Rhiannon Frater isn't new to the writing scene, she has been here a while and has a few books already under her belt. She is also the Award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters.
I hope you enjoy the interview with Rhiannon and take the time to check out her books! I have been reading a lot of good things about The First Days!
Rhiannon - My fans like to describe it as Thelma and Louise meets the zombies meets THE STAND. I rather like that description. It’s basically the story of two very different women escaping an unnamed city into the Texas Hill Countryon the day the zombies take over the world. Together, Jenni and Katie fight to survive and form a strong friendship.
Amber - How did you come up with the idea for THE FIRST DAYS? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?
Rhiannon - I don’t sit around and try to come up with novel ideas. I usually dream the story or have a flash of inspiration. THE FIRST DAYS started out as a short story called Tiny Fingers. I was at work one day when I had this vivid image appear in my mind’s eye. It was of Jenni standing on the porch of her house, in her pink bathroom, staring down at this tiny little hand pushed under the front door straining to reach her. I knew instantly that the tiny fingers belonged to her zombified toddler and that her zombified family was trapped inside the house. I wrote the short story and posted it online. I had an immediate positive response and was encouraged to write more. The rest of the story flooded into my mind and I knew it was going to be an epic tale. It took two years to write and I posted all of it online. Afterward, I self-published it as a trilogy with the help of my husband. A year ago, Tor bought the series and THE FIRST DAYS is the first book to hit the bookstores.
Rhiannon – Well, at the time I was traveling extensively through rural Texas. The story is based in a small Texas town so I was heavily inspired by my daily interactions with city officials and the townspeople I met. I worked with local governments, so that was research in a way.
When I created my own type of zombie, I was inspired by congenital analgesia. It’s a disorder where a person does not feel pain. My zombies do start out fast, but because they do not feel pain they destroy their bodies very quickly. For example: a zombie gets its arm caught in a door. It pulls on it until it comes off, so it can pursue living flesh nearby.
Since Katie is bisexual and I’m a straight woman, I did a lot of reading on articles written by bisexual people. I evidently got it right because I am often asked if I am bisexual.
Jenni is a battered housewife before the zombies rise, so she has several mental disorders that actually help her survive. Her mind has become quite adept at coping with high stress, violent situations and she disassociates from reality. That doesn’t mean she’s catatonic. It means her mind will allow her to “forget” things so she can cope with the situation she is in. But she also suffers severe flashbacks that sometimes cripple her.
So I had to do a lot of research on people in high stress situations and the many different ways they react. The people in my book actually do mourn the dead, but continue to live.
Rhiannon - It wasn’t originally a book at all. It was an online serial I wrote for fun. It was the fans who encouraged me to publish it. I downloaded the entire thing and realized it was massive. Around 1,600 pages of manuscript. So I chopped it into three books. I could have possibly chopped it into four slimmer novels, but I found naturally occurring “endings” that worked for the first two books. I actually had no idea I had written a series of books and not just one until I had it all in one document. I was shocked.
Amber - Where are the next two books in the trilogy coming out? Are you working on any other projects?
Rhiannon – FIGHTING TO SURVIVE will hit the bookshelves on November 8, 2011. It can be pre-ordered now. SIEGE will be out in Spring 2012. I’m currently working on revising a novella and some short stories I wrote in the AS THE WORLD DIES universe to self-publish in a month or so. It will be called AS THE WORLD DIES: UNTOLD TALES VOL 1. The main novella in the book, Eric’s Story, is actually the perfect bridge between THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE.
I just recently finished the rough draft of the sequel to my gothic vampire novel. It’s called THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. I’ll be revising it within the next couple of weeks then sending it off to my editor.
I’m also anticipating the revision letter from my Tor editor for SIEGE very soon.
I’m pretty busy.
Rhiannon - I have a lot of books that are trunked from my early days of writing. I think I’ll leave those there. THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, my gothic vampire novel, has formed quite a devoted following and it was written before the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie series, but published afterward.
I also wrote a modern day vampire tale, PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES, that also has a devout following. I hope to write the second book in that trilogy by the end of the year. It’s called PRETTY WHEN SHE KILLS.
Last year I wrote a mid-grade/young adult novel called THE LIVING DEAD BOY AND THE ZOMBIE HUNTERS for my zombie crazed nieces and nephews. They complained to me that there were no zombie books for their age group, so I wrote one for them. It has been optioned for film and has a director and producer attached. I love the script and if things go well, it may be in production by the end of the year.
Amber - Vampires are a huge hit lately but it seems Zombies are holding their own too! Why do you think they have become so popular lately?
Amber - I am sure that being an author has its ups and downs. What experiences have you had so far?
Rhiannon - Well, I love being a full-time writer and I hope I can keep it up! It’s been great being as productive as I have been this year when not encumbered by a day job. So that’s a major up. Getting a starred review from Publishers Weekly was also a huge up. And, of course, feedback from the fans is always extremely encouraging.
The negative aspect is not always knowing when you’re going to get your next advance and/or royalty check. Or why your book sells great one month, but like crap the next despite a slew of good reviews. And reviews can be really gutting if you don’t harden yourself to them. I have a lot thicker skin than I used to, that’s for sure!
Rhiannon – That’s funny! I listened to that song a lot when writing PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES. In fact, the lead character, Amaliya has a mad crush on Rob Zombie. I personally don’t see the allure, but she is mad for him. Manson, Rob Zombie, ACDC, System of a Down and a few other bands I don’t usually listen to were on heavy rotation for that book.
For THE FIRST DAYS I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash and PJ Harvey.
So the soundtrack to each book is very different from the one before.
Amber - What have you been watching and reading recently? Any recommendations for us?
Rhiannon - In the last 12 months, I have been blown away by THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, the SiranthaJax series by Ann Aguirre that starts with the novel GRIMSPACE, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and its sequels by Carrie Ryan, MATCHED by Ally Condie, UNBOUND AND OTHER TALES by David Dunwoody, and the GREYWALKER series by Kat Richardson that just keeps getting better with each book.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Rhiannon – A Greek Goddess. It would be so much fun messing with mere mortals. I just love the whole mythos and if zombies showed up, I’d just go smack Hades around for not taking care of the underworld. Maybe I should write that!
Amber - Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you will visit Amberkatze's Book Blog again!
More about THE FIRST DAYS :
Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy is an internet sensation. The first two books, The First Days and Fighting to Survive, have won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. AmericanHorrorBlog calls Rhiannon Frater “a writer to watch.”
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
Fast-paced and exciting, filled with characters who grab your heart, The First Days: As the World Dies is the beginning of a frightening trilogy.