by Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn: Wow, thanks for inviting me over. All this time I thought they were kidding about England. Tell everyone your name.
Ricky Fleet: Ricky Fleet … what do you mean “kidding?”
Jay: Well, I thought England was a made up place like Narnia or Neverland.
Fleet: Made up? Why would you think it wasn’t a real place?
Jay: It’s where the Harry Potter books are set. None of that seemed real. Is it?
Fleet: I … I don’t even know how to answer that.
Jay: Well, you do live in a castle. Is this the way everyone here lives?
Fleet: Um, well, no. I’m setting up for the apocalypse. I know it’s going to happen, so I want to be ready.
Jay: Is this the one from your books?
Fleet: It is, in fact.
Jay: What is your latest book?
Fleet: Hellspawn Requiem.
Jay: Give us a framework for the overall story.
Fleet: Two rival factions are gearing for war.
Kurt and his family are secure behind the massive walls of Arundel Castle and can finally honor their fallen. Surrounded on all sides by the undead, plans must be made for the future. But first, a growing threat has to be overcome, one which could spell doom for them all.
Craig Arater, psychopathic brother to Mike, is the undisputed Kingpin of Ford Prison. With an army of men at his command, Craig is making his own plans to avenge the disrespect and abandonment of his sibling. When men with nothing to lose go against men with everything to protect, the only guarantee is that rivers of blood will flow.
Jay: Tell us more about your characters.
Fleet: In Requiem, we are introduced to several new faces and find out more about others from Sentinel.
Denise and Patricia are two feisty American ladies who were unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean when the zombies devoured the world. Kurt is indebted to them both for their aid in taking the castle and their help will prove invaluable in the future.
Winston has been a bit of an enigma. After the incident at the convent and his partnership of convenience with Mike and Debbie, we follow him on his solo journey after he opts to not join them in the prison.
Craig Arater is a man that killed without compunction in a world with rules. Freed from the constraints of civilization, his evil barbarism plumbs horrific new depths. A charismatic and powerful leader, the prisoners either revere him or cower in fear of his rule.
Matt Hay and Hombre Lee are Craig’s right hand men. Both brutal, hard men, they help to control the prison wings and the gangs within.
Private Eldridge has led the rebellion at Thorney island Army Barracks and overthrown Baxter. With the British armed forces lying in tatters, they lack the ability to fight the undead hordes head on. Instead, she must use her wiles and those of her fellow soldiers to use guerilla warfare on the shambling creatures and find any remaining survivors.
Jay: What challenges does the zombie genre present you?
Fleet: The difficulty in the zombie genre is making things unique enough to stand out. Hellspawn is my nod to Romero, and as such, the zombies themselves are the original, rotting, festering, shambling monsters. I use the story itself to try and make it stand out from the crowd.
Jay: What does setting a zombie story in the UK change about it?
Fleet: My survivors, both good and evil, have no easy time of it. Being set in the UK brings the added dynamic of lack of weaponry and how people can fight back against the undead without unlimited ammunition and guns. This means they have to get creative in their approach which will continue to be an ongoing thread in the series.
Jay: What are your inspirations for your stories?
Fleet: My biggest inspirations are my family. I want my children to grow up and see that if you work hard you can achieve your dreams.
As always, my publisher and friend Christina Hargis Smith, must get a mention for her tireless belief in me even when I doubt myself.
Jay: What does Requiem change about the Hellspawn series?
Fleet: Requiem is the first chance the different groups have had to relax; as much as it’s possible to relax with rotting carnivores beating at the doors, anyway. Thoughts have shifted from moment to moment survival, to longer term plans on riding out the zombie apocalypse. As well as winning against the dead, the survivors know they will face off against each other in a winner takes all battle as soon as the winter has ended.
More so than any other of the books, Requiem provides the definitive dividing line between the two camps; Kurt and his extended family, and Craig with his motley crew of thugs and murderers. The reader starts to see the nature of the evil contained within the prison walls and the true scale of Kurt’s task if he ever hopes to free the innocents trapped inside.
Anyone who follows the series knows I can be quite descriptive with the gore and violence, but this volume exceeds anything that has gone before. Be prepared for a much darker and more graphic novel with some uncomfortable scenes.
Jay: I love the horror in your series, but I sense something bigger underneath it all. What is that thing beyond the zombie horror in your books do you think?
Fleet: I hope people can see that even through the horror that family is everything. When the world is full of inhumanity, to maintain our own humanity is worth fighting for.
Fleet: Thanks, mate.
Jay: How do I get out of this castle?
Fleet: I’ll ring up one of the knights to show you the way.
Jay: Oh, thank you.
Fleet: One more thing. Jack Wallen apparently tried to mail me a blanket, but it got flagged in customs. Could you check on that?
Jay: Um, yeah, I’ll see what that’s about.
Fleet: Thanks, have a good trip. *Sits down on a throne and flips on an episode of Catfish*