To start off, I was iffy about reading this book and joining the book tour. I know the author lives near me, and we will be going to the same events in the Houston area and didn't want to make things awkward.
Starting the book, I was wary. But I had been bossed by a good friend and fellow blogger (I feel the need, the need to read), so I had to give into her whims. I have one thing to say to you, Angela Pratt, THANK YOU!
Holy fluff balls! This book - just wow. It has been a while since I put off reading the end of a book because I wasn't ready for it to end. I absolutely loved the world Daryl created, including the characters involved.
Although it does end with no need for a second book, I still really want one. This is one of the most original books I've read, and it was like a breath of fresh air getting to experience it.
If there was a way for me to somehow experience reading this book again for the first time, I would take it. That is something I almost never say. I have reread very few books, but this is one I will want to read over and over.
I am pretty sure I laughed for the entire first 20% of the book, non stop. (Which is apparently frowned upon if it is way past bed time and your husband has to wake up early the next morning)
I will be bossing lots of people to at least give it a look see.
Interview with Daryl Banner
This may sound funny, but I actually never approached this story as a zombie story. When I first started writing it, I hadn't seen a lot of zombie movies, I didn't know Warm Bodies existed, and hadn't watched a single episode of The Walking Dead.
I was inspired by the idea of unexplainable "dark magics" somehow bringing bits of the world back to life; a sort of necromancy, instead of the popular bitten-style zombies, or virus-borne zombies. I liked the idea of an undead with intelligence ... an "organized" and--dare I say--"civilized" undead society.
(2) Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
I don't aim to push 'messages' at readers. I like to present a situation and a story as honest and unbiased as I can (despite the narrator's obvious bias) and let the reader decide what to take from it. I will go ahead and say that, if the reader picks up on a 'theme' of the book, it will likely be redemption, second chances, letting go the past ... Forgiveness, mostly of yourself. I know these seem like heavy themes, but despite them, the book has more the feel of a dark comedy.
(3) What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read the book, so I'll give a hopefully-spoiler-free answer. There is a chapter in the book that breaks away from the narrative entirely -- a very necessary-to-the-plot break -- in which you (and the main character) suddenly learn a LOT of information all at once, and very quickly. The chapter is meant to be overwhelming to the reader, and yeah, it was also overwhelming for me to write. And very, very thrilling. But hard. I'll admit, I avoided that chapter for a good while. In fact, I went past it and finished writing the rest of the book ... then came back, a cocktail of fluttery dread and terror and sadness and sick joy in my belly, and finally wrote the chapter.
(4) What books have most influenced your life most?
I read a lot of fantasy throughout high school, namely Piers Anthony, Lloyd Alexander (ahh... The Black Cauldron) ... then Harry Potter found me in college, and when going to Psychology and Theater classes, I pretended I was going to Potions and Divinations. True story. I also really enjoy the dry and hilarious voice of Chuck Palahniuk and the way he builds plot (I wrote him a fan mail once and he replied back with a box full of glitter that exploded in my laundry room -- another true story.) I also read about half of the Song Of Ice And Fire series, which is really amazing, but also a bit confusing when you watch the show Game of Thrones at the same time. Confusing in a good way, I think (I love a puzzle of television versus paper...) Speaking of, Charlaine Harris really inspired me with the Sookie Stackhouse series (not so much the show) ... Her "southern ease" of the books made me realize that really good plot and atmosphere can build slow-and-unassumingly ... and only a handful of chapters in, it's won your heart without you realizing it.
(5) How did you come up with the title?
There were a number of very questionable titles before it (as is the case with every book I've written so far, I guess) ... but in brainstorming, I was considering how ugly and grotesque I found corpses and death and decay (and unfairly/fairly skewing how my main character views those same things) ... then realized that what this macabre subject matter needed wasn't more disgust and scorn; it was a hug. So I hugged the Dead with the word Beautiful and there you go.
(6) When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was a lil' kid mashing thumbs into Nintendo controllers, I also taught myself how to program games on the computer (think 1990's text-based role-playing games, not nowadays games/computers) and also basic music theory. Yeah, they went hand-in-hand to me. I kinda joke that I come at writing a story more like a programmer; almost everything I introduce in a story (even small things, details, seemingly minor characters, an odd way I write a sentence) gets a payoff somewhere later in the story. I don't even mind if the payoffs go unnoticed; I like the idea of easter eggs hidden throughout my books (especially my time-travel book, Super Psycho Future Killers .... There's still a gigantic bucket-full of things that *no one* has yet to point out to me. Someday someone might, and that thought makes me smile) It's things like these that made me want to start telling stories. I wrote plays throughout high school and college, where I studied under the great (and late) Pulitzer-prize-winning Lanford Wilson, whose advice takes permanent and welcome residence between my ears. After graduating, I took my experiences and released my first novel Psychology of Want. That first novel beget the second one, and then The Beautiful Dead. Like code to a program, to a game with a plot and lovable and hate-able characters ... I love writing.
(7) What book are you writing now?
I'm working on the first book to a new "epic" urban fantasy / dystopian series I plan to release in the summer. Here's a brief word on the story: It's set in an unknown future where people no longer need to sleep, and each person is born with a unique and special ability. The story unfolds through *several* main characters, some who live in luxury, the rest who live in the crime-riddled slums below. There's violence, sexuality, explosions, betrayal ... I'm so, so, SO excited to share this book (and all the crazy characters in it) with the world. There is a charity anthology released on May 16th called Moments In Time, and among lots of awesome authors, the anthology includes a story of mine called "The Slum Queen", which is actually a companion short story / kinda-prequel to my new series. The anthology is for a good cause, and if you want a little taste of my new book, you'll find it in there :) :) :)
Author, Composer, Performer