A couple of years ago, when books were still on paper and sold in stores, I picked up a copy of “You Are So Undead To Me.” Yeah, it was a kid’s book, a young adult book, a YA, I knew that. But, zombies! How could I resist zombies? Of course, I loved it. I was also fairly new to Twitter at the time, so I found it pretty damn amazing when I wrote to the book’s author, Stacey Jay, and she wrote back!
I’m a manly man/guy/dude and this woman has gotten me to read both a YA book and an adult fantasy novel about fairies. That second one’s called “Dead on the Delta.” It’s about fairies that have mutated and feast on human blood. And if that sounds awesome, it is. So if you’re keeping track of reasons why I adore Stacey Jay: 1) She is a supremely talented writer. 2) She was how I found out just how awesome Twitter can be. 3) She allowed me to interview her for my blog. For free! So we’ve been exchanging emails for a few weeks. Here’s how it went down:
KJB: I remember reading ‘You Are So Undead to Me’ and being freaked out right off the bat when Megan is bitten. My first question is how did you get into zombies? And my second is, what kind of thought process went into creating this whole new world where a zombie bite hurts but not does bring a new plague upon mankind? It’s very different than any other zombie lit I’ve read.
SJ: The first zombies I ever saw were in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I was five and immediately entranced. They were so terrifying, yet strangely funny at the same time. When I started YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME I really wanted a funny/scary vibe, and zombies are my go-to creature for that.
Never heard of it. Thanks, Google.
As far as the zombie bites are concerned, my zombies are based more on the voodoo tradition than the infectious plague tradition. In the voodoo culture, zombies don’t usually turn other people with their bite.
KJB: Voodoo. Of course. I think it’s easy to forget that George Romero didn’t invent zombies. 😉
So, I just read ‘Dead on the Delta’. This is your first book for grown-ups, correct? I imagine it must be more difficult to write YA because you have to judge what the reader can or can’t be exposed to. (I can’t even comprehend not being able to swear!) Admittedly, I don’t read a ton of YA, but I have to think in YASUTM, you were skirting some lines with lesbians and shower scenes (though not combined, so maybe there’s the line…). Anyway, talk a little about YA vs. uhh, just A.
SJ: Well, I hope you enjoyed DEAD ON THE DELTA, it’s certainly a departure from my Megan Berry books, and much more adult. As far as which is more difficult to write–adult or young adult–I can’t give an answer one way or the other. I think it depends on the book and the subject matter, regardless of what age group the book is for. For example–YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME and JULIET IMMORTAL (my August 2011 release) are both for young adults, but Juliet was a much more troubled character than Megan. Being in her head space was more grueling than other heroines I’ve written. And Annabelle from DEAD ON THE DELTA…well, she’s just a mess. But I’ve got a lot of love and hope for her. She was very interesting to write and I hope to get the chance to spend many more books with her.
KJB: So would it be safe to say you create the characters, the world, the story first, and worry about who the target audience is afterward?
SJ: Hm. Well, sometimes the character comes first. In JULIET IMMORTAL, that was certainly the case. I started thinking of an alternative Juliet–as a warrior type of character–and the rest of the story grew from there. With DEAD ON THE DELTA, the world came first and the age of the character shifted as I imagined what living in this type of environment would do to people, and where I wanted to focus the story.
KJB: What is your writing routine like? I know you tweet a lot about writing in public…do you ever get recognized? What’s the weirdest or best or worst fan encounter you’ve ever had?
…Besides maybe having a crazy zombie hunter named after you, of course 😉
SJ: My writing routine is…grueling. I write about 1500-3000 words per day, six days a week, and fit in editing and proofing and publicity and email and everything else whenever I can (nights, weekends, etc) amidst raising two small boys and taking part time care of my two stepdaughters. I’ve been working this way for about four years and I REALLY need a break. I think I’m going to get one in October, so I’m pretty jazzed for that. It will be a great chance to refill the creative well. And I do often write in public, just because strangers are easier to ignore than my loud-mouthed children at home. (My two year old is especially vocal and refuses to respect the fact that “mama’s working.” He will bang on the bedroom door until I want to shoot myself in the head, so… Coffee shop it is.) And no one has EVER recognized me as anything but my childrens’ mom/stepmom. I am not famous. I am not even infamous. (Though I’m considering an act of infamy in my old age. Just for kicks.) As far as weirdness/goodness from fans…I think having a zombie hunter named after me TOPS the list of awesome sauce fan action. I’ve never really had much weirdness. My readers are amazing and I appreciate them so much. I do get a lot of emails thanking me for responding to their email personally, however. I guess there are a lot of authors who don’t have the time. Maybe I won’t someday, but for now I really try to make the time to show my readers how grateful I am for their support.
KJB: I’m thinking of changing careers. Should I become a zombie settler or a fairy crap sample collector?
Hm, well either one probably has better job security than a writer, so…
Hah. I kid. Mostly…
Thanks for the interview, Kevin!