Interview: Stephen Kozeniewski, Author of Braineater Jones

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesDabbers, please welcome Stephen Kozeniewski, author of Braineater Jones, a zombie mystery noir with more than one twist. You can catch my review of Braineater Jones over HERE. Today, we talk about the original Warcraft, Shawshank Redemption, and MASH. I expect you will find Stephen’s answers as entertaining as I did.

1) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

I strongly wish to have a Babel fish stuck in my ear and I would avoid that preachy-ass Lorax.

2) As a veteran of the United States Field Artillery Corps, are there skills you learned from that experience that you used in your writing? In the publishing world?

I have very rarely felt the need to shell my enemies since becoming a writer (although you’re on notice, Gillian Flynn) but I think military experience is good to have because so many writers get it so, so wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I love watching MASH and, yes, even Enlisted as much as the next guy, but I think people, especially veterans, appreciate verisimilitude in their fictional depictions of war.  Of course, I also learned discipline, organization, and etiquette from the army, and, yes, even how to rain napalm on any chick lit authors who happen to arouse my ire should the need ever arise.

3) With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I definitely think mashups are going to be the “it” thing for a while.  People are always looking for something original and the easiest way for some hack writer to capitalize on that is to come up with some hacky idea like “zombie noir” or “cartoon steampunk.”  (Also, I just came up with an idea for a book called STEAMPUNK WILLIE…)  So, yes, I think we’ll see more blended genres in the future, and I’m hoping that translates to double the audience.  I could also see someone who loves regency romance reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and then on the strength of that going to read DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON.  So maybe readers will get to explore outside their comfort zone.  I, of course, have never read any book other than FINNEGANS WAKE, so it won’t affect me.  I’ve re-read it 600 times now, and I keep hoping that the last line won’t loop back around to the first and I won’t have to start over, but so far no such luck.

KozeniewskiGhoulArchipelago4) In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works, such as the Prohibition era in Braineater Jones?

If you’re looking for well-researched history in BRAINEATER JONES, prepare to be disappointed.  However, I did work in a substance abuse clinic for several years and I think the social workers would not be disappointed in how I portrayed addiction in the book.  The flesh cravings of the zombies is, of course, a metaphor for alcoholism, and the alcoholism is a metaphor for overindulging in the 12 Steps…it’s a whole thing.

5) In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

Oh, no.  There’s no Darth Vader moment for The Old Man.  I like my villains to be the chiefest and greatest calamities of their respective ages.

6) Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

Well, I stand by my longstanding conceit that the film version of The Shawshank Redemption was far superior to the original novella.  I honestly cannot think of a single PC game that was adapted into a book so I feel ill-equipped to answer that question.  Also, I think the last PC game I played was Warcraft.  (Not World of Warcraft.  Not Warcraft III.  Warcraft.)

BuftonAnother100Horrors7) In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I really enjoy getting to meet the titans of the industry and interacting with them as peers.  (And praying that they don’t find out I’m a complete and utter sham.)  What I find most challenging is translating marketing into sales.  Sometimes I can tweet, FB, send e-mails, and write blog posts all day and my sales rank never changes.  It can be discouraging but when I do get a sale or a review or sometimes just a kind word from a reader it can inflate my whole mood and make me feel like maybe I’m not such a sham after all.  (But I still am.)

8) What is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

Vindaloo Day from that great unappreciated masterwork of our time, Outsourced.  Jolly Vindaloo Day, everybody!

9) How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

For the release of BRAINEATER JONES my wife threw me a big party (or, as they would say in Harlan County, a whoop-dee-doo.)  Most of my favorite people in the world were there and I shamelessly sold them all copies of both of my novels and signed, signed, signed the night away.  My friend Tony also made a brain-shaped cake.  (

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