Book launch zombie party: Zombie St. Pete

CL:  How did you come to write Zombie St. Pete?


AA: I co-edited it and contributed one of the 13 stories.   We were taking a cultural studies course at USF St. Pete called “Zombies R Us.” We were watching all the Romero movies, and learning about the mythology of the zombie and how it’s changed.  Dr. Frances Auld, who taught the class, suggested that we do a regionalized zombie fiction anthology, and that was how the idea was born.  She is one of the co-editors.  These are all St. Pete-themed stories.  We have Mahaffey Theater in there, the Pier, Old Northeast, Demens Landing, and the State Theater.


CL:  What brought about having the event at the Pier?


AA: Our cover artist, J.R. Duffy, was putting the finishing touches on the cover artwork at the Dali Museum where he works.  Somebody who knew Susan Robertson, advertising and promotions manager for the Pier, walked by and asked what he was doing.  He told her about the project and she said she’d love to get involved.  They had us in for a meeting and before you know it, they had offered to host the event. Last Halloween the Pier hosted “Thrill St. Pete” as they led people in the Thriller dance that was happening all around the world.  The Pier was looking for a reason to do it again.  Total happenstance.


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CL:  I hear that there are zombie minions in St. Pete.


AA: Yes, there are — zombie groups.  There are zombie walks that happen all the time.  The whole popularity of the Goth movement started with Marilyn Manson, which is a Florida band.  I think a lot of horror stuff comes from Florida.  Even George Romero shot Day of the Dead in downtown Ft. Meyers.  When you see zombies coming in next to palm trees, it brings foreboding to a whole new level.


CL:  Tell us about what’s going to happen during the Zombie St. Pete Party.


AA: From 5-7 we’ll have author readings, vignettes from the book, then we’ll have a book signing.  Following that, Have Gun, Will Travel will play, and immediately after that, “Thrill St. Pete” will come out and do the Thriller dance for everybody.


S.G. Browne, who wrote the introduction to Zombie St. Pete, will be there.  His book, called Breathers, is being made into a film by Diablo Cody who is the director of Juno and Jennifer’s Body. She’s the hot ticket right now in Hollywood.  She bought the rights to Brown’s book and it’s being made by Fox Searchlight.


CL:  How did you get interested in writing?


AA: I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I’ve loved horror since I was 12.  It’s become my DNA.  It’s my survival method of dealing with the anxieties of the world.  It’s what I use to make sense of stuff.  I don’t understand how anybody could not like horror.  I always say that horror is like fine wine.  You have to have someone who has a good knowledge of wine to turn you on to proper wine. It’s the same with horror.  If you have somebody showing you a piece of crap horror movie, you’re going to think, well, this is horror.  If you have somebody showing you Halloween and saying, “Look at the craftsmanship and the way the tension builds,” you’ll have a whole different appreciation.  They say “horror is dead.” I say, “How did My Bloody Valentine in 3D make a hundred million dollars?"  Horror is the red-haired stepchild of literature.  Nobody wants to claim it as their own, but horror fans are a dedicated audience.


CL:  How are you publicizing this event?


AA: Actually, it’s grass roots.  We’ve gotten a lot of support from USF St. Pete, the City of Writers organization, and we’ve gotten loads of support from the city itself, since the Pier is involved.  They put us on their web page and special events flyers.  They see it as something good, and we’re glad.  There’s a surprising amount of press that we can get just by word of mouth.  You hand a flyer to one zombie fan and they tell 15 zombie fans, and it really just goes from there, because there’s this underground community of horror lovers that want to be involved.


CL:  What are you working on next?


AA: What’s lined up next is Zombie New York City. That’s already in the works and so is the sequel to Zombie St. Pete. We want to branch out and make this a national project and have every city that we can take part.  Submissions will be from writers in the regional areas.  Since people know their areas, we’ll get better stories from local residents.


CL:  Any parting words?


AA: We’re really excited about the book release party, we want to make sure that everyone knows it’s an open party.  We want everyone to come together.  We want it to be a city event, and we want it to be held in honor of zombies, because that’s just cool.


Zombie St. Pete will be held at the St. Pete Pier on Sat., Feb 27th from 5-10 p.m.  For more information, click here.


To read Sally Bosco's theater reviews and other writing, visit TampaBayArts.net.

“Florida is a big horror place.  I think it’s all the sunshine that makes people want to be dark.”  — a quote from Aaron Alper during an interview over lattés at a local café.  He is about to unleash an event called Zombie St. Pete at the St. Pete Pier on Sat., Feb. 27th.  It’s the release party for his anthology of zombie stories that are all set in St. Pete.  And he's hoping it's the beginning of a national movement.

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