Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Zombified Interview with Melanie Karsak

Melanie Karsak is a special kind of indie ghoul lover. This zombiephile is a she! In a genre swarming with dudes, Melanie is breaking down entrailed doors with her book The Harvesting. Let's dig into that delicious brain of hers...
Ang: When were you first bitten by the zombie affliction? Can you take us back to how the infection began? What’s the most difficult part about sharing this ghoulish love as an indie?

Melanie: I always grew up watching science fiction and horror movies. My dad, bless him, never really took the PG rating to heart. Zombies are one of the few monsters that actually scared me enough to give me nightmares. As a tween, I loved Night of the Comet. I watched that movie over and over again. The idea of being alone, of having the world to yourself, is really cool! I had been writing “serious” novels for years without much luck publishing. When The Walking Dead first came out, before it was hugely popular, I decided to write a zombie novel. I wanted to write it just for fun. I wanted to write a great book people would enjoy. I wanted to write it to kill that little voice in my head telling me I had to write “Literature.” I declared an apocalypse on my preconceived notions about being a writer. I also realized, however, that I was“late” to the zombie publishing party, so I decided to Indie publish. Getting the word out about your book seems to be the most ghoulish part of being an Indie.

Ang: If you had to dumb down the plot of your series so a zombie could understand, how would you explain it?

Melanie: Braiiiins. Seriously . . . Undead vs. Humans vs. a Different Kind of Undead vs. Earth Spirits = How do we get all along?

Ang: Describe the lucky survivors who engage with the festering horde of the dead.

Melanie: The survivors in
The Harvesting are led by Layla Petrovich, granddaughter of the town medium. Layla is living in DC and working at the Smithsonian before z-day. Her grandma calls her and demands she come home. Layla reluctantly agrees. A few days after returning to Hamletville, a pandemic strikes and the world begins to die. Layla soon finds herself leading the survivors of her small hometown against hordes of the undead. She is aided by her former high school sweetheart, Ian, his brother, Jaime, and a number of other townsfolk.

At the end of my novel is also a short parallel storyline (in other words, a story that happens parallel to Layla’s story). In that storyline we see the z-day event from the perspective of Cricket. Cricket, a carnie girl, also survives z-day and is soon on the run from the undead. She and Vella, the resident Tarot reader, find themselves led to a mysterious location at the end of this parallel story.

Ang: What was the most important aspect when writing your non-zombie characters? Realism (losers, assholes, and cowards) or fantasy (Rambo or the guy/gal who has a Rambo hiding inside them)?

Melanie: I try to depict my characters as real people. They find themselves in unreal circumstances—and that is not just limited to zombies since there are other supernatural creatures in my stories—and they are just trying to understand everything that is happening to them. I want my characters to respond realistically with a wide range of emotion. Not everyone can step up. Not everyone will break down and cry. Not everyone will survive. I try to show the qualities that real people might need to survive. Layla and the others have to dig deep inside themelves to find the skills they need to make it—or not. Layla is not overly emotional, and some reviewers have criticized her for that, but I don’t think every heroine has to break down in tears over doing what she has to do to survive.

Ang: Does your book begin just as the zombies start building their paradise or have zombies already gotten things rocking and rotting?

Melanie: My novel begins with the zombie apocalypse event, but as the story unfolds, the reader will come to understand that zombies are not the only problem. There are a lot of other creatures existing on the fringes of our world—some who like us and some who don’t—and they see mankind’s death as a chance for themselves. The humans soon find themselves in the midst of a much larger struggle, a struggle that is alluded to in the first novel of the series and will be built upon as the trilogy unfolds.

Ang: Zombies are people too. They come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, and smarts. What types of the walking dead inhabit your series?

Melanie: Now, that is part of my mystery. My zombies initially appear like slow moving rotted corpses. Their eyes are moon white and flecked with blood. They drool frothy, blood tinged saliva. They initially seem like reanimated corpses, but by the end of the first novel, the reader might have a different impression of what, exactly, they are seeing.

Ang: Will your infection spread to more books and series? How many blood and guts offerings do you predict in your future? How soon can our zombie and human readers expect to see your next festering contribution?

Melanie: I planned The Harvesting as a series. The second novel of the series titled The Shadow Aspect will be released spring/summer 2013.

Ang: What is your favorite way to kill a zombie? Shoot ‘em, hack ‘em, poke ‘em, burn ‘em, or something even more fiendish? ***Zombie readers please turn away to avoid having your decayed feelings eviserated.

Melanie: Layla is a medieval weapons expert who carries around a Russian shashka, a sabre. Layla loves to use her sword, and I can’t say I blame her! It’s noiseless. It doesn’t require ammo. It’s the perfect weapon.

Ang: Do you have a favorite cinematic zombie? Example: My co-blogger Zombie Earl is quite fond of Zombie Roger from the original Dawn of the Dead.

Melanie: Bill Murray pretending to be Zombie Bill Murray in Zombieland.

Ang: Who is your favorite character from The Walking Dead (comics or TV show)?

Melanie: It is really hard to answer this question! We all love Daryl, but I was also really fond of Shane. Granted, I never understood what Shane saw in Lori, but I think Shane was right about how things really were in the new zombie world. Before Lori pushed Shane over the edge, Shane was the one person in the group who anticipated what the world would become, and I think they needed someone like him. I am also really partial to Andrea, but season three has tarnished my view of her. I think The Walking Dead fails to do justice to its female characters, Maggie being the one exception. I hope the fans come back to Andrea’s side. TWD world needs more strong women.

Ang: Finally, how prepared are you for the zombie apocalypse that we all know is just around the corner?

Melanie: I am woefully ill-prepared. I have two children under age four, no weapons, and never have the pantry full for more than two days at a time. If the apocalypse comes, I hope my mother bear instincts will take over and that my country girl upbringing will help me keep my family alive. I’m handy with a rifle, can pick any lock, and know herbal medicinal lore. Heck, I might be a good side-kick after all!

Find The Harvesting at
Amazon and Smashwords. Follow Melanie at her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook. Contact Melanie here. Check out this zombilicious interview with Melanie.

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