Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, what is the Reanimated Rumble, and how did you come to be involved in the competition?
Justin Robinson: The Reanimated Rumble is a story competition between a bunch of zombie authors. Every couple of days, two authors anonymously face off with two different stories from the same prompt. Readers read both and vote on which one they liked more. Whoever gets the most votes advances into the next round.
I became involved through the Reanimated Writers, a Facebook group for zombie authors and their fans. They invited me to be part of the competition, and I really like making work for myself.
BD: How does the competition work, and who can participate in the voting process?
JR: The competition is organized in a bracket, like college basketball. Each bracket has a slightly different one-word prompt, which can be anything from “winter” to “victory,” and has to write a story of a thousand words or less based on that prompt. The stories go up without bylines on them, and readers, once they join the ReanimatedWriters Zombie Fiction Fan Group, can vote on which ever story they liked better. Whoever gets the most votes moves on.
BD: How would you describe your approach to each new round of the competition?
JR: My approach to short stories is always about how I can pull the rug out from under the reader. With only a thousand words to work with, though, that’s quite a challenge. Since everyone else in the competition is far more experienced at writing zombie fiction than I am, I’m taking each round as it comes.
BD: Do you feel that your previous novel-writing work has prepared you for this competition, and what can you tell us about your experience thus far?
JR: What’s helped more than anything has been my work on the City of Devils and League of Magi books. Not because they’re zombie fiction, although versions of zombies appear in both, from the working-class gangster zombies in City of Devils to the mindless shock troops in League of Magi, but because of the short story experience.
Novels and short stories are entirely different animals, and because both of those worlds have tons and tons of short stories, I’ve managed to get some experience under my belt. It’s about deciding on a single idea and conveying it as efficiently as possible. Then, in the closing moments, giving the reader some kind of surprise.
I was involved last year in a competition of Zombies vs. Vampires (I was in team zombie.), and I wrote a City of Devils short story called “Brains.” Because I had only five minutes to read, I timed myself and determined I could only read a maximum of 1200 words in that time. So, I tailored the story to that. It ended up being one of the best things I’ve written, which is either great or sad depending. That helped me learn what I had time to do in short stories that are really short like these are.
BD: While it may be too late for writers to get involved this year, is this an annual event?
JR: It’s too late to join in this year, but the Reanimated Writers community is growing steadily thanks to the efforts of our great team of admins. I suspect that if this goes well, it might become an annual thing.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you would like to share with our readers?
JR: My one true zombie novel, Undead on Arrival, which is also a classic, hardboiled noir tale, is back in print and only 99 cents on Kindle for a little while longer. The third book in the City of Devils series, Wolfman Confidential, will be published in October, and it will feature several important zombies who also happen to be mob enforcers. Longtime fans of the series can probably guess who will be appearing. You can also find my podcast (with co-host Erik Amaya), Tread Perilously, on iTunes and the Fanbase Press Podcast Network. In the podcast, we watch the worst episodes of popular shows and attempt to determine if we would continue to watch the series based on its most off-key moments.
BD: Lastly, where can our readers find more information about Reanimated Rumble to get in on the fun?
JR: Join us on our Facebook page. Say hi! We’re a friendly bunch with a love for walking corpses. And remember, other groups might only want you for your body, but the Reanimated Writers will love you for your brains.
Your delicious brains.