If you go to a big publishing house, editorial aside, it's completely white.

The readership for 'Sag Harbor' was different from people who'd read me before - it was linear and realistic, not as strange as 'The Intuitionist.' Did they carry over to 'Zone One,' a story about zombies in New York? Some, some not. I'm used to people not caring about my other books.

You can't rush inspiration.

There are good writers and bad writers. It's hard to find writers who really speak to you, but the work is out there.

I'm someone who just likes being in my cave and thinking up weird stuff.

Having a wife and kids drove home the brutal reality of the slave system for me - the price it exacted on families. On the other hand, whenever I despair over our history, I am brought back to hope, the hope that things will get better, for my children.

I started writing in the '90s, so I was free to just have an eccentric career and not conform to some idea of what a black writer has to do. I didn't have the burden of representation.

I'm always trying to switch voices and genres.

A lot of my writer friends live near me, and that makes people think we just hang around with one another in cafes, trading work and discussing 'Harper's' and what not. But I rarely see them. We're home working.

Anytime an African-American writes an unconventional novel, the writer gets compared to Ellison. But that's O.K. I am working in the African-American literary tradition. That's my aim and what I see as my mission.

I don't generally follow sports. At an early age, I discovered that nature had apportioned me only a small reserve of enthusiasm. Best to ration.

A lot of my books have started with an abstract premise.

I was allowed to write about race using an elevator metaphor because of Toni Morrison and David Bradley and Ralph Ellison. Hopefully, me being weird allows someone who's 16 and wanting to write inspires them to have their own weird take on the world, and they can see the different kinds of African American voices being published.

In '82 and '83, that was the rise of the VCR. Every Friday, my brother and I would go to Crazy Eddie's - which was a video store in Manhattan - and rent five horror movies. And that's basically what we did, basically, for three years. Becoming social misfits.

Growing up devouring horror comics and novels, and being inspired to become a writer because of horror novels, movies, and comic books, I always knew I was going to write a horror novel.

I was sort of a miserable teenager.

Zombies are a great rhetorical prop to talk about people and paranoia, and they are a good vehicle for my misanthropy.

I'm of that subset of native New Yorkers who can't drive.

I'm not a representative of blackness, and I'm not a healer.

As always, a lot of bad books will be published. Some good books will be published, and you have to seek them out.

I like to know how I'm supposed to feel about things. Just a little clue or hint.

I enjoy thinking about how race plays out over the centuries, how technology evolves, how cities transform themselves. These subjects are present in some of my books and absent in others.

Most of my books have always worked through juxtaposition, jumping through different point of views and time.

I write at home. I like to be able to take a nap, watch TV, make a sandwich, and if I wake up and don't feel like working, I'm not going to bang my head on my desk all day: I'll go out and do something else.

For me, choosing between fiction and nonfiction is really only about picking the right tool for the job.

I didn't know I was a zombie pedant until I started considering what from the zombie canon to keep in 'Zone One' and what to ignore.

Each book requires a different kind of treatment and structural gambit.

The Declaration of Independence is that sacred American text so full of meaning and purpose and yet quite empty if you examine it and pull it apart because the words 'All Men' exclude a vast number of citizens.

Schools don't teach American history that well, especially a lot of black American history.

Generally, I walk around in a glum mood.

I'm just trying to keep things rich for me creatively and for the readers who follow me.

For me, the terror of the zombie is that at any moment, your friend, your family, you neighbor, your teacher, the guy at the bodega down the street, can be revealed as the monster they've always been.

I do write about race a lot, but I don't think writers - of any shade or background or whatever - have to write about certain subjects.

I envied kids who played soccer and football, but that was not my gig.

I admire Vegas's purity, its entirely wholesome artificiality.

I was always into comic books and horror stories and a huge consumer of pop culture. And then I worked for awhile for 'The Village Voice'.

If you write about race in 1850, you end up talking about race today because in many ways, so little has changed.

If you want to understand America, it's slavery.

I was inspired to become a writer by horror movies and science fiction.

I wrote a book of essays about New York called 'The Colossus of New York,' but it's not about - you know, when I'm writing about rush hour or Central Park, it's not a black Central Park, it's just Central Park, and it's not a black rush hour, it's just rush hour.

'Sag Harbor' was a very different book for me. It changed the way I thought about books that I wanted to do.

Monsters are a storytelling tool, like domestic realism and close third.

'Zone One' comes out of me trying to work through some of my ideas about why, for me personally, zombies are scary.

I think a joke is a form of truth-telling. A good joke that's absurd contains elements of our daily darkness and also a possibility to escape that darkness. So, for me, humor is an attempt to capture everyday tragedy and everyday hopeful moments that we experience all of the time.

If self-absorption, vague yearnings, and a nagging sense of incompleteness are sins, then surely I will burn for all eternity, and I will save you a seat.

I've always thought the Nat Turner story to be very interesting.

I am not sure the issue of race in America will ever be completely solved.

Once I got to college, it seemed that the Hamptons were a little bit too posh for me and didn't represent the kind of values I was embracing in my late teens. So, I didn't go out there, except to visit my parents, for a long time. And then, after 9/11, I discovered it was a nice, mellow place to hang out.

I take inspiration from books, movies, television, music - it all goes in the hopper. Depending on the project, I'm drawing from this or that piece of art that has stayed with me. Toni Morrison, George Romero, Sonic Youth - they are all in there.