Interviewed by John Haggerty

Read Robin Becker’s nonfiction piece, An Open Letter to the Better Robin Becker


John: This story raises a lot of questions about identity. Are we just a random collection external characteristics (name, occupation, etc.) or is there something more there? I guess I’m asking if you believe in the soul, and if so, what can we say about its nature?

Robin: Interesting question. I don’t believe in the soul in the spiritual or religious sense, as an immortal part of being human, something that is eternal and immutable. Human spirit and personality can change—traumatic brain injury, mental illness, and dementia all testify to that! I do believe, however, that there is a spark in all of us, whatever it is that makes you, you and me, me. But for me, this lives in the brain, in our chemistry and synapses, and dies when we die. It’s divine in the sense that its origins are mysterious, but its functions are still tethered to what we can measure by the scientific method.

Tell us about your novel. Why zombies, and why sentient zombies?

Zombies are hilarious. I have always loved them and find their clumsiness endearing, their tenacity admirable. They certainly are goal-oriented! In Brains, the zombie virus has mutated and there is a small group of thinking undead led by Jack, the main character. It makes sense to me that this mutation would occur. Otherwise, the zombie virus would die out from all the stupid zombies walking into walls like wind-up toys. They are so easy to kill!

If you could, Freaky Friday-style, switch bodies with the other Robin Becker for a day, what would you do? What do you think she would do?

If I were the other Robin Becker for a day, I would be completely self-serving and pitch my unpublished poetry collection, Yes, Darling, But Is it Art? to her publisher for a handsome advance. If she were me, she would write an incredible poem about the experience. It would win numerous awards and change the world, bringing peace throughout the land.

For awhile, when I googled myself (which, you know, I hardly ever, ever do) the top link said “John Haggerty Gets Prison for Stealing Bloomberg Election Funds.” Is it better to share names with a convicted felon or a poet?

Better to share a name with a poet. They interpret the world. We would be lost without them. Of course, if you could share some of those funds with the other John Haggerty (but not the prison time), it might be worth it.