Writer Daryl Gregory always provides enlightening and entertaining discussion — that's why this marks the third time I have interviewed him about his work. Last month saw the release of his newest novel, Raising Stony Mayhall, which publisher Del Ray enthrallingly describes:
"In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda — and he begins to move. The family hides the child — whom they name Stony — rather than turn him over to authorities who would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world."
In addition to chatting about his newest novel, Gregory also explained how his previous novel, Pandemonium, came to be translated into Hebrew, as well as what else is on the creative horizon for him.
In terms of this novel's timeline, the first zombie outbreak happened in the late 1960s. What was your thinking in terms of the timeframe of when Stony was born?
It's a nod to Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which came out in 1968. In the world of the novel, a guy who also happens to be named Romero films the outbreak a documentary. We go on from there, and the book spans Stony's entire "life," from when he was discovered as an undead baby beside the highway in '68, to his eventual second death in his 40s in 2010.
Conveniently enough, I was born in 1965, so Stony's life and times are basically my life and times, with a few key differences. (Stony spends his life as a zombie, for example, while I am only a zombie before I've had my first cup of coffee.) Stony eventually discovers that he's not the only living dead boy in the world, and he goes through a political awakening when he realizes he's part of an oppressed community.
Using my own chronology was my chance to talk about growing up surrounded by sisters (only two of them, but I felt surrounded), as well as childhood friendships, and finding your place in the world. A reviewer on GoodReads called it a zombildungsroman, and that's the best, most efficient description of the book I've found.