Ladies and gents of the multi-verse, welcome to Zombie Month here on ye olde blog. Yep, that’s right, I’m dedicating a full month to the awesome that is zombies. I may not write about zombies, but boy do I love reading about them!
Today I have a super special guest, my friend and fellow author, Danielle Benson. We’re having some coffee and croissants (we both love France) and chatting romance during the zombie apocalypse. So grab yourself a cuppa and sit a spell.
SM: Hi Danielle! Thanks so much for joining me today. You know how I love me some zombies!
DB: Same here, honey. I used to be a bit freaked out by them but then I read Jack Wallen’s masterpiece, I Zombie I, and it definitely changed my life. I bought the whole trilogy and decided even zombies need some love too. So I wrote my own ode to the zombie genre!
SM: Let me start by asking you a few random questions so we can get to know you a little better.
1): What’s your all-time favorite thing to eat?
DB: Aw, wo(man)! You askin’ me about food? I am such a sucker for Chinese food but without a doubt, give me one of France’s 500 varieties of smelly cheese and a baguette and I am in heaven! I’ll be your best friend if you pair it with a good red wine. Umm, yummy!
I knew you’d be a sucker for French food! I do love a good smelly cheese.
2): Tell me what you love about living in Las Vegas. Is there anywhere else you’d want to live and why?
DB: Las Vegas is interesting. I have been here for almost eight years (come this July) although I spent a year during this eight year stint in Manchester (that’s England). Not that I missed much. It’s cold in the winter, ultra-hot in the summer and we don’t have much of a spring or autumn, unfortunately.
Would I like to live somewhere else? I have been planning a two to three year stint in France starting next year so I am writing my butt off to make sure I have the funds to do it. In terms of France, I would love to live in Ile-de-France because the weather is mild (most of the time) and my favorite suburb in the world (Versailles) is there. That and a dozen French friends makes it the perfect suburb to settle. Did I mention it is just a half an hour train ride from Paris?
Um, be sure to invite me to Chez Danielle, you hear? ;-)
3): Who are your top three zombie authors?
DB: Ohhh, difficult (not!) but without a doubt Jack Wallen, Jessica Meigs and Iain McKinnon. The last one is Scottish so um, yum … and he writes a damn good zombie story too!
Scottish … <wipes drool off face>
4): What’s one totally crazy, off-the-wall thing you’ve done in your life? And would you do it again?
DB: I climbed to the top of Mont St. Michel in Normandy with a hot French guy (he’s only a friend). It was overcast, cold and raining as we decided to do it on a miserable day in December. Did I mention I’m scared of heights and we climbed all the way to the top? It was exhilarating and beautiful and I would absolutely do it again!
Oh, man, that would be AMAZING! Mont St. Michel is on my bucket list. So is a hot French guy, but I digress … ;-)
5): If aliens came down and asked you to go with them to their home planet, would you go?
DB: Definitely. I could use a little change of scenery. As long as they didn’t plan on me staying forever because I am a girl who doesn’t like to be tied down in one place forever.
I hear ya.
SM: Now let’s move on to your writing.
6): Did anyone or anything special inspire you to become an author?
DB: My friends and my sister. Although half the time they used to complain and say it was a waste of time, everyone who is important to me knows how much I love to write. It’s a bit frustrating though because they don’t understand everything which goes into crafting a story. Thank the white-bearded man above, Allah, the stars (or what ever people do or don’t believe in) I have always believed in myself. I truly believe we as writers are our worse enemy sometimes and if we can find the strength to say, I have my sucky days but without a doubt, I am damn good at this, we make it easier on ourselves and those around us.
Amen, sister. It took me YEARS before I found enough confidence in myself and in my writing to really put my work out there.
7): Can you tell me a little more about your latest novel?
DB: It came to me after I finished Jack Wallen’s I Zombie I and Jessica Meigs’ The Becoming. I wanted to do my own little spin on the zombie genre without shoplifting from my good friends. I thought of a concept, did an outline and took it from there.
The basic premise of the novel is you get to meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life thrown together because of a plague called The Reaper virus. Some people are naturally immune but the humans who aren’t become flesh eating monsters. The problem is there IS a vaccine but it is purposely being rationed for the “right” people. Another issue, there is a method to the madness. The zombies are a by-product of something much more dangerous and it isn’t just the good ole U S of A involved but all the Western countries put together.
Oh, that rocks my socks. Love me some conspiracy.
8): Why zombies?
DB: At the time, I was all vampired out and although a lot of people think there is NO way to make zombies into anything other than fodder, I took this novel in another direction. Yes, there are zombies but it is much more of a 28 Days Later than George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
The humor is kept to a minimum and I believe my characters are very easy to identify with because it is a very difficult situation. The problem is, the whole world isn’t experiencing this phenomenon. The vaccine was passed out early and efficiently in the United States so it is more or less functioning almost at pre-virus levels where as other Western nations have been devastated.
That’s definitely a different take and one I find very interesting.
9) Do you find that zombies and romance make a good mix? And how do you keep that balance between smexiness and horror?
DB: It’s hard to mix violence and sex but it can be done if it is done right. To my defense, no, there isn’t as much sex in this novel as there would be in one of The Vamp Saga series’ books but there is some. I tried to play up the romantic aspects of the characters but in that way, I wanted it to be about real love and emotion.
There is a sense of urgency when one’s life is at stake or even the life of a loved one and so my real feelings of smexiness are in the characters themselves and how they feel about their significant others. No one wants to lose a person they love and it was these emotions I played upon as opposed to outright sexy times if you know what I mean.
I know exactly what you mean. That sounds fantastic. Sometimes the pull between two people can be brought out in a way that’s infinitely sexier than just having them get it on.
SM: Now for the REALLY important stuff:
Pizza and Beer or Champagne and Filet Mignon?
DB: Six months ago, I would have definitely said Pizza and Beer but since learning Pizza is not one of the food groups which agree with me, can I make a compromise and say Filet Mignon and Beer? There are some great European Beers and therefore Beer doesn’t have to be Budweiser or Fosters if you know what I mean. In terms of the Filet Mignon, I would have to say bloody as I hate overcooked red meat.
Chocolate or Cheese?
DB: Definitely cheese. I love me some good chocolate and Belgian chocolate is some of my favorite but with five hundred varieties of French cheese, a girl can’t go wrong!
Coffee or tea?
DB: Definitely coffee. I can appreciate tea and drank copious amounts of it when I was in England but I still loves me a good cup of coffee (and no, I’m not talkin’ instant either).
And how do you feel about dragons?
DB: Dragons are absolutely fantastic. Reign of Fire is one of my favorite all time films with the smexy Mathew McConaughey and the very hot Christian Bale. However, looks like you own the patent on that one so I prefer to read your stories and I will bow out of writing about dragons for now less I want to look like a Shéa MacLeod copy-cat!
Haha! No worries there! But I’m so with you on Reign of Fire and Mathew McConaughey/Christian Bale. Nom. Nom.
SM: Danielle, thanks so much for hanging out with me today. It’s been a real treat. You, lady, are super fabulous!
DB: Shéa, my darling, being with you is like having Christmas come again and so soon after last year. I love your blog and look forward to your posts. Thank you for having me.
If you want to keep up with Danielle online, she can be found here:
Her Website http://thebeautifulpeopleawritersjourney.blogspot.com/