Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014: Shana Festa

You're reading Books, Beer and Blogshit! Its the only blog that interviews interviewers. I am your blog host, Mr. Frank.

This evening we get the heebie jeebies with the one and only Shana Festa. Shana came to prominence in the indie scene by creating the popular review blog, The Bookie Monster. Now we turn the table on her and the interviewer gets interviewed.

Let's see how she holds up under interrogation!

Books, Beer and Blogshit: Are you a survivor or one of the undead?

Shana Festa: Man, I really hope I’m a survivor, but let’s get real here. My cardio is the suck! Those walking meat sacs are going to make a Thanksgiving meal out of my ass. I always tell my husband that when the zombie apocalypse happens (because we all know it will) that he better say goodbye fast, because I’m likely to take myself out just to spare me the embarrassment of a stupid death. I envision it to go something like this: scream, run, fall flat on face, get chunk of ass bit off, and reanimate…somehow I’m always naked in that dream. And no one wants to be that naked zombie!

The Blogshit: What is your latest piece of zombie fiction we should be concerning ourselves with?

Shana Festa: Time of Death: Induction is my debut zombie novel, released just last week from Permuted Press. I’m excited to share that in less than a week’s time, Induction has already made it to their bestseller’s list.

The short scoop is that the Time of Death series a blend of snarky (and widely inappropriately timed) humor and horror. I’ve added an excerpt to my website to give readers a sneak peak.

The long scoop is this:

When no one or nowhere is safe, where do you go to escape the monsters?

In a few short days, 37 year old Emma Rossi’s hard work will finally pay off. She will don her cap and gown and graduate with a degree in nursing, but not before she loses her first patient and is confronted with a new reality. In Cape Coral, Florida, a storm approaches. The dead are coming back to life.

And they’re hungry.

Infection ravages the Eastern Seaboard with alarming speed while attempts to contain the spread of infection fail. Within days, a small pocket of panicked survivors are all that remain of civilization. Fighting to survive the zombie apocalypse alongside her husband Jake and their dog Daphne, Emma comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare.

Relying on snarky wit and sheer determination, she is forced to commit atrocious acts to protect her family and avoid joining the ranks of the undead.

The Blogshit: Do you feel you are a classic or progressive type of zombie fiction writer?

Shana Festa: Definitely classic. Less is more, in my opinion. You won’t find aliens or other overt science fiction elements in my undead, they are raw, old school beasts leaving carnage in their wake.

The Blogshit: What makes your zombies different from all others?

Shana Festa: Nothing, to be honest. My zombies are your run of the mill Romero shamblers. Dumb and easily bested when alone, but determined and like a spreading plague when en masse. The constant drive and hunger. I wrote what I love, and I think the book is that much better for it.

The Blogshit: What makes your living different from all the others?

Shana Festa: Location, location, location! Anyone can go to a mall and wait for the inevitable horde to sweep through and devastate the area. It was important to me that my settings have flare. A houseboat, an island, even a fortified Target. I like to think the sparkle is in unique setting. Also, my characters shine through. I’ve written a strong female lead who has a snarky personality, and provides comedy at the most inappropriate of times. She’s also compassionate and fiercely loyal. And most of all, this character loves her dog, sometimes more than people.

The Blogshit: Do you think it's important, in this climate, to run with the pack or really try to reinvent the wheel in zombie fiction?

Shana Festa: As a reader, reviewer and writer, I prefer my zombies to remain traditional. I understand the need for originality, but sometimes in order to put your own spin on the genre it doesn’t require all the bells and whistles. Unique settings and characters is what it is all about.

The Blogshit: Zombie fiction seems heavily dependent upon working within the construct of a series. Do you feel that is the way that makes it work best for you or do you think there is still room for standalone stories?

Shana Festa: Originally, I began writing my book as a standalone. But the story took on a life of its own and I realized there was so much more adventure to come. If a book is truly exceptional, it will be able to stand on its own. But for me as a reader, I prefer a long term relationship with characters I become invested with.

When I negotiated my contract with my publisher, I talked them down from six books to three. Well, I should say, at least three. I write organically, making a tentative outline of where I see the story taking me. I know how book three will progress already, but I won’t know until I start getting into that one if Emma has more in her. I’m not the type to write for the sake of writing, the content has to be worthy. Some will say more books are better, and I agree…to an extent. But there are a few series out there that just drag on and on because they have a fan-base, not caring if they regurgitate the same story lines or sacrifice quality for quantity. That will never be me.

The Blogshit: Are you ever afraid of being pigeon-holed in this zombie fiction genre?

Shana Festa: Hell no. I’d be honored for it! From my interaction with authors on The Bookie Monster, I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to hundreds of authors, most in the zombie genre. These are some of the most amazing, talented, and generous folks I’ve ever met. And it’s a group I’m excited to be a part of.

The Blogshit: For your next zombie story, stand alone or series, do you think you will need to go sicker or smarter to keep it going?

Shana Festa: I don’t think so. Time of Death: Induction is very character driven. I’ve created a main protagonist that really resonates with readers. Her progression as a survivor of the zombie apocalypse will keep the story going.

The Blogshit: On last year's tour, we asked about what to put on your zombie sandwich. This year, we want to know: What special ingredients would you use to pickle the pickles on your zombie sandwich?

Shana Festa: It depends on who’s eating it! But in the spirit of ick…I’ll go with purulent drainage from a corpse well into decomposition. The liquefied remains of putrefaction as the body eats itself from the inside and organs turn to oozing goo.

Yum, bet you want pickle now, don’t ya?

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