If you still haven't entered the tour giveaway, you can do so on Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories or Fictional Candy below, and if you'll be in So Cal in a week's time and would like to celebrate the release with me, you can RSVP and invite your friends here.
And, of course, if you don't have your copy of Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) yet...
F.J.R. Titchenell - Of Zombies and Jalapenos
We actually didn’t get the interview done on Cinco de Mayo. We were otherwise engaged. The following exchange occurred Seis de Mayo. The day after. Late in the afternoon.
Johnny: So what the hell? What’s with the initials?
Fiona: Don’t talk so loud.
Johnny: Ouch. You either... and don’t duck the question.
Fiona: Okay, fine. They stand for Fiona Jane Robin, and Titchenell is my maiden name. I kept it as a pen name as sort of my compromise on the whole changing my name or not changing my name marriage debate. Husband’s name for legal and personal use, father’s name for professional use. Problem solved. Plus I already had some short stories out under Titchenell when I got married, and unlike Carter, the Titchenell name is nearly dead and has never been famous yet, so it’s really easy to Google without finding a bunch of stuff you’re not looking for. Very useful for an author.
Johnny: But what’s with the initials?
Fiona: Getting to that. My mother insisted on giving me two middle names, because multiple middle names are common in Australia, where she grew up, and she didn’t have any middle names and was jealous. My father wanted me to be an author right from the beginning, so the multiple middle names grew on him when he connected the idea with J.R.R Tolkien. Hence “J.R” as my middle initials. How could I not use the initials as my author name when that’s what I was given them for, and then in spite of everything we know about how parents’ plans necessarily go awry, I actually did grow up to be an author?
Johnny: Eh, my head. You don’t talk so loud.
Fiona: ’Scuse me for gathering the wherewithal to answer a question. How much did you have, anyway?
Johnny: I remember shots. Did I eat a worm at the bottom of a bottle? I don’t remember much after that.
Fiona: You’re asking me? I’m a lightweight… relatively. Did we split that whole bottle? Feel dead on my feet. Or at least like something dead on its feet scooped out most of my brain.
Johnny: Speaking of zombies, tell me about your book, what’s it called?
Fiona: I told you yesterday! Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)!
Johnny: Ha! Gotcha! Wouldn’t that be Van Helsing?
Fiona: No, he’s a Vampire slayer. Big difference... (Click here to read the full interview)
Who or What Has Been Your Main Source of Support in Writing about Topics Most Girls Would Think Gross?
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is a lighthearted and humorous adventure, but this topic compels me to get serious for a moment.
The breaking of gender barriers is quite probably the one issue that I'm most passionate about in the world. I believe people should be who they are without fear or embarrassment over failing to fill a pre-assigned role.
I believe being a good person is the same thing no matter what kind of body you were born into, and that arbitrarily giving people more or less opportunity or credit for their compassion, courage, intelligence, strength, etc. because of other attributes beyond their control is one of the most unjust and harmful habits humanity has.
Art plays a huge role in perpetuating or challenging assumptions about how things are supposed to be, so just as I'd never assume that my future daughters have to love dolls and sons love cars, I'll never write with the assumption that female characters can't fight zombies or that female readers can't enjoy reading about them... (Click here to read the full guest post)
What Was The Process of Writing Your First Book Like? How Did It Feel to Hold the ARC in Your Hands?
On a totally non-posting-related note, today I have the privilege of welcoming agent and publisher-mate F.J.R. Titchenell to the blog as she celebrates the release of her debut novel Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)! One of the wonderful perks of being an author is having the occasional ARC come my way, and I have to say, I loved reading Fiona's book! CotVFZS(TIKo) is fun and fast-paced, and the characters are strong and quirky. If you like YA and you like Zombie books, you HAVE to check it out.
I featured the cover on the blog as it was revealed in November of 2013...and you can read more about the book HERE.
So the question I posed to Fiona was this: What was the process of writing your first book like? How did it feel to hold the ARC?
Here's her response:
Like many authors, I'd been writing a long time before I finished the manuscript that would be my debut novel. I'd been writing fiction my whole life, and with serious intent to publish for about five years before I started Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of).
I had some short stories published, and I had some earlier novels that I either decided weren't publication-worthy or couldn't get picked up at the level I was aiming for, so Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) wasn't my first experience with completing a novel-length manuscript. It was the first time I was able to create something I was proud of without an insane number of drafts, though, the first time I started thinking, "I might actually be getting the hang of this," and, of course, that first amazing time I caught the interest of someone in the industry, the awesome Jennifer Mishler.
The process of writing the book itself was a whirlwind. I went from idea to query letter in seven months, and I wrote the first draft in an almost entirely linear fashion, which is rare for me. I usually can't resist jumping forward to my favorite parts, but Zombie Slayer kept dragging me straight ahead with it... (Click here to read the full guest post)
Zombies and Suprbat - Hell Yeah!
The book starts innocuously enough. It's a co-ed Scouts camping trip. Lot's of boy-girl drama, and Cassie long ago figured out she liked hanging with the boys more. She's not a frilly girly girl, she gets down and plays paintball with her buddies. And it's a rousing game of paintball that starts this story. You wouldn't think a paintball could kill someone, but it depends on where they're shot, right? And somehow, that person comes back. Cassie is right there, and she kills them... again. Yeah, that all seemed a little odd for me. In fact, if I'm honest, the first 100 pages or so weren't my favorite. The book is written in first person, which I have no problem with. But it took me a while to get a handle on the fact that the book takes place three years in the past, and Cassie is writing in her journal, basically speaking to the reader. There are some really traumatic things that happen right away, and I just didn't feel the emotion from them. But no worries, my apocalypse loving friends, that changes.
The majority of the book is a cross country trip. It goes fast, the book and the the trip. You get to know the characters, and yes - you lose some. Pretty serious characters, too. Hey, this is the apocalypse - we aren't all going to live!! Friends are made, old friendships are renewed, pacts are reinforced. And well, the group size dwindles. But there is a bright spot in all of that, aside from Cassie. And that bright spot is named Norman. Norman... he's a tough nut to crack. I had to wonder, is he insane, or pretending to be insane? Is he on the verge of cracking, or is this how he normally is? Either way, he has a wicked sense of humor at times, and he really serves well in the purpose of lightening up some of the more tense moments. But Normal also has a more sensitive side. He's not unaffected by everything. I mean, these are fifteen and sixteen year old kids, after all... (Click here to read the full review)
Guest Column: Fresh Zombies
With all the zombie-related fiction out now, how do you make them seem fresh?
It's true, everyone does seem to be zombie obsessed lately, myself included. As with any trend, lots of zombie stories run together, following all the same tropes and rehashing the same material.
Thanks to the significant lead time in publishing, I had no idea while I was writing Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) just how big this whole zombie thing was going to get by the time release day rolled around. I'm not one to jump on a bandwagon, certainly not if I don't have something new in mind to contribute, but with all the zombie fiction in existence both before and since I wrote Zombie Slayer, I still see something missing from all there is to choose from.
Cassie’s story is that something.
The vast majority of zombie fiction is written by men, about male protagonists, for a primarily male audience. That's not to say that there aren't female zombie-fic lovers -- I'm proud beyond words to be part of a healthy generation of she-geeks who don't fear the icky bits -- but we continue to be mostly an afterthought.
What zombie fiction there is that's written with a female audience in mind, particularly a teenage female audience, tends to be either unrelentingly depressing dystopia, or sentient zombie romance that isn't particularly zombie-ish.
Now, I'm a fan of a broad spectrum of horror. I like dark stuff, including serious zombie fiction, but zombies of the unromantic and non-sentient variety also have a lot of potential for silliness and humor that's only been widely explored in R-rated guy-oriented comedies.
I wanted to bring the fun of zombie slaying to new zombie geeks, especially girls... (Click here to read the full guest post)