Today’s special guest is Rhiannon Frater, Horror novelist and successful self-published author whose As The World Dies trilogy has been picked up and re-released by Tor. We are pleased to have the author here today talking about Inspirations, Influences and Zombies.
Please give it up for Rhiannon Frater!
I am constantly asked why I decided to write about zombies. The answer is that it was not a conscious decision. The inspiration for my zombie trilogy struck at an unexpected time. I was at work when a stark, terrifying vision filled my mind’s eye. I saw Jenni standing on her porch staring down at the zombified fingers of her toddler pressed under the front door. That image spurred me to write the opening scene in THE FIRST DAYS. Once Katie arrived to rescue Jenni, I knew I wanted to write about these two amazing women surviving the zombocalypse together and forging a strong friendship in the shadow of a dying world.
As with any story, inspiration is just the first part of the journey. What followed was two years of writing and posting the mini-chapters of the online serial I named As The World Dies as I traveled through rural Texas for my day job. Every day I found inspiration in the old, dying towns scattered through Texas. The old brick buildings full of history and lost dreams became the foundation for Ashley Oaks, Texas, the town that becomes a makeshift fort. My conversations with city officials and townspeople helped give birth to the cast of characters in the story.
Though I found inspiration all around me during my travels, the influences on my work came from some interesting sources. I have decided to list my top five.
1.George A Romero
The filmmaker behind the movie that launched the zombie craze years ago has been a massive influence not only on my zombie series, but on my writing as a whole. The first film to feature the flesh eating undead, Night of the Living Dead, scared me so badly when I saw it as a kid I swore I would never watch it again. Of course, I did, and I now list it as my favorite zombie film of all time.
But where George influenced me the most was not his shambling ghouls, but his skill at telling the story of humanity against the canvas of the end of the world. His movies are about people, not necessarily the monsters, and I have tried to follow his example with my own stories.
Ripley from the Alien movies had enormous impact on me when I was a young girl. It was the first time in any movie that a woman was not only the hero, but also a well-rounded and sympathetic character. She wasn’t a raving beauty with long locks, tons makeup wearing a slinky sexy outfit while fighting off the monster in stiletto heels. She was a normal woman who fights back despite her terrible circumstances. Jenni and Katie in THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE definitely follow in her footsteps.
I love the state I live in. Born and raised in Texas, I have always been in awe of its majestic size and exciting history. I have shed many tears at the Alamo and other historical sites. Texas is really like a whole other country and the Texas spirit is fiercely independent. Texans are also extremely friendly and it’s not uncommon for complete strangers to start up conversations while waiting in the grocery line or to greet each other on the street. The Texans banding together in the makeshift fort in FIGHTING TO SURVIVE were definitely inspired by the people I meet and talk to every day.
4. My Best Friend
Dru is a staunch supporter of all I do. I always know I can depend on her for good advice and a shoulder to lean on. She has never doubted that I would one day be successful in my writing career, and her love and encouragement saw me through some of the more difficult times writing my zombie story. That being said, I have always been bothered by the lack of female relationships in the horror genre. If I were living in the nightmare world of my characters, I would want Dru there with me. I know she would always have my back and be a source of comfort. It is my relationship with her that inspired the strong, deep friendship that Jenni and Katie form as they escape the zombie hordes. Their friendship is the most important aspect of the story and their character evolution.
A lot of people don’t remember their dreams or define them as nonsensical. I dream movies. I dream vividly. My dreams scare me to death. Once I started writing my zombie novels I could not close my eyes without the shambling undead invading. Every night I fought off the zombies howling for my flesh. Inevitably these dreams ended up inspiring some of the scariest parts of my series.
Every day I find the world around me rich with the seeds of inspiration. I never know where my next book idea will emerge from, but it is always a fun ride of discovery.
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.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency.