Oh but I have a great pie this week - ZOMBIE PIE! Yup, you heard (or is it read?) me... Zombie Pie, straight out the oven with The Mall Rats creator (or should I say creators) Lily Herne.
Lily Herne, the pseudonym of mother/daughter writing team Sarah and Savannah Lotz, authors of South Africa’s first YA zombie apocalypse series, Deadlands. Sarah is a screenwriter and pulp fiction novelist who, among other things, writes horror novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg. When she’s not studying screenwriting at the University of East Anglia, Savannah can be found hunting Orcs in Azeroth.
A Big ZOMBIE-FIED hug and thanks to Sarah and Savannah for taking part in Author's Pie!
1. What inspired a Zombie infested Cape Town?
Sarah: George R Romero and Lucio Fulci’s zombie movies left an indelible and not entirely healthy impression on me when I was a child, and I’ve been obsessed with all things zombie ever since. Quite a few of my early short stories feature a shambling walking corpse of some description (therapy is probably in order), and when Savannah and I decided to collaborate, writing something zombie-related was my first choice (albeit not Savannah’s). Savannah and I live in Cape Town, so it was a no brainer to set Deadlands in the city, gleefully destroying the infrastructure but perversely leaving the Canal Walk mall intact. After all, zombies and malls go together like biltong and beer. That said the Mall Rats series is less about the walking dead and more about how society might react to the aftermath of a devastating event.
Savannah: I wanted to do werewolves but mom overrode me.
Sarah: Werewolves aren’t scary though – look at Taylor Lautner. And Benecio del Toro for that matter.
Savannah: Point taken.
2. Deadlands (Book One in the Mall Rats series) had a great thread of underlying subtle political themes, was this intentional? And why did you feel it important to include?
Savannah & Sarah: Our main intention was to write a fast-paced, locally based, entertaining read. However, I doubt there’s a single writer of dystopian fiction who isn’t inspired by the current political landscape and we’re no different. For example, in Deadlands, the Resurrectionist party (the religious/political organisation that worships the dead and oppresses Cape Town’s survivors) was partially inspired by the deeply troubling Tea Party movement in the States.
3. Death of a Saint was a true character building novel, who was your favourite character to write and why?
Sarah: Ginger, the wisecracking Brit. As he’s continually reffing movies and comics, he’s a legitimate excuse for me to include pop culture references in the narrative. If I do that in my other writing, I get slapped on the wrist.
Savannah: Ash is gradually replacing Saint as my favourite character. In the first book, he was too sulky emo-style hipster for my liking. However, after we gave him a hard time in Death of a Saint and revealed some of his back-story, he became a more rounded character. It helps that I’m in charge of writing his narrative in the third book, so I have full rein to make him seriously cool. It sounds like a total cliché, but our characters really do write themselves, dictating the action and often surprising us.
4. What was the last book you read?
Sarah: Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
Savannah: The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett.
5. If you could invite any author over for dinner who would it be and why?
Sarah: Gah. So many. I’m lucky enough to be friends with some amazing SA writers, but they’d probably only come over for dinner if I promised not to cook (I’m a rubbish chef). It’s no secret that I’m a massive Stephen King fan, so he’d be near the top of the list, but if I could bring an author back from the dead for dinner it would be Philip K Dick. PKD and King are among the authors I read as a child whose supreme story-telling skills made me want to be a writer.
Savannah: Douglas Adams. I know he’s dead, but I reckon he’d be the coolest zombie ever, and then I’d have a chance to pick his brain.
Lily Herne's Books
Deadlands (Book One in the Mall Rats Series)
One thing about the Deadlands, once you've been out there, surrounded by the dead, the living aren't anywhere near as scary ...
What if the people you love are not who you think they are? What if you have a destiny that no one knows about? When seventeen-year-old Lele de la Fontein and her brother are forced to move to the city enclave to live with their estranged father and bitchy, war-hero stepmother, she has no idea her world is about to implode. Stuck in a school run by the Resurrectionists -- a fanatical sect who worship the sinister, all-powerful Guardians -- Lele dreams of escape. But she's trapped. No one can survive in the Deadlands, the shattered remains of Cape Town's suburbs, without being turned into one of the living dead. No one, that is, except for a renegade group known as the Mall Rats. But who are they? And are they the answer to Lele's prayers, or is she about to find herself in more trouble than even she can imagine?
Death of a Saint (Book Two in the Mall Rats Series)
Secrets. Everyone has them. But what if your secret is something so unthinkable that you can't even admit it to yourself?
Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, teen rebels Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint -- aka the Mall Rats -- are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area now swarming with the living dead. With the sinister Guardians breathing down their necks, the Mall Rats face a stark choice: return to the enclave and try to evade capture or leave Cape Town in search of other survivors. But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-infested wasteland? Will they be able to survive on the road if all they have is each other, or will their secrets tear them apart? After all, only Lele knows the shocking truth as to why the dead leave the Mall Rats unscathed -- knowledge that she can't bring herself to share. And she's not the only Mall Rat harbouring a dangerous secret ...