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)