Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DONNA OF THE DEAD by Alison Kemper

I'm so excited to feature my critique partner, Alison Kemper, and her debut, DONNA OF THE DEAD! I had the fortune to read DONNA in earlier stages, and can't wait to get my hands on the rest. Alison offers a great voice, page-turning scenes, and she's also a librarian!

Donna Pierce might hear voices, but that doesn’t mean she’s crazy. Probably.

The voices do serve their purpose, though—whenever Donna hears them, she knows she’s in danger. So when they start yelling at the top of their proverbial lungs, it’s no surprise she and her best friend, Deke, end up narrowly escaping a zombie horde. Alone without their families, they take refuge at their high school with the super-helpful nerds, the bossy class president, and—best of all?—Liam, hottie extraordinaire and Donna’s long-time crush. When Liam is around, it’s easy to forget about the moaning zombies, her dad’s plight to reach them, and how weird Deke is suddenly acting toward her.

But as the teens’ numbers dwindle and their escape plans fall apart, Donna has to listen to the secrets those voices in her head have been hiding. It seems not all the zombies are shuffling idiots, and the half-undead aren’t really down with kids like Donna…

Here are Alison's answers to some of my questions!

You work as a librarian as well as writing full-time. How do you balance both careers, and can you tell us more about your journey toward becoming a writer?

I'd probably go nuts if I didn't do both! People think librarians sit quietly at a desk all day, but in reality (and I'm sure Karen will second this) librarians spend a ton of time interacting with the public and teaching workshops. It's very much an extrovert's job. After I've run my mouth all day, I love to go home and enjoy the solitude of writing. It's something fun I get to do, not ever something I HAVE to do. It's a good balance for me. 

I definitely second that! And I'm glad you've found a balance that works.

I've always loved the premise of DONNA OF THE DEAD. Where did the idea come from and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading?

Thank you very much for saying that! I've always loved stories that manage to be funny and scary at the same time. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are two of my favorite movies. DONNA OF THE DEAD was the very first novel I ever wrote, so I wanted a genre I felt comfortable with.  

You've definitely captured the humor! And it's heartening to know that first novels can sell. 
I love the design of your website. What inspired it, and what advice do you have for writers building an online platform?

Really? That makes me happy because I had no idea what I was doing. :) My advice for writers building a platform is to learn how to use ALL the different forms of social media ASAP. A friend talked me into joining Instagram last year, and it took me a couple months to figure it out. But when EntangledTeen ran an Instagram contest last week, I was able to jump right in and participate. I was grateful I didn't have to suffer through a learning curve. Tumblr is a different matter. My current Tumblr account is hilarious because I'm just pressing random buttons and trying to figure things out.   

I feel that way about Tumblr too! I'm sure we'll figure it out eventually.
I loved your recent guest post on YA Highway, entitled "Selling Your Novel." You gave great advice about setting a novel apart. What other tips do you have for people wanting to make their stories pop?

Don't be afraid to take risks in your writing. I knew my main character might come off as a jerk at the start of the story, and that I ran the risk of readers finding her unlikeable. But I also knew that made the heroine stand out among the Mary Sues. Fortunately, I found an agent and editor who appreciate Donna's voice, and didn't want me to sweeten her up. :)  

Good! And I'm glad, because I like Donna exactly the way she is! What are some of your current projects?

There will be two companion novels to DONNA OF THE DEAD. Same time frame, same virus, different characters. Those will keep me busy for a while!

Can I also mention that I've been fortunate enough to read some of your fiction? I suspect that in the very near future we'll turn the tables and I'll get to interview you about your debut!

Thanks, Alison! Now I'm all a-blushy. :)

To get DONNA OF THE DEAD for yourself, click on the link below:

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