DS: What's your favorite zombie movie and why?
DiLouie: For sheer spectacle, I'd have to say World War Z. I know the cool kids bashed the movie because it didn't follow the book. First, while I enjoyed the book, I didn't require a strict adaptation, which I doubt would have been even possible. (An HBO miniseries, however, might have pulled that off.) The movie was also criticized because the plotting and characterization were thin. No arguments there, but the same is true of most of what comes out of Hollywood these days. But wow, what a thrill. Here, for the first time, was a big-budget zombie movie with amazing set pieces and action. I loved it and hope they can pull off the sequel, which has been rumored to be in the works.
Romero's Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later would be close seconds. In my opinion, some of the best zombie movies are actually comedies - Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. I recently watched a great little indie zombie flick called State of Emergency, which was surprisingly good because it felt authentic. One day, I hope somebody will make a movie out of Tooth and Nail. Picture Battle of Los Angeles or Blackhawk Down meets 28 Days Later.
Probably the best zombie story being told on a screen, however, is The Walking Dead. The series delivers the scares and spectacle you want from an apocalyptic zombie story, but also takes time to develop compelling characters and drama steeped in a fair degree of realism. It's a great show.
DS: Who are some of your influences?
DiLouie: I agree with Stephen King that being a great reader makes you a better writer. I read constantly, and I learn something about craft from every book I read. Some great authors I'd recommend are Joe McKinney (Dead City, Flesh Eaters), Peter Clines (Ex-Heroes, 14), David Moody (Autumn, Hater), Jeff Long (The Descent, Deeper), Adam Nevill (The Ritual, Temple of the Last Days), Adam Baker (Juggernaut), John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (Spore, The Bridge) - man, I could go on and on. There are so many writers of quality horror fiction out there. I tend to enjoy books that challenge me on an intellectual level, surprise me, make me care about the characters, show me the thrill of the end of the world as seen by those who would survive it.
DS: I've heard that you do extensive research when you're working on a new novel. Can you take us through your process?
DiLouie: Absolutely. World building is a critical part of any good novel. The more realistic the world, the more believable the horror aspect will be, making it scarier and more thrilling. I do a ton of research for my books to get the details as right as I can, everything from how to clear a misfeed in an M4 carbine to Army radio protocols to how new automatic side-loading garbage trucks are changing waste management. The bonus for me and the reader is all the wonderful little details you can put in your book that make its world, its people and its monsters come alive.
DS: What do you like to listen to when you write?
DiLouie: Dead quiet. It'd be awesome to be like Stephen King and have metal playing in the background while I'm writing. It makes a great image. But no, I need absolute focus to immerse myself in the story I'm creating, and for that I need quiet and no distractions.