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Q&A: S.V. Fedotov talks zombie comedy novel “GUTS AND GLORY”

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As an author in my own right, this writer finds it to be incredibly refreshing to see the many talented voices in the horror community rising up with projects they can call their own. It’s even more refreshing when a writer works outside of their comfort zone, as FANGORIA’s own S.V. Fedotov has with her literary debut, GUTS AND GLORY. While Fedotov’s area of expertise lies largely with graphic novels and comic books, her literary debut tells a vibrant, hilarious story in words alone, although she certainly is keeping her eyes to the future. FANGORIA recently spoke to Fedotov about GUTS AND GLORY, writing humor within horror and where her work may take her next…

FANGORIA: So how did your first come up with the idea for GUTS AND GLORY?

S.V. FEDOTOV: The book originally got its start as a short story called “My Name is Mike and I Kill Zombies,” which actually became the second chapter of the book. I wrote the short story for a competition and decided that I wanted to write the most ridiculous, cuss-filled, over-the-top zombie story that I could think of. So I thought, ‘Alright, what about one guy, one zombie, one chance?’ and the idea was born. Then I just spread the story from there. Tossed in a couple stoner roommates and ridiculous situations and GUTS AND GLORY was born.

FANGORIA: Zombie culture is in vogue right now, but rarely is it portrayed so humorously. How did you decide that horror comedy was the route to go, and how were you able to keep the character arc emotional and satisfying while maintaining the humor and horror?

FEDOTOV: Honestly, I just didn’t want to write anything serious. It’s boring and sad and I’m pretty sure THE WALKING DEAD covered zombie drama in spades. I wrote the book I wanted to read, so I combined two of my favorite genres, horror and comedy, and did that.

Keeping everything in check emotionally for the characters was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want them to become overly cartoonish, so I instilled a sense of fear and survival that forced them to keep moving while cracking jokes. There’s even a bit of the hero’s journey in there and by creating a goal, that is surviving and staying together, it grounded the story. It’s a bit like ZOMBIELAND where on one hand, you got Woody Harrelson’s character wiping his tears with money and then getting seriously emotional about his dog and determined to get the girls to Adventureland. It makes the characters more relateable and much more entertaining to see them reach the end.

FANGORIA: GUTS AND GLORY is a hell of a bloody story and has some truly inventive kill scenes throughout. Have you ever considered adapting the story as a graphic novel?

FEDOTOV: I have! I actually started writing out a script with storyboard layouts for the first chapter, but I haven’t gotten far with it. Comics are a hard industry to break into, especially for an unknown. Most companies want you to have an artist already on board and preferably, an issue already set to go before you can even pitch to them. Now, if I got approached about a comic adaptation from someone, that would be pretty rad, but as far as me pitching to them, it’s a bit of a way off.

FANGORIA: What character did you enjoy writing for the most and why?

FEDOTOV: Oh man, they’re all pretty rad in their own way, but I would say Steve. Both him and Derek have a definite stoner angle to them, but Steve is a really sweet guy, like the kind of guy that would be your best friend. I think he’s probably the most emotionally complex character and a lot smarter than even I gave him credit for. He’s tends to be the first to sense danger and the first to protect his friends. He’s the kind of person everyone has a friend; one that will stand by your side during a zombie apocalypse with a baseball covered in nails and a pig he adopted on the road.

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FANGORIA: Was there anything specifically about the zombie genre you wanted to avoid in this particular tale?

FEDOTOV: I wanted to do a different spin on the zombie origin story which I feel like I presented pretty well. I didn’t want to do a Romero version of the zombie story, with the dead walking the earth, but something a little more surprising. If I ever get to do a sequel, the readers will get to see my true plan behind the zombie apocalypse. There’s a bit of a hint in this book but it’s big. Real big.

FANGORIA: Was there any concept that you originally had for GUTS AND GLORY that didn’t quite make or fit into the final story?

FEDOTOV: I was actually going to kill off Steve! I had it in mind that I was going to have him die at the end of the book to help ground Derek and Mike, but I got so attached to him, that when it came time, I couldn’t do it. Steve grew his personality almost organically on the page that I felt bad killing of a character who struggled so hard to survive. It was an odd experience, to be honest. I kept making these situations that needed a character to do them and Steve fit the bill and made himself an immense part of the book.  

FANGORIA: Aside from writing this story, you also serve as FANGORIA’s resident comic book expert. Is there any horror writer you particularly admire or took inspiration from in your work?

FEDOTOV: As much as I love horror comic writers such as Garth Ennis and Dave Lapham, I actually took a lot of pointers from comedy movies more than horror or horror comics, particularly Judd Apatow and Edgar Wright films. I love the buddy dialogue and ridiculous situations with realistic (for the most part) outcomes, such as PINEAPPLE EXPRESS or HOT FUZZ. The characters seemed like the kind of people I would hang out with and I wanted to see how they would handle zombies (though I suppose SHAUN OF THE DEAD already answered that question). There is even a bit of WORKAHOLICS humor in there. I guess it was comedy over horror for me.

FANGORIA: Has there been any talk of expanding upon GUTS AND GLORY as is, perhaps with illustrations or as an audiobook?

FEDOTOV: Yeah, I’m in talks to do an audio version and I definitely want to do some more promotional art. So we’ll see, we’ll see what happens in the future. 

FANGORIA: If there’s anything you learned from the process of GUTS AND GLORY as a writer, what would it be?

FEDOTOV: This was my first novel, so I pretty much learned everything. I had no outline, no character descriptions done ahead of time, and no set ending. I basically started writing and made things up as I wrote. It was a tough way to do it, but it helped me learn that writing is a living thing.  It grows and thinks and can run away from you by convincing you that the pig needs his own story for some reason. But it was fun. Writing is fun.

FANGORIA: Do you have anything else on the docket at the moment? Could you ever see yourself continuing the story of GUTS AND GLORY in the future?

FEDOTOV: Well, I got a second novel that I’m pitching to agents called BOOK OF SUMMONS. It’s about a haunted town where kids and ghosts live side by side and go on wacky adventures! It’s a tween novel, like HARRY POTTER. Got some short stories lined up I’m trying to sell and otherwise, reviewing comic books. Also, I would love to continue GUTS AND GLORY. As I said, it’s set up for a sequel, but I’ll see where this initial book goes.

GUTS AND GLORY is now available as an e-book on Amazon for $1 HERE.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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