Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Author and Editor Interviews, The Zombie Cookbook

Today I have a couple of authors and the editor of The Zombie Cookbook visiting. Thank you all for stopping by.

First, let's talk with the editor, Kim Richards, the brains behind The Zombie Cookbook.

1. Where did the idea for The Zombie Cookbook originate?

We had just completed the paperwork for getting the business, Damnation Books started. All those city, state, county and federal it any wonder zombies came to mind?

I've been involved with Writer's Chatroom ( for a number of years. The group is well known to kick start ideas which ended up published by members. We started making zombie jokes during a live chat. I basically decided, as CEO of Damnation Books to make this a real project. Okay I admit it's my pet project. The original intent was to make it Writer's Chatroom only but when a couple of stories came in through the slush pile which fit perfectly, we opened it up. Just like with real zombies, it started small and unnoticed, then exploded exponentially!

2. What was the selection process for stories which were included?

The process was the same as for any other story we look at for Damnation Books. Yes, I did have to reject someone I know. They were very gracious about it but hey, this is a BUSINESS. Stories had to fit the posted writer's guidelines for length, formatting, etc. They had to be good plots, interesting characters and fun to read. That said, we typically want short fiction to be over 5,000 words but made an exception because of the cookbook theme of The Zombie Cookbook. Anthologies are different animals than a short story on its own. Besides who wants to read a recipe longer than a page or two?

3. Two authors had two pieces selected. Is this unusual for an editor to pick more than one story from one author? Why?

I don't think it's all that unusual. Some of the anthologies I'm personally published in have multiple works by the same author. When a story is good, it's good. In the case of The Zombie Cookbook, Lisa Haselton's poem is about the zombie in her story so the two go together. I liked that. Now with the two stories by Karina Fabian, they're both fun, witty and exactly what we had in mind for this book. Once you read them, you'll know why we wanted them both.

4. Have you edited any other collections? How did this selection process differ?

I have both with Damnation Books and previously. The other collection is Blanket of White by Amy Grech. It's a reprint we picked up when her publisher folded so it really didn't need much in the way of editing. Amy did add two new stories just for us. Outside of Damnation Books, I've done some non-fiction, which is different. Fiction anthologies or collections have an interconnecting theme or mood, where non-fiction has specific information it needs to present.

5. Tell us about your other writing projects.

Both my partner and I have been told we're ambitious with undertaking Damnation Books. In part because we decided to start out with a bang: 25 titles right off. There's two reasons: the first is some distributors won't take a company on until they have 20-25 titles published. The second, and biggest, reason is we want readers to have a variety of choice. We want people to come to our website and be wowed.
We're also releasing new books quarterly March, June, September and December.

6. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

Just that there is a new publishing house just for dark fiction. Many of the ebook companies do some dark fiction but they're few and far between. We want to specialize in the stuff we love. There's nothing wrong with romance but it's frustrating when you have to wade through those to get to the darker stories when romance isn't your thing.

7. Are you planning any other anthologies? What themes?

We plan to do more but don't have any on the drawing board. Keep an eye out for our guidelines or follow us on any of a number of social sites: twitter, facebook, myspace, goodreads, shelfari, library thing. We'll post when there's news of a new one. We are hoping to do print anthologies of some of our short stories. Right now the ideas are for a "Year's Best" or "Reader's Choice" but again that's a bit in the future.

8. Any suggestions for writers wanting to submit to an anthology?

The best advice I ever received is when you see a call for stories, write down ten ideas. Then throw them all out and write what comes next. The first ten will be all the stereotypes and overdone themes. After you pass them, you start getting to your creative core.

That's for writers who write stories just for an anthology. The other way is to write the stories as they come to you and file them until you see a submissions call they fit. Both are legitimate. As always, read-then-follow the writer's guidelines. You'd be amazed at how many writers don't.

Thanks, Kim. Next, we have Karina Fabian, who authored two of the stories in the anthology.

1. Hi Karina,what attracted you to this particular anthology?

Kim's a good friend from The Writers Chatroom, and I was eager to help her launch her new publishing house. Then, of course, who could resist an anthology called "The Zombie Cookbook?" Even so, I will admit, it took some nagging from Rebecca Butcher, another contributor and friend, to get me writing. This spring and summer, we moved, and I was helping organize a major writers' conference, plus I was writing a novel. However, once Becca pushed and I got an idea, it was quick and fun to write. "Wokking Dead" took about an hour and a half, and I was giggling the whole time. In fact, I was so tickled by it, I decided to set the novel aside and write "My Big, Fat, Zombie Wedding."

Sometimes, ideas just grab you by the throat and demand your braaaaiiins.

2. How did you research this market to see if your story would fit with their needs?

I didn't. Kim had given us a good idea what she wanted during chats in The Writers Chatroom.

3. What is your process for writing a horror piece?

Well, mine aren't horror. More like comedy horror, emphasis on the comedy. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I get an idea, mull it over and start. When I run into a snag or research need, I jump onto Google, get my answer, and keep on going.

4. Is horror your specialty? If not, what do you prefer to write and why?

I write fantasy and sci-fi, with a liberal dose of humor, from puns to slapstick. I like to laugh, and I like writing stories that are fun for grown-ups and good for my kids, too.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

I don't remember. It was very spontaneous. I think I had intended to write a DragonEye, PI, story, but Vern isn't ready to tell me about his experiences with zombies. (Zombies gross dragons out in a big way.) So I was playing with the noir voice--that 40s/Sam Spade thing--when the zombie exterminator idea hit me. We were househunting in California, which might account for some of the environmental/political humor.

Of course, "My Big, Fat, Zombie Wedding" is inspired by the movie, "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding." Not much of a stretch there.

6. Tell us a bit about your other work.

Well, if people like my stories in The Zombie Cookbook, they will probably love my DragonEye, PI books and stories. Vern is a down-and-out dragon living on the wrong side of the Interdimensional Gap. Working off a geas by St. George, he's now serving God and His creatures by being a professional problem solver. He and his partner, the nun/mage Sister Grace, solve mysteries, assist the police, and save the world on an all-too-regular basis. Everything is told from Vern's POV, which is fun to write as well as read. The first novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is out from Swimming Kangaroo books, and the second, Live and Let Fly, comes out in 2010.

My science fiction is also fun, but not as humorous. My favorite universe right now involves a near-future when humankind has conquered the solar system. There's an order of nuns who specialize in space search and rescue operations. The Rescue Sisters have some wonderful, sometimes hair-raising adventures, like when they have to rescue an injured man from a ship full of poisonous snakes. (That story comes out April 2010 in Infinite Space, Infinite God.) I'm also working on their first novel.

7. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

For Vern and Sister Grace: Learn more about the stories and book by clicking on the cover art.

For the rest of my stuff,

8. Any tips for writers thinking about submitting to an anthology?

Anthologies are like sonnets--they have definite form and requirements, but within that, you can create the most amazing things. Know the limits, then make your story unique. Also, produce a professional product, no matter how small the press. Show your best, always!

Thanks, Karina. Come back Friday, October 9th, for interviews with Lisa Haselton, Linda Neiswender, and Cinsearae.


  1. Gotta love that title. Very interesting article. You held my attention from beginning to end. I doubt I'll ever write something along that line, but it's great to see what others are doing!

  2. Hi Katie, thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I agree, it takes a special love of the weird to write a story about zombies. Since I love fantasy, however, horror is only a step away for me.