We speak to Dana Fredsti, author of new zombie book Plague Town and “ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting” . . .
Is it fair to describe Plague Town as “Buffy with zombies instead of vampires”?
I’m not sure I’d use the word “fair” here, but there’s definitely an element of Buffy in Plague Town given that my first directive was to write “Buffy … except with zombies. But different.”
I love Buffy and the referential pop culture Joss Whedon brings into her world. It’s the kind of humor and sensibility that resonates with me, and that influence definitely shines through in Plague Town. That said, unto every generation does not come a zombie slayer. Ashley is totally normal until she’s infected by a zombie bite, not to mention older and much less blond.
Tell us more about the plot and characters.
Plague Town is my take on the very beginning of the Zombocalypse as experienced from the point of view of a twenty-something, divorced liberal arts major who has no idea what to do with her life … until she’s attacked and bitten by zombies and discovers she’s one of a very small percentage of the population who is immune to the virus.
This puts her and her fellow “wild cards” in the unique position of being able to fight the undead hordes without fear of infection. So when the college town of Redwood Grove is put under quarantine, it’s up to them to contain the infection before the “nuke it from orbit” button is pushed.
Other wild cards include a fifty-something mailman, an obnoxious video game junkie barely out of his teens, a drama major with a minor in pop culture, a brittle housewife from Arcata, and a fragile college student who works at her mother’s bead store.
Not exactly your obvious hero material. There are other integral characters, but I’d like to save something for people to discover when they read the book.
Tell us a bit of how the book came about.
Well, see above about being approached by Lori Perkins with Ravenous Romance. The original book Ashley Drake, Zombie Hunter, transmogrified into Plague Town when the series was acquired by Steve Saffel at Titan Books. There were many revisions including aging Ashley by about ten years, adding more gore, making it faster paced, and just lots and lots of tweaking. While I liked the original, I love the new and improved version even more.
How many books do you plan on doing? Any hints on what to expect in future installments?
So far there are two more books planned in the series (which isn’t to say I wouldn’t write more if asked!). Plague Nation will see the zombie plague spread from Redwood Grove to the rest of the United States and bordering nations and Plague World will take the zombocalypse tour global.
Would you say there is a little of bit of yourself in Ashley? I get the idea that she shares your love of horror movies . . .
While I won’t deny there’s a little of me in Ashley (I like to think I’d grow stronger as a person instead of fall apart too), she’s not really the horror movie buff in Plague Town. That would fall to Tony and Kai, who drive Ashley crazy with their pop culture references.
I, on the other hand, am definitely a horror movie fanatic, especially when it comes to the zombie genre. My boyfriend had never seen a zombie movie before dating me (poor uneducated fellow) and now he’s been indoctrinated (poor over-overeducated fellow).
As far as other similarities, I might have given her just a hint of my tendency towards sarcasm and she definitely has my affinity for edged weapons.
Your bio says you’re an “ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting.” In which movies did you appear?
The movie you’d recognize would be Army of Darkness (which was actually a bit more of an A movie than a B movie). The B movies I appeared in were really more C movies and included such titles as Princess Warrior (sadly, not to be confused with Xena, Warrior Princess), Time Barbarian (as a Gatalite Warrior, doncha know), Cause of Death, Legion of Iron, Ninja Nymphs in the 23rd Century, and Bloodbath. I also did a trailer for a movie I wish had made it to full on production, Pale Dreamer. I co-wrote that and also got to act alongside Ken Foree, Josef Pilato and Brinke Stevens. I consider that an A-list project.
Any “ex B-movie actress” stories you’d like to share?
Princess Warrior is known for having the longest and dullest wet t-shirt contest in cinema history!
The production assistant charged with the task of buying the t-shirts came back with the thickest, sturdiest and most water-resistant shirts out there. Damn things were practically water repellent. So the girls in the contest finally had to cut the shirts into little half shirts and get repeatedly dowsed with buckets of water before anything even semi-tantalizing in the way of boobage would show.
The filmmakers spent eight hours shooting this thing in a bowling alley and only gave us two hours to choreograph and film the climatic fight scene between the evil sister Curette (that would be me) and the sweeter, better and blonder good sister, Ovule (played by a sweet gal named Sharon Jones). Sharon didn’t have any theatrical combat experience at all so it’s a testimony to Brian Thomas (who choreographed the fight) that we actually got a decent little brawl at the end.
What’s your favorite zombie movie of all time?
Oh, how I hate that kind of question…
I mean, you have Romeroverse classic, ZomComs, fast zombies… I mean, honestly, how is a zombie fan to pick just one? If someone was pointing a gun at my head, I would probably have to say the original Dawn of the Dead, with Shaun of the Dead lurching after in second place, and The Dead currently in third.
These are subject to change depending on my mood, however.