Another treat for you today! Shana Festa, author of Time of Death: Induction (reviewed here) and host of the Bookie Monster site (here) has agreed to answer a few questions about her book.
For those unaware, Time of Death: Induction is the story of nursing student Emma Rossi and her struggles to survive the outbreak of a zombie plague in her hometown. Unlike most examples of the genre, Emma refuses to let the destruction of the world get her down and maintains a positive attitude throughout the story. Even better, it's one of the few zombie books I can remember where humans try and cooperate in the aftermath of the zombie uprising.
I hope the United Federation of Charles' readers will enjoy her insights as much as I have. Okay, Shana, let's get started.
1. What do you think separates Time of Death: Induction from other zombie novels?
For one, the tone of the book is much lighter than one would imagine in zombie lore. Instead of making it all about zombies, I've gone heavy on characterization and unique settings. Don't get me wrong, though, there are still oodles of zombies. I've also added the unlikely character of a dog with personality that goes on for days. In some instances, I think she may steal the spotlight.
2. How would you describe your heroine, Emma Rossi? What makes her unique?
We've all met that person that uses humor and sarcasm in the face of peril. Emma is that person. She is wildly inappropriate and calls it how she sees it. In that fashion, her and I have a lot in common. She is emotionally attached to her dog, almost to the point that it's an unhealthy bond, and she will do anything to keep her safe.
3. Do you believe your nursing experience contributed to making Induction so visceral?
There are definitely some scenes that were enhanced by my knowledge of anatomy and physiology. But I attribute the accomplishment to being an avid fan of the genre. I've read close to 400 zombie books. I know what's been done, what hasn't, what's been successful and what's been a big flop.
4. How do you think the marriage of your characters, Emma and Jake, impacts the drama?
Both positively and negatively. I consider Emma and Jake's relationship to be almost a subplot to the story. It's a realistic push and pull from both a euphoric and dysphoric point of view. When things are good, they're great. But when things go south, the strain it puts on their relationship takes on a murky, tangible quality.
5. Do you have any plans to show the rest of the world's state in upcoming Time of Death volumes?
Indeed I do. At least conceptually. I considered taking this step early into book two, and if you've read the epilogue in book one, you may notice a potential set up for it. I'm nearly done with book two, and while the group does travel, it's not as far as one might expect given that epilogue.
6. What do you think makes the zombie so effective as a monster?
The primal urge to feed, to never rest. Zombies are a scary concept. Like a dog with a bone, they never give up. Not only that, but they are everywhere, lurking in shadows and waiting for stimuli to pull them from inertia.
7. The Time of Death series is 1st person. Do you think this is different from other ways of writing horror fiction?
Not really. It's all in the way a story is told. I connect more with a character when writing in first person. I can put myself into the story and become that character. In third person, I almost feel detached, like I'm floating above the story, not becoming immersed in it.
8. Daphne [the main character's Yorkie] is an adorable character. Do you see pets as important to survivors in a zombie apocalypse? What kind of challenges were involved in writing her in?
I am loving the fact that you enjoyed Daphne. I knew when writing her, people were either going to love her, or hate her and think Emma was nuts. In general, my stance on pets...dogs especially...is that no matter how bad things get, how rotten a circumstance may be, that pet will find a way to lighten spirits and warm up a cold heart.
Originally, I'd outlined Daphne to die. I knew exactly where, when and how. But, as I said earlier, Emma is based on me, and I am that insane dog nut. I actually do have a seven pound (silky-not yorkie) terrier named Daphne. Try as I might to write her demise, my fingers refused to cooperate and I cried my little eyes out sitting At the computer. There was no way my psyche was going to let me kill her.
At times, it does become a challenge to write a scene with her because I need to remember that she is always there, always.
9. Do you have any favorites amongst your character outside the main trio?
I'm a Seth fan. Originally, he was named Jenkins, but I had a contest early on and the winner received a character named after them. The winner of the Facebook contest to give my main character a surname (Rossi) was Seth Puri. And it worked out well that I have know. Him for nearly 30 years. We grew up together, and my best friend married his brother. So I was able to elevate his character using some of Seth's traits in parody.
10. What can we expect from Time of Death's future installments?
More great characters, though I wouldn't get too attached...I love murdering people! Also, I feel I raised the bar again on unique and interesting settings. Of course, there's always Daphne!!
The tone of book two is a bit darker than the first installment, but I think I've found creative ways to inject some much needed, and still very inappropriate, humor. Snarky leading ladies for the win!
Thanks Shana, write on!