Welcome to our sixth guest post of YAAM, the 2010 edition. As part of our celebration of all things YA, we have invited authors from different genres to write articles about the books and the genres they write.
Today’s guests are none other than Smuggler favorite authors Carrie Ryan and Diana Peterfreund. Carrie writes some of the sickest, most emotionally engaging YA novels around with her zombie series (The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves), and Diana is basically THE pioneer of the killer unicorn novel (see Rampant). Needless to say, we are huge fans. So, after we received ARCs of Zombies vs. Unicorns and met Diana at BEA, we decided that it was time to get the intrepid pair back over for yet another guest blog.
Ladies and gentlemen – or Undead and Majestical – we give you Carrie Ryan and Diana Peterfreund!
By Diana Peterfreund and Carrie Ryan
MEDIATOR: You both know why we’re here today. The zombies versus unicorns debate has been raging its way across the internet for years now, and it has grown increasingly polarized. Accusations have been made – like the one that says [checks paper] Unicorns are responsible for the death of one Nymphadora Tonks—
UNICORN: Vile slander. (I think.)
ZOMBIE: I would like to point out that neither we nor our representatives are responsible for that one. It was all John Green. We cannot be held accountable for claims made by our fans. Also…braaaaaaaaiiiinnnnns.
UNICORN: You know how you can make it up to us? Go eat John Green’s brains. I hear he has some to spare.
MEDIATOR: [clears throat] So…I’m glad I’ve been able to get you two to sit down together to talk over your differences.
ZOMBIE: You mean this wasn’t a battle to the death? Oops, I think I’m in the wrong place. [starts to shamble to its feet]
UNICORN: [begins to sharpen horn on edge of table]
MEDIATOR: Guys, come on, settle down now. And, since you brought it up, Zombie, let’s discuss this whole battle-to-the-death thing that seems to be so popular. The image depicted on the cover of Zombies vs. Unicorns is a good illustration of what people seem to be looking for.
UNICORN: Yeah, and if you notice, we’re totally winning that fight.
ZOMBIE: Over our dead bodies.
UNICORN: All your bodies are dead, mush-for-brains.
ZOMBIE: Mmmmm, brains.
UNICORN: [holds up hooves in frustration] See what I’m dealing with?
MEDIATOR: The internet seems very fond of discussing who would win in a zombie/unicorn battle. But one question has been skipped over, and I want you two to think very hard about this for a minute. What purpose would zombies and unicorns have in actually fighting?
UNICORN: [whinnies in contemplation] Hmmmm…
ZOMBIE: [moans in meditation] Braaaaaainnnnns…
UNICORN: You know, I never even thought of that.
UNICORN: Except we do need to eat and sleep… and you guys would just… keep coming.
ZOMBIE: We do do that. Though the question is, why would we come after you?
UNICORN: Unless, of course, zombies fear that our magical healing properties could cure them of their zombie state. Wait, do zombies WANT a cure?
ZOMBIE: No, we pretty much just want to nom on the sweet, sweet flesh of humans. Non-zombie humans would be the only ones looking for a cure. Now that could really change things—especially if some evil pharmaceutical company like in Diana’s books harnessed unicorns to test out a cure.
UNICORN: [Shudders.] But they’d also be harnessing zombies to experiment on.
ZOMBIE: Yeah. We’d be prisoners together. So would non-zombie humans then turn the unicorns onto the zombies in order to prevent infection?
UNICORN: Since when is that our job? Humans don’t tell me what to do. As far as I can tell, humans are only interested in capturing and/or killing unicorns, and destroying unicorn habitat. We never did anything to them!
MEDIATOR: [starts twiddling her thumbs on the table]
UNICORN: I’m not seeing much of a downside for the zombies. We get imprisoned but no big deal to you. It sounds like the unicorns get the short end of the horn in that scenario. As per usual. I mean, “farting rainbows?” Who comes up with this crap?
UNICORN: Darn humans.
ZOMBIE: But really, the losers there are the humans who get eaten either way – all that effort to experiment on you (if they even can, I hear you’re not so great with the captivity thing), and you don’t do what you’re told.
UNICORN: Yeah, we’re wild like that.
ZOMBIE: Though, question, would a virgin zombie be able to kill a unicorn?
UNICORN: Virgin zombies. I suppose so. But then, why would they bother?
ZOMBIE: Good point. This is all a question of motivation.
UNICORN: And it keeps leading us back to the same place.
[Both Zombie and Unicorn cast sideways glances at the Mediator, who looks increasingly nervous.]
UNICORN: [tapping hooves together on the tabletop] I think it’s rather damaging for us to keep defining ourselves in terms of the third party. It’s humans who have drummed up this whole supposed feud to start with.
ZOMBIE: They’re trying to get zombies and unicorns to fight for their own (human) protection!
UNICORN: [obviously carefully choosing phrasing] I know zombies feel more attached to humans, having been previously human…
ZOMBIE: That’s funny. I think zombies are more attached to humans for wanting to eat them.
UNICORN: Whereas we unicorns are more than happy to be human-avoidant. We’re pretty live and let live, you know, as a species goes. We like wild spaces, independence…
ZOMBIE: We like human brains.
UNICORN: I’m beginning to think this whole feud is not a natural one. Why should we be enemies?
MEDIATOR: Good point, Unicorn!
UNICORN: It’s not a natural thing, like with werewolves and vampires.
ZOMBIE: Right! This whole war was drummed up by humans. You know, “Get the two murderous monsters to fight each other.” It’s like those SyFy movies on Saturday afternoon: the only way to kill the mega bear and mega boar and save the humans is to have the mega animals fight to the death!
UNICORN: Absolutely! So it’s really the humans that are the problem. Grrrr…. trying to cover their own asses by making us reduce our own ranks.
MEDIATOR: Okay, guys, settle down…
UNICORN: Manipulative, destructive beings. That’s SOOOOO like them. I hope they all get zombified.
ZOMBIE: YUM! Though of course that makes one wonder what happens when the last human becomes zombie. Unicorns can prance off and enjoy life… zombies just… starve. Yuck. I don’t like the thought of starving.
[The Mediator starts slowly loading her shotgun underneath the table.]
UNICORN: Wait, do you starve?
ZOMBIE: Hmmm… no idea. Depends on your zombie mythos, I guess. In Carrie’s books, we’d all collapse into blissful nothingness.
UNICORN: I suppose, if the starving thing is an issue, that you have to learn to conserve your resources. You know how I feel about conservation.
ZOMBIE: Pffft – zombies can’t learn!
UNICORN: [rolls eyes] This is what comes of being derived from humans.
ZOMBIE: If only humans weren’t so tasty. It is difficult.
MEDIATOR: [lets out a nervous bark of laughter] Okay, I think we’ve followed this train of thought quite far enough for one day, huh, guys? I mean, I’m pleased that you two seem to be getting along so well, but, um… I think, maybe we should…
UNICORN: Clearly the zombies and unicorns have been duped into this war by those pesky pesky – [nods at Zombie] and tasty humans.
ZOMBIE: Yes. [Looks at Mediator] Tasty. Brains.
UNICORN: It occurs to me that zombies, in general, would be better for the environment than humans. After all, you’re only interested in the consumption of humans, who are a huge overpopulation burden.
UNICORN: Yo, Deadmeat, stay focused. Zombies are, when you think about it, a boon to the preservation of wild spaces and a decrease in the spread of the human menace, which only bring environmental destruction and deforestation. You have no interest in unpopulated areas, right?
ZOMBIE: No, we’d vastly prefer a city. More human meat. More chances to infect.
UNICORN: Precisely. And there would never be MORE zombies. We could halt the population explosion with a zombie apocalypse. You could even reduce it. I mean, what do you think your ratio of infected human to food humans would be?
UNICORN: Never mind. Every little bit helps, after all. And I wouldn’t have to worry about humans hunting me anymore.
MEDIATOR: I think we’ve gotten waaaaaay off topic, here. The point of this meeting was to—
UNICORN: The point is, it doesn’t make sense that we’re fighting each other, does it? When it seems so obvious that we have a mutual enemy.
ZOMBIE: No, it doesn’t. [checks out unicorn’s more deadly attributes] That horn… pretty great for goring, huh?
UNICORN: Oh, yeah. The best.
ZOMBIE: I like gore. And goring. Look, I know you’re better at plans and strategies and stuff, but…
UNICORN: Way ahead of you, Deadmeat. [shoots glance at Mediator]
[The Mediator springs to her feet and levels her shotgun at the Unicorn.]
MEDIATOR: Not so fast, monsters. [She shoots her gun at the Unicorn. It goes way wide.]
UNICORN: Huh. Not a virgin, clearly. [The Unicorn knocks the gun from the Mediator’s hand as the Zombie shambles forward.] Stupid humans.
[The Unicorn pushes the Mediator to the ground and pins her down with a hoof. The Zombie is now salivating.]
UNICORN: Quite right. No! Zombie, wait! Follow the plan. You infect her, I gore her and then – boom.
UNICORN: Right. Let the apocalypse start tonight.
ZOMBIE: But when can I nom delicious humans?
UNICORN: Later. Maybe you can start with Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, for drumming up this whole feud.
ZOMBIE: Great idea. Except I hear Justine’s totally prepared for the apocalypse.
UNICORN: True. And I know for a fact that Holly has a secret bunker in her basement.
ZOMBIE: What about Carrie Ryan and Diana Peterfreund?
UNICORN: Don’t you think we should spare them? You know. For getting us in this room to chat things out?
MEDIATOR: [from floor] Or… me? Spare me!
[The Unicorn and the Zombie regard the mediator for a moment.]
UNICORN: Nah. Let’s spare no one.
ZOMBIE: I’m all for that! [Chomps down on Mediator’s arm. The Mediator screams.]
[The Unicorn regards the sign on the door: ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS: PEACE IN OUR TIME]
UNICORN: Yes. Peace in our time. [The Unicorn gores the Mediator.]
MEDIATOR: Gurgle. Gurgle… Moooooooooaaaaaaaan.
About Carrie Ryan: Carrie Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of two critically acclaimed novels set decades after the zombie apocalypse: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte Press, 2009) and The Dead-Tossed Waves (Delacorte Press, 2010). The third in the trilogy, The Dark and Hollow Places, will be released in Spring 2011. Her first novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, was chosen as a Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association, a Best of the Best Books by the Chicago Public Library and a finalist in the Borders Original Voices program.
Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie 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 husband, two fat cats and one large puppy in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse.
About Diana Peterfreund: Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she’s concerned, she’s just getting started). Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives with her husband and their puppy in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock.
Thank you, Diana and Carrie!!
Make sure to stick around for our review of Zombies vs. Unicorns later today!