Ross Payton Interview

Written By: Kellie - Nov• 15•11
ReaWrite– Hi Ross! Thanks so much for doing an interview for ReaWrite! First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ross– Hello and thanks for having me on ReaWrite. I’m a writer and a podcaster living in Springfield, Missouri. I’ve written a lot of material for tabletop role playing games and my podcasts are Role Playing Public Radio and RPPR Actual Play. They’re very nerdy but I have a lot of fun making them and the listeners like them. Other than that, I like to scuba dive and read as much as I can.
ReaWrite– How did you come up with the idea for Zombies of the World? Have you always been a big fan of all things zombie?
Ross– The initial idea for Zombies of the World came to me when I realized that zombies broke the laws of thermodynamics. They never digested food and they never tired, slowed down or stopped until they were destroyed. How can any creature, alive or undead, keep moving with getting energy from somewhere? So I realized that if zombies were real then we could study them and learn how to use this source of limitless energy. It could solve the energy crisis! Once I started thinking along those lines, I began to picture a scientific field guide to zombies – one describing the species of undead, the science behind them and their history. After all, if civilization had survived this long in a world populated with zombies, we wouldn’t view them as an apocalyptic threat – they would be another part of nature. We had to study and protect these strange creatures.
I’ve always been a huge zombie fan since I saw the original Night of the Living Dead. It was the first movie I ever saw with such a bleak and nihilistic ending. After that, I devoured any zombie films, games or novels I could find. I find them compelling because of how they change the world around them. Vampires and werewolves may be more powerful individually, but they always remain hidden. Zombies come out in the open and either cause the end of the world or they force society to adapt to their presence. It’s a great dynamic for storytelling.
ReaWrite– Did you do all of the illustrations for the book yourself?
Ross– No, I can’t draw. I was very lucky to recruit several talented artists like Tom Rhodes, Ean Moody and Violet Kirk. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to make this book.
ReaWrite– How long did it take you to put the entire book together, from first draft to finished product?
Ross– I started writing it in the fall of 2009 and I finished it in February 2011. I also did the layout for the book so that took quite a bit of time as well.
ReaWrite– What is your favorite kind of zombie from the book? Why?
Ross– It’s hard to choose but I think the Talking Zombie is the most interesting. They’re intelligent, fast and addicted to eating brains. They break a lot of common zombie tropes. How do you deal with a nearly indestructible undead cannibal that’s as fast and smart as you are?
ReaWrite– Have you written anything else? What’s next?
Ross– I wrote two books before Zombies of the World: Curriculum of Conspiracy and Road Trip. Both are role playing game supplements for the RPG Monsters and Other Childish Things. They’re about kids that have special monstrous friends and the adventures they get mixed up in. Imagine Calvin and Hobbes – if Hobbes was a nightmarish Lovecraftian monster that was real and could eat the mailman. They were very fun to write.
I’m currently working on a novel called Dead Power. It’s a followup to Zombies of the World, based on the setting material I wrote in it. The North American Necrological Research Institute runs a research center that studies and houses thousands of zombies of many different species. Unfortunately, the security systems keeping these zombies locked up has been sabotaged so they’re on the loose. It’s up to a small group of humans and intelligent zombies to stop the outbreak before the government bombs them. Some of the zombies want to eat the humans but they’ll have to cooperate if any of them are going to survive.

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