Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen; 250 pages
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…
Thank you so much to Rockstar Book Tours for having me, once again! Seriously, y'all are awesome and I so appreciate everything you do! <3 I would also like to thank Alison Kemper for being so awesome & taking the time to answer my questions! Another thank you to Entangled for providing a copy of the book so I can read and review it (which will be coming later this week).
I haven’t read many zombie books but the ones I have read, haven’t been as light and entertaining as yours – was it hard keeping the tone of the book set this way without ever going too dark?
Yes! That was the biggest challenge of writing this novel. I wanted the book to be lighthearted, but if I let it get too funny, the characters seemed callous—like they didn’t care that so many people were suffering. Some scenes felt like walking a tightrope, but I enjoyed the challenge of it.
How was your experience in getting this book published? What are some things you might have wished you’d done differently to get this point?
I’m going to be super honest here. Donna of the Dead was the first piece of creative writing I’d ever done. I was amazed to discover that I’d written an entire novel. And then amazed again when I got an agent and a three book deal. To wake up and see my book in the top ten for Amazon’s Kindle YA humor—well, I can safely say that every step of this process has surpassed my wildest dreams. I won’t say it’s been easy—I’m leaving out the part about the months and months (and months) of queries and rewrites. But it’s been a totally fun experience and I’ve met so many amazing people along the way.
What’s one of the hardest critiques you’ve gotten from a partner (critique partner), family member or reviewer but ultimately, made your book better and maybe your confidence?
I was incredibly lucky—the very first query letter I sent out resulted in a request from an agent for the full manuscript. I was so naïve! Figured I’d land an agent and a huge book deal right away. Haha! Instead, the agent declined, and said while she loved the first part of the novel—she thought the plot fell apart after a certain page. That was SO hard to hear, but I knew in my heart she was right. And then came the REALLY hard part: I highlighted the entire block of text—the part she didn’t like (about 150 pages)—and hit the delete key. And I started that section again. This time, I went in a totally different direction, and it worked. That agent dished out some ultra-harsh criticism, but it was also great advice.
Do you have any other book(s) in the works? If so, can you talk about them or at least what genre they might be?
EntangledTeen has asked for two companion novels for this series—same virus, same world, but different characters. The second book is tentatively titled Dwight of the Living Dead.
If someone asked you to recommend a book to them, what would be the first book that’d pop into your head that you’d want anyone and everyone to read?
Oh, wow! I could ramble on for two pages answering that question. I’m currently obsessed with Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. I’m dying for the next book in that series. Cinder and Scarlet also come to mind. And Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my all-time faves.
Alison Kemper grew up in South Florida, the only girl on a street with eleven boys. She spent most of her childhood paddling a canoe through neighborhood canals and looking for adventure. She usually found it. Sometimes the police were involved. And large dogs. And one time, a very territorial snake. She now lives in North Carolina and writes books. The books often include girls having adventures. With boys. Cute boys. And cute dogs too. But no cute snakes. Never cute snakes.
Her debut novel, Donna of the Dead, will be published by Entangled Teen in 2014 and followed by two companion novels. She loves to meet new people and talk books, so send her a friend request or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.
15 Zombie Swag Bags that include $5 Amazon card, Donna of the Dead mints (don't get caught with zombie breath) and exploding eye gumballs (they squirt red goo when you bite into them, but are surprisingly delicious)!
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