As we’re releasing the second set of episodes from Zombies, Run! season 3 this week, our lead writer Naomi Alderman spoke to writing legend Elizabeth Bear about the guest episode she’s written for us. It’s so exciting that wonderful writers like Elizabeth are interested in Zombies, Run! and we asked her a few quick questions.
Elizabeth, it’s such an honour for us that you’ve written a guest episode for Zombies, Run! How did you first hear about ZR, and what made you want to write for us?
It’s hard to remember now exactly what the “vector” was (a little zombie humor), but I know I had heard of the game via internet buzz for a while before I started playing it. (My phone was too primitive at the time!) The real triggering incident, though, was my friend Emma Bull’s love for the narrative. She actually came on the fan podcast I’m involved in, the SF Squeecast, and picked Zombies, Run! as her topic of fannishness.
As we all know, there’s nothing like word of mouth to sell something. And once I started playing, I was totally hooked. I’ve never actually been much of a fan of zombie narratives (weird, right?) but the way the game treats the zombies as a combination of natural disaster and individual pathos and humor worked much better for me than the more traditional horror approach.
As for writing for the game–honestly, who wouldn’t want to, if they were a writer? Great characters, tense storylines, snappy dialogue! That’s just fun!
Can you say a little bit about your episode? How did you decide where to take Runner Five?
Hah! Well, honestly, I started with a joke and an homage. The homage is still key to the episode (I don’t want to spoil it too much, but let’s just say I’ve always had a weakness for campy 60s spy shows), but the joke got left on the cutting room floor.
I got the genesis of it while participating in a zombie obstacle course run in Texas last year–like Zombies, Run! for real… ish–and the rest of the plot sort of dropped into my head all at once while I was out for a run one day over the winter. I do a lot of plotting while running.
(I hang my head in shame about the cutting of the joke. This happens to everyone writing for ZR… to fit in arc plot other things have to go.) But finally, what’s your favourite song to run to?! And, which member of Abel Township would you most like to go for a run with?
Oh, gosh. It’s hard to pick just one, but Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” is a big favorite on my Zombies, Run! playlist. (I amuse myself by picking appropriate music for the apocalypse.) It powers me up the hills really well. I’ll also date myself by admitting that Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Runner” is also in heavy rotation.
I’m not a very fast runner (unlike Runner 5!) and I’m a bit of an asthmatic. So I think I’d pick Maxine as a running partner. I’d trust her to drag me home if anything went wrong.