EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Dana Fredsti, author of ‘Plague Town’

Today is a day of importance. This is the day that the House of Geekery features it’s first ever totally completely exclusive interview with an awesome person! The person in question is one Dana Fredsti, whom regular readers and zombie fans will know as the author of ‘Plague Town’ (the review of which can be found here), a rollicking zombie-hunt’n adventure. If you haven’t read the book yet, you should. But first: read this interview and learn how cool she is!

As an added bonus we’ll be revealing an important new character who’ll be debuting in part 2 of the ‘Ashley Parker Trilogy’! Read on!

Question the first…Shambling zombies or sprinters?

I used to be a total slow, shambling zombie purist (I carried around my own little soapbox to step up onto whenever the topic came up), but have
learned to accept there are certain instances in books and movies when the sprinters are pretty effective.  Dead Set comes to mind; probably my favorite instance of fast zombies to date.  28 Days Later as well, but those are technically not zombies, but infected humans.  It makes more sense for infected yet still living humans to move quickly as opposed to corpses being able to run a marathon. Rotting flesh falls off, bones snap, y’know… messy and not practical.  And do not get me started on zombies suddenly being able to scale walls and ceilings like Spider-man.  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Day of the Dead remake!  And that’s not to be confused with Day of the Dead: Contagion, where the zombie virus had something to do with sparkly fairy lights.  I can’t even begin to figure that one out.

A quick glance at resume indicates that you have a mild fascination with zombies. What makes them your monster of choice?

I appreciate you using “mild fascination” in place of “scary obsession.”  Erm… I am really not sure.  I went through a “ooh, vampires are cool and sexy!” phase when I was younger, but part of that had to do with my mega-crush on Christopher Lee, who will always remain my favorite Dracula.  Then I saw Dawn of the Dead and was just blown away by how creepy Romero’s flesh-eating ghouls were.  I’ve always been fascinated by true stories of man-eating sharks/crocs/big cats/snakes as well as things like cannibalism (not that I wanted to eat flesh; the whole idea just fascinated me in a very morbid way) and I also used to have some pretty disturbing nightmares about my friends and family looking like themselves, but not being the same people any more.  Very Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  So you combine these ingredients and I suppose it makes sense that flesh-eating zombies are my monster of choice.

What do you attribute to the explosion in popularity for zombie culture this past decade?

Between the remake of Dawn of the Dead, Dead Set, Shaun of the Dead, and the Walking Dead, zombies have gotten more respectable media exposure than ever before. And, of course, Max Brooks and his fantastic book ‘World War Z’ came out and hit the bestseller list, with Hollywood heavies Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt battling for the film rights. It was only natural that the various media outlets jumped on the rotting bandwagon.  People like me have been waiting for this perfect storm of zombie books/shows/comics/movies for ages so for every person grumbling about how zombies are over, they’ve jumped the shark, blah blah blah, there are plenty of us countering with, “Uh, not!”  Although probably the counterarguments a bit more eloquent.

Why is she dressed like a Deadite? Because she WAS a Deadite! Ten points for being rad!

Your novel ‘Plague Town’ is clearly heavily influenced by geek culture – what are your main influences?

You mean, aside from Buffy and all things Whedon?  Well, I grew up going to Science Fiction and fantasy conventions. I attended ComicCon when it was a little hole in the wall convention. I grew up on Dark Shadows, Kolchak, Star Trek, Time Machine, Land of the Giants, and a slew of shows that you can now watch on Nick-at-Night.  I’ve read voraciously all my life in a variety of genres, saw lots of movies (Alien/Aliens, of course), and hung out with people equally geeky, including a boyfriend whose friends all talked in a series of movie/TV show quotes pretty much non-stop. Have to admit that drove me a bit crazy, but it gave me great fodder for my characters. Yes, you naysayers who don’t think anyone really talks like that… they really do. Jeez, I could go on at length. Let’s just leave it with I’m a geek from way back when and have always hung with and dated the geeks and the nerds of the world because they’re infinitely more interesting than the jocks and some of them grow up to be MUCH better looking and sexier too. Nerds who swordfight?  Nom nom nom…

For the uninitiated, what makes your zombie story stand out from the crowd?

Probably more humor than the average zombie novel, as well as a first person narrative from a female point of view who also happens to be immune to the zombie virus.

The opening pages of the book indicate that a trilogy is in the making – what can readers expect in the coming books?

More humor, but definitely a darker turn in the second book.  Don’t get attached to anyone.  If there’s one thing I learned from the Whedon-verse, it’s don’t be afraid to kill off favorite characters.  Although I still haven’t forgiven him for Tara in Buffy or Wash in Serenity.  Also, as the names of the two sequels imply (Plague Nation and Plague World) the scope of the plague will spread far beyond Redwood Grove.

Word is that the next book will introduce a new character named G-Funk. Will readers be able to handle the awesomeness of this character?

That’s a tough one.  When you have a character that awesome… so awesome he’s dipped in awesome sauce with sprinkles of “fantastic”
all over him…  it may be too much for them. I may advise the wearing of sunglasses while reading the sections he’s in,just to keep the dazzling brightness of his character from blinding the readers.

Read it. Seriously.

Which famous characters or historical figures do you want to see fighting zombies?

Well.. I’m not a huge fan of the Jane Austen/zombie pastiches or the Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter type books.  On the other hand, my favorite
section of Zombie Survival Guide is the historical instances of zombie outbreaks… and naturally I can’t remember any specifics right now… Um…not answering the question here, am I?  Let’s see… Okay, Vlad the Impaler!  I’d like to see him kick some zombie ass…although he’d
probably just impale said zombie derrieres instead…   And I just grossed myself out.

(Very important question) Batman vs Zombies: who would win?

Assuming Batman’s cave was impervious to zombie incursions and that he has access to all of his ginchy gizmos, gadgets and costumes (and assuming the fabric is bite-impervious) I’m gonna go with Batman. Dude can scale buildings and shit, y’know?  Fast zombies might present a little more of a challenge than the shamblers, but Batman is a survivor. Besides, any other answer would probably get me banned from House of Geekery and we can’t have that!

Questions my students insist I ask:

Is your name pronounced ‘Dah-na’ or ‘Dai-na’?

The correct pronunciation would actually be ‘Dayna.’  “Dai-na” would be how the Aussies would pronounce it and “Dah-na” you Brits!  Heh.

Would you rather have four arms or four legs?

Ooh, that’s a toughie.  Four legs would mean some pretty awesome speed on the ground, like going for a horseback ride without the horse.  I’m assuming the legs would be positioned sort of like a centaur here, mind you.  If we’re talking having the two extra legs just stick out randomly without serving any function, I’d definitely go for the extra arms and set myself up as some sort of Kali-esque goddess.

What’s your favourite inanimate object?

D’oh!  Okay, three spring to mind (tell your students I am functionally incapable of choosing just one thing in these types of questions:

Swords (specifically a rapier)
Beach Glass
Wine glass (filled, thank you)

Remember to stay glued for any other updates about the upcoming Plague Town sequel and the awesome new character who is totally awesome and will no doubt get some serious press on this very website (which is also awesome)!