“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.
Today we have the lovely Mira Grant (also known as Seanan McGuire) over. Mira is the author of the brand spankin’ new Newsflesh trilogy; book 1, Feed was just released at the end of last month (you can check out Thea’s review HERE). To celebrate the release of Feed, we decided to invite Mira Grant to talk about her new book and her Inspirations and Influences.
Please give it up for Mira Grant!
Hi, Ana and Thea! Thank you so much for inviting me to do an Inspirations and Influences post for you. I’m really excited. And not just because I haven’t actually slept since December.
The question “where do you get your inspiration?” sort of drives me crazy, largely because my answer tends to drive everybody else crazy. I was literally once inspired to write a book by the combination of jetlag, a woman on the plane to London who was wearing a sweater the same color as mine, and trying to navigate the Tube system while I was so tired that my eyes were crossing. Another book—actually another series, but that’s another story—basically grew out of listening to a Counting Crows song while half-asleep and commuting.
Okay. So a lot of my ideas start with sleep deprivation. But today, I’m going to talk about the inspirations for the Newsflesh Trilogy, and for Feed in specific.
I love horror movies. The first movie I consciously remember watching was Alien. I was three. When I was eight, my cat got a burr in her eye. After a midnight trip to the emergency vet to have the burr removed—the cat was fine, in case you were worried—we returned to the house, and my mother let me watch The Blob on Channel 20 to calm down before I went to bed. (I did not go to school the next day.) This has basically wired my adult brain to follow certain logical paths. Never say “Be careful” or “I’ll be right back.” Never go outside to see what that noise was, because it wasn’t the wind. And never, never date a man named Johnny.
My passion for horror movies might just have resulted in my having a really weird DVD collection (which it did). Unfortunately for my mother’s sanity, I went and combined it with a highly analytical mind, and a tendency to pick things to pieces. Why did the monster want to eat people? How did the vampires decide who to convert into their undying companions, and who to treat as a Happy Meal with legs? If King Kong had been eating women for years, what was it about the blonde chick that really got to him? The list went on, and drove most of the adults around me crazy. Even after I became an adult, it kept driving most of the adults around me crazy, as they were forced to sit through my analysis of the horror movie of the week as I twisted it to start, well…making sense.
So I love horror. And I love things that make sense. That, more than anything, was the initial genesis of the Newsflesh Trilogy. What would it take to set up a classic horror movie apocalypse, and have it make sense? Real, solid, pick-it-apart sense? I started chewing on the question, and decided that the best apocalypse—where “best” is defined as “the most fun for me”—was the zombie apocalypse.
I love zombies. But I bet you guessed that part.
One of the most illogical things about your standard horror apocalypse is the way nobody in a horror movie has ever seen a horror movie. They hear the funny noise and they go running toward it. Their loved ones come shambling into the room with blood circling their mouths, and they hug, rather than aiming for the head. I know too many people with apocalypse plans and weapons in their closets to believe that things would go that bad, that fast. So what happens when you combine the apocalypse with a world that actually knows how to react? And how would those people share information in a fast, efficient manner?
Enter the Internet. Thanks to social media and the blogging community, a whisper is now capable of circling the globe in less time than it takes to shout. So say the Internet gets involved in the zombie apocalypse. How much difference will it really make? And what will the mainstream news media have to say about the things that are going on out there in the world? Probably nothing good.
So I started tinkering with my apocalypse. I spent, oh, about a year having a happy apocalypse party to which all my friends were invited, whether they wanted to be or not. It was the end of the world, and they knew it (many of them did not feel fine). And in the process of hashing out my apocalypse, I realized…I didn’t want to write that. It’s been done. By everybody. If you’re going to tell a zombie story, you’re going to tell the apocalypse. So screw it, I said. I’m not going to write the apocalypse.
I’m going to write what comes after.
The Newsflesh Trilogy is about the world as it exists twenty years after the dead rose, the Internet mobilized, and we managed to come out on the other side still kicking. Everything has changed. Everything. The whole structure of society has shifted, because the threat of the dead isn’t going away. The virus that caused the initial outbreak is still around, and everyone in the world is infected, making all of them quietly ticking time bombs just waiting to blow.
But that’s setting. That’s not story. Story arrived later, in my friend Michael’s kitchen. I was complaining—okay, whining—about the fact that I had this fantastic world and nothing to set there. He looked at me, and asked, “Well, have you considered writing about a Presidential campaign?”
I’m pretty sure he was just trying to shut me up. That doesn’t really matter, because the question had been asked, and the snowball was rolling down the hill, gathering speed as it went. Before dinner was over, I had a protagonist, Georgia Mason, named after George Romero—like half of her generation—with a serious yearning for the truth. I had her adopted brother, Shaun. Both of them were reporters, working in different facets of the Internet news media. And they were going to follow a man along the campaign trail, hoping for a crack at the truth.
Another friend of mine asked another question later in the process, this one about the way my zombies worked, and changed everything all over again. But that was two hundred pages in, and that’s another story.
When will you rise?
About the Author: Seanan McGuire is the good twin. Mira Grant is the evil twin. One of them is planning to destroy the world one day, but no one’s really quite sure which one it is, and nobody really wants to ask. When not plotting world domination or watching horror movies, Seanan writes semi-constantly, which explains how she’s completing three books a year. The lack of sleep probably helps with that, too. She studied folklore in school, and continues to study zombies and pandemic disease as a hobby. She sometimes claims to be the lost Disney Princess of Halloweentown. There’s a good chance that she’s right.
Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant live in the same body, and the body lives in Northern California, which has three seasons, Dry, Wet, and Actively On Fire. Feed is her third book, and the first published under the name Mira Grant.
Ana and Thea will now give things away. I appreciate this. They will not, however, give you a zombie army.
Thank you Mira/Seanan! And now, for the giveaway.
We are giving away ONE copy of Feed to a lucky reader! Entry is simple – just leave a comment here telling us what your favorite apocalyptic horror book/film/tv show/comic is. The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday, May 8 at 11:59 PM (PST). Only ONE comment per person, please! Multiple comments WILL be disqualified. Good luck!
MihirMay 6, 2010 at 11:27 am
Hi Ana & Thea
My favourite zombie film would be last year’s Zombieland. I hope they def. make a sequel to it.
SuperFoxyMay 6, 2010 at 11:37 am
I think this will be my favorite horror book–I’ve not been a fan of horror, but I really REALLY want to read this book! 🙂
joderMay 6, 2010 at 11:46 am
My favorite book is The Stand by Stephen King. The walking man is spooky in there and having almost the entire world wiped out by a virus is very creepy too.
martialartisteMay 6, 2010 at 11:51 am
My favorite near-apocalypse book? Absolutely Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman.
I can’t wait to read Feed. I’ve always wondered about the world post-Z-Day, and this sounds amazingly possible.
Dawn EmryMay 6, 2010 at 11:53 am
Favorite apocalyptic film was “I am Legend”. I have queued up to read both “Feed” & the “Last Survivors” triology….can’t wait!
MichelleMay 6, 2010 at 11:57 am
My favorite apocalyptic horror book is Blood Crazy by Simon Clark. In it, adults go crazy and are driven to kill all kids, even extending to parents going after their own children. It’s really well-written and fascinating.
Donna SMay 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm
My favorite is The Stand. I loved the book and actually enjoyed the movie as well.
ThuyMay 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm
Fist of the North Star is a fantastic apocalyptic manga.
JeffMay 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm
It’s gotta be World War Z for me. There’s just something about the way that Brooks builds that world that feels substantial and real.
Cait H.May 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm
The lack of sense in horror movies bugs me as well. WHY would you go into the dark, creepy building when you KNOW there’s a killer? Like really now.
Favourite apocalypse? I have to say the Y: The Last Man graphic novels. Everyone/thing with a Y chromosome dies instantly, all at once – except one man (and one monkey).
LenoreMay 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm
OMG! That cat is fierce!!
As far as apocalyptic lit – THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin was just …WOW.
Can’t wait to get my hands of Feed.
Kimberly B.May 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm
What a great giveaway! I guess my favorite apocalyptic horror book would be The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Thanks!
van p.May 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm
Favorite apocalyptic film was 2012 and I am Legend.
Alex (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover)May 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm
I adore The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan!
EbyssMay 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm
Let’s see..I’d have to say The Stand is one of my all time favorites.
christine(booktumbling)May 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm
I am with the other The Stand lovers. Such a great book and a great end of the human race movie is 28 Days Later.
AliciaMay 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm
I can’t think of any horror specifically that I have read as of late, and horror movies scare me. However, I have read some zombie short stories by a friend as of late that I love and this looks good.
KatieMay 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm
I loved 28 Days later, because I absolutely did not know what I was getting myself into when I went to go see it, so it scared the bleep out of me.
I also just finished the dead & the gone, so I’m also going to mention that and Life As We Knew It. Not sure if those are traditional “apocalyptic horror” books (actually, I wouldn’t call them horror at all), but I think they deserve a mention.
TinaMay 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm
Does Plants vs Zombies count? 🙂
Favorite book would be The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (it’s so depressing, but I loved it) and movie would be Zombieland (because I still want to laugh even if zombies are all over the place). :p
CeciliaMay 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm
Definitely Dawn of the Dead. It was so gory and violent and the zombies were terrifying. I’ve watched it 3 times now and I still can’t get enough and always try to watch it when it’s on TV.
I read the interview and immediately wanted this book because I love a well-built world where all the questions are answered. Now I hope I win. >_<
Rachael LMay 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm
My favorite apocalyptic film is I Am Legend. Great review and interview!
MeganS.May 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm
A Canticle for Leibowitz remains my favorite apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic (technically, I guess) book, but it’s not horror. 28 Days Later, though, definitely is my favorite apocalyptic film.
LexiMay 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm
Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps because it includes my all time favorite parasite, Toxoplasmosis.
Jasmine A SMay 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm
Oh my. I’ve been wracking my brain, and I’m realizing how little horror I actually read. I hope to fix this with Feed, but right now I have a shortage! Hmmmm.
The webcomic Zombie Hunters is pretty apocalyptic, and I like that!
Raquel Vega-GriederMay 6, 2010 at 6:18 pm
My Favorite Apocalyptic Horror Book/Film/TV Show/Comic Is The Movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004). I Just Love The Whole Resident Evil Series Of Films. Madmax (1979),I Am Legend,And The Stand Are More Good Ones.
Sue BrandesMay 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm
I loved Zombieland and I am Legend. I really enjoy horror movies. Great interview. Thanks for being here.
EmilyMay 6, 2010 at 6:59 pm
My favorite apocalyptic horror book is definitely World War Z. I loved that it was so detailed and logical, and after reading your review of Feed, it sounds like it has a similar sort of detail I appreciated in World War Z.
Amanda IsabelMay 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm
AshleyMay 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm
Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett is definitely up there on my list, although I do love me a serious dystopia/post-apocalyptic as well 🙂 Can’t wait to read Feed, whether or not I win!
Stephanie K.May 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm
My favorite apocalyptic horror book is The Stand by Stephen King.
LauraMay 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm
Hey! I`ve never read a zombie book so I`m really excited to read this as my fist! It sounds great. I think after reading this one, I’ll start reading more of this genre
Indian Dating SitesMay 7, 2010 at 4:40 am
I like ‘In the Flesh’ by Clive Barker. I am also yet to read Zombie books. Just found this through google and sounded interesting..so stopped by!
ChristaMay 7, 2010 at 6:40 am
I’m a fan of Shaun of the Dead (I can’t help but laugh!) and I am Legend… though I do love it the most in book form, who can resist Will Smith fighting vampirish-zombies (or is that zombish-vampires)? lol.
Thanks for the giveaway. I’d really love to read this book. I was already intrigued, but after reading her inspiration – logical horror? – Now I *really* want it! 😉
Thanks for the interview & giveaway!
Zita HildebrandtMay 7, 2010 at 7:49 am
For pure camp, I think Return of the Living Dead wins the honors. Do you want to party? LOL But, for true horror I really enjoyed 28 Days Later.
TamiMay 7, 2010 at 8:06 am
My favorite horror movie is Shaun of the Dead. It’s not so much scary as funny, romantic action with zombies. I also loved World War Z for the oral history accounts of what happened.
Teresa W.May 7, 2010 at 9:21 am
Swan Song by Robert McCammon is my favorite read!
Sara MMay 7, 2010 at 9:32 am
My favorite zombie movie is definitely Shaun of the Dead.
michelle in coloradoMay 7, 2010 at 10:10 am
Shaun of the Dead
RaychMay 7, 2010 at 10:12 am
The Stand, definitely. It was one of the first long books I read in high school, and it blew my teenaged mind.
alanaMay 7, 2010 at 10:14 am
The Inferior. No contest.
KimMay 7, 2010 at 11:02 am
My favorite apocalyptic horror stories are: The Stand, Swan Song, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Probably my fav. horror flick was Twenty Eight Weeks later….I though the concept of immunity to the zombie bites but being a carrier was interesting!
MaryKMay 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm
Well, I DON’T DO apocalyptic horror but this author sounds awesome, and I’m thinking my sister might like this book.
I love wittiness. I will have to dig the good twin’s book out of my TBR pile. 😉
CeciliaH.May 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm
“Return Of the Living Dead” & “Shaun Of the Dead” are tops with me for Z-movies…oh…and my son’s zombie flick “Sullen”…won ‘Worst Hangover Ever’ award at the 2008 Seattle True Independent Film Festival! (There…got a plug in for you, Adam!) I read “Forest Of Hands & Teeth” by C. Ryan and look forward to her new one.
Ever since I first heard about your new book I’ve REALLY wanted to read it!!! Sounds like a really good story!
Thanks for a chance to win & I love your sweet kitties! I have 3 myself!
marlyMay 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm
mine would have to be stephen king’s the stand. i saw the series at a very young, impressionable age and i guess it stuck with me as one of the scariest possible ideas ever. i love it.
Carolyn HMay 8, 2010 at 9:22 am
I like Needful Things by stephen king.
TJ MathewsMay 8, 2010 at 11:25 am
I’d vote for either ‘Children of Men’ or ‘Day of the Triffids’. Both are classics! 😉
Lisa B.May 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm
I really enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Also, this season of Supernatural hasn’t been too bad, though not their best. And I can’t wait to read Feed!
Beka C.May 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm
Ooo, that’s a tough one. I think “Shaun of the Dead” might be my favourite film, though if we’re just talking “fallout of the apocalypse” (if low on horror), I’m absolutely LOVING Warren Ellis’ Freakangels. I know for a fact that I’m going to love Feed, because… well, I just am.
Mira’s love for zombies and plagues is infectious. Heh. Pun not intended.
Kimberly H.May 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm
My favorite would be Resident Evil Apocolypse!
MichelleMay 8, 2010 at 8:10 pm
I would have to say World War Z. HBO’s “Carnivale” has some pretty great moments too.
Lisa RichardsMay 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm
My favorite apocalyptic horror film was I am Legend.
I loved Will Smith in it.
| Literary EscapismMay 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm
[…] Mira Grant, author of Feed, at the Book Smugglers […]
FeeobeMay 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm
My favorite horror movie would be the Resident Evil Trilogy. ^_^ hell yea
jimMay 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm
The best zombie series that I have read is the Morning Star series by the late Z.A. Recht.
JessicaAugust 20, 2010 at 5:15 am
Totally with all you Stand lovers. Ditto The Passage and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I just finished Feed – loved it – and am reading World War Z now. Excellent work, Mira, and is that a Maine Coon I see? Best. Cats. Ever.
Darrell GoldrickApril 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm
My movie of all time was Night of the Living Dead. My book would have to be Feed by Mira Grant. T.V. show would have to be that new show on AMC The Walking Dead. Comic would have to Resident Evil 😀