Recently Team Hellions reviewed the new books Plague Town and Plague Nation. (To check out those review look HERE and HERE.) These books and the upcoming third tell the story of Ashley Parker trying to survive within a zombie apocalypse. There are many twists that the books author, Dana Fredsti, puts in to create an all new character who isn’t your normal female heroine. Nor is this zombie story like any other. Dana is also unlike anyone else. Read on to this interview and fall in love with your new favorite writer. She is innovative, she’s a hustler, and she is driven to creating your new favorite book. Be sure to pick up a copy of Plague Town and Plague Nation then join us as we eagerly anticipate the third and final volume.
Order Plague Town here:
Order Plague Nation here:
Special thanks to Titan Books for setting up this interview.
And now…. here’s Dana Fredsti!
TEAM HELLIONS: Dana, first of all thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer some questions. You’re a woman of many passions and your days are just packed. What, if there is such a thing, is an average day like for Dana?
DANA FREDSTI: An average day starts with the most difficult thing of all… persuading myself I want/have to get out of bed. I require at least eight hours of sleep and love those hours in the morning where the dreams are the most vivid and plentiful, and OH, I resent the alarm waking me out of a good dream. I also experience bouts of insomnia (monkey brain at 3am) and so some mornings come harder than others. Our cats and dog also have definite ideas about when Mom and Dad should get their butts out of bed …and that’s both helpful and irritating. One of our cats, Buddha (nicknamed Dexter, Pol Pot, and Mogg Soggoth because he likes to get in the shower when it’s on and he IS a Lovecraftian devil kitty), will pound on the bedroom door or scratch the walls to wake us up.
After a successful launch to an upright position and getting dressed and all that, if it’s a week day, I head to my day job, work until 3:30, head home, then go for a walk on the beach with boyfriend and dog, and then write after dinner. On weekends, the beach walk is the first thing to happen. After that, it’s tending to whatever needs tending in the house, then writing from around 2pm until I fall asleep. I also try to fit in tae-bo workouts and Dave (the bf) and I like to swordfight when weather and time permits. There is a lot of stretching out the available time as far as possible some days. I call it “taffy time” when it seems like every minute stretches into an hour and it’s possible to get no end of things accomplished. Other days time is scarce and I try and cram as much writing into the cracks on work breaks, Muni rides and any other free time as possible. I squeeze my reading into every other spare minute, and have perfected the art of reading while walking. There is also usually at least one glass of wine involved in my typical evening.
Onto Plague Town and Plague Nation. How did this idea originate? When did you realize that the story was too big for just one book and insisted on becoming a trilogy?
I knew it was going to be a trilogy from the day I accepted the writing assignment from editor/agent Lori Perkins. She called and asked if I was interested in writing a three book series that was basically “Buffy. But with zombies. And different.” She wanted me to come up with an outline for the overall story arc and she was going to shop it around. I said yes and started thinking along the lines of three books from the get go. I will say that stuff that was supposed to be in book two ended up being put off until book three because it took longer to tell certain parts of the story than I’d anticipated.
Many people have compared Ashley Parker to Buffy but she’s so much more than that. Did you have to make conscious efforts to guarantee Ashley became the unique character readers have fallen in love with?
Well, first of all, it’s nice to hear that readers have fallen in love with her. For me, the key was writing a main character that I liked. If I don’t like a character, be they good or bad or indifferent, odds are the readers won’t like them either. I’m not talking about someone you love to hate, but someone who either isn’t likable or interesting . I like Ashley and really love to write in her voice, and I”m happy that my fondness for her has translated to at least some readers in a positive way.
One of the things I love about Ashley is that she never needs a man to bail her out. There’s a difference between helping a female lead and making her look weak. How have you succeeded doing this when many other writers have so spectacularly failed?
I follow the law of WWRD. Or, What Would Ripley Do? Ripley and Buffy both are awesome examples of strong female leads who, even when they DO need help, don’t need it because they are inherently weak or timid. There are different types of strength and when one, such as physical, might let them down now and again (physics being what they are), emotional and intellectual strengths are still functioning. That being said, I’m not done putting Ashley through some trials by fire. Heheheh…
Book cover aside, how do you picture Ashley? Was she inspired by anyone?
Honestly, no. She is just… Ashley. When asked who I picture playing the part, the only actresses I can come up with that seem to have the physical characteristics and the sense of humor/comic timing are Mila Kunis or Emma Stone. But I have not yet seen that perfect match that happens now and again when a writer creates a character and then says, “Yes! (insert actor’s name) was born to play (insert character’s name)!” Nathan, on the other hand, is definitely Ray Stevenson.
Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions Dana. What is happening next for you and for Ashley Parker?
Ashley and I are currently trying to figure out what happens next in Plague World, and whether or not she’s about to punch Griff out. After Plague World… We shall see. I can promise readers that the plot points left dangling in Plague Nation (which has been compared to Empire Strikes Back because of the major cliffhanger ending) will be tied up. Will there be a happy zombie-free world at the end? See above for “heheheh.”
Thank you so much for having me as your guest!