Interview: Dana Fredsti

PLague WorldZombie Night 003Dana Fredsti is the author of the recently completed Plague trilogy – Plague Town, Plague Nation and Plague World – from Titan. “Novelist and screenwriter, B-movie actress (okay, C movie actress), zombie aficionado, exotic and domestic feline advocate, swordfighter, wine lover and beach glass junkie” (her description, not ours!) she made the mistake of moaning (jokingly, of course) about the similar questions she gets in lots of interviews… so Paul Simpson rose to the challenge of asking her some things she might not have been asked before…



Is it true that you came up with the idea for Ashley while trying to murder Pat Tallman on the set of Army of Darkness?

Those rumours just aren’t true. I came up with the idea for Ashley when Lori Perkins (agent/editor lady) asked if I wanted to write a trilogy that was Buffy, but with zombies, but different. Trying to murder Pat Tallman had nothing to do with it. And that was an accident, by the way. I like Pat. She was awesome in the remake of Night of the Living Dead.

Which question annoys you more – was Ashley based on Buffy, or is Sharknado 2 better than Sharknado 1?

Oooh, toughie, but I’ll go with Buffy. Ashley is not a Buffy clone by any means, but she is a smart, wise-cracking, pop-culturally aware, ass-kicking heroine and since I’ve told the ‘how did I come up with the idea for Ashley’ origin story many times, it’s kind of redundant to ask if she was based on Buffy. By the way, Sharknado 2 is far superior to Sharknado 1. It shouldn’t have to be asked, much like whether or not Ashley is based on Buffy.

Why do you think all people who ask why zombies are so popular nowadays should have their teeth and nails extracted and left to be eaten by fetid okapi?

First of all, those poor zebra giraffe (you thought you’d catch me with okapi, but I used to work at the San Diego Zoo and I know how to use Google!) wouldn’t deign to feed on people who ask why zombies are so popular nowadays. They’re also herbivores and I don’t hold with the zombie plague jumping species.

Second, it’s a question that’s been answered countless times by writers, directors, actors, producers and people off the street (possibly street people), many of them having put far more thought into their answers than I ever could or would. Not that they’re wrong (yes, zombies are great blank slates for every fear mankind has ever had, they represent Communism, consumerism, etcetera, etcetera), but for me it’s always been about the fact that something that used to be your loved one, neighbor or postman is now a mindless creature trying to eat your flesh is inherently creepy. It looks like them, but it’s not.

So third, I hate feeling like I’m the only one playing in the shallow end of the answer pool. Stop asking me! Okapi, attack!

Plague NationAre you going to be that rare thing, an author of your word, and leave this as a trilogy, or is Ashley going to come back in a “oh my goodness, what a surprise” new adventure?

Hey now, I never said that the trilogy would be all there would be in the world of Ashley. What I promised (and hopefully fulfilled) was that I’d wrap up all dangling story threads by the end of the trilogy and not have any more Carbonite moments. So don’t you be saying I’m not a woman of my word when I say that there have been discussions of more books set in the Ashley-verse. Haven’t you been reading my Facebook page? I certainly won’t be playing coy and acting as if it’s a surprise if Ashley comes back. Harumph!

What nationalities do you plan on killing off in your next books?

Any and all. I am not racist or xenophobic and believe in an open door kill policy for all peoples, no matter their race, religion or their latitude and longitude on a world map. Of course, this also depends on whether my next book is another Ashley book or something completely different. I may just be killing off the residents of a New England college town and most of those folks will be WASPs.

Was the idea of a trilogy so you could get zombies over to England to deal with your editorial team and bloggers who annoy you?

No, the initiative to take the plague to England and dispatch said editorial team and bloggers was purely organic, the writing leading me where it would. I love my editorial team, by the way, both in London and in New York (sorry about Plague Nation, NYC Titan team!), and am just glad they understood why their deaths were necessary to advance the story arc for the trilogy.

How long do you think you can get away with watching sci-fi and horror films on DVD/Blu-ray and calling it “research”, or that dreaded four-letter word, “work”?

As long as I’m writing horror, sci-fi, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. You forgot to mention Netflix and On Demand, by the way. I don’t have Blu-ray, though. That’s sad. I should work on that. You also didn’t mention how many books I’ve been able to write off as legitimate tax deductions. I used to work for the IRS, so I know that of which I speak.

plague-town-coverHave you learned anything from writing the Ashley Parker series apart from how many people want to know why zombies are so popular?

Oooh, I’ve learned that no matter how much research you do, there will always be some individual out there who does their best to find something to nitpick over, even if they ignore something in the next paragraph that either answers their question or invalidates their complaints.

I’ve also learned how many truly cool people there are out there who enjoy humor, horror and obscure pop cultural references, and take the time to tell me so. I’m happy to report that there are a lot more of the latter out there than the former. But there are still an unsettling number of people who want to know why zombies are so popular. I’m worried that their numbers are still growing and they may soon outnumber those of us who don’t need to ask that question.

Apart from coming up with different answers to that question, what’s been the most challenging thing about writing the trilogy?

Making sure that I kept track of/answered/wrapped up all the questions/dangling plot threads I’d brought up in the first two books. Even if I do write more books in Ashley’s world, I owed it to my readers to not have any cliff hangers at the end of Plague World.

Oh, and I also had some trouble keeping some characters’ names straight. Dr. Albert kept changing to Dr. Atkins, and when I then introduced Dr. Arkin (named after a real person), I kept changing that to Dr. Arkinson. Thank goodness for good line editors!

And apart from the National Enquirer and the collected works of Joss Whedon, what books have inspired you most?

National Enquirer… pffft! Fox News is the real inspiration, with their dedication to the truth and unbiased journalism! They’re the ones who clued me in on the fact that Al Gore would, in fact, be one of the first people to endorse a zombocalypse in order to keep this planet green!

hew author photoAside from them and Whedon? Every time I read something that takes me out of my own head for a while, it inspires me to write because I want to be one of those writers who can provide that kind of escapism for readers. If I can act as a literary hallucinogen for even one reader, I’ll be satisfied.

Read our review of Plague Town here;

Plague Nation here

and Plague World here

Plague World is released on August 28th







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