Derrick LaCombe talks ‘After Death’
Derrick LaCombe, a product of New Orleans, travelling Registered Nurse, and newly minted zombie author after the release of his first book After Death, was kind enough to let one of our interviewers pick his brain for a few minutes. Fortunately, it didn’t get too messy…
Zombie Pop: Your series, After Death, seems to take some inspiration from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Was this a direct or an indirect influence?
Derrick LaCombe: I’m flattered to be thought of in the same category as that most popular series.
While I did not read this series of books, I did read lots of mystery books when I was a kid. These books were usually purchased in school from Scholastic. With After Death, I wanted to create a more realistic zombie story that most age groups could read. In my description of the book, I ask readers to place themselves in one of the character’s shoes, one they can identify with most and BE that person for the length of the book. If they don’t make it, then choose another. In this way, I think my story relates to author Edward Packard’s premise in that you could be a part of the story and choose your own outcome. I can remember trying to write a similar kind of choose your own destiny story in my early twenties. It involved a group of 11- and 12-year-olds on a modern day quest. Unfortunately, this story was lost in Hurricane Katrina.
DC: I think the storm helped raise a newer perspective on whom our heroes could be. For example: I saw many individuals pitch in and help with the evacuation of the city, people that may not have fit the perceived look of a hero. Then again, I saw many people that fit the bill and performed their duties flawlessly, namely my police officer brother, Brian. I used a commonsense approach in this book, which is why the regular citizens of Baron don’t just have a bazooka to blow away the zombies. They have to use their wits to survive and adapt, much like the citizens of the Gulf Coast had to do.
ZP: If you could pick one prevalent aspect of the undead that could be retired forever, what would it be?
DC: I love the whole idea of the zombie nightmare. Zombies are open to interpretation about what they could be, their strengths and weaknesses, just like vampires and werewolves. I just can’t pick one thing!
ZP: Was there a zombie book/movie/comic that inspired you?
DC: I think the zombie movie that inspired me the most is by Lucio Fulci, simply titled Zombie. It’s been described as a gore fest and the most gruesome looking zombies ever to be seen on film. Since early reviews indicate the same for After Death, I’d have to say that movie combined with my knowledge of anatomy and physiology helped to hone the story and all future stories to come.
ZP: How did you hook up with your illustrator, Derek Edgerton?
DC: When it was time to find a cover artist, I found Derek’s page and e-mailed him the description of the zombies from my book. He took this information and created the stunning zombie seen on the cover. In his ability to create the face and background, I was awestruck because it really added fuel to my fire when I saw the finished product. I would like to add that Mr. Cannon Knight is currently in the final stages of a sculpt of the head. It’s phenomenal and will sit on my book signing table.
ZP: If the human race ever faces off against zombies, what do you think the cause will be?
DC: I definitely think spores could cause it. They are so pesky. A variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease could too. When the time comes, the normal citizen will just have to fight their way out of it. I would definitely get away from the cities.
ZP: Do you have any forthcoming work, zombie or otherwise, that you’d like to tell us about?
DC: The sequel to After Death is currently being edited. It takes the survivors of my story to the next town over (a seemingly logical step … or is it?). This sequel should be released by the end of the year, maybe before Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, I have a novella coming out for next holiday season. It’s titled The Lost Journal of Eddie Nickermire and is for the pre-teen, but really, anyone would enjoy this story. Lots and lots of adventure!
I have a horror short story that I’ll begin writing in January. Maybe I’ll have it completed by late March. (Fingers crossed.) No title yet, but it takes place in the swamps of Louisiana and then is thrust onto the streets of New Orleans.
ZP: Thanks so much for allowing us to interview you!
DC: Thank you!