2013-04-12 / People

Second book in zombie series is available

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Joe Souza Joe Souza The zombie formula has become familiar to many since the horror genre’s recent spike in popularity. A virus spreads. Few survivors remain. Slow-moving cannibalistic undead descend on the survivors, overwhelming some while others escape.

Rinse. Chase. Repeat.

Some stories, like Max Brooks’s 2006 novel, “World War Z,” Robert Kirkman’s ongoing comic book series, “The Walking Dead” and Danny Boyle’s 2003 film, “28 Days Later” have found ways to offer fresh perspective on the common trope. South Portland author Joe Souza says his “Living Dead” series of zombie novels includes the flesh-eating blood and gore that define the genre, but his novels are not typical zombie genre fodder.

“This has a lot more character and a lot more depth of human interaction. I think it appeals to the person who’s not necessarily a zombie reader, just people who like writing,” Souza said.

The second book in the “Living Dead” trilogy, “Darpocalypse,” was released by Permuted Press in February. It picks up the narrative thread of the first installment, “The Reawakening,” which centers around main character Dar, a 19-year-old girl from Boston that Souza describes as a “warrior and a fighter.”

Dar is forced to lead a community of survivors from a camp in Boston Common after her uncle, a prominent scientist, unwittingly spreads a deadly virus while running experiments on geneticallyengineered crops at his farmhouse in northern Maine.

The first book is told from the perspective of Dar’s father. In the second, the setting is changed from northern Maine to Boston, and the story is told from a variety of thirdperson perspectives, Souza said. The third and final book in the series, titled “Darmaggedon,” is due out in 2014.

Souza said the trilogy is his first venture into the horror genre. Previously, he had mostly written short crime fiction and satire. The horror genre appealed to him, Souza explained, because of the human reaction a post-apocalyptic world creates when people are backed into a corner.

“I like the situation where people are thrust into an environment and they have to react. They’re stuck. They’re surrounded,” Souza said. “The zombies aren’t characters per se, the whole zombie horde is a character. It forces people into a situation where they have nowhere to go, so they have to interact based on that.”

The characters in “Darpocalypse” include an MIT professor, Boston Public Works employees, and a former rock star recovering from drug addiction that Souza modeled on Courtney Love. Souza said he drew from his varied life experiences with different occupations in different places to create the characters in his stories.

Souza grew up in Quincy, Mass., and worked on the docks in South Boston for seven years during infamous organized crime boss Whitey Bulger’s era of prominence in the city. After attending college at Northeastern University, he worked as a lawyer in Massachusetts, an intelligence analyst for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C., and a teacher in Seattle, among various other occupations.

“I’ve done every kind of job imaginable,” Souza said. “Taxi driver, teacher, social worker, restaurants. I’ve got a lot of experience in different things that’s given me some perspective.”

“Darpocalypse” is available at Amazon.com and Souza’s own website, www.josephsouza.net. “The Reawakening” is also available at Nonesuch Books in South Portland, where Souza said it was on the shop’s top 10 bestseller list shortly after its release.

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