Daily Archives: October 26, 2015

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 26 Interview – Rhiannon Frater

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By: Alien Jones, Special Guest Interviewer

Greetings 3.5 human readers.

The Esteemed Brainy One here, filling in for Bookshelf Q. Battler as he recovers from his trial by zombie combat.

Today’s guest is Rhiannon Frater, author of such zombified books as the As the World Dies Trilogy and The Last Bastion series.

A prolific author, her works also transcend the Young Adult, Vampire, and Supernatural genres.

A Texan through and through, Frater’s many accolades include a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly for As the World Dies. Further, The Last Bastion of the Living was declared the Number One Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the Number One Zombie Novel of the Decade by the B&N Book Blog.

When she’s not busy writing, other past times include sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.

Welcome Rhiannon and thanking you for agreeing to an interview conducted by an alien. P.S., if anyone asks, I’d appreciate it if you could just tell them you were interviewed by a small human disguised in hipster garb.

NOTE: BOLD=Alien Jones; ITALICS=Rhiannon 

Q.   Let’s get right to it.  Obviously, you love sci-fi, horror and the supernatural.  Lots of people do but few take that passion and turn it into a successful writing career.  What motivated you to do it?

A.   Quite honestly, since I was a little girl I knew I was going to be a professional writer. I have never felt so certain of anything in my life. I just believed that I would one day write books that people would love. I guess it was a calling. I will admit that life got in the way of my writing and for a time I gave up on the dream. Then I reached a point where I realized how miserable I was when I wasn’t writing. My husband (then my boyfriend) encouraged me to start writing again. I did, and within five years I had a literary agent, a contract with Tor, and a solid fan base.

Q.   In the Last Bastion series, you paint a picture of a futuristic world overrun by zombies known as the Inferi Scourge.  Humans hole up inside “The Bastion” and its the job of warriors like Vanguards Lindsey Rooney or Maria Martinez to protect them.  It sounds like an awesome mashup, blending the genres of apocalyptic science-fiction and zombie horror for one fun ride.  Can you tell BQB’s 3.5 readers about this world?  And how did it first pop into your mind?

A.  Well, the Bastion is literally the last city of the living. The world is dead. The Inferi Scourge have destroyed everything. They’re not flesh-eating zombies, but they are driven with the need to infect and spread the virus that created them. The book is set far in the future, so there are some high-tech weaponry, etc, but it’s a decaying world with limited resources. In the first book, the powers that be in the Bastion are attempting to reclaim the vast valley that surrounds the Bastion. There is a natural barrier – a mountain range – between the valley and the outside world and a gate once held the Scourge out. But at some point the gate failed and the Scourge swarmed into the valley, pushing the humans into the walled city. The second book is about what remains outside the valley.

As with most ideas, I dreamed this one. It was a very terrifying nightmare, but I loved the story inside the dream so much I had to write it.

Q.  As the World Dies follows survivors struggling to survive in a zombie infested Texas.  Today, we live in a modern world where food, showers, TV, computers and other luxuries are all readily accessible.  Why then, do humans fantasize about living in a world with little to no comfort, being pursued by brain chomping beasts all the while?  I assume humans must fantasize about this quite a bit as novels such as yours do so well.  Should I be concerned about the mental stability of humanity or is it all in good fun?

A.   I don’t think we are actually fantasizing about wanting to live in a post-apocalyptic world.  I think it’s a way to live out our worst fears, but in a safe way. We fear our world collapsing, yet at the same time we crave a reset. Zombies aren’t real, so we can live out our worst fears in a fantasy landscape that we know will never come to pass. We can imagine ourselves surviving and somehow rebuilding society. It’s pure escapism. There is immense relief when you can close a book and trap the monsters inside and continue on with your life.

Q.  You also have a series about a very pretty vampire.  She’s Pretty When She Dies, Pretty When She Kills and so on.  Why are people always aghast at the possibility of being turned into a vampire?  Immortal life, youth and powers that put you above the law seem like a pretty sweet deal.  Is there a down side?

A.  Well, Amaliya is murdered and buried in a forest. Not a really awesome thing to happen. When she rises, she has no idea what is going on or what she is. So she has a very hard learning curve. Once she gets the hang of it, she likes being a vampire. There are drawbacks, of course, but she likes the power she inherits from her maker. Of course, having to deal with a psychotic creator that’s talking her not very fun. Also, the more powerful she becomes (she’s a necromancer/vampire), the more other supernatural creatures are gunning for her.

Q.  You’re a gamer.  What’s the best zombie based video game out there right now and why?

A.  I honestly don’t know. Most of them are first person shooters and I can’t play those. I throw up. I play Guild Wars 2 religiously and they have zombies called the Risen. I have to admit they’re pretty scary when they swarm you.

Q.  Rhiannon, thanks for allowing me to pepper you with questions for BQB’s humble blog.  Before I disperse, do you have any advice that might help the humans and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

Never venture out alone! Always have a zombie killing buddy. You watch their back, and they watch yours!

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Alien Jones’ Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 26

I am an old alien.

I’m young for my species but ancient compared to you humans.

You hairless apes have no idea what a spec of dust your existence is in relation to the vast reaches of time and space.

And alas, the existence of my colleague, the human whose safety I was sworn by my ruler to make my highest priority, was in doubt.

My species is one that thinks rationally and logically, yet we are not devoid of emotion.

Thus, I understood the weeping of Video Game Rack Fighter as she sat by Bookshelf Q. Battler’s bedside, holding her loved one’s hand as his unconscious body rested in bed.

I have no junk. No genitalia of any kind. My only orifice is my mouth. Other than that, my body is water tight.

Yet I am in a relationship, of sorts. Back on my home planet, I have a government mandated life mate, Alien Rozencrantz.

There’s nothing sexual going on there, since my species is comprised of asexual beings that reproduce through a laboratory based cloning process.

The Mighty Potentate pairs us off at random, mandating that we watch out for one another as replacing a clone is expensive.

Even so, were anything to happen to Alien Rosencrantz, I would be mildly perturbed for an appropriate mourning period before reporting to His Potentosity for vaporization for failing to protect my life mate.

So I was able to relate to VGRF’s sadness at the possibility of losing the partner with which she engaged in a primitive fluid exchange ritual.

“Perhaps you should rest now, human,” I said.

“No,” VGRF said. “I want to be here when he wakes up.”

Blandie, the other human female, stretched her arms out and yawned.

“Oh, look at the time,” she said. “We might as well get going Bernie. It’s not like BQB is going to get any less comatose if we hang around.”

“Nah boo,” Bernie replied. “I wanna get my homie’s back.”

Blandie’s voice turned shrill.

“I said, ‘Let’s go!’”

“Fine! Damn girl.”

Bernie was already….what’s that expression humans use when the females run the show? Ah, yes. “Whipped.”

I too headed for the door.

“I’ll be back,” I said to Video Game Rack Fighter.”

“Where are you going?”

“I must call another zombie author and continue BQB’s interview series. He’d of wanted it that way.”

BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 26 – Part 4

Hauser was dead as soon as he hit the ground. The zombies tore him apart, leaving little more than a pile of bones and shreds of meat.

I landed on my shoulder and felt my head smack the floor. The pain was so intense, but I fought through it and was able to get away while the walking corpses were distracted with Hauser.

I crawled under the scaffold. Cowardly, I know, but I hoped it would provide me with some cover. Maybe they wouldn’t notice me.

Fat chance.

As soon as they were done with Hauser’s remains, they grabbed the bars that held the scaffolding together and shook it until it collapsed on me.

A heavy metal bar knocked me in the head. Pinned to the ground by the wreckage, I couldn’t move and felt myself drifting into unconsciousness.

I heard gunfire. I turned to my right. There was a small area I could see out of.

I came face to face with a person wearing a gas mask. Man? Woman? I didn’t know. Said individual reached a gloved hand toward me.

Then I passed out.

BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 26 – Part 3

“TWO NERDS ENTER! ONE NERD LEAVES! TWO NERDS ENTER! ONE NERD LEAVES!”

So went the chant of the unruly crowd, my former friends, neighbors, and townspeople turning into monsters worse than the zombies on the gym floor below.

I don’t know if it’s the lack of law and order, or the never ending danger, but something about a zombie apocalypse sure brings out the worst in people.

The scaffold was rickety. One wrong step was going to send me sailing to the ground.

WHIFF!

Hauser’s mop handle passed an inch above my head.

“Why, Hauser?” I asked. “Why did you cut a deal with Morganstern? You didn’t have to frame me!”

BQB took another wack at me. I deflected the attack.

“BQB, from the moment you stepped in here, I’ve been plotting your demise! I was going to kill you whether the General got involved or not!”

I jumped over a thrust that was meant to knock me off my feet.

“You really think I’d allow a little piss ant like you take away my statue?”

CRACK! Our mop handles met in the heat of battle. We were at a stalemate, pushing our weapons against each other, holding each other back.

It reminded me of the time Capt. Kirk and Dr. Spock had to fight each other on the old Star Trek TV show. I can say stuff like that because I’m a nerd.

“I had nothing to do with that!” I cried.

“Bullshit!” yelled. “You know you lobbied Bramble to take down my statue and put up one of you in its place!”

“You’ve got to believe me, Doug,” I said. “I’ve ALWAYS believed that there isn’t a finite amount of success. There’s plenty of room for everyone to make it, so I’d never bring someone down just to prop myself up. I talk about this on my blog all the time.”

With one swift motion, Hauser swept my leg and I was down, the scaffold shaking as I heard the board.

“You know only 3.5 people read that shit!” Hauser said.

The crowd was divided on who it wanted to win.

“Miami Vice forever!” yelled one lady from the bleachers. “Doug Hauser is a God that walks amongst men!”

“LIES!” shouted another spectator. “Bookshelf Q. Battler’s 3.5 readers have put East Randomtown on the map!”

And it degenerated from there.

“Finish him, Hauser!”

“Kick his ass, BQB!”

Hauser raised his mop handle/bo staff high in the air, preparing to bring it down in a crushing blow.

“Let’s see you try to blog your way out of this, EDUARDO!”

I did the only thing I could think of.

I brought my leg up fast and kicked my opponent…right in the wang.

The Johnson. The Twig and Berries. Mr. Happy.

“Ugh,” Hauser said as he dropped his handle to grab, well, his other handle. “That was a bitch move!”

It was. It really was. Men understand how much that hurts so its definitely reserved for life or death situations.

This certainly was one, as the zombies below were grabbing hold of the scaffold and rattling, hoping to shake us loose so they could snack on us.

Hauser’s face was one of tremendous pain and he staggered backwards, misjudged the amount of space he had left, and ended up stepping off the scaffold.

I stood up and investigated. There was a single hand clutching the board.

I knelt down and looked over the side.

Hauser was barely holding on as a pack of dirty zombies, at least a dozen or so, were snapping their teeth at an expected treat.

The crowd cheered at the possibility of an impending fatality.

I reached down.

“TAKE MY HAND!”

Hauser looked up at me, confused.

“You’d…you’d save me?”

“Yes! Let’s end this madness!”

Hauser used his free hand to grab mine and began using the leverage to lift himself up.

But then he removed the hand he was using to hold the scaffold and used it to grab the back of my neck.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

Hauser’s had a dead look in his eyes.

“I’d rather us both die than see my statue replaced by a dirty stinking loser with only 3.5 readers!”

Down we both went, hurtling to the ground below, where the snarling undead were waiting for a feast.

BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 26 – Part 2

n the middle of the gym, a ten foot tall scaffold had been set up. Loose boards on the top served as a rickety, makeshift floor.

Hauser and I stood on the gym floor, waiting for the spectacle to begin.

Hundreds of survivors poured in to observe the competition. They took the top row of seats on each side and then the remaining rows were retracted in so the zombies wouldn’t be able to reach them.

George, the DiStefanos and a few more armed goons took up high positions, guns at the ready to take down any zombies that tried to attack the spectators.

The crowd cheered as the master of ceremonies walked in.

He was Leo McKoy, a wild haired, crazy eyed bum and East Randomtown’s most notorious drunk/barfly.

He’d fashioned a white bed sheet into a toga and carried a ram’s horn, which he blew into as soon as he reached the scaffold.

“Where the hell did you get a shofar?” I asked.

“Bitch, I never leave home without my shofar!” Leo replied.

To say Leo wasn’t right in the head was an understatement. Before the fall of East Randomtown civilization, the cops arrested him every other day for public indecency. He’d spent many a night in the drunk tank.

“Citizens of Fort Hauser!” Leo shouted. “A great accusation has been leveled at Bookshelf Q. Battler. And now, as is our custom, he will prove whether or not he is worthy to stay in our settlement by taking on his accuser! Should BQB defeat Hauser, he will then have defeat an entire zombie horde to win back his life and his freedom.”

“Just going to go on record again as saying a trial with facts and evidence would have been the more civilized approach,” I said.

Leo handed us each a long wooden stick.

“Your weapons!” Leo said. “You will each compete using the ancient bo staff, just like the ninja masters of old!”

“Is this a mop handle?” I asked.

“It’s a bo staff!”

“This IS a mop handle,” I said. “The part where it clips to the mop head is right here!”

“Shit, Battler, must you ruin everything?” Leo asked. “Just like you two ruined my life?”

Leo had a longstanding grudge against Hauser and I.

“I volunteered for this duty as I truly hope that BOTH of you usurping bitches will become zombie food and then I, Leo McKoy, will take my rightful place as East Randomtown’s Most Famous Citizen!”

Doug slapped his forehead.

“Oh for the love of God, Leo. Not the James Van Der Beek story again.”

Leo raised his hand into the air.

“The James Van Der Beek story!” he yelled. “In the year of our lord, I, Leo McKoy, was employed as a delivery driver for Schultz’ Delicatessen, home of the all you can eat cheese platter!”

“I’ve taken that challenge many times,” I said.

“It shows, Man Tits,” Doug said.

“Oh shut up, Mr. Gray Chest Hair.”

“Silence, bitches!” Leo said. “For your better is speaking. I was charged with the task of delivering a reuben sandwich on wheat bread with extra cole slaw, a bag of barbecue potato chips, and a bottle of Sprite to room thirty-one of Motel Nine, just off of Route Twelve.”

“That’s the shittiest area of town,” Hauser said.

“I reached my destination, knocked on the door and what should greet me but the angelic, cherubic face of one James Van Der Beek, who at the time was known for his role as Dawson Leery on the hit WB Network show, Dawson’s Creek. God bless the WB, may it reign supreme for years to come!”

“The WB went off the air years ago,” I said.

“Damnation!” Leo said. “Anyway, I said, ‘Mr. Van Der Beek, I hope you enjoy this reuben sandwich with extra cole slaw and might I add that I think it is bullshit that Joey Potter refuses to give you the love that you so obviously deserve! To wit, Mr. Van Der Beek replied, ‘Yeah buddy, it’s just a TV show.’”

“That story’s crap,” Hauser said. “An in-shape star like James Van Der Beek would never eat a reuben sandwich with extra cole slaw.”

“The man was famished!” Leo replied. “His car broke down and he was waiting for it to be repaired. He hadn’t eaten all day.”

“You do know that it was probably just that guy from the gas station, Ted Bickerstaff, right?” I asked. “That guy looked a lot like James Van Der Beek. He was always going to clubs and passing himself off as Dawson Leery to all the chicks back then.”

Leo lost it.

“HOW DARE YOU QUESTION TO RECOGNIZE JAMES VAN DER BEEK, AMERICA’S TOP HEART THROB TURN OF THE MILLENIUM?”

“Chill out man.”

Leo moved his robe aside and pointed to a signature across his chest. Emblazoned in blank ink, it read, “James Van Der Beek.”

“Behold, the evidence!” Leo said. “I asked Mr. Van Der Beek to sign my chest with a magic marker as proof of our encounter and his kind reply was, ‘Sure man. Whatever it takes to get you out of my face faster.’ I then went straight to the tattoo parlor to have the signature traced over permanently so as to be preserved for the ages.”

“For Christ Sakes, Leo,” Hauser said. “Are we going to get this thing started or what?”

“Hauser!” Leo said. “You got the shit beaten out of you on a cop drama over thirty years ago. What have you done lately?”

Hauser sneered.

“And BQB, you run a WordPress website that attracts the attention of 3.5 readers. So what? I bet half of them are just there to spam your site with comments about discount penis enlargement cream!”

“That’s uh…actually accurate.”

“This,” Leo said, pointing at the signature, “Is the reason why I truly hope both of you asshats will die horrible deaths, for both of you have been vying for the position of East Randomtown’s Most Famous resident for far too long when everyone knows the title belongs to me!”

“I could give a shit,” I said. “It’s all yours.”

“It’s all mine,” Hauser said. “It’s always been mine.”

“Take your positions!” Leo commanded.

Hauser climbed a ladder to the top of the scaffold. I followed. Leo handed our mop handle bo staffs up to us.

“Two nerds enter! One nerd leaves! THAT is the way of…ZOMBIE DOME!”

The crowd went wild.

“This isn’t even a dome,” I said. “It’s a gym.”

“BQB,” Leo said. “Come on…you know? You’re being a turd in the punch bowl.”

Leo held up an air horn.

He pointed to a set of double doors.

“When I give the ceremonial signal, those doors will be opened, and a zombie horde will be set loose! Our competitors will fight to the death and whoever survives shall take on the zombie menace!”

The crowd clapped and stomped their feet.

“Do you bitches have any last words?” Leo asked.

“I will ALWAYS be East Randomtown’s Most Famous Citizen,” Hauser said.

I looked down at Leo.

“Everyone knows that the true heart of Dawson’s Creek was Joshua Jackson in his role as Dawson’s incorrigible troublemaking pal, Pacey Whitter!”

Seething with rage, Leo blared on the air horn.

The double doors open and like a herd of gazelles, the undead creatures charged into the room.

“Shit,” Leo said. “I probably should have gotten to high ground first.”

Those were the drunk’s last words before one of the zombies chomped on his neck.

BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 26 – Part 1

I’m not going to lie. I have body issues.

I was told I’d have to be shirtless for my trial by zombie combat.

I stood there in the locker room, staring at the mirror.

“Crap. I have man titties.”

“You look fine,” VGRF said as she wrapped her arms around me.

“I’ll never have the stunning physique of Johnny B. Truant, author of The Beam, Fat Vampire, and other works.”

VGRF slapped me across the face.

“Damn it, man! I love you just the way you are. Stop comparing yourself to the prime physical specimen that is Johnny B. Truant, co-host of the Self-Publishing Podcast! He has pecs that no man could ever achieve!”

“I wish I could call the SPP guys on the space phone right now,” I said. “They’d probably have some good advice to get myself out of this. Alas, such world renowned media moguls would never be bothered to talk to a lowly nerd like me.”

“Stop selling yourself short, BQB.”

Our conversation was cut short by the sounds of giggling. We followed the sound to the shower room, where Bernie and Blandie were smooching furiously.

“WHAT THE?” was my response.

“Yo!” was all Bernie could get out. “What up, G?”

Blandie blushed.

“You two? Really?”

“BQB,” Blandie said. “You and I never worked out because you’re too smart and independent.”

Blandie put an arm around Bernie.

“All I’ve ever wanted was a man with a brain full of mush that I can play and easily manipulate.”

Bernie smiled a stupid grin.

“And all I’ve ever wanted is to touch some tit-tays.”

“How long has this been going on?” I asked.

“A few days,” Bernie said. “Sorry playa, I shoulda blasted you the deets sooner.”

“Nah, it’s cool,” I said as I drew VGRF close to me. “I’ve found my soulmate. Blandie, you’re a godawful human being, but every human needs someone.”

“Thanks?”

“And Bernie,” I continued.

“Yeah?”

“It’s your funeral, dude.”

George and the DiStefanos walked in.

“It’s time, maggot,” George said.

VGRF hugged me so tight she practically pushed herself through me.

“Be safe and come back to me, my nerdy stallion!”

I looked at my she-nerd lover. The tears were coming.

“Buck up, buttercup. I’m off to kick some zombie ass.”

Alien Jones tugged on my arm.

“BQB, I’ve traveled all over the universe and…”

“I know,” I interrupted. “You’ve never met a warrior more capable than me?”

“Actually, I’ve met thousands better than you,” AJ said. “But remember. You’re fighting a Moloklaxon warlord here. You’re taking on a man in his fifties. If you can’t take out an AARP card carrier, you should be incredibly ashamed of yourself.”

I put my hand on AJ’s shoulder.

“Thanks, Esteemed Brainy One.”

George grabbed my arm.

“Come on! There’s no time to bond with your deformed kid!”

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