Plant-based Bizarro, in a way
Portland's David Agranoff has carved out a fascinating writing niche. He writes in several genres (Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Bizarro) but his activist soul always shines through. He has been an animal liberation and and environmental activist for two decades and spent 80 days in prison in 2005 while fighting a grand jury that was illegally targeting people just for attending a lecture.
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies (Book Trailer)
My Conversation With David Agranoff
Planet Green: So, where do I sign up for the vegan revolution and why zombies?
David Agranoff: I’ve been vegan for 18 years and involved with animal liberation activism for even longer. Carlton Mellick (the third) who is on editorial board for my publisher Eraserhead Press e-mailed me and said there needs to be a vegan-themed zombie novel and that I should write it. Zombies are not my favorite subgenre of horror so it took me a little to think of a story I was excited to tell. I knew it had to be satire, and once I accepted that I came to the right story. Now I am super-glad Carl thought of me. I have written comical short stories before but without a little prompting a novel length satire is not something I would've chosen to do. That being said I am really proud of the book, it fulfills my personal mission statement a story that no one else in the world could tell.
PG: Is it aimed at a vegan audience?
DA: I feel it's important to say that I think this book has a lot to offer non-vegans and non-horror fans. Of course I wrote it, so I also feel it makes a great Hanukah or Kwanza gift. You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy it. There are some inside jokes that might go over the heads of non-animal rights people but I think the book still works for everybody.
PG: What came first, writing or veganism? Tell us a little about your journey towards each choice.
DA: My mother died when I was about to start seventh grade. I was a mama’s boy who was lost, so the dark nature of horror films appealed to me. My childhood friend Brent and I started with zombie movies we discovered through our local horror host in Indiana named Sammy Terry. It wasn’t long before I wanted to read the source material for the movies; Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson were my favorites.
Honestly though, I credit the Books of Blood by Barker. The Body Politic by Barker and The Raft by King were stories that freaked me out. Those were powerful emotions and the ability to manipulate them seemed like an amazing challenge and fun. I never really wanted to be anything else but around the same time, I discovered thrash metal and punk rock. Through punk rock, I discovered straight edge which is a drug-free subculture of punk, complete with its own bands, fashion, and culture.
I was introduced to veganism by bands like Vegan Reich and Earth Crisis who had songs about veganism and animal rights. It made sense to me once I understood how animals were treated that we should not exploit them to make our food, clothing, experimentation, or entertainment.
PG: You were on your way.
DA: I got serious about veganism after spending a summer as a intern at Farm Sanctuary, after directly spending a summer getting to know cows, pigs, goats, and chickens it made me more serious about my beliefs. It was later that I learned about the health and environmental benefits. There is no greater wrecking ball to the planet than the industries that turn animals into food. No single choice that we make has a bigger or more positive impact.
PG: You’ve never been hesitant in your activism and this has resulted in some legal issues. What happened and how did it change the way you pursue your life, your veganism, your writing, etc.?
DA: I helped organized a lecture in 2003 by radical environmentalist Rod Coronado.
The government was basically harassing and giving a hard time to anyone
who gave him a platform to speak. A grand jury in San Diego gave me and
anyone else they knew were at the lecture a subpoena to appear before
the secret court. Basically, they were being harassed for seeing a
lecture. We saw it as a violation of our First Amendment right to free
association and belief. I refused to testify and after 80 days, I was
released without testimony.
This experience affected my writing in the sense that prison and the experience were a great education. I met people I would never otherwise meet and I learned a lot. Several of the short stories in my collection Screams from a Dying World were written in prison. I even wrote a ghost story set in solitary confinement that was inspired by the five days I spent in solitary. I even had the experience of reading HP Lovecraft in solitary, and that was an amazing experience, the environment really added to the stories.
PG How can Planet Green readers connect with you and your work?
DA: I have a blog, I have a fan page on Facebook that you can “like,” and my books are for sale on Amazon. I also love when my books are in libraries so please request it at your local library. The first four months of sales benefit our non-profit activism work here in Portland. We do a vegan mentoring organization called “Try Vegan PDX.” We do classes, workshops, publish a guidebook to vegan Portland, and do one-on-one vegan mentoring. I am super proud of Vegan Revolution…with Zombies and know people will laugh and enjoy themselves. I just hope people stick with me on the darker, more serious books. Not everything I write is political; when I sit down to write all I want to do is tell a story. I promise if you buy a book with my name on it you’re going to get a good story that no one else in the world could tell.