My Next Big Thing

This exercise was suggested by April Taylor—her blog is at

She passed the baton to five of us:
Robert DeMers •
Alan Petersen •
Harry “Hammer” Wigder •
Betsy A. Riley •
James M. Copeland •

1. What is the working title of your book?My working title is Queen of the Zombies—but I also considered Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. It will be shown as written by Cassandra Hex, since that is the pen name I use for this genre.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
I was thinking about the possibility of bio-warfare resulting in a zombie-like creature, and how the military might deal with that. I don’t believe in “zombie apocalypse” as a TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) scenario—I think we would find ways to deal with it. I was also thinking about the original meaning of “zombie” as a living creature who has no free will. Then there’s the whole corpse reanimated by necromancy scenario. I decided to combine all three. So Dr. Liz Tyler, biochemist, is part of a team working on a cure or prophylactic for the romero virus (which the CDC names after George Romero). An inconvenient discovery forces her to flee the lab. She takes refuge with Mama Clotille, an ancient voodoo master. Using the alias Lisabetta Timo, the young doctor learns about voodoo and necromancy, becoming a master herself.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Since it is set in modern times and has zombies, I’m told it should be classed as “urban fantasy”, but I’d characterize it as “Gulliver’s Travels with Shaun of the Evil Dead” – there is a heavy undercurrent of social satire mixed with the horror and comic relief.

4. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft of 60,000 words was written during NaNoWriMo 2011. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and is a world-wide challenge to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.

5. What other books would you compare your book to within your genre?
Other than the ones mentioned in question 2, I must include Zombies Gone Wild! (vol. 1), which contains the story “Cindy Lou, Who?” set in the same world and timeframe as Queen of the Zombies (and with some of the same characters).

6. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
It is the fusion of a number of sources. I love the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris for the dark humor and the idea of “what if these mythical creatures were real” — an idea that is also explored in Heinlein’s Waldo & Magic Incorporated. Mix in being a fan of Walking Dead and numerous discussions with my brother about his “soul-sucking” job and jokes progressing from “so easy a Caveman could do it” to “so easy a zombie could do it” — Voila—I had my own “what if…”

7. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book has a very different take on zombies, and also features unusual heroes and heroines. One of the side effects of Louisiana legalizing “zombies” is the practice of “zombifying” people who are in debt to casinos. Those living zombies (or “debt zombies”) are then farmed out to work at various jobs until their debt is paid off. The romero zombies (the dead, infectious ones) end up being used in the entertainment industry.

8. Which five writers will take over from you next week and tell us about their Next Big Thing?
Jim Sellers
Dan Marvin
Dick Harrison
Nancy Lynn Jarvis
Chris Hannon


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