Self Storage by Jay Bonansinga
JD: I still think that the most heartbreaking moment in the entire series, and I don’t think I’m spoiling this for anyone as all fans know that the Governor’s daughter is dead by the time The Walking Dead starts, but Penny’s demise in Rise of the Governor is particularly harsh. It has me wondering something. Do you get attached to the characters you write for, and are there any death scenes in particular that were difficult to write?
JB: Oh, man, yeah. I can’t name names, because it’ll spoil it for people. But one character I had to lose, and I can’t even say what book it was so I don’t give it away…
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I was working in a coffee shop, because I am somehow able to focus when I am in plain sight. It’s hard to explain, but that’s how I work the best. And I didn’t realize it while I was writing the scene, but I was crying. I had tears rolling down my face. And it was so sad, so moving to me. I realized then that the scene is probably working really well. I was not unhappy that I was crying, but man, I really had a tough time with that one. And people always mention that scene to me at the conventions, after reading that particular book.
JD: Something else I wanted to ask you as a fan. When adapting the story from the comics to the novels, there have been some notable differences. This includes characters in the novels not seen in the comics, as well as expanding some of the scenes to be much more fleshed out. Did you take the creative opportunity to expand upon scenes only touched on briefly in the comic?
JB: There are some things, like single panels from the comic that I took five pages to write about. Like the encounter between Michonne and the Governor when he is tormenting her, then she gets her revenge. ‘We should slow it down here’, as a novelist, I said. There was one scene where the Governor was not expecting her to bust into his apartment, and she just busts in. In the comic it’s well played out, it’s many panels, but I just wanted to milk it.
I just broke it down into milliseconds. Two wild animals confronting each other. I just thought it was so juicy. And that’s another way of answering your question which is more fun, working with your own imagination or working in Robert’s narrative. And they’re just equally fun.
JD: I know you said we can look forward to the next The Walking Dead book coming soon, but I wanted to ask if there are any other recent works of yours my readers should be on the lookout for.
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JB: Thank you for asking! That’s another great thing Robert Kirkman has done for me, giving me a little breathing room each year to work on other projects. I recently completed and saw publication on a new horror novel called Self Storage.
It’s exciting for me because it’s a super dark, super personal story about a 30 something artist who’s also a heroin addict and a father. He accidentally gets locked inside a self storage unit with his six year old son. It’s Christmas time, and there’s nobody around, so they get stuck in there and they have to survive. Worse than that, he goes into withdrawal. It’s almost like The Shining, with constant questioning of the manifestations in terms of what’s real and what’s a dope-fueled hallucination.
I’m really proud of it, it’s like a very psychological horror novel. It recently came out in 2016, and it’s published by a new company called Magnetik Ink, which is a new company I’ve started with my business partner. We want to publish not only my own extreme books, which are probably too extreme for mainstream publishers, but also as the years go by we want to discover new talent, who also kind of write some cutting edge, out-there horror, science fiction, and fantasy.
JD: You’ve got a tremendous gig as the official author for the Walking Dead novel series. How do you feel reflecting back on your writing career thus far, and becoming a staple of pop culture’s biggest franchise?
JB: I’ve had a lot of really good luck in the field. My first book came out in 1993 and it was called The Black Mariah. It was a horror novel, a very simple concept, but that was the book George Romero got hired to adapt for New Line Cinema, and I came in to adapt it with him. And that was my first book, I’ve had good luck.
But I’ve never been associated with anything that had this kind of intense and loving fanbase. The fans are really cool. And that’s another thing about Kirkman, he cares about the fans more than any other creator of any caliber that I’ve met. Even more than George. He so cares about the fans.
I get notes, I get messages, from all over the world. These books are published in 23 different languages. We have huge contingents in like Brazil, and Asia, and they contact me. They’re so devoted to it. And they follow the books as closely as they follows the TV series and the comics, and that’s so amazing. I’ve never experienced that.
So concludes my interview with Jay Bonansinga. I’d like to thank Jay for taking the time to speak with me about his Walking Dead novels. The next book in the series Search and Destroy will be released in bookstores on October 18, 2016, but you can go ahead and pre-order it now on Amazon.