Sunday 20 January 2013

Interview: Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. 

Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.It was a great pleasure to interview her for our website.

Interview By David Kempf 

Tell us about Your First Novel?
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer. I was incredibly imaginative and I had all these stories constantly brimming in my mind. It was natural that once I learned to read and write that I would create my own tales. I think I was twelve when I decided to write my first book. It was a pretty epic fan fiction of a popular sci-fi show at the time. I went on to write an original novel afterward.

How Many Novels have you Written?
I honestly don’t know. I have a few trunked from my childhood and teen years. I would guess that altogether, including my published work, somewhere around twen
I’m not really a short story writer. I have written some, but they always feel like snippets from much larger stories. I consider myself a novelist. That being said, I’ve written maybe around fifteen or so.

Are there reasons why a Male and Female writer Might view the genre?
The perception is that male writers concentrate on the action/gore and female writers concentrate on the characters and psychological issues.
Personally, I think that readers sometimes apply gender stereotypes about men and women to the book their reading. If Robert Kirkman writes about survivors in the zombocalypse in a love triangle, difficult romantic relationships or having sex, no one bats an eye. If a woman were to write the same thing, her work is slighted as being a romance novel with zombies.
Hopefully, people will just pick up a book because the story sounds compelling and they won’t care if it was written by a man or woman.

Tell us about your daily (or nightly) writing routine.

I really don’t have one. My schedule changes day to day depending on what I need to do. I just have to make time to write no matter what is going on.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as an author so far?
The first thing that comes to mind is my fandom. Having a loyal readership that loves my work gives me such a great sense of accomplishment. The second thing that comes to mind is the starred review in Publishers Weekly for THE FIRST DAYS. That was a huge moment for me.

How do you come up with the original titles for your books? Pretty When She Dies comes to mind.
Late night insomniac delirium! I usually dream the titles of my book along with the actual content.
I was listening to VAST a lot when writing PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES and a line from one of the songs got twisted around in my head when I was sleeping. The villain of the novel kept whispering “So pretty when you died.” I liked it, tweaked it, and that’s how it was born.

They say vampires can be romanticized. The Vampire Bride is a very romantic title. Do you think it is possible to romanticize zombies?
Actually, THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE is a rather gruesome title. In a lot of the old vampire films, the title “bride” meant a female vampire who was created and subservient to her vampire maker. It’s not really about a happy woman on her wedding day. It’s about being killed, changed, and forced into servitude. I’m so steeped in vampire lore it never occurred to me that people would think it was a happy romance book about a literal vampire bride. Instead, it’s a very gory, violent story about a young woman trying to break free of her master.
As for romanticizing zombies, I don’t even want to consider it. *shiver*

Why do think zombies are so popular in books and movies these days?
We live in complex, stressful, and sometimes frightening times. A lot of us feel helpless in the face of the difficulties of our everyday lives. I don’t think people really want to see zombies killing their loved ones. I just think the idea of a big reset and starting over free of the tight constraints of modern life seems very appealing. Zombies provide a safe way to scare ourselves while indulging in the idea of the whole world being reset and all the stressors of our real lives being destroyed.

Name some of your favorite horror books.
DRACULA by Bram Stoker, CARMILLA by Sheridan LeFanu, IT and THE SHINING by Stephen King, HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson, DARK DANCE by Tanith Lee JENNY POX, by J.L. Bryan, and UNBOUND & Other Tales by David Dunwoody.

Name some of your favorite horror films.
I love the old Hammer films and Republic films. I love George A. Romero. But the three movies that actually gave me nightmares were Psycho, Jaws, and The Ring.

Being from Texas, are you influenced by Southern Gothic literature?
No, not really. Growing up I tended to read a lot of classic literature and British authors.

What are your latest projects?
I just turned in my new horror novel called DEAD SPOTS that is being published by Tor in either late 2013 or early 2014. I just released a short story collection called CTHULHLU’S DAUGHTER AND OTHER HORROR TALES. I’m putting the final touches on my YA Paranormal Horror novel with Kody Boye called THE MIDNIGHT SPELL that will be released in early 2013.

Please in your own words tell us in a paragraph about yourself & your work
Rhiannon Frater was born and raised a Texan. Though she has lived in various towns all over the state, she finally settled in Austin, Texas where she met her husband and worked as a governmental consultant. 

During her travels for her job, she was inspired to write the story of two women fleeing into the Texas Hill Country in an attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse. Originally published as a serial online under the title AS THE WORLD DIES, she later self-published the series in three novels to satisfy the many fans of the story. The first novel in the series, THE FIRST DAYS, won the 2008 Dead Letter Award for Best Book (Fiction). The second book, FIGHTING TO SURVIVE won the 2009 Dead Letter Award in the same category.

The AS THE WORLD DIES books were purchased by Tor in 2010.The first book, THE FIRST DAYS, was released in July 2011 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The second, FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, will be released on November 8, 2011. The third book, SIEGE, will be released in early 2012.

She is also the author of THE LIVING DEAD BOY AND THE ZOMBIE HUNTERS, PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES: A Vampire Novel and two novels in the Vampire Bride Series (THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE). All her works have been optioned for either TV or film.

Rhiannon continues to live in Austin, Texas with her husband and is now a full-time writer.
She is represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry Literary + Media agency.