Dana Fredsti worked in Hollywood as an actress for years. She has now turned her sights to writing. She has completed a very entertaining book entitled, “Plague Town, An Ashley Parker Novel. If you like zombie stories, this is for you!
Abby: Let me start the interview off with my version of a compliment.
Abby: Your latest book Plague Town: An Ashley Parker Novel is the first book in months that I actually read every word of.
Dana: Oh cool!
Abby: It was written with enough detail to paint a picture for me so I kept turning the pages.
Dana: How sweet.
Abby: You have taken the Zombie genre to a new level with the viruses and the Wild Cards. Would you please tell the readers about that?
Dana: Wild Cards basically are a very small percentage of the population who when bitten by a zombie, they are actually immune to the virus or the zombie bug. They still get really sick. They still suffer like hell and go through all of the nasty things that happen when the infection is running through their bodies. If they get enough medical attention to nurse them through the fever and the physical symptoms that can happen, they are not only immune then to becoming a zombie but it also enhances their existing senses. It doesn’t turn them in to Wolverine or mutant X-men or anything. It just means that their hearing, sight, smell and their reflexes everything is just a little bit better than normal people. Their sense of smell is really good so they can smell a rotting zombie a lot quicker than a normal person could. On the other hand if you were at a chili cook off your sense of smell is not going to be your friend.
I’ve got another mutation and I keep going back between zombie virus and zombie bacteria. There are two examples of it in Plague Town. One is a little more benevolent than the other. The other is just nasty. The scene to basically show what happens in this case was my favorite and most horrifying scene in the book. It was the most fun to write. I thought, “Wow, I am really sick to even be thinking of this!” I was sitting on the couch typing that scene and I was laughing maniacally because even though it was nasty it was really a pleasure to write because it was exactly what I wanted it to be. What I would like is if any of your readers that actually read the book after this, I’d love it if they would write in and tell me what they think that scene is.
Abby: You do have a background in movies so I wanted to know if there are any plans to make Plague Town into a movie?
Dana: Oh I really hope so! I would really love to see it as a TV show or a movie.
The film rights are being shopped around but it is one of those things where you can get an option on something and it can still never come to fruition. I know that the publishers would be delighted as would I.
Abby: I read that there will be a sequel to Plague Town. Is that true?
Dana: I am writing on it now. The cover for that is actually already on Amazon and I have been told that my book is going to be out on April 9, 2013 – not that I needed the pressure. Then there’s going to be a third one. So we’ve got Plague Town, Plague Nation and Plague World which sort of gives you the idea of the spread of the zombie plague.
It’s really funny actually because another writer, Mira Grant, her first book was Feed and she has a trilogy of one of the most original zombie series I’ve ever read. She read my book and she said that I really, really liked it. I’ve got to tell you that in the back of the book it says, “Will they be able to contain the plague?” And then it says, “Coming Soon, Plague Nation.” That kind of answers the question right there!
Abby: Good point.
Dana: I never even thought of it, but that still cracks me up. Yes the plague spreads, just a hint.
Abby: I loved your movie references and your sense of humor throughout the book. Was Ashley named after anyone in particular?
Dana: I was approached by Laurie Perkins who was then an editor at Ravenous Romance and she had an idea. I got a phone call from her asking if I’d be interested in writing a series. The only directions I had were to make it like Buffy with zombies but different. Oh, and make the heroine’s name Ashley. So that is where Ashley’s name came from. It worked out nicely for her nickname within the Wild Cards, Ash. Anyone who is an Army of Darkness fan or Evil Dead fan at all gets that reference fairly quickly.
Abby: That is where I thought that you got it from since you had been in Army of Darkness.
Dana: It was actually just a good piece of synchronicity because I don’t think Laurie had Ash in mind. She just liked the name Ashley which was the most popular girls name at the time.
Abby: Since you are an animal lover, will the zombies ever get to the zoo? You know, so a zombie can have a rhinoplasty from an actual rhino?
Dana: One of my big thoughts of any kind of apocalypse would be that there is someone that is a nut like I am who would try to let the animals out so they can at least have a shot at survival and not just starve in their cages. I still have not made up my mind to whether or not the zombies actually eat animals. In the George Romero movie, the very first The Night of the Living Dead you’ve got the zombies eating cockroaches or what ever they happen to catch as long as it is living. In Survival of the Dead; my least favorite of his movies, they are trying to get zombies to eat horses or pigs or anything instead of people because they figure that once the zombies develop a taste for animal flesh that they won’t eat people. This is really a stupid conclusion to come to. It sort of went away from everything he had already done in his original movies because zombies were not interested in the animals. So I’m not sure. I do have a zoo scene planned, I will say.
Abby: Oh good.
Dana: I live 4 blocks from the San Francisco zoo, so I am very conscious of these things.
Abby: I just knew about your love for the big cats.
Dana: Oh yeah.
Abby: How many pen names or nom de plums do you have?
Dana: Well there is Dana Fredsti, which is actually my real name. There is Inara LaVey which is my spicy genre romance or erotic romance (sorry mommy I had to say the word). I wrote a book with my friend Cynthia Gentry called Secret Seductions and originally they wanted her to change her name to Roxanne Coleville because of an alphabetic placement on the book shelves. Then they decided that she’s already got a reputation writing erotic self-help books so let’s use her real name and then get me a pen name. So that would be Roxanne Coleville.
Abby: Speaking of your mother, does she read your romance novels?
Dana: She read Ripping the Bodice and I said, “OK mom, don’t read these pages, you’ll like the rest of the book.” So she basically skims through the parts where I say you probably don’t want to know that your daughter wrote this and then reads the rest. Most of my writing, especially with erotica, I really don’t like having to, pardon the pun, insert sex scenes just for the purpose of it. So if it doesn’t serve a purpose somewhere in there I won’t put it in. Also I do have a lot of thought and a lot of humor in all of my books. The one that she will probably never read is Champagne.
Abby: Out of respect for your mom I will not pursue the “why” question. Would you do erotica and zombies?
Dana: Actually I have a short story in an anthology called Hungry for your Life which is actually an erotic story set during a zombie apocalypse. I don’t have zombies doing it. I have a couple on their first date. The premise of the story is that a zombie apocalypse is a much better barometer for compatibility than eHarmony.
Abby: Then again what isn’t? On a totally different note, I hear your boyfriend wears a kilt.
Dana: Oh yeah. Oh yeah he does. Not all of the time. It’s not 24/7. He does have several kilts and he does have the legs to carry them off. One of my requirements in the men in my life has been good sturdy thighs. Not skinny rock star legs. I like nice muscular thighs. Otherwise I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about him wearing a kilt.
Abby: And here I thought you were going to promote his books!
Dana: Absolutely! Thank you for reminding me. He actually writes two kinds of books. He writes nonfiction and erotica. His erotica nom de plum is Kilt Kilpatrick. Try saying that 3 times fast! He’s got an anthology of his stories out there. I will say that he’s very, very talented with each thing he writes. He writes from a completely different narrative voice. I don’t know a lot of people that I can say that about. He’s really good at just creating something completely different every time he writes. I can’t say enough good things about his writing. And he looks good in a kilt!
Abby: Have you appeared in any of his books?
Dana: His first short story was called Fleche, which is actually a fencing term, he wrote that for me. I’m not exactly in it but it’s sort of an homage to me in the fact that we met through sword fighting. I know that pieces, parts of me, basically are in various stories or I have inspired certain characters. My first erotic story Champagne, which was turned into a novel, I wrote for him. He actually started writing erotica because I sent that story (Fleche) to Ravenous Romance. I asked them what they thought of it and they loved his writing and started working with him as well.
Abby: Well Dana I loved your story Plague Town and can’t wait to read Plague Nation. Thank you for talking with me today. Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Dana: At my website danafredsti.com or my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear from people. The best thing about the book so far I have been getting fan email and I am geeked out over it.
Abby: I hope the readers write to you and let you know what they think. Thanks Dana!