The following is an interview with Andy Kumpon regarding the release of his new novel, Seeds of the Dead, from KillerBeam Entertainment. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Kumpon about the inspiration behind the story, his creative process in bringing the story to life, what he hopes that readers will take away from Seeds of the Dead, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your novel, Seeds of the Dead! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Andy Kumpon: The premise for Seeds of the Dead is an up-and-coming scientist with honorable intentions for creating GMO finds himself at odds with the biotechnology corporation he works for when they veer in a more nefarious direction. After he’s persuaded to join their ranks with the promise of wealth and power, he travels back to his hometown to contemplate their offer. When he rejects them publicly and threatens to expose their dark secrets, he soon finds himself in a life-and-death struggle as the corporation unleashes a zombie virus on his own hometown with the food he in part helped create.
The inspiration behind the story: My friend and fellow collaborator Gary Malick had an idea about food, namely fast food, being behind a zombie-like outbreak. That idea morphed into genetically modified foods, and the antagonist modeled after the largest and most controversial biotech corporation in the world, Monsanto, which is the perfect villain. Since I’m a fan of zombies, this seemed like great diving-off point to tell an original tale in a very popular, and at times, oversaturated genre. I also like “whistleblowers” – people who go against power structures that tend to be corrupt by exposing their true agendas, many of which are destructive. To me, these people are heroes. But to many others, whistleblowers are villains, in particular, if they go against a popular social-political narrative, even if that narrative – at its very core – is wrong.
BD: The novel deftly weaves various genres together, including science fiction and horror. What can you share with us about your creative process in intertwining these genres into your narrative thread, and what have been some of your creative influences?
AK: I tend to like interweaving various genres together. With Seeds of the Dead, those genres were horror and comedy, or to be more specific, survival horror and gallows humor. Like similar books such as Pride & Prejudice and Zombies and The Zombie Survival Guide, or movies like The Evil Dead, Dead Alive, Return of the Living Dead, and Shaun of the Dead – Seeds falls into that category. And those examples above were a huge influence on how I wrote Seeds of the Dead. And it’s a particular type of genre I tend to enjoy quite a bit when done right. But it does have other elements – drama, action, and suspense – it’s a fun read for those wanting to try something new and different that’s not mainstream or featured on Oprah’s Book Club.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Seeds of the Dead’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
AK: Well, first and foremost, I think the most important thing is to entertain the reader with a good concept and great writing. But to really connect with the reader on a more personal level, strong characters are essential. And I believe Seeds‘ real strength lies in its characters. Take the main protagonist Peter. The subject of the theme is betrayal, while the thematic point of view is forgiveness. Ultimately, Peter’s main goal is to gain the acceptance of his family and long lost love – people he neglected and abandoned while pursuing his esteemed career as a GMO scientist. He then betrays the corporation that employs him to try and win back some acceptance, and questions the very thing he dedicated half his life too – creating genetically modified food. I believe a lot of people can relate to that type of conflict within the constraints of their own lives. Also, Peter is a very flawed hero – in more ways than one. He doesn’t have abs or perfectly blow-dried hair (well, maybe finely groomed hair – he is somewhat meticulous in that manner – and he drives a BMW). But he does have a lot of redeeming qualities, too, which most real people do. Yes, there are a lot of limbs being chomped and blood splatter – it is a zombie book after all. But I think the main thing to take away from Seeds of the Dead, other than the zombies, gore and dark humor, is that family is ultimately the most important thing of all, beyond any fame, prestige, and money. Again, there are layers to the story and characters, if you take the time to read and look.
BD: What makes KillerBeam Entertainment the perfect home for Seeds of the Dead?
AK: Well, Seeds of the Dead was originally adapted from a screenplay I wrote back in 2015/2016. I had always intended it to be a movie since that is what we are attempting to build KillerBeam Entertainment into – a fully functional film production company. But it was always too expensive to film Seeds, at least for us at the time. It’s all intellectual property at the end of the day. And I would rather it be seen, or in this case read, than just sitting there collecting cobwebs. And with the entertainment industry now going through an incredible transformation due to the pandemic and the advent of streaming, well, we’ll see what the future holds for all.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AK: Oh yeah, we have some great content coming out soon. KNIT, another book being adapted from a feature-length screenplay I wrote a few years back, will be out very soon. It is a supernatural thriller. Our wonderful script/manuscript editor Bill Armstrong is writing that one. He wanted to take a crack at an adaptation, and I was like, absolutely! The proof of concept short for KNIT can be streamed on Amazon Prime Movies right now. But the screenplay/book adaptation will be much different. We will also be adapting my psychological horror script, Stricken, about a man recovering from a stroke, with something much darker threatening him and his family. And there is even more – my supernatural horror screenplay titled SINK. A dystopian/action/science fiction screenplay titled The Pit. And our awesome horror anthology, Road Terrors. And there are several more completed screenplays to adapt into books – as fast as we can crank them out!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Seeds of the Dead and your other work?
AK: Our website is www.killerbeamfilms.com. It’s the best place to learn what Killerbeam may be up to next… Maybe a comic book for Seeds of the Dead? I would still love to make that movie! You never know what we might be up to next! Cheers!