Zombies in the Grad House

This interview originally appeared in The Brunswickan, Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

Zombies in the Grad House

by Liz Stanin

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, there will be zombies in the Grad House – more interesting ones, perhaps, than the usual crowd (disclaimer: I have never actually been to the Grad House; I’m sure you’re all very nice people).

On Wednesday, Corey Redekop will be launching his new book, Husk. The author, a graduate of UNB law school – although he never practiced – and publicist at Goose Lane Editions, is originally from northern Manitoba. During the interview, he was wearing a zombie t-shirt and when he went to fish his own novel out of his bag, he accidentally pulled out another zombie book.

If Husk has half as much character as its author, I predict a bestseller.

“I call it the Great Canadian Gay Mennonite Novel,” said Redekop, describing his new book.

“I own that shelf at Chapters.”

Redekop explained that Husk is not a traditional zombie novel.

“It’s not about a zombie apocalypse,” he said.

“It’s not about people hiding in shelters. It’s more about a normal guy who’s having a hard time in life with a variety of bad luck situations and now he’s a zombie as well. I’m sure people will make metaphors for disease which is obvious with any zombie thing. It was never my intention to bring a metaphor out; I just wanted to tell a story that I thought was kind of bizarre and in my head.”

Husk is a comedy, but a very bloody and dark one. In Redekop’s personal copy, the novel is congratulated by several people who have signed the flyleaf as being “gross.”

“Preschoolers can probably appreciate it,” said Redekop.

“But they probably should not read it.”

Redekop is the kind of person who believes that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an improvement on the original.

“[Pride and Prejudice] never spoke to me. I was in a class once, a couple years ago… I found it was boring and all the women gasped like I’d shown them a dead kitten.”

The production of Husk was not without its challenges; the editing process took about six months longer than originally expected.

“It originally had a different ending,” said Redekop.

“It’s similar to the ending that’s in the book in a lot of respects, but I was taking a lot of pot-shots. My editor said, ‘I’m not actually sure who you’re mad at here,’ so I had to kind of tighten in up and change it bit… I think it works out for the better. It’s a little less predictable now.”

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me who’ve read it and about two thirds of the way through, they think [they know] where it’s going and then three pages later they’re like, ‘I did not see that coming,’ and it’s a completely different novel… I enjoy that, as long as they can buy it.”

Critics certainly seem to have bought it.

“The reviews so far have been amazing,” said the author, sounding incredulous.

Quill and Quire loved it, The Toronto Star said I was one of the top reads for the fall and Amazon just made it one of their editor’s choices of the month.”

Redekop was even invited back to his province of birth a couple of weeks ago, for The Winnipeg International Writers Festival.

“It was like a comedy club,” he said, describing what he calls a “Haiku death match”, that was held between him and some of the other writers.

“I’ve never heard more euphemisms for masturbation before…  and my mom was in the audience.”

See what I mean about character?

“I tend not to take things seriously. I like weird comedies. I grew up with Monty Python,” said the author said, by way of explanation.

Redekop will be launching Husk at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10, at the Alden Nowlan House (the Grad House) on 676 Windsor Street.