Friday, August 29, 2014

Good News for Undead Obsessed

The plan right now is for Undead Obsessed to be available on Halloween.  I'll be looking for readers/reviewers, so if you're interested in reading, let me know.  If you need a reminder, here's what the book is about:

My obsession with zombie films started when I was in junior high. They are a great lens to examine concerns society has about modern science. Let’s face it, when it comes to horror movies, science has a bad reputation. Blind ambition, experimental serums, and genetic experiments are often blamed for the giant monster terrorizing the city or the reason aliens are taking human prisoners or the cause of the dead rising from the grave to consume living flesh. 

Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, my nonfiction book, Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies (approximately 65,000 words), examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears.

Science has made it possible for us to live the way we do; it has given us numerous advances in all fields of life from medicine to agriculture to entertainment. Yet, with all of these advantages, there are a multitude of disadvantages that could prove to be detrimental to humans and society. Weapon technology used in wars is one of these major disadvantages, but anything that is beneficial to humanity, including medicine, has the potential to harm us. My goal is to explore how zombies become a metaphor for our fears of science and what could happen if science gets out of hand. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ten Books You Can't Forget

There is a little "game" going around on Facebook, which is an interesting challenge to take a look at the 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't overthink it or take too long. They don't have to be classics or top literature, simply your likes. Tag 10 friends to do the same and share your list.

My List:: (in no particular order)
While I have always loved horror and recently enjoy reading zombie fiction, I also love a good historical story as I can see from this list of books that stuck with me or that I liked enough that I would reread them. (So far. The list could change or expand later. Ten may be hard to pick!) - -And yes, at the end I do link two themes - historical and zombies! And it's a book you may not have read unless you know this author.

1. Dracula  - Bram Stoker (one I reread occasionally) (Get Dracula free in various versions on Project Gutenberg)

2. 'Salem's Lot - Stephen King  (same theme, also one I reread)

3. The Plague Tales - Ann Benson - Fascinating story of a medieval doctor trying to save the royal family from the Black Death, and 700 years later, a female scientist unearths an ancient terror. Interesting contrasting chapters of both the past and modern stories.

4. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd - Jim Fergus - Fascinating fictional tale of women who get involved in a goverment program to provide wives to the Cheyenne in 1875. Really gripping story.

5. The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom - Inspiring story of faith of a Dutch watchmaker and her family who help hide Jews during the Holocaust

6. Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel (Dead of Night Series)  - Jonathan Maberry - A condemned killer is injected with a virus and wakes after death - evil, hungry and contagious. This was the first zombie book I read that attracted me with the unusual story line.

7. Raising Stony Mayhall - Daryl Gregory - This was the oddest story - a woman finds a baby who is dead but alive, and raises him. The story gets strange as he goes on his own and lives with others like him. Fascinating read though I didn't really like the ending.

8. Lily of the Nile (Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter Book 1)- Stephanie Dray- The story of Queen Cleopatra's daughter, Princess Selene.

9. The Vampire's Violin - Michael Romkey - Interesting take on a vampire tale when a vampire yearns to retain a violin that made the most beautiful music in the world.

10. Outlander: A Novel- Diana Gabaldon - Some may recognize the book from the new TV series now running. I read this years ago but the series is still a favorite. It tells the life and love story of Claire, a nurse in 1945 who finds herself thrown back to 1700s Scotland after touching a boulder in an ancient stone circle in the British Isles. here she meets and loves the fiery Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.

The latest in the series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood: A Novel (Outlander Book 8), came out in June. Set in 1778, the country is at war with France and the Fraser's daughter is safe in the 20th century, or so they presume as her son's kidnapper focuses on his real target - her.  (And it's 849 pages. Her books are all big.)

Funny how this series leads me back to the blog's theme of zombies. Yes, even Gabaldon succumbed to the zombie theme and wrote a novella (101 pages) focusing on her main secondary character and Jamie Fraser's nemesis, British Lietenant-Colonel Lord John Grey (there are several offshoot books focusing on him.)  I haven't read it yet, but sounds interesting.

In A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella (Lord John Grey) - Diana Gabaldon, Grey arrives in Haiti to squash a  slave rebellion and learns the island's governor is being menaced by zombies, an unknown term to Grey. Then he is nearly choked by "hands smelling of grave dirt." Add in murder and plantations burning, and John Grey will need all his wits to keep the island from exploding.

* And feel free to add my book to your reading list!

  GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is one girl's experience of what life is like when she turns part-zombie: part humor, part angst, part fear of the unknown. You can also read it free on Kindle Unlimited.

Monday, August 25, 2014

End of the World Words...

As a "zombie" and horror writer, this blog is, of course, in touch with apocalyptic events and end-of-world scenarios. In fiction.

In real life, I have, of course, thought about the things that I and others, I'm sure, never heard before and never expected to hear in our lifetimes. The news can leave you crying and weeping if you think on it too much. Faith comes in handy then for sure.

On the flip side, I guess that's why I like writing fiction, horror, and about zombies. Zombies are a symbol of the things we fear most - a symbol of utter chaos, fear, and horror, the end of "regular life" that, in the end, can be vanquished and life can be returned somewhat to "normal.". After all it is fiction and in my stories, at least, I still want the good guys to win.

In the past few years, who would ever imagine we would hear of the following things as real-life events:

Giant sinkholes
Islamic states
Antiobiotic-resistant drugs
Level 5 tornadoes
Land levels rising
Lakes disappearing

I'm sure there are others I have missed. And sadly, I'm sure there are others that will yet be added to the list.

  GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is one girl's experience of what life is like when she turns part-zombie: part humor, part angst, part fear of the unknown. You can also read it free on Kindle Unlimited.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Zombie Sharks

It seems like no matter where you turn today, zombies are there.  Even Discovery has used them for their Shark Week programming.  Not that I'm complaining, I love zombies, it's just something I've noticed.

I also really enjoy Shark Week.  I've been watching it for as long as I can remember.  I'm not really of fan of the mockumentary that gets thrown in, but the real scientific shows that they highlight are amazing.  One of these happened to be Zombie Sharks.  The focus of this show was that great white sharks were turning up dead with HUGE chunks taken out of them, as if something had killed and eaten them.  A scientist wanted to find out what animal it could possibly be and how it was taking down such large sharks.

The basis of his research was that when sharks are turned upside down, they go into a type of trance.  Which can be seen in this clip.  They are completely vulnerable in this state--unable to move and unable to defend themselves.  In essence, they become zombies.  This allows other predators to attack and kill.

His goal was to figure out if it was possible for large sharks to be put into this trance, so he headed out to the ocean and tickled sharks on the nose so he could flip them over.  I'm not kidding.  He actually tickled them on the nose to overstimulate them, then flipped them over.  It was pretty dang cool.  His ultimate goal was to see if a great white could be put into this trance.

From what I could tell on the show, I didn't think he was successful.  According to him, the larger the shark, the harder it is to flip over.  Which makes sense.  A great white is also pretty aggressive, and most of them weren't exactly happy about being tickled on the nose.  Getting past the sharp teeth to the nose was often a challenge.  Still, there were dead sharks turning up, so something was being successful.

Turns out it's orcas or killer whales that have developed this strategy for killing sharks.  It's absolutely amazing.  It just goes to show you that with a little ingenuity and a whole lot or survival instinct, anyone or anything can defeat a zombie.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dana Fredsti Talks Zombies and Plague World

Today we talk with author Dana Fredsti, author of the Plague Town series - Plague Town, Plague Nation  and the new Plague World (Ashley Parker Novel).

About the book:

The thrilling conclusion of the zombie apocalypse begun in PLAGUE TOWN and continued in PLAGUE NATION! The zombie plague has gone airborne, and the conspiracy that began it all reaches the boiling point.

Interview with Dana Fredsti: (Read on for an excerpt!)

What inspired the story?

Plague World is the third in a trilogy so the inspiration really was just the need and desire to finish up the story and character arcs started in Plague Town.  As far as specific inspiration for parts of the story and setting, I really love setting things in places I’ve visited and there’s something just unhealthily fun about destroying, say, a neighborhood in one’s home town (or place of birth or wherever!). For Plague World, I take out my current neighborhood in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco, and demolished Balboa Park and Cabrillo Point in San Diego. 

How do you feel when a series ends - or isn't it?

This is the first series I’ve written and writing a trilogy wasn’t easy because while each book had the characters accomplish something specific, it took all three books to tie together all the loose ends and plot points I left dangling in the first two books.  So finishing Plague World felt great because I feel I accomplished what I set out to do.  That being said, there is still plenty of room for new stories and adventures in Ashley’s world and I hope to write some standalone novels in the series.  No more “Han in Carbonite” endings, though. 

 What's different in this book?

Plague World is slightly darker than the previous two. The humor is still there, along with the pop cultural references because that’s Ashley’s “voice”, but Ashley gets her ass kicked emotionally and physically this time around.  The last two books she pretty much comes through unscathed and does most of the ass-kicking, and while she still does plenty of it in Plague World,  I really do put her through a lot because it served both the story and her character growth.

What was the best part of writing it?

Finishing it.  This book was the toughest I’ve ever written, both because I really wanted to fulfill the expectations of my readers and tie off all dangling plot threads, and I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to do that going into the book, and… well, let’s just say real life sometimes brings you a lot of challenges and I had quite a few of them last year. In a way, my personal challenges made it easier to do what I had to do to make the story work, but they made actually sitting down to write nearly impossible at times. 

What do you plan next - will these characters appear elsewhere?
 There’s talk of more Ashley Parker books (I’ve got the next one outlined, yay me!);, I’ve got a YA fantasy series I’m outlining, and several horror/ ark urban fantasy projects as well as developing a very cool series with my boyfriend, who is also a writer.  And I’m really excited to be writing a story for V-Wars #4.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Christine! 
Synopsis:  from the Amazon website, except without a sort of kind of inaccurate spoiler that’s there…   

Like the rest of the city, the streets below were clogged with unmoving vehicles, some of them smashed in an interlocking metal mess, and others abandoned all helter-skelter. Two Muni streetcars had become jammed at opposite ends of Taravel in the block between 40th and 41st. Cars had sheared into them, creating a roadblock at either end while leaving a sizable clear space in the middle—large enough for our whirlybird to set down.
“Why are we landing?” Griff sat up from his seat in the back.
“I have an errand to run,” I said coolly, ignoring the churning in my gut as the helicopter swooped in to land.
“What errand?” Lil asked. She hadn’t been in on it either, for obvious reasons.
“Simone needs some… er… stuff for Gabriel’s antiserum.”
Stuff. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
“We didn’t want the bad guys to know. We’ll meet you at a rendezvous point up the road.”
Someday I’d get a vocabulary worthy of the situations I now found myself in. Even so, it worked. Lil nodded, and Griff shut up, at least for the moment. He kept on staring at me suspiciously, though, right up to the moment the pilot set the helicopter down.
Whatever, I didn’t care what he thought.
Once we hit ground and stabilized, I scrambled for the door, determined not to spew. My stomach thought about it for a brief moment, but thankfully everything stayed put. Tony leaped out after me, hefting Thor’s Wee Hammer. Nathan and JT followed swiftly. I saw Lil staring at me in confusion through one of the windows, so I gave her a reassuring wave and blew a kiss.
She grinned and waved back.
Zombies appeared from both ends of the street and began stumbling toward the helicopter, drawn by the noise. I heard cries for help from a building across the street and my heart dropped. I looked up to see a middle-aged man leaning out of a second-story window, waving frantically. Zombies in the street below immediately zeroed in on him, moving toward the entrance to the building and fresh meat. The man’s eyes widened and he vanished inside, hopefully to fortify the front door of his apartment.
Sorry, dude. 
And I really was. I wanted to charge in and save the day, the Mighty Mouse of zombie killing. But… I couldn’t. Instead I dashed over to the entrance of the Walgreen’s, along with Nathan, Tony, and JT.
The helicopter, in the meantime took off again, ascending to just above the grasping hands of the hungry crowd gathering below. Our ride headed off to its next destination and it was up to the four of us to accomplish our respective goals and meet them there.
Nathan looked at us. “You all clear on the plan?”
“I go get the supplies,” I said.
“And I back her up.” Tony gave Thor’s Wee Hammer a swing.
JT grinned. “I create a distraction and lead as many zombies away from here as I can so you three have a semi-clear shot to the beach when you’re finished.”
“Excellent.” Nathan nodded approvingly. “I’ll clear whatever stragglers don’t follow JT.” He clapped a hand on JT’s shoulder. “We’ll see you at the Great Highway and Vicente when you’re finished.”
“That you will,” JT said. He grinned at me. “I’ll race you.”
Then, with a whoop and a holler and no sign of fear whatsoever, he took off at a run, east on Taravel, using any and every available surface to keep his momentum going and avoid the clutching hands of hungry undead pedestrians.
“He really is crazy,” I observed, watching in bemused admiration as he leapt without pause up a brick wall and onto the roof of a residential garage. He stopped there, hunkering down on the edge, and gave another ear-splitting rebel yell to attract the attention of the neighborhood zombies.
“Come on dowwwwn,” he hollered gleefully. “Get your share of the tastiest piece of ass in San Francisco!” He turned and twerked with a dexterity that would have made Miley Cyrus jealous. And the crowd loved it, judging from the increased volume of moans and the outstretched hands.
Ever the showman, JT turned to one side in a classic “The Thinker” pose, flexing his biceps.
“Is there a vet around here,” he yelled, “because these pythons are sick!”
“Dude needs help,” Tony agreed.
“Or not,” I commented as JT bounded across the length of the garage rooftop, where he nimbly scaled a balcony and hoisted himself up a trellis to gain access to the second story of the house. He vanished from our eyesight shortly after that, his war whoops still clearly audible.
I really hoped he’d be okay.  He was on the lighter side of nuts, for sure, but he was risking his life even more than the rest of us because one scratch or bite, and he’d be screwed. I couldn’t remember the exact percentage of people immune to the zombie pathogen, but the odds of becoming a wild card were only slightly more favorable than winning the lottery. 
There was a muffled pop as Nathan put a round in the skull of an Asian teenage boy who hadn’t been entranced by JT’s award-worthy performance. It reminded me that we needed to get our asses in gear.
Minus the twerking.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Zombie Book News of the Week

This week's Zombie Book News includes:

* Congrats to Dana Fredsti, author of the Plague Town series - Plague Town, Plague Nation  and the new Plague World (Ashley Parker Novel), who says the audio book rights have been sold, and she will be recording the books as the narrator.

* Cool! Artist Byron Rempel just released his first zombie coloring book, DEAD SKETCHES! How fun!

* Also new but not new is author Armand Rosamilia's Arm Cast, Dead Sexy Horror Podcast

The Dying Days series author began the podcast in July and talks with authors and others each week, usually on Fridays. Check his blog for details and updates. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Surviving Zombies in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of visiting the library in Thermopolis, Wyoming, to give my workshop on Surviving Zombies.  It was a blast!

I was excited to be at the Hot Springs County Library, and they were excited to have me. They decorated their room, and a few of the kids dressed up in costume. Eighteen kids total showed up to talk about what it would take to survive in the zombie apocalypse. And they had some great ideas and suggestions. I think they'll have a fighting chance. Then, we all ate pizza and cupcakes.

Boarded up windows with zombies trying to get in.

A zombie menace.

Message left by a survivor? 

Another menace.

Hoodied zombies.

Zombie slayers.  And they were tough!

A striped zombie.

It was an amazing and fun experience to go to Thermopolis.  We want to go again and stay for longer.  There's a lot of stuff to do, and I would happily visit the library again!