Monday, December 28, 2015

Eight Questions: Steven Ramirez

Steven Ramirez is the author of several horror short stories, and a contributor to the benefit anthology The Dark Dozen: Stories for Scarborough, which was written to benefit a man in desperate need of a heart transplant. Today, he answers eight questions and speaks a little about his horror series, Tell Me When I'm Dead. So, without further ado, please welcome Mr. Steven Ramirez.

Coyote: What kind(s) of books do you read? Do you have any favourites?

Steven Ramirez: As a writer, I love to read other peoples’ books. And my tastes vary a lot. On the one hand, I do enjoy horror. But I am also a fan of comedy—especially satire. One of my favorite horror-fantasy authors is Richard Matheson. As for comedy, I am still crazy about Kurt Vonnegut. Considering his rather tragic past, it’s a miracle he was able to produce so much humorous prose. I also love the classics—Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, especially.

Coyote: If you weren’t writing books, what would you be doing with that time and energy instead? Why? 

Steven Ramirez: I would probably read a lot more books and watch more movies and television. When I was a kid, there was no Internet, so when I wasn’t outside riding my bike, I liked to read, go to the movies or sit in front of the TV. With the advent of Netflix, though, this tendency is becoming a problem. Writers are famous for procrastinating. Netflix and Amazon Prime are just what I needed!

Coyote: What first first inspired your writing of Tell Me When I’m Dead? How did the project begin?

Steven Ramirez:Well, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. I’ve always wanted to write a story featuring zombies. But like George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ I didn’t want to do the zombie apocalypse thing. I liked that he treated his story as small and fairly isolated. So with that in mind, I set my story in a fictional Northern California town.

Here’s the funny part, though. That book was supposed to be a one-off. But when I reached the end, I realized there was still more story to tell. So I continued with Book Two. And of course, you cannot have a series without at least three books, so I completed the trilogy, setting the last book in Los Angeles.

Coyote: Tell us a little about the story.

Steven Ramirez: This series is really about the protagonist Dave Pulaski and how evolves over the course of the story. When we first meet him, he is a recovering alcoholic who is trying to get his life together. By the second book, he’s a soldier in a private army fighting against the undead and the forces who created them. And by the third book he is a one-man killing machine set on revenge.  

Coyote: What are some of the recurring themes of your work, and why are they important to you?

Steven Ramirez: The most important theme, I think, has to do with Faith and the part it plays in a person’s life. I really wanted to explore the question, “How far can you push a person before he abandons God and falls into despair?” In Dave’s case, he acknowledges how flawed he is, yet somehow he manages to hang on to the thinnest glimmer of hope. These books also explore the evils of science gone wrong and the importance of self-sacrifice.

Coyote: Walker and A Bone in the Throat are both short stories, and both about different horrific occurrences. But your book series, Tell Me When I’m Dead, at first glance might seem like a straight-forward zombie apocalypse tale. Would you tell us a bit more about what sets this story apart from others in that genre?

Steven Ramirez: "Walker” is a story that explores the demonic possession of a young woman. It’s told from the POV of the husband, who is trying to understand what happened. “A Bone in the Throat” is about revenge. Though it’s dark, it’s told almost matter-of-factly. But the implications are terrifying for the victim. 

The TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD series resides firmly in the horror thriller genre. As the story progresses over the three books, I decided to move toward thriller and conspiracy and away from the slow zombies in the first book. I think what sets the series apart from other zombie books is, these creatures actually evolve.

While writing the books, I was interested in exploring the medical aspects of the story—who created these things, and how did they pull it off from a scientific POV? I spoke to a microbiologist recently and explained the premise of the outbreak to her. And she told me what I described sounded plausible—which surprised me. All I can say is, it pays to do research.

Coyote: If your Tell Me When I’m Dead series were to become a movie or cable series, who would you like to see play what characters, and why?

Steven Ramirez: That’s a great question! I really like Dylan O’Brien, who recently starred in ‘The Maze Runner’ series, as Dave. Dave is in his early twenties, and I think Dylan is ideal for the role. I think Britt Robertson, who recently starred in ‘Tomorrowland’ with George Clooney, would be great as Holly—Dave’s wife. Holly is a strong character and an important influence on Dave. Though she’s blonde and pretty, she can take down zombies with the best of them. Warnick is a key character throughout the series. He’s older than Dave and is also an important influence. I think Rainn Wilson would make a wonderful Warnick.

Coyote: Is there anything else you would like to say in closing? 

Steven Ramirez: I really appreciate you letting me spill my guts here for a little while, Coyote. I hope your readers enjoy getting a glimpse of this slightly twisted writer from LA. Thank you. 

Steven Ramirez is the author of the horror thriller series TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD. He has also published a number of short stories, as well as a children’s book, and he wrote the screenplay for the horror thriller film ‘Killers.’ Steven lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughters.
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