Thu
Feb 19 2009 1:42pm

You are so Undead to Me...in 60 Seconds

Young Adult author Stacey Jay told Tor.com that her new novel, You are So Undead to Me, grew out of her desire to do something different with the idea of paranormal romance.

“I’ve always loved writing and reading paranormal romance, but I was getting a little tired of vampires and faeries,” Jay said in an interview. “I wanted to do something different, and something that would lend itself to blending humor with horror. Zombies immediately came to mind. They’re so wonderfully gross and scary, yet campy and hilarious at the same time.”

In the book, Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler—a supernatural therapist to the Undead—whose powers are returning after going dormant in the wake of a black magically raised zombie attack several years ago. “Now she has to deal with catching up on all the Settler training she’s missed, deal with average Unsettled Dead, and fight off hordes of black magically raised zombies that seem determined to keep her from living a normal life,” Jay said. “Meanwhile, she finds herself drawn to her old friend and mentor, Ethan, a fellow Settler who doesn’t think Megan has what it takes to handle her very important duties. Now Megan has to grow up fast in order to save herself, her new relationship, and the homecoming dance from destruction by flesh hungry zombies.”

Jay did a lot of research into voodoo practices and black magic, wanting to lend a realistic flavor to the zombie angle of the book. “The biggest challenge I faced was completing the first rewrite, which was substantial,” Jay said. “Once I’d completed that in a way my editor was pleased with, however, this book was nothing but a pleasure. I’ve written in other genres before, but my Young Adult voice feels the most natural to me.”

Writing a teenage girl for the first time was a very personal experience for Jay. “I really tried to put myself back in the head space I inhabited when I was that age,” she said. “I didn’t want to write this book from an adult perspective and have my readers feel like I was commenting on what it was like to be a teen. So, while Megan is very different from myself in many ways, she definitely has a lot of sixteen-year-old Stacey Jay flavor.”

Jay did her best to flesh out the Settler world as much as was possible in a relatively short book. “I made extensive notes about their history and culture, made sure they had a language all their own, complete with slang terms and inside jokes, and made a long list of rules for the emergence and maintenance of their magic,” she said. “I really wanted the reader to feel a part of this secret society and I think that happens by paying attention to the little details.”

Undead Much, the sequel to You are so Undead to Me will be out in early 2010 from Penguin’s Razorbill division. Jay also has an untitled young adult novel releasing in early 2010 that features a zombie heroine and her adventures at DEAD high, a school for teenage zombies.

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