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An Interview: Thomas S. Roche

10 Zen Monkeys interviews The Panama Laugh author, Thomas S. Roche.

“Zombies! Brains! Zombies! It’s the first novel ever published by author Thomas S. Roche.

The Panama Laugh opens with a punch — literally — before launching into an unrelenting onslaught of dangerous crimelords, soldiers of fortune, radical fringe groups, and yes, zombies!!! There’s a global throwdown with moments of weapons porn — like hijacked nuclear-powered warships and deadly remote surveillance drones — while radical fringe survivors may be holed up in “the Armory” in San Francisco (a real-life building owned by Kink.com).

It’s Roche’s very first novel — or at least, the first novel published under his own name. (There’s also hundreds of horror, crime, fantasy, and, yes, erotic short stories and books that he’s written under pseudonyms). Maybe the real question is what makes a man write an “after the apocalypse” zombie novel — after hundreds of hours of writing porn? Combined with a lifelong obsession with vintage pulp fiction, the end result is an original, daring and thoroughly-researched “debut apocalypse,” a 300-page buzzsaw that one Barnes and Noble reviewer called simply “exceptional.”

I remembered Thomas from his legendary stint as the gonzo technology editor at a web magazine called GettingIt.com, where we’d worked together back in 1999. I decided to track him down for the inside dirt on his mysterious new kick — and to see just how much fun you can have with the word zombie!

10 ZEN MONKEYS: Is there something millenarian in the zeitgeist now — some universal sense of doom, or a desire to laugh and secede from humanity? I’m sorry — every question I’d ask you suddenly seems tainted with a dark obscenity whenever I add the word zombie. “Where do you get your inspiration for your novels…about zombies? Will you be writing a sequel…about zombies? How do you celebrate finishing your first novel…about zombies?”

THOMAS S. ROCHE: Isn’t everything about zombies?

I just go ape-shit over good zombie apocalypses. I love them; they’re one of my favorite genres. I read a lot and watch a lot and just completely groove on all the incredible creativity involved in zombie walks, all the viral zombie websites and social-networking stuff, all the in-jokes for zombie fans…I just love it. It’s a template that takes on so many wonderful forms!” Read more.