INTERVIEW: Dana Fredsti, Author of Plague Nation

Dana Fredsti is an actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting, whose credits include the cult classic Army of Darkness. Her favorite projects, however, included acting alongside Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Josef Pilato (Day of the Dead). She has been a producer, director, and screenplay writer for stage and film, and was the co-writer/associate producer on Urban Rescuers, a documentary on feral cats which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Valley Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Along with her best friend Maureen, Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. While no actual murders occurred during their performances, there were times when the actors and clients made the idea very tempting. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon (Rock Publications, 2007). Dana also co-wrote What Women Really Want in Bed (Quiver Press) with Cynthia Gentry, their second writing partnership after Secret Seductions, for which Dana used the pseudonym Roxanne Colville.

She has written numerous published articles, essays, and shorts, including stories in Cat Fantastic IV, an anthology edited by Andre Norton (Daw, 1997), Danger City (Contemporary Press, 2005), Mondo Zombie (Cemetery Dance, 2006), and Hungry for Your Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Her essays can be seen in Morbid Curiosity, Issues 2-7, as well as the anthology Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues (Scribner, 2009). She also writes spicy genre romance under her nom de plume Inara LaVey.

The first book in the Ashley Parker series, Plague Town, came out in 2012 from Titan and the 2nd in the series, Plague Nation, will be out April 9th, 2013.


Kristin Centorcelli: Dana, your second novel in the awesome Ashley Parker zombie series, Plague Nation, is out on the April 9th. Will you give us a bit of a teaser and tell us a little about the series for those that haven’t read Plague Town?
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MIND MELD: Zombies, and Why We Love Them

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: In the spirit of the breathless wait for The Walking Dead to return in February, let’s talk zombies! Why do you think they’ve captured the rotten little hearts and minds of the non- shambling public? If you write about zombies, is it just for pure fun, or are they a metaphor for something deeper and even more diabolical??

Here’s what they said…

Jonathan Maberry
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and freelancer for Marvel Comics. His works include ROT & RUIN (now in development for film), PATIENT ZERO, ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead; DUST & DECAY, MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN and others. He was a featured expert on The History Channel special ZOMBIES: A LIVING HISTORY.

Zombies are a useful monster. In creative terms, they serve a few different purposes. First, they are the well-known metaphor generator that allows every writer to explore a different moral, social, societal, philosophical or psychological issue via an entertaining vehicle. This has a long, long tradition in storytelling. Ask Homer. Ask Aesop.

Second, zombies represent a single, massive, shared threat that impacts the lives of every single character in the story. Their impact is so overwhelming that each character’s life is shaken up, which means that the affected elements of their personalities fall away to reveal a truer inner self. In times of great crisis we see personality qualities emerge (or disintegrate) in fascinating and revelatory ways. A corporate CEO who is used to being a lion in the boardroom may be a useless coward when it comes to surviving a crisis; while a kid working a minimum-wage dead-end job at a convenience store might discover qualities of heroism that might otherwise never have emerged. Don’t forget, all real drama is about ordinary people in some kind of crisis. We don’t tell stories about a bunch of nice people having a pleasant day –there’s no drama (and therefore no insight) in that.

And also, the general public has, of late, had their perceptions of what ‘zombie stories’ are. For decades the perceptual standard has been that zombie stories are about death, dying, and visceral slaughter; that these stories were self-indulgent gorefests with nothing redeeming about them. But now that there are so many zombie stories out there, and in so many formats: novels, TV, comics, movies, short stories, video games, toys and more, it’s forced Joe Public to take a closer look. What they’re finding is that the zombie genre has drawn some of today’s top storytellers –writers who understand that the best zombie stories aren’t actually about the zombies. The best zombie stories are about the people. Real people. After all, the title of ‘The Walking Dead’ does not refer to the zombies. The dead men walking are the people whose lives and preconceptions and expectations have died. They are walking from the world that was into an uncertain future, and the name of the landscape through which they walk is ‘drama’.

As long as good writers bring quality storytelling to the genre, zombies will be around for a long, long time. Deservedly so.

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