Wolf Majick Reviews would like to welcome author Nancy Holzner!
Delia:Can you tell my readers a little about your series?
Nancy: My Deadtown series follows the adventures of Victory Vaughn, a shapeshifter who kills other people's personal demons for a living. Vicky lives in Deadtown, Boston's paranormal-only district that was formed after a mysterious plague swept through the downtown and transformed two thousand Bostonians into zombies. The series looks at tensions between the human and paranormal populations, in the context of a crazy demi-demon whose ambition is to lead the legions of Hell beyond its boundaries to rule the other realms. In the middle of all that, Vicky is dealing with her werewolf lawyer boyfriend, a teenage zombie apprentice, a sister who wishes for nothing more than a normal suburban life, and a 300-year-old aunt who can kick any demon's butt. Not to mention a young niece coming into her own shapeshifter powers and a vampire roommate who quotes Shakespeare.
Delia: Why pick Boston?
Nancy: I've spent a lot of time in Boston. I went to college there, and I lived within commuting distance for many years. Also, Boston is a city of contrasts. It’s a centuries-old city brimming over with college students and young professionals. Eighteenth-century buildings such as the State House, Faneuil Hall, and the Old North Church stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. It’s the home of “banned in Boston” and also (before it was cleaned up) the red-light district known as the Combat Zone. This dual nature made Boston the perfect location for my city-within-a-city.
Given Boston's duality, in my Deadtown series I wanted to explore how Bostonians would react to the sudden emergence of terrifying paranormal beings in their midst. A plague that turns 2,000 Bostonians into zombies seemed like a good way to start. It's a polarizing event that causes fear and splits the populace: Some want to control or even eliminate the paranormals, while others want to integrate them and get along peacefully.
Finally, it's just been a whole lot of fun to imagine demons and zombies in sites I've visited around town!
Delia: What gave you the idea for your Zombies? Can you explain what makes your Zombies different from your typical Zombies?
Nancy: Deadtown's zombies are not the groaning, shambling brain-munchers that you see in horror films. (Those zombies definitely have their place, of course, but that's not the story I'm telling.) The zombies in my novels retain their personality and their will. They can talk and function in society. In fact, although most Bostonians call them "zombies," the politically correct term is Previously Deceased Human, or PDH for short.
But the zombies are different from the nondeceased humans. The plague that ripped through downtown Boston at lunchtime on an ordinary workday killed every human being it touched (paranormals like Vicky and her werewolf boyfriend Kane were immune). A quarantine zone was enforced, and Boston's paranormal population came forward to deal with the dead. Except the plague victims didn't stay dead. Three days after the plague, they began to rise. Now, the zombies have red eyes and spongy, gray-green skin. They can't go out in the sun. They're super-strong. Although their injuries don't heal, almost nothing can kill them. They're always, always hungry, although in general they prefer junk food to brains—unless they catch the scent of fresh human blood, which induces a blood lust that sends them gnawing on any living flesh they can find. That's why zombies don't get invited to many human parties. That whole bloodlust thing can be a tad awkward in social situations.
Delia: Is Vicky modeled after anyone in real life?
Nancy: No, I wouldn't say so. It was more like she was hanging around in my subconscious, waiting for me to let her out. Of course, some of her thoughts and experiences (not the actual demon-slaying, though!) are drawn from my own life. I mean things like dealing with loss or feeling insecure in a relationship. But those are universal, I think.
Delia: What has been the biggest challenge in working on this series?
Nancy: I initially wrote Deadtown as a stand-alone, although I hoped it would be the start of a series. One thing I didn't fully anticipate when I began writing was how complex a series becomes with each subsequent book. You want readers to be able to pick up any book in the series and follow its story, even if they happen to pick up, say, book 4 without having read books 1–3. You also want to help readers who are following the series remember what's come before (especially if they read the previous book several months ago) without dumping info on them. And finally, you don't want to bore readers who finished the previous book yesterday and jumped right into the current book by rehashing too much.
I'm always very aware of these three potential readers when I start a new book in the series and try to accommodate the needs of each, while at the same time launching the new book's story. It's a big challenge!
Delia: Where can my readers find out more about you and your books?
Nancy: There's a lot of information at my website, which you can visit at either nancyholzner.com or nancyholzner.wordpress.com. My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/NancyHolznerBooks, and my Twitter account is twitter.com/NancyHolzner. Finally, anyone who's interested in supporting a collection of short stories set in Deadtown's world, including a novella-length prequel about Boston's zombie plague, should visit my Kickstarter project to learn about Tales from Deadtown, which I hope to write and release by the end of the year.
Delia: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Nancy: Write every day. I have to admit I don't always manage to do that, myself, but when I spend even a couple of days away from my writing, I find it much harder to return to my characters and their world. Even 15 minutes a day keeps you in touch with your story.
I also think aspiring authors should read voraciously and widely. Familiarize yourself with your genre, but also read works outside that genre. You can absorb a lot about story structure and the rhythms of good prose simply by reading a lot.
Delia: Thanks so much for stopping by!
Nancy: Thank you for having me! I enjoyed the interview and look forward to meeting some of your readers.