Zombies are today’s hot monster. Okay they’re room temperature, but they are definitely the most popular monster shambling across the pop-culture landscape. Even people who used to think that they would never go within biting distance of zombies are now watching the movies, tuning into shows like The Walking Dead, reading novels, buying toys, and buying products in which zombies are used as tools of advertising. Crazy old world. I asked a bunch of my colleagues in the zombie biz some questions about this living dead phenomenon. Lots of folks stepped up to share their views. So, we’ll take the questions one at a time. First up:
JONATHAN MABERRY: Zombies continue to grow in popularity despite predictions that the genre is (ahem) dead. Why?
MAX BROOKS: The genre’s dead? Wow. Good to know. I think zombies are continuing in popularity for two reasons. The first is that they are a ‘safe’ way of exploring our apocalyptic anxieties. We’re living in VERY uncertain times right now. The problems we face now, we face as a nation, as a world. Global terrorism, global warming, global pandemics, global economic calamities. Those problems are too big, too real, and the prospect of following those problems to their ultimate end is just too scary to think about. There is an anxiety, certainly in this country, that the system is breaking down, and it’s an anxiety that we haven’t faced since the 1970s. That was the last time zombies were popular, and, coincidently? here they are again. A zombie story allows us to look at the end of the world, total collapse, with all its horrific consequences, and yet, still be able to sleep that night because we know that the catalyst of those consequences (zombies) aren’t real. The second reason for our fascination with zombies is that, unlike all the other problems we keep facing every day, they are at least stoppable! Every other meta crisis our planet is going through continue to re enforce our deepest feelings of inadequacy. As individuals, we are largely powerless against terrorists or melting polar ice, or the toxic evil of a credit default swap. We can all contribute in our little way, as we should, but they are just little parts of a much bigger picture. In a zombie plague, every man has a chance to be a hero. With the right tools and talent, every man (or woman) can survive a zombie plague. That simply isn’t true against a credit default swap. That’s why I think zombies are popular. But what do I know?
ROGER MA: I always find it amusing when people declare the zombie genre passé. As a fan who’s followed the genre for more than three decades, I know that there will always be a desire for the living dead. First, because the zombie is such a malleable creature; it can provide a subtext for an infinite number of subjects, which makes it very attractive for very different creative types and genres. Second, as long as there is a segment of the population that feels frustrated, disenfranchised, or just plain fed up, zombies will be popular. A zombie apocalypse is the ultimate reset button, and unlike other types of disasters, there’s a feeling that as long as you’re smart and prepared, you can not only survive, but thrive in an undead world. That’s another reason why I think zombies will always be popular; it’s a creature that enables people to easily imagine themselves in a heroic role.
DON ROFF: Every genre in the history of genres has climbed peaks and descended into valleys. Yet something keeps bringing each respective genre back, pulling them out of the lowlands and ascending them to the top again. Our current zeitgeist is infectious diseases, overpopulation, terrorism, the downward spiral of the economy, and overpopulation. It’s no surprise that the zombie genre has escalated in popularity. People are afraid. What better way to experience fear than to sit home at watch other people live out their fears with a zillion popular zombie video games, a zillion zombie movies, and hopefully, a zillion zombie books, too? In addition, there’s a certain survivalist mentality/disaster preparedness that seems synonymous with the zombies, more so than with any other horror sub genre. Since those aforementioned fears aren’t going away, I doubt zombies will return to the grave anytime soon.
ALAN GOLDSHER: Last year, I sat on a Comic Con panel with Seanan McGuire, who claimed that zombies will always be compelling because they tap into an area of our id that we’re otherwise afraid to tap into ourselves. (I’m paraphrasing, but that was her general conceit.) Makes good sense to me, but I also think since zombies are a blank slate, they’re a perfect vehicle to tell a horror story…or a comedy…or a romance…or any damn thing. Since there’s no set mythology, zombies are the Bill Clinton of paranormals: All things to all people.
ABI POST: I can only speak from my own experience, but I have often been asked, “Why Zombies?” It’s a good question, one I think has been asked recently over and over about the public’s interest in zombies. Like all good questions, it makes you think even if the answer isn’t neat.
A fascination with zombies happens on a very personal level. My own attraction which is mainly about survival. My zombie fantasies stem from an overwhelming urge to save myself from whatever perceived or real dangers arise from being alive right now.
ANDRE ABRAMOWITZ: We live in an age of tremendous uncertainty. Fears of economic collapse, political turmoil, natural disasters and terrorism have dominated headlines over the last 10+ years and the zombie is the perfect embodiment of these faceless, unseen threats. No longer are our enemies lining up on a battlefield, wearing a foreign uniform. Now the enemy can be your friends, neighbors or anyone – just like the modern zombie. Couple that with the sort of societal breakdown that we see in many zombie apocalypse stories and it’s not so hard to see why the popularity of the zombie genre continues to grow. It’s a safe and fun way to explore some very very bad scenarios that seem all too capable of happening.
CALVIN MILLER: I think it’s the type of fear they represent. Zombies don’t simply stab you, attack you with an axe, or suck your blood. They eat you. And they might be your parents. Or you. That feeling that everyone around you is turning into a monster is horrifying. When you say “Zombies” most people say “Brainzzzz!”. They are more familiar with the parodies like “Return of the Living Dead”. Many are just now getting into the true horror of the genre, and I think “The Walking Dead” TV show is creating a lot of Zombie fans. A Zombie Plague makes Freddy and Jason look like punks.
CRAIG DiLOUIE: For years, the horror shelves in my local bookstore were dominated by a choice of sexy or funny vampires, or Stephen King. Vampires have been popular in fiction for decades, and still are. Zombies have been popular for what, a few years at most? And I’m supposed to believe it’s over already? Hell, no!
I once read a review of a zombie book that started, “Do we really need another zombie book?” The first thing I thought was, “Do we really need another reviewer saying, ‘Do we really need another zombie book?’”
To all jaded reviewers who don’t like zombie books and therefore pronounce the genre dead for everyone else, here’s an idea: Let’s let the market decide what it wants. As long as people keep buying and reading zombie books, then the genre is very much alive. In fact, the big publishers have only recently started publishing zombie books in any real way. Some of them are duds thrown out there purely to exploit the zombie craze, but some are very good and selling well. The commercial success of your own work, Jonathan, is obviously a testament to mainstream demand for good zombie fiction. The number of zombie-themed books, films and so on will likely peak at some point, but zombies are here to stay. And that’s great news for the many readers who only recently have begun to enjoy a broad choice of quality zombie fiction.
DAVID DUNWOODY: People nowadays are too impatient, too quick to denounce something and discover its successor. Zombies simply will not go gentle into that good night. Their relevance hasn’t waned a bit and, frankly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. They’re just too perfect as metaphors for countless aspects of the human condition. Beautiful in their simplicity, universal in their scariness and with boundless potential for further exploration, zombies have plenty of room to expand, evolve and infect before they become played out.
IAIN MCKINNON: Tough question, the short answer is I don’t know. I’m happy the wave hasn’t broken because I am primarily a zombie fan, that’s why I started writing zombie novels. I’d consumed everything zombie I could find and left with nothing to devour I started making my own.
The popularity of Zombies may have something to do with the reaction in horror against torture porn or shiny vampires. It may be because it holds a mirror up to our world the few battling the overwhelming many, the escapism of a world where there are no constraints, no mortgage or credit cards or managers or cops or all the other things that prevent us living the life we want to.
But I think it’s biggest appeal is what would you do? The heros aren’t superhuman or magical or anything like that. The heros in most zombie novels and films are just regular people thrown into the nightmare. You read them thinking “what would I do?”.
JASON KRISTOPHER: I believe that people are scared right now. We hear so many stories of how the global economy is failing, there’s all the change for good, in my opinion in the Middle East, new unforeseen diseases, the world is becoming a big scary place, and yet with the growth of what I refer to as indie media, the people are more informed and knowledgeable than ever before. This leads to we humans falling back on one of our most well-developed of traits: the need for escapism. I think zombie stories in particular are good for this, because it allows people to say Well, as bad as stuff is right now in the real world, at least it’s not this bad. Everyone needs a break from the real world from time to time, and I think zombies allow for that a bit easier than most other genres. On a lighter, less analytic note, they’re also more believable, in many ways. Plus, they’re cool!
JEFF WEIGEL: I think there’s appeal in the mindlessness of the threat zombies pose. What’s scarier than an unrelenting creature that can’t be reasoned with in any way. A zombie has one thing on it’s mind (what there is of it, anyway) your brain. Plus, the zombie virus concept makes monsters out of the people you encounter in every day life. The zombies’ appeal is in the threat of the ordinary becoming your worst nightmare.
JOE McKINNEY: I think it has something to do with what I call the democratic nature of zombies. Almost from the very beginning, zombies (as first expressed in the vision of Richard Matheson and George Romero) came at us from a variety of sources. You’ve got movies, TV, novels, short stories, blogs, radio shows…but that’s not all. You’ve got zombie walks. You’ve got conventions dedicated to them. You’ve got non-fiction. Zombie fans are willing to take their drug of choice in just about any permutation. But that’s still not all, because now, you’ve even got a variety of other professions jumping on the concept of the zombie to express issues in their field. You’ve got economists, computer programmers, biologists, and dozens of others using the idea of the zombie to express rogue elements in their field. The zombie, more so than anything else before it, has proven to be a perfect hook upon which to hang an idea. So many have flocked to the idea of the zombie because it can support so many concepts.
JOHN MACLEOD: I thank Twilight. It poisoned the vampire well for a lot of fans, even with the popularity of shows like True Blood. So, what else could horror enthusiasts turn to? Zombies. All the undead, none of the glitter, and ten times the amount of disemboweling. Add the mass appeal of The Walking Dead on TV, and we may have entered a golden age for our hordes. (Yet, as much as I’m thankful to Twilight for driving people our way, I’d love to see Daryl from TWD dust Edward’s sparkly ass with his crossbow.)
JOHN RUSSO: As I’ve said many times before, zombies weren’t heavyweight fright material like vampires or werewolves, till we made them into flesheaters. That struck a raw cord with people. to make a zombie movie, you don’t need expensive makeups of SFX, so many, many filmmakers seize upon them to make their mark in the biz. And some of the stuff with a new slant or fresh ideas makes it big.
JOSHUA COOK: So many reasons, so little space. Of the number of things that are helping the genre grow, I think it is the sheer fanaticism of the zombie community that is playing the largest role. Over the years there has always been a hardcore fandom, but it has had to be contained underground. Once zombies rose out of the grave and began to infect the mainstream pop culture, we saw the explosion of things like zombie walks and zombie specific conventions. This will continue to work just like a zombie infection and spread through the pop culture psyche until it infects the entire world.
ROBERT ELROD: Zombie culture will be around for a long time to come. The reasons that I see for this are that people are always going to find reasons to be dissatisfied with the world. People dislike their jobs, their government, the weather, their neighbors, their lives. Zombie culture provides a safe venue for people to live through the fantasy of all of those they dislike being taken away and, in place of things, they’re given something that they can destroy without suffering the consequences of modern civilization.
RYAN BROWN: I think zombies continue to grow in popularity because, as literary device, there seems to be no end to how they can be utilized. Metaphorically, zombies can reflect so much about society during any time period throughout history. Sure, we’ve had an explosion of zombie material over the past few years, but with that has also come an explosion of creative uses for the genre. If writers continue to focus on pushing the possibilities the genre – and not on repeating what is already out there – I see no end to the wave of popularity.
SCOTT KENEMORE: I think what people percieve as a zombie “trend” is really just zombies finding their appropriate place in the culture. People have a way for forgetting that Dracula–the seminal work that solidified our idea of the modern vampire–was written in 1890. It’s had over 100 years to sink-in. The modern flesh-eating zombie of George Romero has only been around since 1968. So zombies have some catching up to do, and I think that’s what we’re seeing now.
ZAPH: Everyone likes a good horror story. Whether people watch movies, read novels or read the paper, there is an at least it isn’t me appeal to someone else’s mishaps and adventures. Zombie science fiction is a great fantasy realm where the what if can be explored with gore, guts, mayhem, societal break down and a whole lot of human nature story telling. The thought of unrestricted violence appeals to the long buried predator in us, and luckily you can kill zombies without remorse. It gives people who live comfortably, the chance to imagine a different life for them selves, prepare for some fictional crisis, to live outside of their normal lives for a while. All the while knowing they are safe and it wont really happen, at least not just yet. After all, HG Wells wrote about submarines and Arthur C. Clarke wrote about space travel.
EVILBOB: Zombies don’t sparkle.
ROGER MA is the author of The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead, published by Berkley Books. He is also the founder of The Zombie Combat Club, an organization dedicated to distributing information on battling the living dead without a firearm. He is also a martial artist and a former Team Chief for one of New York City’s Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), a civilian volunteer group managed by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) that assists first responders in the event of a city emergency (including zombie attack.) Find him on Twitter at @zombiecombat and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zombiecombatmanual
DON ROFF grew up in Milton-Freewater, a small Oregon town, writing stories and making Super 8 and VHS movies with his friends. Later, he served with the 75th Ranger Regiment during Operation Just Cause in December 1989. Roff’s first book was Scary Stories (with creepy hand lock), published by Scholastic in October 2006. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, published by Chronicle Books/Simon & Schuster UK followed in 2009. The 144-page book is the found journal of Dr. Robert Twombly as he documents the 2012 zombie apocalypse with thought-provoking handwritten passages and captivating imagery (drawn by Chris Lane). Roff’s latest book, Zombie Tales, was published in October 2011 by Scholastic. He can be found at his website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on his blog, The Key Dancer Chronicles. Fans of Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection can Like the page here.
ALAN GOLDSHER is the author of 11 books, including the acclaimed Beatles/horror/comedy remix novel Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion. Give Death a Chance: The British Zombie Invasion 2 will be published as an ebook on March 27, 2012, and his Sound of Music/vampire remix novel My Favorite Fangs will be available on August 7, 2012. As a ghostwriter, Alan has worked with dozens of celebrities and public figures, and next November will see the publication of How I Slept My Way to the Middle, his collaboration with actor/comedian Kevin Pollak. Alan lives and writes in Chicago. Visit him at http://www.AlanGoldsher.com, @AlanGoldsher on Twitter, or http://www.Facebook.com/alan.goldsher.
ABI POST is the author and illustrator of Fairweather, a tale of interdimensional evil and survival transmitted via www.fairweatheronline.com. After five years in the fashion industry, Abi launched her zombielife by exhibiting paintings of the undead in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. She hales from the natural state, and holds a BFA from a university in the deep south. Facebook @fairweatherabi www.fairweatheronline.com
ANDRE ABRAMOWITZ is a writer and executive producer on Zombies: A Living History, a TV show that premiered in October for History Channel. While this was my first foray into television writing, I’ve had various pieces published in other venues. When I’m not scouring the darkest corners of history in search of the roots of undead myths and folklore, I can often be found hunting the seas in search of big fish and Cthonian monstrosities. Hopefully I can make a show about that too one day. Other ideas that I’m currently exploring include a couple of undead-related screenplays and comic books, and an anthropological look at dance and coming of age rituals throughout world cultures.
Andre can be found on:
Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/andreabramowitz
The Facebook page for Zombies: A Living History – http://www.facebook.com/ZombiesALivingHistory
The DVD could ostensibly be found (at this time, for some reason unknown to me it’s not listed typical History Channel incompetance) at http://www.shop.history.com
CALVIN A.L. MILLER II is a horror author/publisher/cartoonist who likes to write from different angles. His first book, “Het Madden, A Zombie Perspective”, is written entirely from the perspective of a man who dies, reanimates, and retains his intelligence in a post-apocalyptic society. His second effort, “The Zombie’s Survival Guide, Thrive In The Zombie Apocalypse AFTER Your Turn”, is written to guide the reader through the Zompocalypse AFTER he or she becomes a zombie. It contains illustrations by artist Alan Gandy and provides everything you’ll need to know to ensure you’ll be the best zombie you can be. Cal started Zilyon Publishing in November 2009 with his buddy Greg Bogle and today they’ve published 12 books, including novels, charity anthologies, graphic novels, and comics. He also does a web comic, “Ted Dead, Just Your Everyday Zombie”, at TedDead.com. Check him out at www.CalvinALMillerII.com, http://www.facebook.com/cal.miller2, Twitter/@cal_in_space, or email him at email@example.com.
CRAIG DiLOUIE is author of the popular zombie novels THE INFECTION (www.infectednation.com) and TOOTH AND NAIL (www.infectedwar.com). In early 2012, Permuted Press will publish THE KILLING FLOOR, his sequel to THE INFECTION. Learn more about Craig’s work–including reviews of all things apocalyptic horror, plus links to his Twitter and Facebook pages–at www.craigdilouie.com.
DAVID DUNWOODY is the author of the Empire series of zombie novels and short stories. Infected with the writing bug at an early age, he has been published in a number of anthologies and has two horror collections, Dark Entities and Unbound & Other Tales. Dave lives in Utah and can be visited on the web at daviddunwoody.com and empirenovel.com. Facebook: facebook.com/ddunwoody; Twitter: @daviddunwoody
IAIN MCKINNON was born in Scotland in the early seventies and lived a happy well balanced childhood, with the exception of being forced to wear flares and the 1978 World Cup. Aged 18 he saw George A Romero’s Day Of The Dead and from then on zombies crowned his list of irrational fears. In 2005 he wrote the screen play for the 10 minute zombie film The Dead Walk in an attempt to confront his fear. He has since written two zombie novels Domain of the Dead and Remains of the Dead both published by Permuted Press.
Iain currently lives and writes from his home just outside Edinburgh. At the moment he only has just one irrational fear but he does still keep a survival kit and crowbar close at hand just in case.
JASON KRISTOPHER was born in Waco, TX, spent nearly two decades in northern Colorado soaking up the creative energy and beauty of that area, then moved to Houston for real work. Throughout this long journey, Jason continued to write all kinds of fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, horror, children’s tales and even a poem or two. Jason currently lives in Houston and enjoys reading, writing, movies, music (live and not), the Houston Astros (winning and not), singing karaoke and the Texas hill country, especially the vineyards. You can find him on Twitter (@JasonKristopher), Facebook (Author.JasonKristopher) and his website (www.greygeckopress.com). His first book is a zombie apocalypse novel that has been called the best zombie book since World War Z. The Dying of the Light: End is available in print for $15 and ebook format for $4 on Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, Kobo and GoodReads.
JEFF WEIGEL is an illustrator and author of comics and children’s books, along with being the artist for Michael P. Spradlin’s popular series of zombie songbooks. Jeff has done work for Image Comics retro anthology, Big Bang Comics. He’s written and illustrated the two Atomic Ace picture books for Albert Whitman and Company, and the graphic adventure novel, Thunder From The Sea: Adventure on Board The HMS Defender. His next collaboration with Michael Spradlin, The Monster Alphabet, is due out next year from Grosset & Dunlap. Learn more about Jeff’s work at www.jeffweigel.com.
JOE McKINNEY is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies. In his day job, Joe McKinney is a patrol commander for the San Antonio Police Department. Before promoting to sergeant, Joe worked as a homicide detective and as a disaster mitigation specialist. Many of his stories, regardless of genre, feature a strong police procedural element based on his fifteen years of law enforcement experience. A regular guest at regional writing conventions, Joe currently lives and works in a small town north of San Antonio with his wife and children. You can find out more about upcoming projects and appearances at http://joemckinney.wordpress.com, follow him on Twitter at @JoeMcKinney and friend him on Facebook.
JOHN MACLEOD (aka Surfin Dead) hails from western Massachusetts, and has an undying love of zombies, music and geek culture. He is a Staff Writer/Editor for the web site Zombie Zone News (http://www.zombiezonenews.com), and creator of the devilish dolts Doctor Curdle and Squee. Together with those freaks, John spotlights the finest new horror comics every week in his Zombie Pull Box column. You can find his new Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Surfin-Dead/310086379002613#!/pages/Surfin-Dead/310086379002613 or check out @Surfin_Dead on Twitter.
JOHN RUSSO: is an American screenwriter and film director most commonly associated with the 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead. As a screenwriter, his credits include Night of the Living Dead, The Majorettes, Midnight, and Santa Claws. The latter two, he also directed. He has performed small roles as an actor, most notably the first zombie who is stabbed in the head in Night of the Living Dead, as well as cameos in There’s Always Vanilla and House of Frankenstein 1997. John Russo is also the founder and one of the co-mentors along with Russell Streiner of the John Russo Movie Making Program at DuBois Business College in DuBois, Pennsylvania. John A. Russo has completed several interviews over the years discussing his film making career, with a recent interview with BioGamer Girl Magazine, in which he appeared on the magazine’s radio show Undead Noise.
JOSHUA COOK is a freelance writer currently residing in Seattle, Washington. Josh lives with his best friend, Sam Dogg, a lab and cocker spaniel mix. A self proclaimed pop culture whore, he drinks in anything that falls in the realm of pop. Over the years he has written for a number of clients and websites, but his most recent project is a short story series entitled ‘Zombie A.C.R.E.S.’. This work has led to a number of other new projects, including a comic in the spring with Ratatat Graphics, various books, and even some short film work. Through all this, Joshua continues to do freelance writing work and takes on new clients everyday. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. All the stories, art, contests, ebooks, and more from the Zombie A.C.R.E.S. universe can be found at http://zombieacres.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/zombieacres, and on Twitter @ZombieACRES. Joshua Cook can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/joshuacookwrites and on Twitter @JoshCookWrites.
MAX BROOKS: Max Brooks is the author of the two bestsellers “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”. He has also written for “Saturday Night Live”, for which he won an Emmy.
ROBERT ELROD is a self-taught artist / interactive designer who works with a variety of mediums including pencil, color pencil, ink, watercolor, acrylic and digital. Tickling A Dead Man: Stories About George is his self-published comic book in which he relentlessly tortures his misanthropic title character by forcing him to face his deepest fears and anxieties. His comics also appear within the pages of the Best New Zombie Tales series from Books of the Dead Press. He’s contributed pinup art to publications by Bluewater Comics, Creator’s Edge Press, Angry Dog Press and the British Fantasy Society. Robert’s artwork has appeared on the covers of several novels and anthologies from small-press horror publishers. You can see more of his work at www.robertelrodllc.com and connect with on Facebook at www.facebook.com/robertelrod and on Twitter at @robertelrod.
As an actor RYAN BROWN has held contract roles on The Young and the Restless and Guiding Light. He has also appeared on Law and Order: SVU, and starred in two feature films for Lifetime Television. He is the author of PLAY DEAD, a comic zombie thriller set in the world of Texas high school football, and THAWED OUT AND FED UP, a neo-western thriller in which a re-animated John Wayne thrusts the Old West into the twenty-first century. Raised in Texas, Ryan now lives with his wife and son in New York City. Find him at: ryanbrownauthor.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanBrownAuthor and on FACEBOOK at Ryan Brown Author.
SCOTT KENEMORE is the author of the Zen of Zombie series of humor/horror books, and the novel Zombie, Ohio. He blogs about zombies at http://scottkenemore.wordpress.com/.
ZAPH (Elizabeth McCubbin) and EVILBOB (Adrienne Keith) are the creators behind Optimystical Studios embracing geek culture in jewelry with recycled pendants, steampunk and renaissance accessories. With the motto, “We are Wonder Woman!” they have built a business on the foundation of fun and cranking their art ‘up to 11!’. In February 2011 they launched ZombAlert, a pendant to let your loved ones know your final wishes in the event of a zombie bite. Each piece is hand cast and enameled, then stamped with your final wish on the reverse side. You can find Optimystical Studios online at OptimysticalStudios.com or go directly to more information on ZombAlert at ZombAlert.com. Optimystical Studios journeys to many science fiction, horror and gaming conventions throughout the year. You can catch them at a con and follow Zaph & EvilBob’s adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Google. (Here are the links if you need them; @Optimysticals – http://facebook.com/OptimysticalStudios – https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115663618942907846599/).
My new zombie thriller, DEAD OF NIGHT, is now available in print, e-book and audio from St. Martin’s Griffin. I took a few minutes to speak with William Dufris, the narrator of the audio book. Bill is a fascinating guy and his narration chilled even me (and I wrote the thing!).
DEAD OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin; Trade paperback $14.99; $9.99 for e-book
(Also available from Macmillan Audio read by William Dufris)
Once you’re done reading the interview, check out the special audio sample of DEAD OF NIGHT.
JONATHAN MABERRY: What’s your process for preparing to read an audiobook?
BILL DUFRIS: It’s kind of a triple process:
1.I like to simply read the book to myself, just to gauge my reactions to the material as a whole. I’ve always been an avid reader, and reading’s always been an enjoyable past-time, and so this the effortless part of my process. While reading, I’m also filing away character voices, which I tend to hear in my mind’s ear. Also, an overall feel for the material is taking place, a very organic aspect, difficult to explain.
2.I then conduct a second pass through the book, marking passages and dialogue, noting which character is speaking with an initial for their name, indicating vocal level with up or down arrow for volume, ensuring that pages begin and/or end with a clause, allowing a page turn to take place during a natural break – the noise of which is later edited out. Prior to recording, the manuscript is filled with additional notations in my own special shorthand.
3.Finally, a third pass, or reading, is made of the pages I anticipate recording the following day.
JONATHAN: Walk us through the steps of recording a book?
BILL:I have my own home studio, so I engineer and read, while recording the material. A level is set, ensuring a listenable volume is established. A sip of apple juice is had, to lubricate the mouth. Chapstick is applied, so as to limit lip smacks. And recording starts. Each time there’s a slip-up in the reading, either a fluffed word or misread, or a noise from outside (passing planes, gaseous eruptions, etc), then I stop the recording, which creates an edit point. I retain original take, and resume recording, with the edit point clearly marked and waiting to be cleared by my editor later that day. After recording and editing is completed, the sound files and manuscript are delivered to my audiobook proofer, who then listens to the recording, while reading the manuscript, ensuring that every word as written is read correctly, and that there are no nasty noises. I am provided with a corrections sheet, detailing any such mistakes, and I go through sound files and re-record, fixing errors. Then the sound files are broken up into chapters, and uploaded to either Dropbox or publisher’s ftp site.
JONATHAN MABERRY: How do you pick the voices for each character? What goes into that process?
BILL: I tend to see and hear characters, as I read them. For example, Dez felt very much like Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica to me. So I gave her more of that attitude in my reading. Other characters in the book, if they’re described well enough (as yours most certainly are), are given attributes, to a greater or lesser degree, of minor and major tv/film actors. Also, what a character says, and their emotional level while speaking, determines how I’ll deliver a line. How a character is described physically will also dictate to me a particular way of giving them a voice (Gibbon was especially fun!). My face and body will also mimic the character, as I see and hear them, so I’m essentially acting out each part as I say their lines. My background is stage and radio theatre, so playing characters is what I enjoy most.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Most people don’t really understand the difference between an actor narrating a book and someone simply reading it aloud. Can you give us some insight into those qualities an actor brings to the art of narration?
BILL: It’s being able to make discoveries along the way. The narrator is guiding the listener through the story, but it’s a story that the narrator is also seeing for the first time, albeit a few steps ahead of the listener. It goes so far beyond a simple recitation of words. Again, it’s somewhat difficult to give words to what is an intuitive and organic process. But the end result is why computerized voices will NEVER match what the human voice can deliver, opening up an entire world for a listener, that is divorced completely from their immediate. This is also why computers can’t write a story, either!
JONATHAN MABERRY: DEAD OF NIGHT deals with some dark themes. Are you a fan of horror fiction?
BILL: I LOVE Horror Fiction!!! (Are you reading this, O Mighty Audiobook Publishers?!?) And Sci-Fi. I actually have a series of audio theatre pieces, entitled HorrorScopes, consisting of original and classic pieces adapted for this medium. My short-lived foray into writing (back in the 5th grade) was a horror piece. I love horror flicks. I prefer horror that has a fantastical element to it, something that kinda says that, don’t worry, this could NEVER really happen, as opposed to something on the line of a slasher film, or like the barely tolerable (to me) Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
JONATHAN MABERRY: DEAD OF NIGHT is a zombie novel. How do you feel about that genre?
BILL: Love it! As do my teenage kids. We spent quite a few enjoyable nights together, watching Walking Dead, The Crazies, and others of that ilk. We also watch Shakespeare productions, Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton movies, and zany comedies as well. (That’s for their mom to read!)
JONATHAN MABERRY: Do you have a favorite character from the books?
BILL: Dez! Absolutely. She rocks “hard-assed chick, built like a brick outhouse, with an attitude to boot. Plus a soft side. Yum!
JONATHAN MABERRY: After reading so many audiobooks, do you still have the energy to read for pleasure?
BILL: I do. But more often than not, I’ve got my headphones on, listening to an audiobook. I’m a subscriber of Audible, and I have my iPod packed with books, and am listening to one on my walks, drives, while vacuuming! Love em!
Click here to check out the special audio sample of DEAD OF NIGHT!Â DEAD OF NIGHT – A ZOMBIE NOVEL
Young adult (YA) literature is hot. Red hot. Smoking hot. It’s where the real publishing industry buzz lives. It’s a growing market despite a crumbling economy; and in a technological age it’s driven by actual word of mouth. Well, to be fair, it’s word of text, but it’s close.
I asked librarians from across the U.S. to talk about the genre and why YA is the place to be for readers and writers.
JONATHAN MABERRY: YA literature is getting more and more of the social media buzz. Why?
SHANNA SWIGERT SMITH: Two words, it is AWESOME and AMAZING! Plus, people are looking for something to entertain and provide enjoyment. Rarely, do I have to wade or push through reading a teen book. They immediately grab your attention and do not let go till the very end. The marketing of this through social media is a no brainer. Young adults are not going to the New York Times Book Reviews. Instead, they are going to Google it and look for an online presence. (Shanna Swigert Smith, Teen Librarian, Mesa County Libraries; Grand Junction, CO)
ROBIN BRENNER: YA literature is a booming market right now because it’s appealing to teenagers, of course, but it’s also appealing to a wide range of readers. In terms of social media: many of YA lit’s creators and readers are in that sweet spot of tech users (teens up through 40 year olds) who are more likely than anyone else to be out there tweeting, blogging, and tumblr-ing about their latest read. (Robin Brenner, Reference & Teen Librarian, Brookline Public Library; Brookline, MA)
RACHEL KITZMANN: Because it’s awesome, and that answer is only a little facetious. YA literature is attracting talent and bravado at incredible rates. The idea of teens as a force with disposable income came right on the heels of authors taking an actual stab at writing interesting, compelling books with teen protagonists. Instead of Issue Books or books that were written by committee, authors as a force started addressing multiple teen-age experiences. Doing this allowed teens to see their lives mirrored for the first time: the experiences they were reading about were the experiences they’d had, or their friends had had. As teens started reading more and more (despite the moaning and groaning of various news outlets about teens not reading) authors got bolder and bolder.
Teens like realistic fiction, but what if I add vampires? Zombies? Aliens? What if instead of setting it in the contemporary world, the book is set in WWI, and there are genetically engineered animals? What if the book is written in verse? What if the book has two, three a dozen points of view? YA authors took risks that adult authors were unwilling to take, because the market of teens respected and responded to that risk taking. Then the adults started respecting and responding to books that were aimed at people 5, 10 even 20 years younger, because the literature was good. It was interesting and it was different than anything else on the market. At the end of the day, that’s why YA literature gets a lot of buzz: Because it is as good (and in my opinion, better) than comparable books in the adult market, and a great story is a great story no matter the age of the protagonist. (Rachel Kitzmann, Young Adult Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library, CA)
LIZZ ZITRON: YA literature takes on challenging issues more than any other genre and yet it struggles to gain respect as an intelligent, thoughtful medium. I think of it as the soap opera of literature. Soaps have long tackled tough issues long before their television counterparts. Positive, homosexual characters in loving relationships come to mind. Soaps had them long before nighttime TV. I see far more positive portrayals of LGBT characters in YA lit then I do in adult novels. Authors like David Levithan, John Green, Alex Sanchez and Maureen Johnson are a few writers who come to mind who have created characters and situations that ring with authenticity. Johnson in particular has avoided what we call the Lesbian Trope in which lesbian characters go crazy, die or both.
Additionally, YA literature is increasingly better-written in my opinion. Somehow authors are able to perform feats of word artistry I don’t see in many adult novels. The Morris award nominees from 2011 come to mind as examples of vastly different genres and storylines that were all incredibly well-written. They tackled fairly specific universes, characters and situations yet each author managed to make his or her work accessible, real and engaging. These books continue to “stick with me” in ways adult books I’ve read this year have not. When you think about the audiences YA authors have to reach, they must write really well to reach them successfully. They are dealing with a population at wildly differing levels of intellectual, emotional and self-identity development. So they must be deceptively simple yet write deeply. (Lizz Zitron, Outreach Services Librarian, Carthage College- Hedberg Library; Kenosha, WI)
KIM CHRISTOFFERSON: There is so much good YA fiction being written. Forget the paranormal/vampire books. Try The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey or Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. These books will give you the willies. If you want romance, pick up a Sarah Dessen book or Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Dystopian stories like The Hunger Games trilogy or Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness are also good reads.
Hollywood picks up these stories and turns them into movies whether they be based on the book or a bit different but with the same story. I don’t think publishers really recognized the enormity of the teen audience until the end of the 1990′s when Harry Potter became a hit. Granted, the first couple of HP books are middle school books but so many kids in the 90′s were so excited to read it and wanted to read all of them. By the time HP finished his 7th year, the kids who started reading him were grown but still faithful fans! Then there are the Twilight series and The Hunger Games series. Just a few examples of great YA fiction. These books may not win a Printz award but they make the rounds at libraries across the world! (Kim Christofferson, Teen Librarian, Garden Grove Regional Library, CA)
JESSICA MILLER: I think this question has to be explained in several ways. First, YA lit itself is becoming much more popular. With adults realizing, yes they can read these books, the audience has grown. With many new YA books being made into movies, awareness of the books themselves has grown. With more and more people talking about the books, it has exploded onto the social media sites. Now that is a self feeding cycle. With buzz already building on the internet, more and more people are joining book related sites, creating book blogs, and in general adding to the buzz. As more and more people emerge online with these interests, the publishers are glomming onto this fact and are thus creating more buzz online and such the cycle goes. Basically the books are awesome, people realize they are awesome and talk about them, the publishers see people talking and show them more things to talk about online! (Jessica Miller, Young Adult Librarian, New Britain Public Library; New Britain, CT)
TONYA OSWALT: The intriguing stories and the high quality of the writing in young adult fiction appeal to people of all ages. It’s interesting to me that a lot of teenagers will skip over young adult fiction and go straight to adult fiction, while many adults will linger in the young adult section, devouring the books there for years. There has also been an increase in the number of movies being made based on young adult books, perhaps thanks to the popularity of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises. Then there is the ongoing debate over the darkness of young adult fiction that has recently resurfaced in the media just a few months ago. Censorship has and always will be an issue in libraries and schools, regardless of the actual material that is being published, because it is impossible for everyone to be happy. (Tonya Oswalt, Young Adult Services Assistant, Bossier Parish Libraries, Bossier City, LA)
JONATHAN MABERRY: What are your favorite YA genres/subgenresâ€¦and why?
SHANNA SWIGERT SMITH: Currently, I am in love with teen lit that re-imagines history with fantasy and/or the science fiction element. I have always loved historical fiction, which, to be honest, is already an author’s own imagining of history. I like the authors who have taken it a step farther, intertwining magic, machines and time travel.
ROBIN BRENNER: As I said above, I love the books that veer into all sorts of genre groupings. I just want a good story and solid writing. If I had to define what I want in a YA book: witty banter, strong dialog, well-balanced world-building (whatever that world may be), and spot on pacing.
RACHEL KITZMANN: I started out as a fantasy/sci-fi reader and that’s still what I fall back to. If there are witches and fairies, chances are I’ve read the book, all the sequels, and have deep and thorough thoughts about the world and how it operates. The physics of space and time is something that most people have at least a basic understanding of: time moves forwards, gravity is what holds the earth together and that is how it’s supposed to be, then BAM- Magic! What are you going do when Newton’s laws of motion become mere suggestions? A good fantasy/sci-fi author takes the time to consider the impact of that on the world as a whole and on the protagonist in particular. It’s a fun way to really explore the human experience.
LIZZ ZITRON: I am new to the fantasy realm and I blame it all on Neil Gaiman and YA lit, but not necessarily in that order. High fantasy has always eluded me, perhaps because I’m a somewhat literal person and having to imagine new universes confuses me! But I was always fascinated by the whole culture which just looks like a whole heck of a lot of fun. I’m more of a geek groupie than actual geek. As fantasy has become more popular in YA lit and adapted to teen tastes and needs, it’s hooked a lot of adults in the process. And not just because of sexy vampires either. (I long for the day when we can talk about fantasy w/out mentioning vampires or zombies!)
I read Holly Black’s “Tithe” and was smitten. I love when authors play with established genre, subverting it to their will in order to add something fresh to the conversation. YA authors seems to be doing that well with fantasy. Cynthia Leitich Smith for example, is offering a funny, fresh look at vampires and werewolves with “Tantalize,” “Eternal” and “Blessed.” I’m reading “The Replacement” by Brenna Yovanoff right now and it’s a great example of twisting and turning fantasy elements to appeal to a wider audience while staying true to the genre.
What’s awesome is that YA fantasy lit has led me to comic books. I was a typical young girl who avoided comics and now wish someone had set me straight by putting one in my hands when I was a teen. I think I would be a much cooler person now if that had happened.
KIM CHRISTOFFERSON: I love dystopian books. I started reading the dystopian genre with “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and it had me hooked. There are lots of dystopian YA fiction and they circulate very well at our library. I think the reason they are popular is teens want to be seen as the hero. In most of these books, the teens are definitely the hero. And not a superhero but a normal kid who does extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances. From Katniss in The Hunger Games series to Todd in Chaos Walking series to Sam in the Gone series. They keep the reader’s attention, they bring out a touch of survivalist in the teen, and they are oftentimes funny.
JESSICA MILLER: My favorite genres have always been fantasy and science fiction. I have not always been the bravest person in real life, but when you read fantasy or science fiction, you get to experience whole new worlds, travel to exotic places, and have outstanding and magical adventures without even leaving your reading chair! Now, there are many more recognized sub-genres within fantasy and science fiction. Some of my favorites are dystopia (I have a strange fascination with imagining how I would deal with a corrupt and dangerous world), zombie books (â€¦also fascinated with figuring out how to survive the zombie apocalypse), and steampunk ( I LOVE the combination of Victorian sensibilities and awesome gadgetry!).
TONYA OSWALT: I am most often drawn to fantasy and supernatural or paranormal fiction, and these are probably my favorites. I like both high fantasy and the sword and sorcery type. I also enjoy supernatural or paranormal books that include magic, vampires, werewolves, witches, etc., but I haven’t read every young adult vampire series there is. There are a lot of them out there, and after a while, they all started to seem the same to me. In general though, those are my favorite genres. I also really like the young adult dystopia and steampunk trends, and I enjoy horror and some historical fiction in YA fiction.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Recommend a few books that you feel are outstanding.
SHANNA SWIGERT SMITH: My recent favorites are Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, You Against Me by Jenny Downham, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
ROBIN BRENNER: My absolutely favorite books of the past few years are Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men. I have rarely read a trilogy so carefully written and clearly planned that nonetheless leaves readers on tenterhooks throughout three books of rapidly unwinding plot. A lot of attention has gone toward The Hunger Games trilogy for tackling tough questions, but Ness addresses many of the same themes — war, loyalty, occupation, politics, terrorism vs. freedom fighting — and reveals it to be messy, life-altering, and so much more full of shades of grey than Collins’s series touched on.Â In my absolute favorite touch: most tales that include war end with a final wrenching confrontation. Monsters of Men, the third book, gets through that conflict in the first third of the book. The rest of the story? It’s all about the incredibly difficult and intense process that follows every war: reconstruction and reconciliation. So few trilogies really dig deep into the after effects of a conflict they’ve set in motion in any series, let alone a series of teen books.
RACHEL KITZMANN: The book I read in January and have spent the last few months throwing at people is Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It starts as an almost silly premise (what happens when a plane full of beauty queens crash lands on a deserted island?) and spins it into this amazing manifesto on being female in the 21st Century. Just such a good, interesting, funny and heartbreaking book.
I’d also recommend The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater, one of my absolute favorite books, hands down. It centers on Robert Nifkin, and the absurdity that is his high school, his family and his life, but it’s funny and relatable, even if the situations are extreme. Admittedly, I lived in Chicago for about six years, and enjoy reading about streets that I know, or places I used to hang out, so that was a bonus for me as well. Hilariously, neither of these books are fantasy, which is the genre I read the most in.
LIZZ ZITRON: Again all of the Morris Award nominees. There’s something for everyone in this list: Hush by Eishes Chayil, published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc. Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, published by Henry Holt Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber, published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group
KIM CHRISTOFFERSON: The whole Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, Tamar by Mal Peet, The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner
JESSICA MILLER: Three of the best books I have read recently are Divergent by Veronica Roth (girl defies expectations and exposes a coup d’état), Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (boy overcomes abusive family situation to find the good in himself), and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (beauty contestants on desert island figure out how to rescue themselves. HILARIOUS!).
TONYA OSWALT: I know there are still some people who haven’t read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, so I have to start by recommending that. It’s definitely getting more attention now since the movie is coming out in March, but the books are well worth a read before the movies hit the theater. A fellow librarian recommended the series to me, and I have since continued to pass the recommendation along to all of my colleagues. In The Hunger Games, twenty-four teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in an arena each year while the rest of the country watches, as punishment for the last rebellion against the capital. As Katniss, the main character, fights for her survival, she becomes a symbol of hope for the rest of the country. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and If I Stay by Gayle Forman are two books that don’t fit my normal go-to genres that I have to recommend. These books are powerful and haunting in a way that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading them. In Wintergirls, Lia is fighting anorexia as she struggles to be thinner and thinner. In If I Stay, a car accident leaves Mia in a coma, her brother injured, and her parents dead. Mia is aware of this, despite the coma, and that she has a choice of whether to stay and live, or go and join her parents. Even at the risk of sounding like I’m catering to the host, I also have to recommend Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I’m not usually one to go looking for zombie books, but I was told that this was an excellent book and that it wasn’t really about the zombies. I was pleased to find out that I agreed, and I usually recommend it to others as a book about relationships between family and friends that just happens to have zombies in it.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Discuss a favorite book that flew under the public radar.
SHANNA SWIGERT SMITH: I received an advanced copy of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma earlier this year. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be reading a book that dealt with the taboo subject of incest, but I literally could not put it down. Honestly, if it does hit the radar it may be the next banned book, but I would definitely recommend it as an amazing read.
RACHEL KITZMANN: I actually have a series that was discontinued: The Alfred Kropp series by Rick Yancey. Alfred Kropp is the last descendent of the Knight Lancelot. He discovers this fact after his only living relative dies. After that, Alfred is thrust into a world of high tech gadgets, magic and secret organizations. It’s fast-paced, has tons of action and a really likable hero in Alfred. The series is only three books, and though the end of the third book can be read as the finale in the series, Yancey asked enough new questions that I was really excited to see where he was going to take it, and then BOOM! Cancelled.
KIM CHRISTOFFERSON: Tamar by Mal Peet was an excellent book that I think should have been on reading lists. It has romance, mystery, suspense, war, everything a reader may want, plus it is a book that I didn’t want to put down until I finished. Unfortunately, the only readers who knew about this incredible book were those in my book club and those who took the chance to pick it up from a display I created, and regardless of how much booktalking I did about it. The book is a dense one and teens are reluctant to pick up something they can’t get through in a short time.
JESSICA MILLER: I have two books that I read and really enjoyed that I think most people do not know about. The first, Dark Life by Kat Falls is a middle grade science fiction adventure. Set in the future, humans now life under the ocean and children are starting to display special skills developed from inhabiting their new environment. It’s like a western movie set under the ocean. The characters are strong and the novelty of an underwater setting makes for all different types of interesting dangers! Secondly, I would strongly recommend your own book, Rot and Ruin. What I really love about the crop of new zombie books is the focus not solely on survival from zombie hordes, but dealing with the day to day life and emotional fallout that occurs after the initial crisis. Rot and Ruin is a fantastic example of this type of book. The characters learn a lot about humanity from seeing how the people around them deal with both the zombies and the other survivors. I can’t wait to finally read the next book in the series, Dust and Decay.
TONYA OSWALT: The first book that comes to mind that I absolutely love and that apparently hasn’t gotten as big of a reception as the publishers would have liked is The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. This book, the first in the Monstrumologist series, was one of the best horror books in young adult fiction in some time. The writing style is captivating, as are the characters, and I was hooked from the start! Another book that I love that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in my library is Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Leviathan is the first in a series that creates a steampunk version of World War I, where the Central Powers, or the Clankers, are known for their machines, and the Allies, called the Darwinists, use fabricated creatures such as whale airships and message lizards. The story alternates between Deryn, a girl pretending to be a boy so that she can serve as an airman for the Darwinists, and Alek, the son of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. One last book that I want to mention is Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, a fantasy novel that I almost didn’t discover myself. Though the book starts slow, once it picks up, the characters captivate you and sweep you into the moving story of the people of Lumatere as they try to find their way back home and locate their kingdom’s missing heir.
JONATHAN MABERRY: What’s next for YA lit?
SHANNA SWIGERT SMITH: I definitely know that teen lit is not getting less intense or dark in the near future!
ROBIN BRENNER: I have no idea, and that’s a lovely thing!Â I would just say more of it…more of it all!
RACHEL KITZMANN: YA lit is going through some growing pains-it’s still somewhat looked down on as an audience even as every author in the history of ever is writing for it, trying to cash in. A glut is coming, a YA saturation point, which needs to happen before the market can level. The authors that care about YA, about the teens that they’re trying to reach with their stories will remain, and those looking turn a quick dollar will leave. I think the future of YA will be less about trends (Quick, we need unicorns! I SAID UNICORNS, NOT PEGASI!) and more about authors. The media is having a hard time acknowledging the vastness of YA literature. The focus tends to be on the hotness of vampires/zombies/fairies/mythology books. That, I think, will change. The focus will be on the book. And that day will be oh so welcome.
LIZZ ZITRON: Probably Cthulhu romance. I think the LGBT market will continue to explode, evolve and develop until we no longer notice it as a subgenre, but as an established element of YA literature. At least, that is my hope and I see that happening in the books coming out. The graphic novel will grow in popularity, but I think the format will change in that we won’t see shiny paperback books, but rather books that look like most novels in terms of the packaging. Look for the revolutions in the Middle East to start seeping into YA Literature. I’m so excited about “Zahra’s Paradise” from First Second books to come out September 13. It’s a book version of a popular, anonymous web comic about the 2009 elections in Iran and what happened to those who dared to protest them. It represents what I love about YA lit: it provides a space in which we can view other lives and come to find they are not so different from our own.
KIM CHRISTOFFERSON: I think YA lit is getting bolder in terms of discussing “adult” topics. Sex, obviously, is a topic in books teens will seek out. But authors of YA lit will be under the gun in terms of fighting to express in their writing sexual situations. Death, violence, terrorism, and love are hard to get through tastefully in books and I believe YA authors have done just that and are working more for that type of fiction.
Based on what I’ve heard more and more people asking for through social media and what books I’m seeing gain immense popularity, I think there are a couple of trends that might be coming up soon. 1. The reemergence of straight up science fiction “ though this genre has always been strong in adult literature, it is only now starting to really pick up in YA. Books like Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan that are getting a strong media push will definitely help this trend gain momentum. 2. The development of a college aged subgenre in realistic fiction. Many, many YA readers bemoan the fact that YA lit seems to stop with characters graduating from high school. A few books here and there, sometimes shelved in YA, sometimes shelved in the adult area deal with college students. As we’ve already determined that children and teens read up age-wise, why are we not including books with college age characters geared towards our high school readers? 3. Contemporary (but not issue driven) fiction. Think authors like Jennifer Echols and Stephanie Perkins. With the overload of dystopian fiction in recent months, I think a lot of teen readers are pulling back and looking for a nice normal read. 4. Lastly, not really a new genre, but a new type of book Multimedia!
This trend really began in middle grade fiction with series like The 39 Clues. Now with the unveiling of Pottermore and The Capital PN (linked to The Hunger Games), I think more and more upcoming titles and series will be presented with print and online formats, as well as layers of usability.
TONYA OSWALT: The vampires have had their heyday, but they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Zombies have been on the rise for a while, as have angels. The new thing this year seems to be mermaids, but I’m not sure that mermaids are going to take hold quite the way some other character types have. The dystopian fiction continues to keep coming, and I’m sure that it’s going to stick around for a little while.Â I think in the future we may see more interactive YA fiction. There are already books like The Amanda Project series that let readers go online to create their own characters and add to the story. Now with e-readers, smart phones, and other devices used so frequently, and teens using media sites so heavily, I think that authors and publishers will find more ways to use these things to make books more interactive.