follow this approach in the story I'm writing for New Line Press that will be released in early 2011: there will definitely be horror-related themes and tones, but at the same time I'm going to have the story focus on romance and intrigue as well, because I feel that it makes for a very unique reading experience, and I think that's what a lot of readers have gravitated to recently.
A) I knew that when I first decided to start writing reviews, I definitely wanted to avoid being just another guy with a blog throwing his opinions around to anyone who would listen. So I thought to myself, “Self, why not create an objective system to rate the reviewed items in categories that fans would actually want to know about?” I sat down and made a list of the different types of things in horror stories that I, as a fan, liked to see and would enjoy having a bit of advance information about before I bought a movie/book/etc. Through good karma and a little bit of luck, the areas of focus resolved themselves into a nice little acronym, G.O.R.E.: “G”eneral entertainment, “O”riginal content, “R”ealism, and “E”ffects and editing. I still have some of my own subjective rhetoric mixed into each review, of course, but on the whole I think the rating system really helps my reviews stand apart as a great source of insight and information.
Q) Though gifted with humor, you remain seriously devoted to what you do. Where would you like your career to be in ten years?
A) Like most writers, I would love to be able to devote even more time to my creative projects, so being able to make the transition into writing full-time sometime in the next decade would be ideal. In addition to keeping The G.O.R.E. Score going strong with zombie reviews, I think the system could be extrapolated to general-horror and some other genres as well, so that's a passion I will continue to pursue and attempt to grow. I would also like to expand my repertoire of fiction writing as well; since I made the commitment to professional writing a little under 18 months ago, I've had 15 short stories published in various genres and anthologies, and my plans for the immediate future are to focus on producing a few full-length fiction novels. The first, "Zombies Can't Dance," is already in progress and will hopefully be released sometime in 2011, and I have two more ideas in my head for horror novels that are, in my humble opinion, very exciting and original. If I could look back in a decade, I'd like to have made my mark in a variety of ways - short stories, novels, mazaginze columnist, perhaps even screenwriter - my mind is full of great ideas waiting for me to find the time to make them happen!