Jay Bonansinga is known by Walking Dead fans for his work on The Governor novels with Robert Kirkman. The Rise of The Governor and The Road to Woodbury have already been released, and The Fall of The Governor is expected later this year.
Matt had a chance to catch up with Jay Bonansinga, and we learned about his creative process with Robert Kirkman, what we can expect from the upcoming novel, the chances of us seeing more novels after The Fall of The Governor, and if Jay thinks he can survive in a zombie apocalypse:
What was it that made you want to jump into the world of The Walking Dead with Robert Kirkman?
Jay Bonansinga: I wish I had a cool answer for this, some kind of charming, roguish anecdote. Full disclosure… The job opening was made known to me by my manager, Andy Cohen, who is close to David Alpert at Circle of Confusion (the producers of the AMC series). I was all over it like a cheap leisure suit. I begged and pleaded… and I reminded them that I worked with George Romero. Thank GOD I got the gig!!!!
Can you tell our readers about the creative process between you and Robert Kirkman when working on the novels?
Jay Bonansinga: It’s surprisingly simple: Robert comes up with the story-arc, and gives me an 8-to-10 page outline, and then he kind of leaves me alone. And I turn the outline into 100,000 words of prose. Luckily Robert is happy with what I come up with.
If the events of the first novel hadn't taken place, do you think we still would have seen the rise of The Governor down the line? Was it only the course of events that made him, or do you think he was always this person waiting to come out?
Jay Bonansinga: This is an excellent question. Um… after giving it some thought… my answer is, yeah it’s probably the course of events that made him. I think the capacity for evil is in all of us. We all just have different buttons, different lengths to our fuses, different triggers. Philip just stumbled upon the perfect storm that led him down that dark road.
What do you feel is The Governor's greatest characteristic? What is it you enjoy the most about writing this character?
Jay Bonansinga: I think the Gov is not only a great villain – probably because of his three-dimensionality and complexity – but he’s also entertaining. He reminds me sometimes of Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE… the dude you love to hate, and you would miss if he died off.
With the popularity of the TV series, many people are curious about The Governor from the comic book series. Do you find that TV show fans are reading your novels first before getting into the comic book series?
Jay Bonansinga: I have no earthly idea but I would LOVE to know the metrics on this. I wonder if Robert has minions at Skybound (Robert’s company) who keep track of this stuff. I’ll have to ask the fans at the next con or signing I go to.
Have you enjoyed watching The Governor come to life in the TV series? What do you think of the TV show version versus the comic book version?
Jay Bonansinga: David Morrissey is brilliant, and I think it’s partly because of his great acting that the Governor has become so layered and complicated. The Governor of the novel was a little more arch, a little more obvious in his badass evil. The Governor of the book is kind of Version 2-point-Oh. But I love them all.
A third book featuring The Governor is on the way. Have you completed work on The Fall of The Governor?
Jay Bonansinga: We are in the throes of writing it as we speak! I will say this: It’s going to be HUMONGOUSLY huge and cool!
Can you give our readers a little tease of what they can expect from the upcoming novel?
Jay Bonansinga: It’s going to tie a lot of stuff together, and also open up many cans of worms (and guts). It’s going to be a Zombie-palooza. All the major characters are going to make an appearance.
Outside of The Governor, is there another character from The Walking Dead that you'd love to write a book about?
Jay Bonansinga: Oh yeah… I have been fascinated by Michonne since the moment she showed up with her grisly “pets” in the comic. And here’s a scoop: She’s going to be a major character in Book 3!!!!
Robert Kirkman previously mentioned that he may be interested in writing more "Walking Dead" novels after The Governor trilogy. Is that something you'd be interested in as well?
OMG!!!!!!!! I would LOVE to write more, I’m in, I’m there… yes, yes, YES!
How do you think you'd fare in the world of The Walking Dead? What have you learned from working with Robert Kirkman that might save you during the zombie apocalypse?
Jay Bonansinga: I would be zombie lunch within about a day and a half. I’m a wimp. I’m like a cross between Brian Blake and Milton. But I can probably out-run your average walker… so I guess I should start jogging every day.
To learn more about Jay Bonansinga, you can visit his official website at:
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