This episode we're talking to Daniel Kraus, author of The Living Dead: A New Novel (Tor), a book written in part by Night of the Living Dead's (and so much more) George Romero and then expanded and completed by Kraus—expanded, in fact, to a door-stopping, Micheneresque zombie magnum opus that melds ideas from Romero over the course of six films and various other pieces of writing, including essays, interviews, and comics. Kraus received the assignment from the Romero estate shortly after the director's death– along with a manuscript-in-progress. The challenge: how to fill in the work and expand it without clashing with the voice of the late director. "I had to create a third voice," Kraus says, a "Romero-Kraus" voice for the book that would draw it all together.
"I almost can't believe it," Kraus says. "[Romero] was a real father figure to me."
The book, Kraus explains, is divided into three parts: Act 1, which can be thought of as leading up to Night of the Living Dead, a short Act 2, which can be read as flowing alongside the six Romero films (Kraus suggests stopping to watch the movies, in a chronological order provided in the back of the book), and Act 3, which takes over and completes ("for now") the story of humanity and the zombie outbreak.
The author talked about the meaning and sadness of zombies and which characters he most loved to follow across years and pages– and the undeniable tragedy and pessimism of the Romero world of the Living Dead.
The Living Dead debuts August 4 from Tor Books. You can find Kraus online at danielkraus.com.
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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology series, and the author of Quest for the Nautilus: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His new horror novel, under the pseudonym Peyton Douglas, The Book Man, debuted this summer.