Perfectly timed for Halloween, 28 Gays Later is a comedy horror novel about a dysfunctional group of LGBT party goers surviving a bizarre apocalypse which creates a new kind of monster. We asked author and film-maker Max Barber to tell us how his new novel came about.
Can you tell us what the story of 28 Gays Later is about?
It’s a comedy-horror about a dysfunctional group of LBGT party goers that survive a bizarre apocalypse that creates a new kind of monster. They end up torn between joining forces with Christian fundamentalists or remaining barricaded in a sex shop with a gay serial killer among them. But wipe away the blood and guts: its heart is a story about people becoming true to themselves and the fucking inconvenience of finding love under the worst of circumstances!
Who are the characters in it?
It’s an ensemble piece, so everyone is catered for on the spectrum: gay, lesbian, bi, trans, drag – even some straight people! But the terrors they all go through peel back to show who they really are under the façade they’ve presented to the world.
Your strapline is ‘When there’s no room in HELL… the DEAD go clubbing’, how do you feature club life in the book?
It stars off at a lesbian civil partnership, hosted by a fickle scene queen in a disused nuclear bunker. Amongst the wild partying, crazy drugs, slap and tickle and cheesy pineapple sticks, the characters’ lives intersect, dramas unravel, emotions kick off and a murderer strikes! The celebrations become a car crash of epic proportions while civilisation above is screwed! That’s kinda normal for Vauxhall, no?
You feature psychotic gay serial killers, anti-gay Christians and nuclear conflict – how did the idea of the novel come to you?
I’m a huge fan of the disaster genre, but never seen an LGBT take on it. The conundrum of gay people having to repopulate the world, and speculate on how things would be better without ‘the straights’ was funny to me. Also, I’m so hacked off with hate crime on the rise so thought: let’s have a gay, maniac vigilante targeting heterosexuals!
Did current international politics and concerns about the global environment impact on the novel?
We are living in a Monty Python political world now with loonies in charge, and twats still try to find the ‘gay gene’ – so my novel is utterly bonkers to reflect this. Apocalypse stories have been with us since the Bible so I’m merely diversifying the genre – in all senses! Mother Nature also has a role in this story – and boy has she got a fucked up sense of revenge on humanity.
Are there any particular gay relationships in the book our readers would be interested in?
It’s all about relationships and egos between the men, the women, the gays and the poor only straight guy who gets to survive! But centre is the newly hitched, Eve, the ageing TV exec, and her partner, Candice, the gold-digging reality TV star. I think 28 Gays Later is quite a feminine story. There is much maternal anxieties and desire for children in it. So when a character has a casual abortion, just before the human race is wiped out, that’s a bloody heavy cross to carry!
How long did it take to write and was it a difficult process?
A year or so part-time to adapt it. It was a movie screenplay in development hell back in the 2000s – but distributors sniffed at a movie with ‘gay’ in the title; crashing jumbo jets on the streets of London raised financiers’ eyebrows and the climax scene in the basement wouldn’t have been passed by the BBFC!
It seems like quite a suitable book to feature in our Halloween edition, is it a very scary book?
The comedy and twisted humour might not send you hiding under the sheets (unless some of the content gets you aroused). But in the gore, guts and gross-out department – there are buckets. It’s a tribute to the zombie movie genre after all – but I’ve put lots of new, naughty twists on top.
Do you get any sex into your story?
Oh absolutely! Sex, drugs, porn, dogging, debauchery, lesbian lust, kink, death by dildo – the worst toilet in England – and the first zombie sexual assault in the history of the genre! If it were a movie – it would probably be banned.