Friday, September 26, 2014


Please welcome author Marilyn Peake! We're lucky to have you here doing this interview!

Q. You have a great many accolades for your writing work. That must feel amazing!
A. It does feels really good. It also feels fantastic when my writing reaches readers and I receive enthusiastic emails from them. I’ve got to say when I received your message about how much you loved reading MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES, that made me very happy and inspired me to keep on writing. Most writers write for an audience and absolutely love hearing from readers about their work.

Q. You have written many, many stories. Which would you say was your favorite to write?
A. That’s a hard question to answer because I’ve loved the creative process with all of them. I found the experience of writing MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES rewarding and meaningful because it helped me deal with the horrific news stories I’d been following on the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa. SHADE, my Young Adult Mystery novel with Paranormal elements, was fun to write, even though it dealt with some pretty serious issues, because the main character Shade is feisty and rebellious and says some very funny things with her smart mouth. Probably the stories that were the most pure fun to write were my middle grade children’s books in THE FISHERMAN’S SON Trilogy. In those books, the main character Wiley O’Mara gets to swim under the ocean on the back of a magical dolphin. It was fun to research the fish that live in the ocean and to include them in a book of Fantasy.

Q. What inspired you to write the novelette, “Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies”?
A. I had been following the news stories on the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa and felt so disturbed by the rapid spread of the disease and the inadequate medical response to it that I found myself creating a story to reflect the horror of the real-world situation. That story became MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES, a novelette in the genres of Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Zombie Fiction, Conspiracy Fiction, and Horror.

Q. I personally love when my monster books make scientific sense. Did you have to do much research for this story?
A. Years ago, I read THE HOT ZONE by Richard Preston. That nonfiction book is about a real-life incident that took place in 1989 inside a lab located in Reston, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Monkeys were brought into the lab from the Philippines, and it turned out they were infected with a monkey strain of Ebola. A secret military SWAT team was deployed to kill the monkeys and sterilize the building in order to prevent the spread of the disease inside the United States. That book is terrifying. Ebola is one of the hemorrhagic fevers through which the insides of an infected person liquefy, eventually streaming out of every opening in their body, including their eyes and even any tiny holes made by hypodermic needles. Ebola is usually spread through bodily fluids. The mortality rate is around 90% and there’s no known cure. In the Reston lab, Ebola mutated and became airborne, so that monkeys having no direct contact with the sick monkeys caught it. The virus also jumped species. It was found in the blood of a man who worked inside the building, although he survived.

THE HOT ZONE is filled with a great deal of factual information about Ebola: where it most likely originated (in the rain forest, jumping species from bats to monkeys to humans), how it mutates, ways in which it could become a worldwide pandemic, etc. The Reston lab incident happened in 1989. THE HOT ZONE was published in 1994 as a kind of warning to the world. It left a very big impression on me. When the recent outbreak of Ebola began in West Africa, I became concerned. When it started spreading across West African countries and becoming an epidemic there, I felt alarmed. I began reading news stories every day on the horrors of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the many ways in which the disease is getting out of control. A worst-case scenario recently reported by the CDC is that 1.4 million people could be infected with Ebola in the West African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone by January. This form of Ebola has a mortality rate of around 70%. An experimental serum has cured a few medical workers brought back to the United States for treatment. Vaccines and more serums are being developed by pharmaceutical companies in a number of different countries.

All these news stories gave me ideas for how my fictional story, MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES, might reflect the sense of horror in the real-world Ebola epidemic. As I wrote, I continued to research the unfolding news stories.

Q. What is your next project? Will it be another horror book?
A. Right now, with the blessing of Hugh Howey, I’m working on a fan fiction story set in his WOOL universe that will be published on Amazon. I’m hoping to turn MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES and SHADE into two series of books. I also have plans to write a series of science fiction stories about aliens coming to Earth and the military’s use of psychological tools to influence the public.

Q. If I asked you which of your titles I should read next, knowing that I thought “Mutation Z” was brilliant, what would you recommend?
A. Thank you so much for referring to MUTATION Z as “brilliant”! That makes me very happy! I’m not sure what to recommend, as I haven’t written anything else quite like MUTATION Z. You might like OCCUPY FAERIE, a short story about a politician and a wickedly evil faerie who work together. I’d love to recommend SHADE. It covers a number of dark topics, although it’s a very different genre than MUTATION Z. Personally, I love the main character, Shade. She has so many problems in her life; and yet she’s feisty, headstrong and brave enough to handle them all.

Q. Before I let you go, I have to ask. Do you think a zombie outbreak could be possible? If it happened, would you be surprised? Do you think you would be prepared?
A. I love those questions! I’m not even sure I’d be prepared if an Ebola outbreak were to become a worldwide pandemic, although I hope somehow I would be. Surviving something like that often involves a huge element of luck. Some small percentage of people are always immune to the disease! As far as a zombie epidemic, I don’t really believe that’s possible; but there are diseases that have similarities to zombie disease. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some new and weird disease became an epidemic. Ebola’s real and it’s a weird disease. It’s spread in a number of different ways, including through the eating of infected bushmeat (bats, monkeys, etc.), a tradition among many poor people in Africa. The disease of Kuru was found among the people of New Guinea back when they practiced a form of cannibalism in which they ate the brains of dead people as part of a funeral ritual. It caused brain and nervous system changes similar to Mad Cow Disease. Rabies causes a fear of water in patients due to their difficulty with swallowing. So, even though I don’t think a zombie illness that involves walking dead people is possible, I do believe that diseases similar in nature are very possible. The world is sometimes a very frightening place.
Thank you so much for this interview, Marilyn Peake! I love that "The Hot Zone" inspired you so many years ago. That book was an eye opener for me, as well, and got me excited about medical thrillers and contagion stories. It is probably what started my fascination with the truth of science and what horrors can come to be because of man and nature. If you haven't read it yet, I would definitely recommend "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic" by David Quammen. Fascinating and scary both.
My review for "Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies" follows and I will be looking to get my hands on OCCUPY FAERIE and SHADE. Readers, hook yourself up with a copy of MUTATION Z today! You won't regret it. =D
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Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies
by Marilyn Peake

Genre: Horror

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I was so honored to have the author contact me to review her book, MUTATION Z. It looked like exactly the kind of book that I'm interested in and I was right! I read it in a single sitting, as I couldn't possibly put it down, and it was the realism that hooked me from the start. 

We join nursing graduate Emma Johnson as she embarks on a mission of compassion to Liberia and an Ebola treatment camp, where the CDC and WHO are testing vaccines in hopes of curing the deadly disease.

I am VERY excited to hear that this novelette will be growing into a series! Especially because of the ending that leaves you with buggy eyes and an impressive jaw gape.


  1. I saw this as one of your favourites in the Liebster Award that you recently read! After that, I knew I had to check this out. Great interview, I should really try this out. It sounds really cool!

    1. Yesss, please do! It's not long but I sure loved it!

  2. Thank you so much, Rebecca, for such a wonderful interview and review of MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES! I've purchased a copy of SPILLOVER: ANIMAL INFECTIONS AND THE NEXT HUMAN PANDEMIC by David Quammen - it looks like a fascinating read!

    1. I had to take breaks while reading SPILLOVER, as it is very scientific, but for anyone interested in this subject, it is really a great source!

      And you are so very welcome - let's do it again VERY soon! =D