Dana Fredsti is a writer and an actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting. She has appeared in Army of Darkness and her love of the undead has resulted in Plague Town, a zombie novel that will be published this month.
We found out that she was interested in writing an article for Daily Dead and thought it would be interesting for aspiring writers. Continue reading to learn about how she got started writing zombie stories, how her stories have changed, and why there is still plenty of room for new zombie fiction:
"One of the questions I get asked a lot in reference to Plague Town is why I chose to write about zombies, especially when the market is so apparently glutted with books and anthologies on the subject. Haven't zombies jumped the shark?
For those of us in love with stories and movies about flesh-eating walking dead, there was a long dry period after the original Dawn of the Dead and a few foreign offerings such as Zombie Flesh Eaters, Gates of Hell, Hell of the Living Dead, and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. As far as books dealing with zombies, to my recollection there was Book of the Dead and Book of the Dead 2, the anthologies edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector; a couple of comic series (most notably Dead World, published by WeeBee Comics), and that was about it. Sure, most people wouldn't notice this veritable zombie drought, but for those of us enamoured with the living dead of the flesh eating variety, we're talking lean pickings.
With the Internet came hope, however. My discovery of Homepageofthedead.com (one of the first websites devoted to the films and flesh-eating ghoul mythos of George Romero) made me very happy indeed. My favorite part of the site was the fiction section, where writers could send in their offerings and have it posted on the site for other fans of the genre to read (I had two stories posted there early on, both of which were eventually published in anthologies). I read them all, starved for fiction about my favorite monster.
A lot of the earlier offerings were a variant on "Mary Sue" fan-fiction. For those of you not familiar with that expression, Mary Sue fiction is, according to Wikipedia, "a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader." The zombie Mary Sue stories always featured some weedy kid living in mom's basement, and the tale of how he managed to survive with the help of his trusty (loving description of firearm). He eventually runs into a lone hot chick and gets to shag her 'cause she's so grateful he rescued her with the help of his (loving description of firearm and heroic behavior). Then it turns out she's been bit, and he has to put her down with (loving description of firearm and minor regret at death of lone hot chick). He's sad 'cause he lost his screw-toy, but he's okay because he still has (loving description of firearm, porn collection and food supplies).
Not only were these stories predictable (not to mention misogynistic), but also many were badly written. And yet... I read them. So did other people like me. Those of us starved for zombie fiction. To my knowledge there was no other game in town. And there were enough gems nestled amongst the geeky-boy-with-gun-gets-laid-and shoots zombies' stories to keep the hunger at bay.
Then the remake of Dawn of the Dead was released. For me, at least, that marked the beginning what is now the media equivalent of a zombie apocalypse; you can't turn around without finding a book, movie, or video game with flesh-eating ghouls. There were ZomComs (Shaun of the Dead, Zombie Strippers, Zombieland); ZomRoms (Zombie Honeymoon, Fido, Boy Eats Girl); and a whole slew of others including a few of my favorites: Dead Meat, Rec, La Horde, and most recently, The Dead. This doesn't even take into account the low-to-no budget offerings out there that were made by anyone with a camera, friends with a hankering to be on film, and a love of zombies in his/her heart. The fact these were distributed is a testament to the filmmakers' ingenuity and the popularity of the subject matter. Yeah, some of them are pretty awful, but I will still take my metaphorical hat off to anyone with enough gumption and passion to get a (more or less) feature length film made, edited and distributed.
The same slow but steady avalanche happened in the world of publishing. Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide was considered a novelty, but his novel World War Z hit the bestseller list, followed by a slew of excellent zombie novels, such as Patient Zero, Rot and Ruin, Dust and Decay, and Dead of Night (Jonathan Maberry); the Autumn series (David Moody); The Rising (Brian Keene); Dead City, (Joe McKinney); Feed (Mira Grant); and Zombie Apocalypse (created by Stephen Jones, with a series of writers contributing "eye witness accounts"); and some great anthologies such as Mondo Zombie, the Flesh series, The Undead, Zombie Kong (seriously, this one is a ton of fun); and Hungry for Your Love (the first zombie romance anthology).
The Walking Dead on AMC pretty much gave zombies as serious monsters the seal of approval, what with the show's Emmy nominations and wins. The comics by Robert Kirkman made me very happy when they first came out, even though I think he's a big old meanie when it comes to killing off characters I like. That's right, Kirkman. I haven't forgiven you for Dale yet. I haven't forgiven the writers of the TV series either, though, so that's okay.
But I digress.
The point here is that millions of viewers can't wait until the next season of Walking Dead. There are multiple reader's groups online comparing notes on the zombie novels and stories out there, asking for recommendations and always looking for fresh meat. Those of us sick of vampires (of both the sparkly and plain variety) and werewolves have been waiting for this walking dead media onslaught for years... and we're nowhere near full yet."
Be on the lookout for an interview with Dana in the near future, where we talk about here work in Army of Darkness and a number of interesting zombie-related topics. If you're interested in learning more about Dana and her work, you can visit her official website and Plague Town Amazon page.