When word about Forest of Hands and Teeth started to spread over the net, Thea grew more and more impatient to get her greedy hands on it. She finally did and she loved it . And we have to thank our good friend Karen Mahoney – official honorary Book Smuggler and pimp extraordinaire – once again, for setting up a correspondence between us and Carrie Ryan.
Carrie was kind enough to take the time during this busy release week to chat with us about the book, zombies and how she came to be a writer ( also it’s great fun to see how Thea tries to squeeze Carrie for secret information about the sequel while Carrie pleads the fifth, repeatedly. It’s Clash of the Titans right here!)
Ladies and gentleman, please say hello to Carrie!
The Book Smugglers: In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the world has been ravaged by the “unconsecrated” – that is, zombies. Little, however, is known about the origins of the unconsecrated or life before “the Return.” Can you tell us a bit about the cause of the Return? What inspired you to write about zombies, and an isolated existence in the forest?
Carrie: When I was writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth I purposefully didn’t talk about the Return and the origin of the apocalypse. Part of this is just the structure of the book – Mary, the protagonist, didn’t know so the reader doesn’t get to know. But also I wanted to emphasize that the book isn’t about the Return and that the people of this world have accepted the world they live in. It’s not a zombie novel as much as a novel that happens to have zombies. You do learn a little more about it in subsequent books though.
I ended up writing about zombies because I was looking for a new idea any my fiancé, JP, told me to write what I love. I jokingly said “the zombie apocalypse” and he just smiled at me. A few days later as I was walking home from work the first line popped into my head and I emailed it to myself. When I got home I couldn’t stop writing!
The Book Smugglers: Have you always been a fan of the walking dead? Any favorite zombie books or films you’d care to share with us?
Carrie: I actually refused to watch any horror movies growing up due to an unfortunate Poltergeist incident in which my baby sitter convinced me to watch Poltergeist when I was only four years old. But then somehow my fiancé convinced me to go with him to the opening night of the Dawn of the Dead remake when we were in law school and that got me hooked! I’ll watch pretty much any zombie or apocalypse movie but my favorite zombie movies are probably Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead. I’m also a big fan of the graphic novel The Walking Dead and, of course, World War Z.
Shaun of the Dead
The Book Smugglers: The Forest of Hands and Teeth ends on something of a cliffhanger – will there be a sequel (pretty, pretty please!)?
Carrie: Yes! And it’s actually already written! The title is The Dead-Tossed Waves and it will be coming out in Spring 2010. It’s not a direct sequel but is set a while later and from a different point of view.
The Book Smugglers: Your book uses two different types of zombies: the standard slow, shambling variety and the vicious, fast variety. Why the difference? Will we find out why some unconsecrated are fast and others remain slow moving?
Carrie: There’s definitely a reason for the difference between the two and I promise you’ll find out why in the second book!
The Book Smugglers: In the book we are introduced to a village surrounded by fences in the woods, and later find that there is another village out there, connected by the same system of fences. Are there any more villages we don’t know about? Do the fences led anywhere else?
Carrie: Another question I have to pass on for fear of spoiling future books!
The Book Smugglers: The sisterhood that ran the village was a secretive, powerful lot – will we ever find out what else they were hiding? Is the village gone for good? What were your inspirations for this zealous, powerful group?
Carrie: I do hope that the reader ultimately understands more of what the Sisterhood was hiding and why. I don’t think that Sister Tabitha and the rest of the Sisterhood meant to be malicious – I think they were doing what they honestly thought was best for the village and the people who lived there. But that’s just my opinion and I think it’s totally fine for readers to feel otherwise!
My lips are sealed re: the other questions 🙂
The Book Smugglers: Should the zombie apocalypse strike, do you have a plan for escape, survival and/or rebuilding your life? (‘Cuz we Smuggler geeks do! )
Carrie: Like Ana, JP and I are pretty much doomed unless we’re lucky enough to be out of town when the apocalypse hits. Our house is only one floor and there are tons of windows! Plus living near a city means the outbreak would spread rapidly. We wouldn’t survive there for long at all. So our plan is to pretty much get the heck out of dodge as fast as possible, high-tailing it to his parents house in the mountains. There I have no idea what we’d do… probably hope that zombies are inherently lazy and unwilling to climb a mountain just for a tasty treat.
The Book Smugglers: You are a practicing lawyer who has turned to writing young adult fiction! Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to become a writer and your road to publication?
Carrie: I actually always wanted to be a writer (at least since high school) but knew my odds of making it were pretty unlikely. So being a lawyer was essentially my back up plan. I loved law school and still love the law but the practice wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Around the beginning of 2006, about four months after starting at a firm, I looked at JP and said “I need an exit strategy!” That’s when I really started taking my writing much more seriously.
I’d written and submitted two novels before going to law school and so my first step was to re-join the author community. I joined Romance Writers of America, began reading blogs and making friends, and most important of all, I started writing.
I wrote partials of a few novels before I started The Forest of Hands and Teeth during NaNoWriMo in 2006. I finished the first draft in April, 2007 and then revised the heck out of it until my critique partner got fed up with me and subbed the book to her own agent. This prompted me to close my eyes, take a deep breath and hit send on all the query letters I’d already prepared. I signed with my agent and sold that October.
The Book Smugglers: Who are some of your influences? Favorite authors?
Carrie: I think every book I read influences me in one way or another as I see how other authors approach the craft. Who my favorite authors are changes every day, but I really love Nabokov, Faulkner, Scott Westerfeld, Holly Black and Suzanne Collins. Recently I’ve read some wonderfully witty and clever characters written by Sarah Cross (Dull Boy) and Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon).
The Book Smugglers: The zombies are coming! Aaaargh! You can save ONE book, ONE movie and ONE television show. QUICK! Name them:
Carrie: Ack!! If I only get one of each for the rest of my life then I’d probably take the Simpson’s as the television show because there are just so darn many of them! I’d never get tired! The movie would probably be The Princess Bride which I can watch a million times. The book is harder to decide… probably the Zombie Survival Guide 🙂
Save The Princess Bride
The Book Smugglers: We Book Smugglers are faced with constant threats and criticisms from our dear significant others concerning the sheer volume of books we purchase and read—hence, we have resorted to ‘smuggling books’ home to escape scrutinizing eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?
Carrie: Boy do I know how that goes! I love to own books and have finally gotten JP to accept this (he even got me a new bookcase for our anniversary!). When I was practicing law I’d order my books from Amazon (since I rarely had time to go to the local indie) and I’d get the packages delivered to my office where I’d take them out of the box and just take them home tucked in my purse 🙂
So there you have it folks: the world is being taken over by book smugglers! A big thank you to Carrie Ryan for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish her all the best with her book.
Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time. She lives with her writer/lawyer fiancé, two fat cats and one large puppy in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY :
We have one copy of Forest of Hands and Teeth to giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post – simple as that. The contest is open to ALL and will run until Saturday March 21st at Noon PST and we will announce the winner on Sunday. Good luck!