My Conversation With Jessica Meigs

A few months ago, I made Twitter friends with a young lady named Jessica Meigs.  It quickly became apparent that we were leading creepily parallel lives.  Our novels starring zombies were both picked up by Permuted Press.  We signed our contracts on the same day.  (Pretty sure it was literally the same day.)  We both pay the bills by working mind-numbing  jobs at the world’s largest retailer.  (We’re not cashiers!  …not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And it turns out we both feel really strongly about the importance of good grammar and editing when self-publishing. (Typos make you look like an amateur!  You would think more indie writers would feel that way.)  Naturally, we became friends and colleagues, but oddly enough, we each have not actually read the other’s work.  If my book coming out is the most highly anticipated book release in my life, then The Becoming by Jessica Meigs is second.  Here now is a conversation we had over the last few days via email:
KJB: Secret revealing time: I almost bought your book a few months ago.
After I got my Kindle, I was browsing for all things zombie and I saw The Becoming on the digital shelf. I thought, hmm, written on a cell phone, that’s weird but kind of cool. In the end, I passed because I didn’t want to do novellas or get into a whole series I would have to wait for the conclusion of. (oh, males and their commitment issues!) I have since come to realize that I probably made a huge mistake. You signed with Permuted Press, which means The Becoming has to be good. You sought me out and we became friends which shows remarkable good taste in choice of company. But now every day I have to live with the fact that I initially passed on you.

Pictured: The only thing Jessica Meigs uses to write a book with.

I pre-ordered your soon-to-be released Permuted edition and it is easily the most excited I have ever been about pre-ordering a book. So now, I give you free rein to give me shit for not being on board from the beginning and tell me why The Becoming will blow my mind, as I anticipate it will. (I’ve built it up in my mind as the zombie book to end all zombie books…no pressure.)
JM:  Secret revealing time on my part: I saw your book at some point on Amazon and almost went digging for it for the nook but never got the chance to. Then I forgot about it, and when I found out you’d been signed to Permuted, I was like, “Why does this guy’s name sound so familiar?!” and then found out that, oh hey, he’s the one who wrote that mailman one you were going to buy but never did! *sigh*

Why The Becoming will blow your mind. Let’s see….hm….
Well, it has zombies! But they’re not zombies. They’re just infected people who want to eat your face off. Which, I guess, is the definition of zombies whichever way you slice it. They are zombies that run, too. None of that slow, shambling mess that you can outrun and hide from so easily.
And there’s guns! Lots and lots of guns. And knives. And a character obsessed with collecting guns and knives. I’m sure you can imagine her obsession only works to the characters’ benefit. And odd weapons you don’t hear about every day (hello Galil sniper rifle and bolo knife).
There’s also sex. But that doesn’t show up until the second book, soooo…I don’t think that counts (yet).
Badass female characters? I hope you like those, because there’s three of them (granted, one’s a teenager, so she’s only as badass as she can be while avoiding the zombies as opposed to actively hunting them down and killing them).
Characters with psychological problems! Jealousy! Sociopathy (…which is one of those things that really shows up in the second book)! Secrets! Lies! Betrayals! Hookers with hearts of gold!* (Oh wait, that’s only in the Kevin Burke version of The Becoming.)
What else you need to know? 😛
*Editor’s note:  She’s referring to a fake blurb I wrote for her, having no idea what the book was about.  Hookers with hearts of gold won’t show up until Book 4.
KJB: I went with the classic undead shamblers myself. I know they’re not very scary, but they are relentless and dangerous in numbers. I got some pretty good use out of them, if I do say so myself. I always say I prefer slow to fast but when I think about all the zombie films that truly scared me, they all had fast. And most of the films near the top of my Best list have fast too. I guess what I’m saying is, if anything, I love both.
I did not think it possible to be hooked anymore, but your description is awesome. It always has seemed to me that we have very similar styles. I very much look forward to being proven right. I feel like we’re ZFFs now. 
Now, how did you get into this zombie craze? What are some of your favorite books, movies, or games?
JM:  “Relentless and dangerous” very definitely describes a slow zombie, especially en masse. I suppose it’s because you can run, but you can only run so long before you get tired, and they NEVER get tired. I personally like both too, but I definitely think that the faster ones are scarier than the slower ones.

As for how I got into the zombie craze (at least recently, because I’ve watched zombie movies since I was a kid), I blame it on a combination of 28 Days Later and Max Brooks’ book World War Z. I think both defy description of how awesome they are, so I’m not sure I’m willing to even try.
Favorite books, movies, and/or games: For books, definitely everything written by Max Brooks, Mira Grant, and Jonathan Maberry. There are others too, but those are always the first three that pop in my head when I’m asked who my favorites are. 🙂 As for movies, everything from the original Night of the Living Dead (which was the first zombie movie I recall seeing) to the remake of Dawn of the Dead (which I honestly liked better than the original!) and 28 Days/Weeks Later. And, of course, The Walking Dead, which I thought was pretty good, and I was really thrilled to see a television series about zombies (which just leads to the question of WHAT TOOK THEM SO LONG?!).

Scary..., wait, yeah, both scary.

KJB: You should read The Walking Dead comic. As the old saying goes, “the book is better than the movie.” And by book, I mean comic book and by movie, I mean TV show. Who are your heroes? Who are your influences? Do you like ice cream?
JM: I’m waiting on The Walking Dead to be available to read on an eReader before I dive into it. Never been a HUGE fan of comics, but I’ll dig into some of them. 🙂

You made me think about this one, huh? 😛

Let’s see. Who are my heroes? Definitely my parents. They’ve sacrificed a LOT for me, and that’s something that I seriously can’t ignore. They are seriously the most amazing parents ever, and I wouldn’t ask for anything else. (No, I’m totally serious. I’m not sucking up to my parents AT ALL.)
My influences: Really, it rolls back to my favorite authors: Mira Grant, Max Brooks, and Jonathan Maberry. They’re definitely the best zombie writers EVER, and if I could write even a fraction as well as them, I’d be perfectly content.
Hell yeah, I like ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie dough all the way. 😀
KJB: I’ve been blown away by all the compliments I’ve received and it’s made me go, “yeah, I’ve definitely got some writing chops. I can do this.” What has been your most flattering fan reaction so far? Have you had any special moments or your own time when you said “I can do this!”?
JM: My favorite (and therefore most flattering) fan reaction was a message I got through Facebook from a US soldier currently in Afghanistan. He was messaging me to thank me for writing the books (he’d just finished reading the self-published ones), because they did a wonderful job of distracting him and keeping him occupied in his down time while fighting in Afghanistan. I’m HUGE into supporting the military, so that absolutely made my day when I got it.

And my special moment that I had when I said, “I can do this!” was definitely when my editor came back to me with the first edits on the first book. She had put commentary all through it, and a lot of it was flattering and just made me smile while reading it. I was SO thankful that she hadn’t been like, “This is crap! Why are we publishing this?!”
KJB: This one’s from my brother.  He asks, “How would your book be different if it had been written on an iphone instead of a blackberry?”
JM:  Good question! It probably wouldn’t have gotten written, to be honest. Typing anything of significant length on an iPhone was such a pain (there’s actually maybe a grand total of two paragraphs that got typed on an iPhone) that I very quickly gave up and went back to using the BlackBerry to write on. Drove me absolutely NUTS trying to type on that thing!
KJB: In closing, what does the future hold for Jessica Clementine Meigs  and what words of wisdom do you have for the future children of the zombie apocalypse?
JM: Clementine? I suppose it’s close enough to Elaine to pass. 
The future likely holds the release of books two and three of the trilogy, unless the first one falls so hard on its face that Permuted goes, “Oh dear God, what were we THINKING?!”

"The Becoming? I wish it was the Be-going! Hahaha"

Words of wisdom: Keep your guns loaded, keep your emergency supplies stocked, and keep your friends close, because they’re the ones that are going to have your back when the zombies try to eat your face off.
KJB: Thanks, Jessica!  See you at the Permuted family picnic!

4 thoughts on “My Conversation With Jessica Meigs

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