Friday, November 26, 2010

Zombies And Romance?

I'll be frank; I'm not a zombie fan. I have never seen the allure of zombies. My husband loves them and is a faithful watcher of the new series, The Walking Dead. My son thinks they're on the cool list somewhere after Werewolves (which are his favorite things in his quest to find things to scare the crap out of him). They both love things that go bump in the night, the scarier the better. Me? I don’t like things that go bump in the night unless I’m armed and with a BIG snarling dog at my side, and it’s not going to go bump, it’s gonna go thump and splat. I'd rather avoid anything that wants to jump you at night, screams, rips, tears, and do anything else horror filled. Yep, I'm an oddity in my own home.


I do have friends that love anything zombie. My friend and guest, Dana Fredsti, is one of the zombie enthralled (she is also enchanted with felines which is a saving grace, lol!). Dana is a very talented writer and I totally love her sense of humor and I’ve read most of her work. I was excited for her when she told me she was asked to write a zombie themed romance book. Cheered when she got it written and did all the edits and rewrites, gushed when I saw the cover--because it really is a great cover, said yes, when she wanted to visit OVER COFFEE with it.

What should she talk about? Tell me why you were excited about writing a zombie romance—which seems to be a misnomer to me—and what drew you to write this book?


And by the way? I have and am reading book one, of the Zombie Hunter series, Plague On All Houses. Just don’t tell my guys. :-)



When Sia invited me to be her guest (okay, when I begged Sia to let me come play on Over Coffee to promote my latest book), I asked if there was any particular topic she thought would be fun for me to address in my post. She wanted to know why this particular book. As in what made me write it? Zombies and romance don't exactly go together (at least, most people don't think so). They lack the romance of vampires or even werewolves. Heck, zombies probably rank below trolls when it comes to sex-appeal when you consider the zombies at the forefront of public awareness are the shambling, rotting, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls originally created by George (all hail!) Romero and now brought to us on AMC with The Walking Dead.

Hungry for Your Love, a wonderfully creepy and sexy anthology edited by Lori Perkins, presented the zombie/romance combo in a variety of ways, depending on the taste of the contributing authors. Some stories feature love between zombies, with and without rotting body parts. Others show love blossoming amongst the zombacalypse, the things people do for love in times of great danger. My story, FIRST DATE, was an object lesson that real life events, such as a zombie outbreak (yes, I typed that with a straight face), are a better barometer for mutual compatibility than things like E-Harmony. Another writer friend of mine has a an erotic romance with a zombie hero and yes, she managed to make her leading man sexy despite the face he needs to eat brains to survive. My main quibble with the book, in fact, is I'm a zombie purist who knows the walking dead eat all the tasty bits, not just brains. Return of the Living Dead, while one of my favorite comedic horror movies, has the whole brain fixation to answer for, along with (ugh) fast zombies.

But let's just take away my zombie-mythos soapbox right here and get back to the question at hand: Why a romance with zombies?

Well, let's consider my very first date movie was the original Dawn of the Dead. Then let's admit it had nothing to do with my writing this book other than the fact I just fell in love with the whole flesh-eating ghoul mythos and have happily devoured (I'll let you decide if the pun was intended) any book or movie on the subject ever since. There wasn't a lot to choose from for many years until the success of the remake of Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland made zombies popular in a way they haven't been ... well... ever before. I know a lot of people are grumbling about the glut of zombies these days, but for someone like me who is heartily sick of angsty vampires, I say bring on the rotting goodness! So, btw, does Lori Perkins. Which brings me to how I happened to write this particular book.

On the phone with Lori sometime in the spring of 2009:

Lori: Dana, I want you to write me Buffy, but with zombies. Name the heroine Ashley.

Me: Cool! Okay!

Yes, it really was as simple as that. Lori had an idea as well as an appreciation for the finer things in life (zombies), knew I was familiar with pop culture and had a sense of humor in my writing, and that I was a tad zombie obsessed. She threw the idea to me, I ran with it, expanded on it, and created something I hope is unique amongst the now plentiful offerings in zombie literature (yes, I typed that with a straight face), and that will appeal to not only urban fantasy/paranormal romance fans (not to mention Buffyphiles), but to hardcore zombie fans as well. And as a disclaimer: the romance is between two humans. More or less. Heh.
 


Ashley Drake, Zombie Hunter: A Plague on All Houses


Ashley Drake is just a pretty northern California co-ed with a love/hate crush on the strong-jawed, golden-haired Gabriel, her frustratingly handsome teaching assistant. But neither are what they appear to be...

In the space of one day the world has gone topsy-turvy. A viral outbreak is bringing the dead to life. Ashley discovers strength and abilities she never dreamed she had when she becomes drawn into the struggle against the walking dead as part of an elite zombie hunting unit. Her new squad leader? Gabriel, who is shouldering more than a few secrets of his own. Between fighting with zombies and fighting with Gabriel, Ashley is about to learn the true meaning of drop-dead gorgeous.  Excerpt  Excerpt #2 (not for the faint of heart)



Dana Fredsti is ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting. Through her volunteer work at the Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center, Dana's had a full-grown leopard sit on her feet, kissed by tigers and licked by jaguars. She's written numerous published articles, essays, short stories, screenplays, and two non-fiction books with Cynthia Gentry. She has a sequel in the works to her mystery, Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon (Rock Publishing, 2007).  Under the nom de plume Inara LaVey, she has five stories and two novels published by Ravenous Romance.


MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon (James A. Rock Inc, Yellowback Mysteries Imprint)
ASHLEY DRAKE, ZOMBIE HUNTER: A Plague on All Houses (Ravenous Romance)
RIPPING THE BODICE, CHAMPAGNE (Ravenous Romance, as Inara LaVey)
WHAT WOMEN REALLY WANT IN BED (Quiver Press, with Cynthia Gentry)
Member, Sisters in Crime (National & NorCal Chapters)
President, SinC NorCal

30 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, welcome back to Over Cofee. I alway love having you visit. You know I had to give you a hard time, right? It's my karma, lol!

I have been reading your book. I reluctantly put it aside to finish a book I have to review for December 1st.

I'm not going to tell you I love zombies, but I DO love your writing and your ability to tell a great story. :-)

Other Lisa said...

Awesome! It's a great book, and Dana is no zombie come lately (she has some stories in anthologies from 10 years ago, if I have that right!).

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, I know she's written zombie stories long before they were the *in* thing.

I have to say, she tells this story well. I haven't finished it, but boy each character she creates is clear and I love Ashley Drakes' attitude. I like the sparks between Gabriel and Ashley. Can't wait to *see* them together. ;-)

Jo said...

Sorry, no zombies for me.

sherilynwinrose said...

If Karl Urban can be sexy fighting Orks, why not zombies. grin

I'll have to stick with your for real alive stories, curse my weak stomach.

Dana Fredsti said...

Howdy, and sorry I'm late!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sherilyn, my guys consider me a wimp. I'll leave the gory things to them since they love it so. :-D.

Dana, so when will book two be coming out? Not to rush you or anything. ;-)

Dana Fredsti said...

First of all, thanks for the kind words about my writing. Sia, I come here for that, but also for the karmatic hard time and the great coffee! :-)

For me, what I love about the zombie mythos is the concept really scares me. I used to have dreams about my family turning into people I didn't know- they looked the same, but they weren't my parents or sister any more. Kind of Invasion of the Body Snatchers creepy. Take that a step further and have your loved ones suddenly trying to kill and eat you... well, it caught my morbid imagination and has given me nightmares and story fodder ever since. I love the stories that focus on the people, not so much the shoot 'em up adolescent male fantasies (Just me and my awesome gun collection against the undead world! Oh yeah, and I get to boink a sexy woman, but then she dies). How do people behave when confronted with such horror? Can romance develop amidst it? Plus i love post apoc scenarios... and i guess I could have mentioned all of this in my post.

I did not like my hero, Gabriel, at first, but as the writing continued and his relationship with Ashley developed, I have to say I grew quite fond of him. :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

Sia, I've got book two tentatively outlined, but right now I'm waiting to find out about the print deal. If it goes through, I will be working with an editor who will a: probably make me edit the heck out of the first book and b: will have definite ideas about the second, so I'm waiting until that either goes through or not before starting. I don't want to write a book only to have to totally rewrite it... But I definitely know where some of my characters are headed. :-)

Kilt Kilpatrick said...

I can vouch that Dana was a Zomboholic WAY before they were popular! Her love of zombies AND bad movies has led to a collection of some of the weirdest DVDs you've never seen...

(and she's a bad influence, too - now she's got ME writing zombie stories, too!)

-Kilt

Dana Fredsti said...

I'd say that's being a GOOD influence! :-)

Jo, zombies aren't for everyone. they SHOULD be, but alas, they are not...

Dana Fredsti said...

Sherilyn, Karl Urban... Rawwwwrrr!!! How about him fighting zombies? SHirtless!

Dana Fredsti said...

O. Lisa, you are correct! I've been in a few anthologies featuring my zombie stories, the most recent being Hungry for Your Love... My favorite, though, is A Man's Gotta Eat, which was in Danger City put out by Contemporary Press. Zombie Noir.

Jan Kozlowski said...

Dana, here's a question I always like to ask other zombie fans, and particularly writers...what is it about zombies that draws you to them as a reader and as a writer?

And I can't WAIT to get my cold dead hands on ASHLEY DRAKE!

Dana Fredsti said...

Jan, my lovely!!! I think it's because zombies just are so damned creepy as a concept - your friends/family suddenly missing their personalities and trying to eat you. That sort of 'inexorable as the tide' feeling - they don't stop, they don't sleep, they don't do anything but eat and they'll keep coming after you. It creeps me out and I've always enjoyed being creeped out, even when it gives me nightmares. Beyond that, I don't know. I just love the little rotting buggers! :-) And I had a great time setting a romance amidst the carnage and creating characters who ( I hope) believably handle the situation.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hmmm, Karl Urban, anytime, any way.

Interesting comment,Dana, on the most trusted and loved of ours turning into people we don't know and worse, trying to kill us. It would be a nightmare, for sure.

I think catastrophes bring out the worse and the best of people. Life is often reduced to what is a necessity. Ordinary people become heroes, not because of some superpower but basic decency and viewing it as a necessary element of life and being civilized. Doing the right thing, helping people they don't know, being willing to stick around rather than hightail it. Ordinary rising to the extra ordinary. And love still happens. Romance in those circumstances? IMO, love is a necessity.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kilt, Dana does have that effect on a person, lol! Me, who doesn't even like zombies is read and enjoying a book about zombies (psst is this where I mention some of my reactions to well described realities of that world make me have moments of eww, gross and wish for a flame thrower?)

You? Writing about zombies too? Sheesh. Well, given your writing abilities, I'm thinking there are gonna be some interesting takes on zombies. Good for you.

Dana Fredsti said...

Sia, what I love BEST about post apoc stories is the whole human element you mention of what it brings out in people... the good, the bad, the ugly, the undead... all of it. I love heroes in unlikely places and people. I'd tell you my favorite character in Ashley, but I don't want to spoil any surprises... so I'll tell you when you're done!

I love Dave's/Kilt's two zombie stories... Last Times at Ridgemont High is a hoot!

~Sia McKye~ said...

You both have such a wonderful sense of humor and I enjoy seeing it at play in your stories!

Dana Fredsti said...

Why thank you, Ms. McKye! :-)

hagelrat said...

I love a good zombie story and the thing with Dana is that whatever she is writing, it will have characters I love.

Kat Sheridan said...

I'm not in any way a fan of zombies, but I'm a BIG fan of Dana's writing; I love her sense of humor and the intense way she builds relationships between her characters! So, I guess Im going to have to bite the bullet (or the brains!) and devour this one as well!

Dana Fredsti said...

Adele, thank you very much! I'm glad the characters I create work for ya...and I know you love da zombies too...

Kat, I really appreciate your willingness to bite the bullety brainy goodness and give the book a try! And I really appreciate your comments about my humor and characters!

VA said...

I love the excerpts, Dana. I so need a good read after I finish the evil papers that will kill me. I'm so burnt out at the moment and zombies sound like a great pick-me up.

Kilt's lucky to have such a good influence.

My daughter's friend and I refer to Karl Urban as "Sexy Beast". We have this whole LOTR thing going on. Why is it that every actor looks their best in that film? Orlando Bloom has never looked better.

Dana Fredsti said...

VA, I am, point of fact, watching TWin Towers as I write.... What better inspiration for a menage novella than the gorgeous eye candy there within? And yeah, Orlando Bloom definitely peaked for me in LOTR... Karl Urban, on the other hand, made McCoy sexy...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, oh, sexy beast is a good one. I like him as a blond.

Dana, Ditto on Orlando Bloom in LOTRs.

McCoy?

Adele, glad you stopped by. I knew there were other zombie lovers out there, lol! Dana IS a good writer and tells an entertaining story.:-)

Dana Fredsii said...

Karl Urban plays McCoy in the Star Trek movie, with Christopher Pine as Kirk... he was perfect. And made McCoy SOOO sexy!

Other Lisa said...

Sia, did you see the new Star Trek movie? Karl Urban played Dr. McCoy. He was both perfect casting and by far the sexiest dude in the movie.

Oh, Dana just said that. Never mind.

Dana Fredsti said...

It's worth saying twice! Yes, he was that hot as McCoy...