Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Zombology, Zombiemania or just plain Zombies


Those of you who know me should realize by now that I do NOT like horror stories. And yes, I’ve hosted a couple of amazing authors who have written in these genres (Johnny Worthen, Berk and Andy Washburn, Adrienne Monson), but honestly, what scares the living daylights out of me are ZOMBIES!           

Until now, I’ve avoided everything to do with this topic. But I was curious. And I also believe that it’s best to face one’s fears than to run from them. So I decided to read my very first ever book on zombies: Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) by F.J.R. Titchenell. To my shock, I was hooked from page one. It was one of those books I just had to get back to and finish. Of course, the next step is the interview.   



The world is Cassie Fremont’s playground. Her face is on the cover of every newspaper, she has no homework, no curfew, and no credit limit, and she spends her days traveling the country with her friends, including a boy who would flirt with death just to turn her head. Life is just about perfect—except that those newspaper headlines are about her bludgeoning her crush to death with a paintball gun, she has to fight ravenous walking corpses every time she steps outside, and one of her friends is still missing, trapped somewhere in the distant, practically impassable wreckage of Manhattan. Still, Cassie’s an optimist. More prone to hysterical laughter than hysterical tears, she’d rather fight a corpse than be one, and she won’t leave a friend stranded when she can simply take her road trip to impossible new places to find her, even if getting there means admitting to that boy that she might just love him, too. Skillfully blending effective horror with unexpected humor, this diary-format novel is a fast-paced and heartwarming read.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s debut novel, to be released May 6th, 2014. It is a Young Adult Horror-Comedy.

AMM: Welcome Fiona. I am delighted to have you hear with me today.

FJRT: The pleasure is all mine, Ann Marie.

AMM: Thank you. So, are you one of those zombie lovers or did the idea for your book simply pop into your head one day?

FJRT:  Both, actually.

I am a zombie person and was before I started Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of), but I'd never seriously considered writing a zombie book until Cassie’s voice hijacked my brain. The whole first chapter came pouring out in one morning, and I just had to follow it from there.

AMM:  Fiona, I’m just going to come right out and ask you this. Can you explain to me what the fascination with zombies is? Honestly, I don’t get it.   

FJRT:  Ha, well, gotta respect your honesty there. Like many geek things, assuming you've taken the time to explore some of the better examples, if you still have to ask what the appeal is, chances are good you'll never know, but I'll explain as best I can.

First, of course, if you enjoy messy, gooey, squishy horror, the fun, cartoony kind with comedic elements, zombies are ideal. They allow for lots of low-consequence action and visceral gags, but if you already get the fun in that, I'm sure you don't need zombies explained to you.

The broader and deeper appeal zombies also carry comes down to the anarchy they bring with them. No rules, no jobs, none of the everyday worries about money or schedules. The zombie apocalypse isn't a place any sane person should want to live, but when you're feeling buried under all those modern, civilized pressures, it's a very refreshing fictional place to visit.

AMM: Refreshing is definitely not a word I’d choose; but if you insist… Here is another thing that has been on my mind a lot. There are so many dystopian, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books and movies out now. Why do you think that is?

FJRT: Well, trends are unpredictable, and once something becomes a trend, you have as many people following it just because it's a trend as because of its inherent appeal, but what's the appeal that allowed this particular trend to form in the first place?

I'm going to go back to anarchy, in the case of apocalypses, and the chance to fight back against seeming hopelessness in the case of dystopias. They’re opposites that in many ways speak to the same needs.

Why now? Well, we've been in a recession for the better half of my life. Speaking as a member of a generation that has come of age or is about to come of age in a world where the old wisdom we've been raised on about going to school and expecting to be able to build a life at the end of it no longer applies, where it's difficult enough to stay on your feet let alone get there in the first place, the idea of giving that injustice a form that you can fight, or escaping from it altogether... yeah, it sounds pretty good.

AMM: Hmm. This I can understand. I really enjoyed reading Confessions…  Do you plan to write a sequel?

FJRT:  No, I always saw this one as a standalone. I won't say it's completely impossible that I'll ever return to the Zombie Slayer universe, but I like where the story begins and ends and didn't leave any intentional room for more.

I've got plenty more books in the works though, mostly YA Horror of varying levels of seriousness. My husband and I have a YA Horror/Sci-Fi series, The Prospero Chronicles, the first book of which, Splinters, will be out this fall, and to say we're excited would be a significant understatement.

AMM: I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Splinters! Tell me, how did you get into writing?

FJRT:  Stories have always been a huge part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents taking me to a bookstore reading circle. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but I was about sixteen before I started getting serious about publishing fiction. It's a very personal thing and really exposing to share at first.

AMM: I agree. It took me a long time before I told anyone I wanted to be a writer. And now for my final question, and one that I love to ask. Would you like to share one or more aspects of yourself most people don’t know about you?

FJRT:  I like baking and hate roller coasters. Okay, if you know me personally, you probably know that by now, but they're both things that people who only know me as an author of horror stories with not-to-be-messed-with heroines don't usually expect. I like to be harmlessly scared, but roller coasters are something completely, soul-scaringly, I-will-claw-someone's-eyes-out-to-escape different. And I believe in equality and refusing to be bound by gender stereotypes, but that doesn't mean I think none of the activities traditionally considered feminine have any value. There's something very satisfying about making something from scratch and sharing it.


F.J.R. Titchenell is an author of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Horror fiction. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel and currently lives in San Gabriel, California with her husband and fellow author, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

The "F" is for Fiona, and on the rare occasions when she can be pried away from her keyboard, her kindle, and the pages of her latest favorite book, Fi can usually be found over-analyzing the inner workings of various TV Sci-Fi universes or testing out some intriguing new recipe, usually chocolate-related.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s first novel. Her first novel coauthored with Matt Carter, Splinters, will be available fall of 2014.


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