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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?

Dana Fredsti: *clears throat* “Ashley was just trying to get through a tough day when the world turned upside down.

A terrifying virus appears, quickly becoming a pandemic that leaves its victims, not dead, but far worse. Attacked by zombies, Ashley discovers that she is a ‘Wild-Card’ — immune to the virus — and she is recruited to fight back and try to control the outbreak. ”

My editor and publisher folks at Titan came up with this description and I really love it. It describes the essence of Plague Town without any real spoilers. I hate spoilers so this made me really happy. Ashley, btw, is a college student in her late twenties, going back to school after being dumped for an eighteen year old by her college professor husband. She has a wicked sense of humor, little tolerance for asshats, and doesn’t waste any time adjusting to the fact she’s been dropped in the middle of a zombie outbreak. I really hate it when characters waste precious time doing the whole “what’s happening? They can’t be real!” in zombie movies and books, especially after the last few years when zombies have outstripped sparkly vampires in popularity.

In Plague Nation, the outbreak spreads beyond Redwood Grove and ups the ante for Ashley and her fellow wild cards. It also enabled me to enjoy gleefully destroying various places across the county. Does this make me a bad person? Er…don’t answer that.

KC: How would you say Ashley has changed from the first book to the 2nd?

DF: I think she’s matured a bit and is acting more her age (twenty-nine) than someone older trying to fit into the college crowd. Ashley has a pretty high emotional I.Q. and sense of empathy, but after being dumped for a younger model by her ex, she regressed a bit when she first went back to college. She’s learning how to be a leader and gaining confidence in herself and her decisions, whereas in Plague Town she had some difficulty accepting any sort of leadership role.

KC: Every zombie story has “rules” that apply to the zombies (how they move, how fast they rot, you know, fun stuff like that.) What are your “rules”?

DF: Oh dear…this is a hard one to answer without spoilers for those who haven’t read the first in the series, but I’ll try. Definitely the majority of the zombies are your classic Romero “shamblers.” I haven’t really given thought to how fast they rot yet because the action in the books has taken place over a relatively short amount of time. I definitely think that environment would play a part in this (temperature, season, desert versus tropical climate, etc), but so far my zombies have just had to contend with cold weather and lots of fog. Probably make for some dewy zombie complexions, doncha think?

Headshots/destroying the brain definitely part of my rules. You get bit, you die/turn into a zombie…unless you’re a wild card. Or a…er…I can’t say.

Aside from Zombie Classic Romero Model, I do introduce several variations, but to say anything else really would be a major spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read the series.

KC: What do you love most about writing this series?

DF: Everything. Seriously, it’s just a lot of fun. Getting the chance to write about zombies combined with humor, gore, pop culture, and lots of action…it makes me happy. And I have to confess that I took great glee in Plague Nation unleashing the outbreak on various places around the country. Perhaps TOO much glee….

KC: Zombies are, admittedly, pretty darn scary. What’s something that truly terrifies you?

DF: Well, I have what a feel is a healthy respect/fear of heights, but it’s also a logical fear. My truly greatest fear is dying and leaving my cats and dog vulnerable to being dumped at the pound. Other than that, I subscribe to the motto “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Which is not to say I have much interest in extreme sports or taking what I consider unnecessary risks. No skydiving on my schedule. Flying in dreams is awesome enough!

KC: You wear many hats in your writing. After all, not only do you write the Ashley Parker series, but you’ve written a mystery (Murder For Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon), and you bring on the sexy times for Ravenous Romance. Is it tough to switch between genres, or is it an easy transition for you?

DF: I don’t have trouble switching genres provided I have a little gap between projects. I’ve had to switch back and forth really quickly a few times and that has been challenging. Erotic and zombies don’t generally mix. Of course, having said that, I have to mention Hungry for Your Love, an anthology of zombie romance edited by Lori Perkins.

KC: What are some of your favorite reads?

DF: Off the top of my head at this moment: Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney’s zombies books, Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid books, Kat Richardson’s Greywalker novels, anything by Patricia Briggs, Barbara Hambly, Charles de Lint…

KC: How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not writing?

DF: Free time…when not writing…ah, such dreams I have of this free time…Seriously, I have been so busy for the last couple of years between the day job and writing that free time has been very limited. But when I DO have it…I love reading, walking (I can walk for miles and San Francisco is an awesome city for walking), watching bad (and good) movies with friends, going on road trips, wine tasting, watching our dog Pogeen romp on the beach, making things out of drfitwood and seaglass, and swordfighting. Surfing is also one of my loves, but it’s been a while since I’ve gone out.

KC: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

DF: Something I haven’t done in a year is visit EFBC/FCC (Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center) in Rosamond, California. I used to volunteer there on a weekly basis and even after moving up to San Francisco I managed to get down at least three times a year to emcee their Twilight Tour fundraisers. Last year I was so swamped with writing and work, I couldn’t make it down. If you love animals, especially exotic felines, check out, and if you’re in Southern California, go visit. It’s the only breeding facility in the U.S. open to the public and you will get so see these gorgeous animals (jaguars, tigers, leopards,, and many more) this close and in such a relaxed environment rarely experienced. I actually use EFBC (a fictional version thereof) in one of my erotic paranormal romances, Fixation (written under the penname Inara LaVey), and it’s one of my favorite non-zombie related books.

This article was posted as part of the Plague Nation blog tour, celebrating the release of Dana Fredsti’s new novel. For the opportunity to win a copy of the book, simply tweet…

I would like a copy of Plague Nation @TitanBooks @danafredsti #plaguenation

Find out more about the book and the tour at:

About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).
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