Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of twenty books, including the Bram Stoker finalist The Black Mariah (1994), the International Thriller Writers Award finalist Shattered (2007), and the wildly popular Walking Dead novels (based on the original series created by Robert Kirkman). Jay’s work has been translated into eleven languages, and he has been called “one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers” by Chicago Tribune. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, the photographer Jill Norton, and his two teenage boys.
Jay’s upcoming novel, The Walking Dead: Descent, follows the events of The Fall of the Governor, and Lilly Caul’s struggles to rebuild Woodbury after the Governor’s shocking demise. Look for it October 14th from Thomas Dunne Books!
Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.
I wrote a speech once for the CEO of Phillip Morris tobacco company—it was a nightmare. Maybe my taste for horror was honed by that experience.
You wake up tomorrow morning as the antagonist in your book series: what do you do to change the ending for yourself?
Oh… uh… wow. The villains in The Walking Dead books are nasty, nasty, nasty… they don’t deserve happy endings. I would probably change the ending to me killing myself out of shame and guilt.
What is your favorite short story?
“Paladin of the Lost Hour” by Harlan Ellison—a moving parable that makes me cry every time I re-read it, which is often, it inspires me.
Describe your favorite place to read/write?
A cool little Bohemian dive just north of Chicago called Bagel Art.
If you could choose your own personal theme song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?
“Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk. Monk was an insane genius, and I put him in the same league as Beethoven or Mozart. But he was also almost childlike in his artistic choices. One of my inspirations.
Do you have a favorite unknown author?
Thomas Tessier, Jeff Osier, David Schow, Martin Mundt, Nancy Collins, and Joe Lansdale.
Battle to the death, which weapon do you choose: A) Phaser, B) Lightsaber, or C) Wand?
Do you have a favorite phrase?
Favorite preface: “I know this is going to sound crazy but…”
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
The quickest way to kill somebody (which I won’t divulge for obvious reasons).
If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?
Planet Jilly. (My wife is the coolest person I ever met)
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your new book, who would it be?
Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails.
What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?
Um… I went as a Droog from Clockwork Orange one year, which I kind of naturally look like.
What’s your favorite sandwich?
Bacon, Lettuce, and tomato… and bacon.
What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?
Time tours like in Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”
If you could design a line of clothing or accessories based on your favorite fictional character, what would it look like?
I have already sort of adopted this style: Bowler hat, vest, etc from steampunk.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone, and later, Night Gallery, and still later, Kolchack.
What would your Patronus/familiar be?
A cat. I know… boring.. but I am SO a cat person and not a dog person.
If you could open a new shop in Diagon Alley, what would you sell?
Bacon wrapped bacon. (I really like bacon.)
Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?
Villains are more fun. But they’re fickle and disloyal.
Having finally established communication with a distant alien species, what’s the first thing that we should tell them about Earth/humans?
Most of us have no shame and think the universe revolves around us.
Cast the main characters of your new novel.
Scarlett Johansson as Lilly Caul.