Musician, music industry insider, and sometimes chick-lit author Alan Goldsher has had one hodge-podge of a career. He’s played with Janet Jackson, ghostwritten for NBA stars, and now he’s mashing music and zombies. His new book, Paul Is Undead ($10, Amazon), is Beatles history text, meets Scary Movie, meets Ren & Stimpy. The fab four are transformed into a band of flesh seeking zombies and about 100 fart jokes and disgusting zombisms later, the book ends, on a somewhat metaphorical note: with an exploding head. “If you’re a Beatles fan and you’re not a snob, you’ll dig it,” Goldsher says. “It’s for the Beatles nuts from a Beatles nut.”
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Nutty he may be, but skeptics take note: Goldsher is doing something right. Before Paul Is Undead hit bookstores, it was already optioned for a movie deal. He’s even working on his next music/monster pairing, Frankenstein Has Left The Building, a mash of Frankenstein meets, yes, Elvis. Here, I chat with the author about his rock blasphemy and why he thinks music and horror fans alike will declare his zombified Beatles history a true monsterpiece.
Allie Townsend: First off, I think people will want to know what qualifies you to write this book. What’s your Beatles/horror cred like?
Alan Goldsher: I’ve spent most of my life in the music industry. The Beatles were the first pop music I listened to. They’re so melodic and catchy, but they’re soulful too.
Some of the first grown up literature I read was Stephen King, and that always stuck with me. I’ve never really written horror, but then the zombie renaissance happened. I guess people will say this is a band jumping project but it’s not. It’s very organic. I love the Beatles. I love horror. If I could proudly say that this is a part of the Beatles canon or the horror canon, well that would be really special to me. It’s not like I read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and said, “Ooh, I want to do that.” This is an organic thing.
AT: How will this book appeal to Beatles fans?
AG: That’s something I was overly conscious of. I went over the top trying to be gross and funny, but I was very conscious of staying true to the history of the group. Every scene that involves the band is based on a real event, except I’m zombifying it.
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AT: What about zombie nerds? How were you did you make this work as a horror story?
AG: I’ve got to admit, as I was writing it I kept thinking, the zombie nerds are going to tag me. You have these situations where you create your own universe and thus you create your own rules. A lot of the zombies I’ve created are not a part of the actual zombie realm. They’re high functioning zombies. The zombies in the book are high functioning in general. I don’t know how the zombie people are going to roll with that, but it’s no more or less absurd than your typical Stephen King book.
AT: But the whole thing is written as an oral history? Is that a World War Z reference?
AG: It’s a goof on rock histories. There are so many rock oral histories that come off as pretentious, so I wanted to do that a little too. I also wanted to get in as many of the characters as I could. The Beatles mythology is so vast and sprawling that to get all of those voices in there would be really fun. There are 53 characters and I did my best to distinguish them.
AT: I’ve heard it’s already been optioned as a film? Will we see it on the screen?
AG: It’s a very filmable book, so I hope. With the success of Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland, I can see it happening. It’s a spiritual cousin. I actually wrote a screen play and they’re considering using it. Whatever they want to do, I’m down with it. If it does make it to the screen though, it’s going to be pretty damn good.
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AT: I have to be honest. I asked a few of my die hard Beatles fan friends, and they aren’t sold on the idea of the book. How do you work around that?
AG: Either you’re in or you’re not. I treat the band with a lot of the respect. I was really respectful to the history and the spirit of the band. You can look at it as kind of like A Hard Day’s Night, a rag tag comedy. If they can accept that, they can accept this. Either, they’ll roll with it or they won’t.
AT: And you’ve already announced your next music mash-up, yes?
AG: Yes, Frankenstein Has Left The Building.
I’m basically retelling Frankenstein with Elvis as the creature. I’ve already written a chunk of it and it’s kind of a natural thing. We’re not calling things mash-ups anymore, we’re calling them remixes. So this is a Frankenstein/Elvis remix.
You can almost say that stylistically, Elvis took a little from the blues and little from country and a little from swing. There’s a something about Elvis’ music and career that lends itself easily to the Frankenstein myth.
AT: So what kind of reader will love a book about Beatles and zombies?
AG: The most important thing to have to read this book is a sense of humor. It’s so over the top absurd. It’s not a scary book, but it’s really, really gross. Lots of blood, dismemberment and fart jokes.