Dana Fredsti is a San Francisco-based novelist and screenplay writer whose past works include Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon. As an actress she has appeared in various horror films, and worked on Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness as an armourer’s assistant, sword-fighting captain, and sword-wielding Deadite. A past president of the Sisters in Crime, Northern California chapter, she is a blogger who has done numerous podcasts and radio appearances.
Killer Aphrodite Entertainment had the great fortune of getting an interview with the very successful actress, producer, director and now author of a series that is bound to be a hit with the masses! Dana Fredsti, a woman that clearly has the sense of humour a girl like me could easily fall in love with, and a horror movie trivia expert (which I can honestly say I admire), is the author of the cut-throat awesome zombie novel, Plague Town: An Ashley Parker Novel, which I reviewed not too long ago. So instead of a longwinded intro, let’s get down to picking at the brains of this explosive star on the rise…
Monique: Firstly I’d like to welcome you to the confines of my own little world, I hope you like the stay. Secondly, I’m completely enthralled with the Plague Town series, so what made you decide to write it?
Dana: Hi, Monique and thank you so much for inviting me into your world. And thank you SO much for the great review you gave Plague Town. I just read it and am doing a quiet happy dance. It’s only a quiet one ‘cause I’m at my day job and they frown on noisy dancing. No Footloose action here, I’m afraid… And now to answer your question.
I decided to write Plague Town because the voices in my head told me to. Actually the voice was on the other end of the phone line and it was, specifically, the voice of Lori Perkins w/the Lori Perkins Agency and Ravenous Romance. Luckily Lori did not instruct me to go on a killing spree or burn things, but rather to write a series of novels that were, essentially “Buffy. But with zombies. And different.” The only other directive from the voice in my head was to name the lead character Ashley. And thus was the Ashley Parker series born.
Monique: I’ve been at the short end of getting a LOT of zombie novels to read ever since this website came into existence (and even before then), what made you decide that zombies were the way to go when the genre is kind of thinning out as a whole? With that I mean, the good ones are few and far in between, in general… so what gives?
Dana: Well, see above for why I decided to write this particular series, but other than that.. zombies are just cool! I mean, think about how many vampire novels/stories/movies we’ve had, not to mention the current shapeshifter/fae craze in urban fantasy novels. And they’re still going strong . And they’ve been going on for a lot longer than the current popularity fo their rotting cousins, the flesh eating zombies. People like me (weirdos who have been fascinated by zombies since the original Dawn of the Dead) have been waiting many years for our favorite monster to get its place in the pop-culture spotlight. And while yes, there is definitely a glut of books/movies, and some of them from people just wanting to cash in the popularity of zombies, there are plenty out there from people who truly appreciate the genre and want to add to the …er.. (pompous writer talk alert) zombie lexicon. I have read and watched the good, the bad, the really bad, and the oh-please-let-me- see-it –again-with-a-bottle-of –tequila bad. And I will continue to do so as long as people want to make movies and write books and stories about zombies. I think a lot of people feel the same way I do.
Dana: Totally figment, although I admit she is infused with my own sense of right/wrong and sarcasm, with the whole “Buffy!” imperative ringing in my head. Buffy has strength combined with a vulnerability that makes for a very appealing heroine and I hope to capture that combination in Ashley. And I am so pleased to hear you think she’s someone people will fall in love with! Say more nice things
Monique: Gabriel is absolutely drool-able (I’m a girl, so duh, of course I’ll drool), so of course I’m happy our hero won’t die quite as easily, but the question is who’s Mister Gabriel based on and can I have his number? *giggles*
Dana: Heh. He’s another total figment of my imagination. I knew certain things were going to happen with his character arc (pretentious writer speak alert!), but his character absolutely developed as I wrote the first book. The first scene between him and Ashley in the classroom was entirely improvised on the spot. I liked the idea, though, of a hero who had some really irritating character flaws rather than being all perfect (or with flaws that just add to his charm) right off the bat.
Monique: All fooling aside though, you took a lot of risks by rewriting some of the obvious zombie myths, which isn’t bad, but still it’s risky. What inspired you truly to take the plunge and delve into the gore?
Dana: Hmm. Well, I wanted to keep some of the classic zombie tropes while developing the mythos to create something new to offer zombie fans. As someone who gets really shirty when people mess with my zombies (you should have heard me squawk about fast zombies when they first appeared!), I realize this is a risky proposition, but… I wanted to create something new while making die-hard classic Romero fans happy. I have a rather Lady Macbeth scope of ambition here, don’t I?
Monique: *giggles* Okay, I’ll be honest; this kind of ran through my head the entire time I read the book, especially after I got a feel for Ashley and her love interest, Gabriel. WHY, OH WHY DIDN’T YOU CRACK NECROPHILIA JOKES?!
Dana: LOL! Will it disappoint you to know I never even thought of doing that? Without giving away spoilers, I can see it happening in Plague Nation or Plague World. But… y’know, in Plague Town… he’s “not dead yet!”
Monique: With the new film, “Warm Bodies” coming out soon (2013) and the whole “zombie-love” thing that’ll soon inspire a probable new Twilight fascination, are you scared that Plague Town will fall into the stigma as well?
Dana: Okay, first of all, I am now Googling “Warm Bodies” and slightly embarrassed that I’m going to lose my zombie expert street cred by admitting I’ve never heard of it. That being said, I was in a wonderful anthology edited by Lori Perkins (The Voice in my Head!) that was basically the first zombie romance collection. All the authors dealt with the subject in their own unique way, my story dealing with a really shitty first date that coincides with the zombacolypse. As far as Plague Town falling into a sort of romantic zombie rotting snogging stigma, nah. I think it stands on its own decomposing legs in a category that, if not entirely unique, at least offers enough new twists and original characters that it will occupy its own niche in Zombie Town.
Monique: What more can we expect from the upcoming novels? I’m pleased to announce I CAN’T WAIT for the sequel “Plague Nation”. Please tease me? Pretty please?
Dana: I am SO happy you can’t wait for the sequels! And oooh yes, baby, I am happy to tease you because I am just that kind of author. Ooh so bad… So… Plague Nation will take our main characters further afield as the undead outbreak spreads from Redwood Grove into the rest of the country (and beyond). Don’t get attached to anyone. And get ready for some new characters to appear, including someone who might just give your beloved Gabriel a run for his money. And don’t worry about the cats. If you get to know me at all, you will know I’ll kill people without flinching, but will never harm a cat or dog in the writing of my novels.
Monique: What else do you have in store for us?
Dana: Well, in terms of Ashley Parker, at least two more books of her adventures and the spread of the zombie outbreak from a small town to the entire world. Wacky hijinks and pop-culture referecnes will ensue. After that? I have some ideas of projects I’d like to work on, including a sequel to my first published novel Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon, as well as a series starring Lilith, the very first succubus.
Monique: Lastly, I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you better and then ask whether or not there is anything else you’d like to say as a closing statement?
Dana: Oh heck, I’m bad when it comes to answer to those open-ended questions. Erm.. love me, love my book, and get your pets spayed/neutered!!!! And thank you so much, Monique, for having me as your guest!