If anyone can survive a zombie outbreak, it will be lesbians. The latest from G Benson, Dead Lez Walking, is an exciting, funny, intense thriller. I will read any book this woman writes, even if my dreams are invaded by zombies. I was fortunate to be able to chat with G.
And I was fortunate to chat with you!
Dead Lez Walking. Great title and fantastic book. Explain your clear obsession with zombies? 😊
Thank you! The title started as an utter joke. Then it came to thinking of something else, and it had completely stuck. I can’t imagine it as anything else now. I’m so glad people seem to like it! My obsession with zombies? I always liked disaster movies, especially “end of the world” style, from natural disasters and the like. I watched a lot of those films as a teen. Zombies were never really on my radar, probably because I actually hate anything remotely scary. Eight years ago, however, I met my wife. Who also liked disaster type apocalyptic films—but she also had an obsession with zombies, especially The Walking Dead. So we binged the first few seasons together—me quite reluctantly, at first, and her for the second time and much more gleefully. It really shocked me, but I loved it. We’ve watched so many zombie films and series since then. I don’t know why they don’t scare me like other things do—I think it’s because I know, very much so, that zombies aren’t real. It’s not like a creepy thriller where humans hurt each other.
So, that’s how it began! I enjoy them for a variety of reasons. I love watching society collapse, and seeing how people cope. I really like seeing how people rebuild societies (or don’t). The relationships people form are one of the best things about it all—people who wouldn’t normally spend time together, watching how people relate to each other in situations so far removed from what they used to know. Watching people build relationships when they’ve lost everyone and everything back at the start. I find it all fascinating.
Let’s say that a zombie outbreak has occurred, and you have four lesfic writers you can tap to help you fight them. Who are you choosing and what skills do they bring to the party?
WENDY HUDSON! I’m sorry to yell, but if she’s not on my zombie outbreak survival team I’m throwing a tantrum. Why, you ask? She has actually done wilderness survival courses. I dibs her. She’s on my team. Also, blah blah, she’s a good friend and we get along great, blah blah. But mostly for her ability to light a fire WITHOUT matches or a lighter, and make a shelter. Hell, her latest book is even about all that!
Clare Ashton because she’s hilarious and tells an incredible story. Seriously, she cracks me up. That’s very needed in an apocalypse! Also she posts lots of outdoorsy pics online. Clearly she’s got some experience there.
Aaaaaaand I’m going to say Fiona Zedde because over the pandemic she made a lot of baked goods and posted pics on FB, and having someone on the team who can bake is important. She made bread from scratch! Also, she lives in the same country as me, unlike the others, so we can team up quickly and really get a start on the not-dying.
And forth—can I cheat and say my wife? Look, she’s not a lesfic author, but she reads all my books and supports them. Does that count? She got me into zombies and we always make joke zombie survival plans so I know she knows what’s up. Also, she’s a surgeon. Who knows how to amputate limbs. If you’ve watched The Walking Dead you know that’s important. Yes, please. Also I suppose I like her or whatever.
You are originally from Australia but now live in Spain. What do you miss about Australia and what do you love about Spain?
Oooh this question. Normally I’m a bit blasé about missing Australia, as I was lucky in the beginning and got to go back a fair bit. But, thanks to Covid, it’s been three and a half years since I’ve been back and seen most of my people there. So, it’s a great time to ask as I’ll gush a little. I miss the beaches, especially from WA (Western Australia)—they’re not built up at all and are so untouched. I miss camping in the middle of nowhere with my mates, surrounding a fire that’s crackling away as the stars are spread out in the sky overhead. I miss the huge variety of food available from Vietnamese to Indian to Japanese to to to—I just miss it. I miss the coffee (sorry Spain, your coffee is poop). I miss my family and friends too, I guess. Heh.
What do I love about Spain? The other day some mates and I went and sat on a terrace. We ordered one drink each. We sat for four hours and not once did anyone make us feel like we had to move on or order anything else. And that’s just Spain—sit down and enjoy! I love it. They call it “sobremesa” though that more means the time after eating that you just sit at the table for hours and have conversation. I also love tapas, and old towns. I love that we’ll be driving and there’ll be a ruined church just…there, in the middle of nowhere. In the open. I love the mountains and the snow here. I suppose my wife, too. Heh.
All the Little Moments is one of my favorite books. I laughed, cried and fell completely for Anna, Lane, Kym and the kids. It was the first novel you released. What did it mean to you and how has your life changed since it came out in 2015?
Wow, thanks so much. I’m so glad you liked it. The book meant a lot to me—I hadn’t really considered taking writing to any other level, and seeing it get love was a huge turning point in realising I could maybe write stories for real. It changed a lot, thanks to that.
It came out in 2015? Which was six years ago? Wow. That’s—wow. Six years. My life has changed a lot since then. A lot of it has to do with writing—living in Spain, as unplanned as doing so was, left me with very few job options. I was teaching English as a second language, but was really wanting to do something else, something that felt satisfying to me as working as a Nurse in Australia had done. So releasing that first book, then others, all really contributed to me starting to feel less like I was “passing time” in Spain, and more like I was living here. I still teach English at times, though! But I’m working really hard to try love from my writing. We’ll see!
You are currently working on a celebrity romance. Can you give us a few details?
I am! I just hit 40000 words! Details? Gosh that’s hard. I’m not a plotter at all so I don’t really have a super clear idea of where it’s going. So, one’s a celebrity. But you know that. The other is a doctor who works in Emergency. How do they meet, you ask? Well, the actress has a car accident and the doctor that walks in to treat her is our Emergency doctor. Pretty predictable, right? I think so, too. Turns out these two knew each other at Summer camp when they were nine, though. And hoo boy, do they not really like each other.
And so begins the story. There’s a dash of fake relationship, a big dollop of enemies (frenemies?) to lovers, a celebrity relationship (I think you got that already), and (I hope anyway) a lot of humour.
Which of your characters do you most identify with and what is your favorite of the books you have written?
Crueeeeeel question! I’m kidding. It’s a great question. But a favourite book? I can’t. I’m going to just say Dead Lez Walking because it was so ridiculous and fun to write. But actual fave? Can’t do it. Impossible. Which of my characters do I most identify with? Hm. I would say Anna, from All the Little Moments, definitely. Life is really good at throwing curve balls into the way you saw it all planning out, and I was writing that book while I was traveling around Europe with my backpack. I could definitely relate to her adjusting to things in life that she hadn’t expected. Also Hayden, definitely, from Who’d Have Thought. I think I poured a lot of my own sense of humour into her. I relate easily to how she reacts to things and situations, from awkwardly timed comments and not really thinking through her decisions. Also, her grumpy cat Frank was based on my own grumpy boy.
Clare Ashton. Despite her calling you zombie girl 😊 there seems to be a lot of mutual respect between the two of you. What does Clare mean to you as a fellow author and friend?
It’s actually Zombie Poo Girl now (you can Twitter dive to find out why). I need to get a badge that has that on it. Clare is an absolutely fantastic author—there are lines in her book that are so achingly good I have to reread them several times! She’s so prolific, she writes such different books each time and I’m constantly amazed. My favourite is easily The Tell Tale. And before that, it was After Mrs Hamilton, it’s so different to anything else I’ve ever read. The Tell Tale is fabulous for the mystery, but also the commentary on men in small towns (and everywhere) and the way women have to stick together and find their own ways around the ways of men that don’t want to change the status quo. It’s amazing. Clare is someone I love to throw ideas around with, and she’s now betad for me twice—having such a great author have her eyes on your books at such a crucial stage is fab. The advice, knowing what works, what doesn’t, it’s all so helpful.
For young queer kids, seeing others who identify as they do is so important. Thank you for the work you do as the commissioning editor at Queer Pack. How did your own experiences play a part in your need to show more queer representation in the media?
I think anyone in the queer community can understand the need for representation in the media. My personal experience possibly comes from how long it took to figure out that I was bisexual, not straight or a lesbian. It was such a long journey, and it wasn’t really until I was about twenty-five that I claimed it. It was so easy to think that if you were attracted to men, that must mean you’re straight. Kiss a woman and like it, must be a lesbian. Meet another man and maybe you were just confused as a teen? Then date predominantly women, nah, must be a lesbian. And I think that experience comes from a lot of the attitudes around bisexual people (doing it for attention, it’s a stepping stone to gay, etc etc). Coming off that, we all know how important representation is in media in shaping those attitudes. I can’t even think of a bisexual person I was exposed to in the media as a teen. There were some characters that had dated men, then discovered they were a lesbian. Even now, there’s a lot of “I’m fluid” and no one just says “bi”. So many stories still have someone always realising they were straight or gay all along. There’s nothing wrong with using fluid, and there are definitely people who realise they were straight or gay/a lesbian later in life and those stories deserve to be told. But I would love to see more bisexual characters.
Wow, that was a long ramble! But I suppose that was a roundabout reason as to how my own experiences play a part in my need to show more queer rep in the media. I want everyone to see themselves in the media as much as possible, and to be able to relate to all kinds of stories. I want mirrors of society to be held up so general society sees that there are all kinds of sexualities and genders and races and ethnicities, not just what they’ve experienced in their own pocket of the universe.
Thanks so much for taking some time to chat with me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate it!
Thanks for such thoughtful comments and questions! I really enjoyed answering them!