Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Author Stacey Jay talks Zombies

by Brittany Geragotelis

photos courtesy of Stacey Jay
Few authors over the past couple of years have really made me excited to read their stuff. Not that I don't like a lot of the stuff I read and review, but it's rare to find those authors who are so unique and have a voice that just makes you say, "OMG, I'm in love with this book" or "Wow. This author and I could totally be BFF's." Of course, this list starts with my fave author EVER, Meg Cabot (how awesome is she?!?!). But another author who recently made my list is super-fantastic zombie slayer, Stacey Jay. Her books You Are So Undead to Me and Undead Much? were to die for. Equal parts clever, funny, creepy, smart and way fab. Very reminiscent of "Buffy."

Anyhoo, being the Stacey fan I am, I just learned on her blog that Razorbill has decided not to publish her third book in the Megan Berry series. To say I was sad to hear this is an understatement. I loved the character and the voice was dead-on (Get it? A little zombie humor here.). But lucky for us, the lovely Stacey has decided to publish the last book, a novella, herself. Now, we may have to wait a few years (she has other projects she has to finish first—ones that have been greenlit by publishers, so we probably won't be reading it until Spring of 2011), and it'll only be available in ebook form, but we WILL get to see what happens to Megan Berry. And that's all that really matters, right?

If you haven't already read Stacey's books, go out and get them today. I promise, you won't be sorry. And in the meantime, check out this interview I did with her...After you're finished reading, you may just want her to be your BFF, too!
Q: You’re the brains behind the zombie-riffic Undead book series! Growing up, did you ever think this is where you’d end up? Stacey Jay: No way! Acting was my major in college. I thought I was going to be an actress, but acting’s not a dependable career when it comes to putting food on the table. I wrote plays and screenplays in college, but didn’t start writing novels until my first son was born. Becoming a mom made me get serious about earning a living. And since I’m not qualified to do anything but play pretend—I got my B.F.A. in acting—I decided I’d write books and make money to support my precious baby. Once again, not a very well thought out plan on my part—writing is another undependable career—but thankfully it worked out!
Q: Have you always wanted to write for teens? Stacey: I started out writing romance novels for adults, but I love writing for teens more than any other age group. The teenage years are such an exciting, drama-filled time, and some of the most enthusiastic readers I’ve met have been young adults.
Q: How does it feel to see your labor of love out on bookshelves and in the hands of teens? Stacey: It’s unbelievable. I’m so grateful to my readers. As cheesy as it sounds, continuing to write for a living is a dream come true for me. No matter how hard I push myself, it’s a dream that would have ended after my first book if it weren’t for all the awesome people picking it up off the shelves and taking it home.
Q: Why zombies? Were you always a fan of the lore? Stacey: Because they’re so scary! Just thinking about them freaks me out. And I love being scared almost as much as I love reading about people falling in love—both are a big part of the Undead series. I write romantic stories, and I’m not afraid to put that out there. Romance rocks!
Q: Where do you get your zombie intel from? Stacey: I did a lot of research on voodoo and the history of zombies—both on the Internet and at museums across the south. Also, the voices in my head are very helpful, too. (Kidding!)
Q: Do you remember having your first “I have arrived” moment? Stacey: I’m not sure that I have arrived, but it was pretty strange to come across a yahoo question page where a slew of people were discussing how old I was. (I’m 32.) I couldn’t imagine that anyone would even know my name, let alone care how many years I’d been wandering around the earth making stuff up.
Q: What inspires you? Stacey: My two little boys and my amazing husband (pictured left as zombies), my mom and dad and everyone who enjoys reading my books. Also cheese. I really love cheese. I find a good feta or a well-aged gouda quite inspirational.
Q: For Megan, high school has been a pretty dangerous place. What was it like for you in high school? Stacey: I loved high school. Junior high was terrifying and stressful, but high school was so much fun. I loved getting to take classes that I actually enjoyed instead of the same old stuff all the time. I loved the friends I made—friends from all different social groups that all got along and had great times together. Sure, there was drama, but life is full of drama. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop once you get out of high school. But I choose to remember the positive things about my teen years as well as my twenties. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way about my thirties!
Q: Are you a fan of other books that go bump in the night? Stacey: Of course. I’ve always loved paranormal books. I only wish I had more time to read. With two little boys and work, it can be a challenge. Though my 5-year-old and I are really getting into Halloween picture books. We read them all year round.
Q: What’s your writing process like? Stacey: Very methodical and goal-driven. I set word goals for each day of the week and work my hardest to meet them. I always tell my kids that a dream isn’t something that comes true because you sat on your rump wishing for it. I try to be a good example of that—though I do have to sit on my rump to type…
Q: Can you describe your journey to being published? Stacey: I started writing fiction in 2005. After 16 rejection letters from various agencies, I signed with my agent in the summer of 2007. We got the offer for You Are So Undead To Me from Razorbill in October 2007 and it was published in January 2009. (It takes an astoundingly long time for a book to go from submitted manuscript to pub-ready book!)
Q: What advice would you give aspiring writers? Stacey: Read and write. Read everything you can get your hands on—each book will teach you something about storytelling. Write every day—because you can’t get better if you don’t practice. (Something every cheerleader knows, of course.)
Q: In your journey to being published, was there ever a time you wanted to give up? How did you push yourself to go on? Stacey: There are still times when I want to give up—like when I get a bad review, or a mean email from someone who thinks that writing about zombies is “evil” and “weird.” Or when I read over my latest work in progress and think it stinks and have to delete everything and start over.
But in the end, I really feel that writing is what I’m best at. It’s a career that suits me and I’m committed to continuing to push myself to improve at my craft and write even more entertaining books for my readers. Also, this is how I earn money. My kids are big eaters (as you can see by the pic), and the little one uses a lot of diapers. Diapers, I’ve come to find out, are very expensive!
Q: When the zombie apocalypse finally happens (and we all know it will eventually), can you give our readers any tips to being one of the survivors? Stacey: Totally! Move to a zombie-free island. It’s a known fact that zombies are very bad swimmers!
Check out the full interview at americancheerleader.com.