Fans of the “Hangover” movie series who wonder what it might be like if zombies attacked the Wolf Pack should probably check out “Dead Drunk” by Richard Johnson.
“If you like zombies, beer, and dick jokes, this is the book for you,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the inspiration for his book came from the old adage that authors should write what they know.
“I know drunken idiots ad zombies as well as anyone out there,” he said. “So I started with the characters and let them run wild, and they sort of took me along for the ride.”
The rogues gallery of characters is a key component of the novel, available now through Amazon.
“I focused on character development and believable dialogue, and the zombies don’t even show up for quite a while into the story,” Johnson explained. “The characters are basically all anti-heroes and not always likeable, but they are real enough to touch.”
Johnson said it wasn’t hard to dream up the eclectic bunch of survivors who populate his novel. He said his real life friends are pretty diverse.
“It wasn’t a stretch to imagine a similar group struggling through a zombie apocalypse,” Johnson said, adding that his friends sometimes see themselves in the work. “Every once in a while I’ll have a friend claim they are a certain character in the book and I just have to laugh. If you want to believe Left-Nut is based on your own life, have at it.”
Although the zombies do not arrive until the second act, their impact is sudden and violent. The same can be said about Johnson’s introduction to the zombie genre. He was only 10 when he watched a VHS copy of Return of the Living Dead that his brother had brought home.
“Although I do recall enjoying the naked woman dancing in the graveyard, the rest of the movie literally terrified me,” Johnson said. “The zombie woman (the one cut in half) that the group interrogated had a deep psychological affect on me. Not in a zombie way, but the scene made me think about life and death in a way that I never had before, to the point where I realized someday that would be my parents and friends dying, and ultimately me. This overwhelming dread stayed with me for quite some time.”
Despite the trauma, Johnson did not avoid the genre. Instead, he unwittingly used fear immersion therapy to overcome his overwhelming sense of dread and despair.
“I watched every zombie movie that came out, and with each one was scared less and less, ultimately feeling more empowered because of it,” he said. “Finally, I wasn’t scared of the zombies at all, and a lifelong infatuation was born.”
Johnson said the specific motivation to write Dead Drunk came one night when he was forced to turn off an unwatchably bad zombie movie.
“I decided if that garbage could get made into a movie, I could be successful writing my own zombie story,” he said. “Five years later, it was complete.”
Although complete, Johnson acknowledges that he left the ending of his first book open.
“The book is definitely set up for a sequel and I have much of it mapped out,” he said. “Some of the surviving characters have a lot more beer to drink.”
Looking at the larger zombie genre, Johnson said he’s surprised by the popularity of the undead.
“I think the second generation of zombie fans is even more hard-core than the first, so I don’t see it flaming out any time soon,” he said. “It is getting crazy with zombie proms, zombies on insurance commercials, and even zombie pinup models.Talk about getting freaky.”