Today, we are talking with Stacey Jay, author of You Are So Undead to Me, Undead Much and the upcoming My So Called Death, all of which combine zombies, teenagers and romance. Today, she talks about her writing, teenagers and the easiest way to survive a zombie outbreak:
IFP: Please summarize your Megan Berry books in 140 characters or less. Ready? Set. Go!
SJ: Zombies aren’t all brain-hungry freaks! Some of them have normal, post-death issues that just need a little TLC. Megan Berry, Zombie Settler, takes care of the Unsettled Undead, ensuring they have a happy afterlife. She also kicks black-magically-raised zombie tail when the bad guys start raising the dead for their own evil purposes. In between the Settling and the Slaying, she learns a thing or two about young love and family secrets.
IFP: Your Megan Berry books combine different genres (young adult, romance and horror). How do you balance those contrasting elements?
SJ: Now, you see, I don’t find them contrasting at all. Lol! Isn’t being a teenager all about being terrified and at the mercy of raging hormones? Or maybe that was just my experience…
IFP: What was the inspiration for You Are So Undead to Me?
SJ: Too much Radio Disney (my stepdaughters wouldn’t let me listen to anything else for years), a love for paranormal romance, and the driving desire for some scary bad guys without fangs ;).
IFP: You’re a mom and a writer. How do you balance that?
SJ: Balance. *Sigh.* I’m still working on that. For the past two years, my writing has slowly been edging out more and more of my family time. A few months ago, I promised myself that was going to stop. Work will keep, these two little boys won’t be tiny forever. I want to enjoy them, play with them, and shower them with love and kisses before they get much older and decide their mom is a huge goob. So, I’ve been letting some writing things go – closing my Myspace, blogging less, meeting my deadlines instead of exceeding them, and not over-thinking my interview answers. (So, if this interview is lame, don’t get annoyed. Think of the children! The children!)
IFP: Is it harder to write for a young adult audience?
SJ: No. It’s easier. I’m still processing my twenties. It was a tumultuous time I think I’ll be better able to reflect on when I’m…hmmmm, 40, maybe? My teen years weren’t that long ago, but long enough that I have a bit of perspective. Writing for younger women feels organic to me.
IFP: To what do we owe the rise in popularity of zombies?
SJ: The decline of modern civilization and the growing disillusionment of the consumerist social…fiber…and…um…stuff. Uh. Yeah. I’ll leave the theorizing to the smarter people. I just like them because they are scary! And funny at the same time. What a great mix!
IFP: What is your favourite zombie movie?
SJ: 28 Days Later. So, freaking scary!
IFP: Can you share tips for surviving a zombie outbreak?
SJ: Run, don’t walk, to the nearest place where the zombies are not. Be sure to have your survival kit packed and don’t forget your shovel. (Some people recommend a gun or chainsaw, but I’m old-fashioned. I like to whack zombies with a shovel.)
IFP: Which historical figure would make the coolest zombie?
SJ: Ben Franklin. He was so smart and funny and I would love to hear what he had to say about the afterlife. I’m sure it would be hysterical and thought-provoking at the same time.
IFP: What are some good movies that combine horror and romance? Stuff you might recommend for a bloody Valentine’s Day.
SJ: I don’t get to watch those kinds of movies very often. I have small children and Sesame Street and Wonder Pets are the usual fare most nights. (I would recommend the chilling episode of the Wonder Pets when Ming Ming and friends save an old-school 1950’s monster creature. The entire episode is in black-and-white. Great stuff.)
Um, for real, I haven’t got much to share on this front. Sorry!
IFP: If your books were turned into movies, who would you cast in the lead roles?
SJ: Talented, little known actors. There are a lot of undiscovered people out there looking for work. Forget star power. Power to the people!
IFP: What is your dream project?
SJ: I would love to see the Megan Berry books turned into a cartoon and help write the script. It would be beyond awesome. I’m also starting work on an adult urban fantasy mystery series for Pocket in the next few months. It has been my pet project for awhile and I’m so so thrilled it sold. I can’t wait to start writing the first book.
IFP: What are you working on right now?
SJ: I’m promoting the release of Undead Much? (Jan 21) and My So Called Death – the story of a girl who discovers she’s genetically undead (a zombie) and is sent away to zombie boarding school where everyone eats brains for lunch (March 2010). I’m also in first revisions for The Locket (Razorbill January 2011). It’s a tale of a shy girl coming into her own, two potential true loves, and a very scary piece of jewelry that messes with the fabric of time. It’s been an intense write and I can’t wait to share more with readers in the coming year.
Bio: Stacey Jay is a workaholic with three pen names, four kids, and a sick sense of humor. She loves creepies, crawlies, blood, guts, and gore, and of course, romance. What would a zombie novel – or any novel – be without kisses that make your toes tingle? Stacey has been a full-time writer since 2005 and can’t think of anything she’d rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly-paid C-movie actress, bartender, and waiter. She also spent some time selling time shares in Times Square and teaching Yoga in Los Angeles.