My thanks to Lynn Messina for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an interview about her book, The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies.
1. How did you come up with the title?
Actually, I didn't. My title was Hattie Cross's Guide to Dating Zombies because the main character is named Hattie Cross and she's the author of a zombie-dating how-to. Then, when I was working on the second draft, a friend left a voicemail saying hi and checking in and signed off with, Hope all is going well with The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies. And it struck me: Wow. Much better title.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Well, it's delivered a bit tongue-in-cheek but the general message is not to settle or make do. The premise of the relationship guide Hattie writes is: Men are gone and zombies are left so we women might as well make the best of it, like we've been doing for millennia. In many ways, zombies ARE great boyfriends because they're malleable and don't have opinions. They don't complain if you get stuck at work or feel insecure if you make more money. But the point is, that's not enough. Everyone should want an equal partner.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
I would say about half. Obviously, the premise—zombie apocalypse that affects only men—isn't realistic at all. But I like to think the emotions the situation engenders and the way the characters handle it are completely realistic.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Yes! Since it's pubbed, quite a few people have asked about same-sex relationships as an alternative. I address it in the book and say that dating zombies is an option heterosexual women are exploring, but it's in passing and far too subtle. In another draft, I would make that conversation much more central.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The zombie sex scene. I have a hard time writing human sex scenes. Even though my mom died years ago, I still blush at the thought of her reading any sex scene I might write. And, well, writing about zombie sex was squishier (literally!). When I sat down to write this book, it didn't occur to me that I'd have to deal with zombie sex. And when it did, I tried to work around it. But I find most stories have their own internal engines, an inevitability that won't be denied, and it seemed to me that you can't write a book about dating zombies and not address zombie sex. In the end, though, the sex scene was really fun to write because I did it from the point of view of "how can Hattie sentimentalize this?" Plus, my zombies aren't that squishy; they're kind of like 1968 Night of the Living Dead zombies—that is, people with oatmeal on their faces.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I have much more respect for the conventions of horror than I realized. I started out intending to tailor the zombies to fit my story, but in the end I felt compelled to stay true to the conventions of zombie-ness. So I wound up tailoring my story to fit the zombies.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes! I was 14 and read a book about a 15-year-old girl who develops a video game, sells it for $40,000 and convinces her parents to let her build her own house in the backyard with the money. The A-frame house she builds is based on the design of a 16-year-old in her school. The premise was so absurd, I thought, Hey, I can do better than that.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Eeek! Toughest question ever because I've had so many different favorites depending on where I am in my life. Tom Stoppard is a particular favorite. His writing is so subtle, precise and clever it makes me feel completely inadequate, which I like. He's a mastermind at expressing complicated ideas in beautiful, accessible ways. He's the only human being on earth who could make me wish I knew more about calculus.
9. Tell us your latest news.
The New York Times just published an essay I wrote. It feels like I've spent half my life trying to get something published in the Times.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies is really, really fun. (I would say hilarious but I don't want to appear immodest.)
Connect with Lynn
About the Book
Hattie Cross knows what you're thinking: Zombie sex? Ewwwww. But she also knows that since a virus turned 99.9999 percent of human males into zombies, it's statistically impossible to meet--let alone date--the remaining 0.00001 percent. So she writes "The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies" to help her fellow single women navigate the zombie-relationship waters.
Her practical how-to impresses the CEO of the largest drug company in the world, and before she knows it, Hattie, a reporter for a downmarket tabloid that specializes in conspiracy theories, is sitting down with the woman who single-handedly invented the zombie-behavioral-modification market. Granted access to the inner sanctum of zombaceuticals, she meets an actual, living, breathing M-A-N.
Now Hattie, the consummate professional, is acting like a single girl at the end of the twentieth century: self-conscious, klutzy and unable to form a coherent sentence without babbling. Worst of all, the human male appears to have impaired her ability to think clearly. Because all of a sudden she's convinced a conspiracy is afoot at the drug company and it seems to go all the way to the top!
Price: $2.99 ebook, $12.95 trade paperback
Pages: 242 pages
Genre: zombie chick lit, paranormal chick lit
Publisher: Potatoworks Press
Release Date: February 14, 2012