In an interview we did about his novel Zombicide: All Or Nothing, writer Josh Reynolds explained how his central character, Westlake, is “a self-aware zombie.” And no, he didn’t mean the guy was aware of his living impaired privilege.
Well, it’s time for another adventure with Reynold’s percipient undead hero. In this new email interview, Reynolds discusses Zombicide: Do Or Die (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), his third novel based on the titular survival board game.
Do Or Die follows the plucky band of survivors last seen in All Or Nothing as they travel to the Florida Everglades, find a lost cruise ship and run afoul of a band of swamp-dwelling mutant cannibals. Also, there are zombie alligators.
Besides featuring the same cast of characters, the new novel builds on the themes of the first two: found family, the cosmic horror inherent in a zombie apocalypse, and what happens when you eat too many zombies.
So, when in relation to writing Last Resort and All Or Nothing did you come up with the idea for Zombicide: Do Or Die, and what inspired this third book’s plot?
I knew I wanted a book centered on a cruise ship infested with zombies, but it took writing the first two for the idea to gel into something solid.
And then I have to ask: How often have you referred to the book as Zombicide: Do Or Do Not, There Is No Die?
Oddly, not a single time. Then, I’m a Count Dooku man.
Anyway…as we discussed in the interview we did about Zombicide: All Or Nothing, Westlake is a self-aware zombie. But you also said he was, “…rotting on the bone, and he’s on borrowed time.” Does that mean he’s different in Zombicide: Do Or Die? Slower? Dumber? Slimmer?
All of the above, really. Westlake is losing both his mind and pieces of his body throughout this book, and becoming more zombie-like.
As to why, well, I wanted to show how becoming one of the undead might feel, as one’s own body rebels.
Given that there’s zombies, I assume Zombicide: Do Or Die is a horror novel. But is it anything else, genre-wise?
It’s a bit more grindhouse than the first two, I think. It’s nastier and wilder than the first two, with more mutants, more craziness, and more zombies. The first book is a bit of a traditional zombie romp, and the second is sort of an action-adventure, but this one is full on splatterpunk.
Zombicide: Do Or Die is obviously not your first written work. Are there any writers, or stories, that had a big influence on Die but not on anything else you’ve written, and especially not Last Resort and All Or Nothing?
I drew some general influence from a variety of sources: books like Blackwater by Michael McDowell, Alan Moore’s seminal run on Swamp Thing, and Gerber’s run on Man-Thing, and stories like Joseph Payne Brennan’s “Slime.”
What about non-literary influences; was Zombicide: Do Or Die influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
Films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Southern Comfort inspired the antagonists. I also drew a lot of inspiration from terrible monster movies, particularly in regard to one character.
In the aforementioned interview we did about Zombicide: All Or Nothing, when asked about your plans going forward, you said, “I hope that there will be a third book, at least, if only to bring Westlake’s story to an appropriate conclusion.” So then does Zombicide: Do Or Die “…bring Westlake’s story to an appropriate conclusion”?
It does, I think. It made my editor cry, so there’s that. Westlake’s story comes to an end, but the other survivors go on.
You also said in that interview, “I have some ideas for how to continue the series after that, but whether it does or not isn’t up to me, but the publisher.” Will you be continuing this series?
Sadly, I think this will be my last Zombicide novel for the foreseeable future, but it’s a good place to stop. Westlake was the central character, and his story comes to an end with this book. Could I do more? Sure. But it’s still a good end.
So, is there anything else people need to know about Zombicide: Do Or Die?
It’s got everything Zombicide fans love: zombies, tight corners, mutants, and lots of explosions. If you enjoyed the first two, definitely check this one out.
Finally, if someone enjoys Zombicide: Do Or Die, and they’ve already read Last Resort and All Or Nothing, what zombie novel that someone else wrote would you recommend they check out?