Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what
spark prompted you to write the story?
Good friends with wacky ideas. Kim Richards started a new publishing
company called Damnation Books. On the Writers' Chatroom, we came up
with the idea of an anthology of zombie stories as one of its kick-off books. Somehow, someone
suggested recipes, and The Zombie Cookbook was born.
I said I'd write a story, but I wasn't really coming up with much until my friend Becca Butcher
started nagging me. So I got silly and came up with a zombie exterminator and her partner taking
on an infestation in a Korean restaurant. "Wokking Dead" starring Neeta Lyffe had me giggling
for the whole hour it took to write. Sometimes stories just have to get written.
People liked Neeta, and someone asked Kim if there was a novel coming. Kim caught me on the
chatroom when we were discussing unforgettable first lines and reality TV. Somehow in that
conversation, starting the novel with "They ate Eidelberg. Dammit, thought Neeta, I hadn't
finished training him!" popped into my head, and Neeta starring in a reality TV show was too
rich to resist.
Have you always loved zombies and do you keep with the traditional zombie shuffle or do you have
them run such as in a few more recent movies?
Actually, I’m not a zombie fan. The most exposure I've had to the zombie culture playing
"Give Me The Brain," which is a hilarious card game about zombies running a fast food restaurant.
I didn't even watch Zombieland until early November--six months after writing the novel.
My zombies can run, if they were so inclined in real life. Unfortunately, since very few people
are buried in running shorts, it's hard to tell which ones are going to take off after you and
which are going to shamble and groan.
How did you come up with such a wonderful title, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator?
It seemed like a no-brainer name for a 20-something woman whose whole life is about re-killing
the undead and spraying people's homes for roaches, termites, etc. Plus, in "Wokking Dead,"
she's kind of pining after her partner, who (she thinks) doesn’t realize she's alive.
Do you plot your stories out or do you just start writing?
I have a very loose idea of the beginning and end, and maybe some ideas for the middle, but
mostly, I let my characters lead me. It's much more fun, even if it can get frustrating.
Usually, when I'm written into a corner, I can make a vague idea-type outline by putting plot
points on post-it notes and re-arranging them on a wall.
What was the funniest thing you learned about your heroine from writing her story?
I don't know if it's funny, but she has a really low tolerance for clingy boyfriends.
Ironically, so does my teenage daughter. She really didn't like Neeta's love interest, and I
did find that funny.
Which of your characters is most like you and which is least like you?
I think a lot of them have some elements of me, or what I'd like to be in my wildest imaginings,
but none are especially similar to me.
Can you describe your office or where you normally write?
It changes. "Wokking Dead" was written sitting in a hotel room while my husband played computer
games on the hotel TV. (We were house hunting.) Neeta Lyffe was written in my study, which was
part of our bedroom in California. My roll-top desk was separated from the rest of the room by
partitions, and I had a fabulous view of our backyard, which has a lovely garden. Now, we're in Utah, and I'm writing this interview on the kitchen table, surrounded by my son's schoolwork, with a view of the snow falling on the autumn leaves.
Which came first the plot or the characters?
Characters usually come first for me. Then I live the stories with them.
Have you ever gotten stuck while writing a scene or chapter? How did you overcome it?
The only time I got "stuck" in Neeta Lyffe was when I was mapping out the big finale zombie
attack. I spent an entire day just looking over the same piece of land in Los Angeles, building
an imaginary factory there, considering traffic, looking at sidestreets, etc. I kept whembling
over whether it would work or not. The next day, however, I flew through the scene.
What is the wackiest thing that's ever happened to you since you started writing?
Well, I think being a Catholic writer with the motto of "Fiction, Faith and Fun," yet getting
published with Damnation Books is pretty wacky. When I get royalties from DB, we call them
the "wages of sin.