Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I was born and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where I still live. I love that my family is here, that my wife’s family is here, that it’s a small, but not too small town not far away from Orlando or Miami and that it’s the place where I met and fell in love with my wife, Martha!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have really only and ever wanted to be a writer, period, full stop. I even started writing books at about nine years old and, I’m very happy to report, have really never stopped.
Tell us about your latest book.
Detention of the Living Dead is a fast, kind of “blitz” story that literally starts when a zombie walks into a Detention room, where most of the action takes place, until about halfway or even two-thirds of the way through the book.
It’s got a little “Breakfast Club” feel to it, because you have these five very, VERY different people, who all become zombies and then have to deal with that. Because there are “good” zombies and “bad” zombies and, oh boy, I don’t want to say too much but it’s about dealing with the rest of your life and being the living dead.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I am very excited to announce the sequel to my debut YA paranormal novel, Zombies Don’t Cry, called Zombies Don’t Forgive and due out in April, 2013!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
I have to admit that, while I know it’s critical and it always, always, always improves the book I’m working on, I am generally not a fan of the editing process! I tend to write in creative bursts that can last one to three weeks to one to three months and often the editing can take place months, even a year or more, after I’ve written “the end” at the bottom of the last page. It can be hard for me to put that hat back on and think critically about what I wrote during that time, even though I know it’s for the best.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Be yourself! This is my new mantra. Don’t writer for critics, don’t write for a specific audience or house, don’t write for your friends or family, be yourself. Write the story you want to read. I can’t take credit for that; I read it somewhere, but it’s SO true. I’m not saying to take your audience for granted. YA, in particular, is a very sophisticated and specific audience, but they also want something unique, original and personal and the only way to give them that is to be yourself!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I’m a full-time, professional freelance writer so I really can’t afford to have writer’s block! But, yes, there are times when I’m burned out, on overload, and it gets really hard to be creative on a level I feel I should be. When that happens, the best and ONLY thing I know that really works is for me to just step away, remove myself. I’ll take a walk, go see a movie, or two, ride my bike, take my wife out to dinner, go to the local bookstore and stare enviously at the YA shelves, whatever. After a few hours, sometimes even a whole day, I’m usually recharged enough to dig back in. If I can just start again, that usually does the trick!
Who is your favorite author and why?
I’ve answered this question so many times and the answer is always the same: Stephen King! I just think he transcends writing in a way that, when I’m reading him, it sounds like he and I are just sitting there, talking. And even if it’s a story I’m not all that into, just his minor asides or dialogue make me smile.
What books have most influenced your life?
I was a “husky” kid growing up, so books like Blubber and One Fat Summer really made me realize that I wasn’t alone in the world. They also taught me that books could be more than just fun or “light” reading, but could actually make a difference in peoples’ lives.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
What “did” deal? I still get them!!! Seriously, though, I think rejection is something you get better and better with over time. The main reason is because, the older you get, the more you do this, the more you work with different agents and publishers and houses and editors, you realize that to stay competitive and brand-able these days, publishers tend to forge a very individual, unique and specific “brand” of books they want to be known for. Sometimes you fit that very specific list, sometimes you don’t. It’s not personal, either way; it’s just professional. The sooner you learn that, the easier it is to accept rejection. (Notice I didn’t say it gets ‘easy,’ just easier!)
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I don’t know if you’re talking “email and Microsoft Word” tools or higher-level, creative tools, but I’m going to answer for the latter and say that, for me, things like persistence and perseverance are two things that every writer needs the most. Yes, we must be creative and fun and all the rest, but everything is so competitive and takes so long these days, I think if you don’t at least have persistence and perseverance, it’s so easy to give up and I hate to see writers give up!
Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I definitely try to keep my YA books PG-rated. I guess it’s from my time as a public school teacher, but I really want my books to be able to appear comfortably in libraries, classrooms and even living rooms, parent/teacher/librarian approved.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get cheeky, or even gory, but it does mean I try to refrain from f-bombs and gratuitous sex and/or violence just for sex and/or violence’s sake. I think it comes down to feeling comfortable in your own writing and finding a “default setting” where you’re not feeling icky picturing your target audience reading what you’ve written.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Hmm, I dunno. Does watching every zombie ever made count?!?!?
Don’t forget to give us links to your website etc.
Sure thing, thanks!!
Amazon/Kindle link for Detention of the Living Dead:
Detention of the Living Dead
Maxine “Max” Compton is in detention when the outbreak starts; so are several other students when Max’s best friend Brie storms in – chomping on the thigh bone of their favorite Home Ec teacher, Ms. Watkins!
Brie is a zombie, and quickly starts biting everyone in the room – even her best friend, Max!
When the class realizes what happens, it’s too late; they are all zombies – and they’re no longer alone.
Now a thin gray man in a white lab coat is testing them; making them read, and once they can no longer read, the zombies are led from the room, never to be seen again.
One by one the zombies stop reading, all but a few of them, Max included. Oh, and that cute thug she’s been crushing on for years, Cory Winthrop!
That’s when Max learns that there are good zombies, and bad zombies. And if she’s to survive, she has to pick a side.
Who knew Detention could be this hard… or last forever?
About the Author:
Rusty Fischer is the author of Zombies Don’t Cry, as well as several other popular zombie books, including Panty Raid at Zombie High, Detention of the Living Dead and the Reanimated Readz series of 99-cent living dead shorts.
Rusty runs the popular website Zombies Don’t Blog @ www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com. At Zombies Don’t Blog you can read more about Rusty’s work, view his upcoming book covers and read – or download – completely FREE books & stories about… zombies!
“G-g-g,” the zombie sputters, black eyes focused intently on the page in front of her, tongue tied in an endless loop, frustration oozing out of every gray, decaying pore.
If she could still sweat, I know she would.
Her cold white hands grip the pages of the comic book like the edges of a life raft in a wild, raging sea.
If she could still cry, she’d already be bawling.
Instead she is locked in this endless loop, stammering, yammering, trying to find the keys to her lost humanity.
Her voice is raspy, like maybe her vocal chords have been sanded down, blow dried for days, and now look like strips of beef jerky hanging in the back of her throat, useless at his point except for her guttural scratching.
It’s been like this for five minutes; five endless, torturous, agonizing minutes.
Endless because, well, you’ve never realized how long a single minute—sixty short seconds—can stretch out until every stinking bleeding one of those sixty seconds is filled with a “G-G-G” or an “A-A-A or an “M-M-M.”
It’s like waiting for a stutterer to finish reading War & Peace, out loud, in one sitting, while you kneel on a bed of nails, with water dripping on your head, sitting next to your distant cousin from Alabama, with her whispering in your ears about her favorite catfish casserole recipe.
Torturous because I can see the word right in front of me and just want to finish it for her: “Gamma!” I want to scream. “Gamma! What you’ve been yammering for the last five minutes is ‘G-G-G-G-GAMMA,’ you freakin’ moron!”
Agonizing because this is no typical zombie; this is my best friend since third grade, Brie Cunningham.