Joining us today is author Marie Crow. I thought it might be interesting after our discussion with Armand to bring a female perspective to the zombie genre. But be warned, Marie is most definitely not here to talk about a wholesome approach to horror. So without further delay let’s go over to the darkness with Marie Crow
WIDW: Marie thanks for joining us. It seems every one I interview has a better author name than me. Please tell me Marie Crow is a pen name?
Marie: No, it’s not really a pen name I would say more of a nickname that I use so the team decided to run with it. We have not only ran with it, but have abused the hell out of it!
WIDW: So I pretty much can’t shut up and I’ll tell people my entire life story, regardless of their actual interest. I’m gonna take a shot in the dark here and guess that based on the very little information about you on your website that you are a little more of a private person? – that’s also my invite for you to tell us more about yourself if you so choose.
Marie: You’re right. I am more on the private side and have always been. I have a close circle of a team with our own little battle cry to let us know when to “circle the wagons”. I just don’t really grasp this need with the new social media world to tell everyone, everything, all of the time. I really don’t care what someone had for breakfast; much less do I desire to see pictures of it on every news feed they use. I’m just not that girl.
WIDW: Note to self – remove breakfast menu from possible blog ideas
Marie: I apply that same logic to my work. I imagine most readers enjoy the art, not the artists. Those that desire a little more, I do reply and chat with on the FB page, Twitter and website or when I am at events. After having one of my daughters cornered at school being asked if she was really Marie F Crow’s daughter though, I “circled” those wagons quickly.
WIDW: Women are driving the horror genre sales and specifically the apocalyptic/dystopia categories. Which pisses me off because when I was a teen my fascination for horror made it difficult to find any cool chicks to hang out with. What do you think has changed and what is driving female readers to the genre?
Marie: I have always been a horror girl instead of the perfect-abs-romance-reader. Romance just bores me. The real world isn’t made of happy endings and perfect hair. The girl doesn’t always get the guy, but no matter what world you live in, we all are going to die. Only a small percent will die in their sleep.
I want that scare. I want my mind to race with thoughts of “how would I survive…” when I finish reading a book or watching a show. I’m the girl doing the eye rolling when the woman does the over played head toss and perfectly timed moan on the screen. If you want my attention, give me a good vein spray against a white wall.
I think what has changed is that it’s becoming “okay” for girls to like that stuff. We don’t have to be the perfect, gentle flowers waiting in overdone dresses and pearls at the door, anymore. Can I get three cheers for that?!? We can do anything that men can do and that means cheering right along with them when the bimbo finally gets the axe to her back.
WIDW: What perspective do you believe female authors bring to the zombie genre that their male counterparts don’t?
Marie: Women have a different view of the world than men do. It’s neither better nor worse. It’s just the way we are wired. I was dared to write the first book because I was constantly bored with the T&A and the just pure “slasher” style of all the books and shows I was finding. The gore is great, if it adds to the scene. I don’t need page after page of instant zombie kills. Actually, it’s just mind numbing.
Women, most times, tend to care more about the people in a story. We want their story. We want to care about the people and understand their “whys”. This isn’t what most zombie books are about. You normally receive just enough about the people to know their names and then it’s off to the instant killing and well-stocked bunkers. I think female authors, to different degrees, are adding this new element into the genre. For me the zombies are not the whole story. They are more of a time line, a backdrop if you will to take you through the horror. The real horror is what is happening to the people and not all of the drama is from the zombies.
WIDW: I agree, I think characters drive the stories. In general, Zombie authors have a different vision of the future and of course that future is a not so pleasant place. Some of us also like the apocalypse because it provides a unique set of circumstances to explore the human condition. What is it about the genre that sparks your passion?
Marie: That is exactly what “sparks my passion”. Everyone is different. How you would react to a situation is not the same as how I would. That is what makes the apocalypse so interesting. It truly is a people-driven world. Are you strong enough to do what has to be done to survive? Really strong enough? Can you kill “innocent” people to better your own people? Are you a savior, sinner, or a follower? These are the things that inspire me in my stories. I take “real” people, drag them through Hell with no Heaven in sight and see what the new world makes of them in the end. Whatever caused the world (zombies, infection, world chaos) is not the important piece of the puzzle. It’s just the framework that supports all the odds and ends of pieces left floating around trying to find a spot to fit. It’s one of the few stories where you don’t really know which way a character will go or how their story will end.
WIDW: I think I always loved zombies and the infected horde (see Omega Man) but it wasn’t until Brian Keene’s The Rising that I realized how great the stuff was “off the screen.” Was there a single work that inspired you?
Marie: Work, no. Author, yes. Stephen King. Hands down. It always amused me how he took everyday situation in most of his stories and twisted them to the nail biters they became. Proms, cars, dogs, number one fans, it didn’t matter, because by the time he was done with them, they are dark portals to a world we never thought they would travel. It’s pure genius. As far as zombies, almost everyone has their twist to the monster; their own personal touches of creepy. I enjoy them all…to a degree.
WIDW: Most writers were heavy readers, and most horror writers – okay me – read many books not in the genre. If we played the “deserted island game” what three books would you bring with you.
Marie: This one is tough. How much do I want to date myself here? I guess, of course, something of King’s older works. Most likely, Misery or Dolores Claiborne. I can still hear Kathy Bates in my mind saying the lines.
Now here is where I let my “nerd flag” fly. Are you ready? Elf Quest by Richard and Wendy Pini. I have the whole “graphic novel” set sitting in my office by my desk. One day, I would like to tackle a world like that with my own tainted ideas.
For the third, I guess I would have to lean towards something for Laurel K Hamilton’s original work. I’m a not huge fan of her most recent adventures. Antia has become a bit to…willing…for my tastes in reading. It was nice to finally have a female character that wasn’t bed hopping to survive and just as able to kill as her male counterparts if she had to. I’m sad to see that change.I know, not a real zombie book in the batch. Perhaps your readers can help me with some suggestions?
WIDW: Well I’ll just shamelessly suggest that your zombie selection should be You and Me against the World. You write on your website that zombies have gotten a little soft, and not because they are rotting corpse, but that they are too “cute.” That has happened to a lot of our favorite monsters – insert funny/sarcastic Stephanie Meyer comment – why do you think romantic monsters is such a trend?
Marie: I have ranted over this topic myself. I do believe the crutch of this disaster falls back to the basic desire of “I want the bad boy” for females. Some females want the “monster” without the “bite”. Female writers have been romancing Dracula long before vampires sparkled in the sun. The sparkles aren’t new, they just have become mainstream. Can you imagine what would have happened if someone had told Vlad and his brides that sunlight would just make them glimmer, not combust? Pity Van Helsing!
Some females want to dance the edge of danger knowing they will fall safely back when tired and what is more dangerous than the classic monsters? It’s the time old nauseating tale of “my love will change him”. He’s not really a monster. He’s just misunderstood. No, Sweetheart, your vagina is not that miraculous since the woman always becomes the “monster” in the end to live forever with the guy. Start the next rewrite of the story! Add more glitter!
WIDW: You also state that you want to put the “bump” back into things that do so in the night – Do you think it is easier to make a reader sad/cry than to actually make them afraid?
Marie: This question made me giggle a little. I’m not proud to admit it, but it did. The most common statement we receive in our fan mail at Crow Publishing is, “I can’t believe I was crying over a horror book!”
The trick, I think, to reaching a reader’s emotions is to make the situation “real”. Bring the characters to “life” and put them through something that possibly could happen; something that the readers could see themselves having to face. If the situation is unbelievable then the reader can’t connect with the scene, and you’re right back to the mind numbing page flipping.
I write using that basic human element in the stories of “family”. You most likely do not enjoy every single member of your family, but if you were to lose any of them, you would feel that pain. I take the readers on that same ride as they stand by in the shadows watching the characters suffer so they suffer along with them. I enjoy it. I enjoy knowing that when the readers get to a certain part, my inbox will flood with their comments. “WTF Crow?!?”, has slowly become our mantra over here with how often it is used in messages to us.
I enjoy tearing apart the characters in my books to bring them down to a very real feeling. You will not find office staff suddenly using grenade launchers with perfect aim in my work. You will discover moms, dads, sisters, children and everyone in between learning how to survive and how to die. That is where you find the fear. That is where the sadness dwells. The difficulty of reaching either emotion lies with how much the writer wants that reaction. Words are magic, and like magic, its what you do with it that defines it. I use bad, bad magic.
WIDW: Even though you believe zombies have gotten too cute, you did write a children’s book which sort of reverses your comments – how can you maintain one statement but still write a children’s book? (not attacking the idea here, just giving you an opp to point out introducing children to horror in an appropriate manner)
Marie: Let’s back the bus up a moment. Signal the beeping sound because the thought process has jumped an exit. Nothing about Abigail introduces children to horror. To imply otherwise, paints the wrong picture of the book.
WIDW: I really do love when the interviewee gets riled over my broad based assumptions…
Marie: To really understand the “WTF Crow?!?” switch up, (see we can use it in so many ways!) we need to look at this from a different approach. I have two daughters. One is not really ready for The Risen series yet, because of this, I noticed she was feeling left out of the chain gang of work. This book started as a way for her and I to have our own book, if you will. She finally gets to show people “Mommy’s work”. That was the conception. That same need has birthed a YA series that will be released in 2014, too.
Have you ever read children’s books? How many times can you read a story about the perfect family with the perfect life and not wonder why kids are growing up and needing meds to cope with the real world? Abigail is my, “Hey, not every kid is perfect, fitting your golden mold of an idea and that’s okay!” I just used a pet zombie to do this. Of course I didn’t keep the pet zombie to the standards of what I think adults should keep zombies. I don’t keep my children to the standards of what adults should be doing, either.
The idea behind my quote was in regards to “adult” horror. Zombies have become so mainstream that they are nothing more than trees to a movie. I can think of scenes in a few shows were the characters are standing around while the undead mob slowly – painfully slowly – creeps up on them and it is not even noticed. This is what started to disgust me. These same characters would not be aimlessly talking about their plans if a mask-wearing axe murder were coming towards them. Why are they doing it for zombies?
In that same breath of a soapbox, zombies are not strippers or romantics relearning to love. They are monsters and if you are going to make an adult story, keep them as monsters. They are rotting, reanimated corpses. Still feeling romantic towards them? What’s next? Splash them with glitter and tie an air freshener around their necks? Yeah, I just can’t fully kill my angst over the whole disaster.
WIDW: Back to the Risen series – Your protagonist is a young female character and filled with her share of unfinished business, maybe regrets, what are your thoughts on the physical survival aspects of a zombie book versus the psychological survival aspects?
Marie: Give me the psychological any day! I think a lot of zombie books cater more to the instant-win-headshots crowd, which in reality, is laughable. It all falls back to the “what is real?” to make the book feel real. Wonderful, you can kill things, but how do you feel after killing it? That is what I believe is the real horror. The character just had to kill their friend or family member to survive. Do you want to read about the kill or about how it changed the character? I want to peel back the character’s mind and watch that show. Not the show of the killing. I want to sit and watch to see if they will be strong enough to survive it mentally. That is the real story.
WIDW: It took me about two paragraphs of your first book to confirm that you have writing talent. I’m no expert but your writing has “literary” qualities, which I define as making me say “damn she’s really smart”, does it bother you that your chosen genre may limit your audience?
Marie: First off, thank you. I have been called a smart ass often, but rarely just smart. I might have to quote you next family reunion. On one hand, you do realize you just labeled our favorite crowd…stupid? I’ll let you smirk on that one for a moment.
WIDW: We pause here for a moment so that I may clarify…I labeled my favorite crowd as limited in size but genius in intelligence…okay back to you…
Marie: Honestly, I know my writing style is not always the most preferred for a few readers. Writing is art and art is a very personal preference. I don’t enjoy a lot of writing styles in this genre, but that is just me. Once again, personal preference. I write what I enjoy to read, as do most authors I would imagine. What is popular right now is the headshots-for-days, quick thumb through style of reads. That’s fine. I write more for the other side of the genre that wants the escape reading can provide, not the diversion of a few moments. I want to connect with my readers on an emotional level, and to do that, I have to paint the story with broader strokes than other zombie writers’ use. See Jane run. See Jane kill. See Jane die. See Dickhead survive. See Marie bored. It’s just not my thing. Not even in the Abigail series.
My fans are the type that has grown bored with the genre for the same reasons. My fans are people that don’t read zombie stories because they lack, and I’m quoting the fans here, “the depth that they enjoy their books to have.” So have I limited myself? No, I don’t think so. My books are exactly what I want them to be and the number of fans telling me their emotions when they read them means more to me than any number on Amazon’s charting.
Besides, let’s be honest. We both know if we were going to write for the dollar sign or instant fame, we would not be writing horror. Seen any e-rot or hoemance with zombies lately?
WIDW: You have three stories written on the Risen series, any plans for a different type of horror in the future?
Marie: I have a thing or two stashed in my pockets, but I will always be a zombie fan girl first. Next year will see a few new projects from Crow Publishing as my madness continues to reign. It looks like I will be reaching my goal of releasing six books this year and next year looks even crazier! The YA series will start. Abigail will continue to play with her pet zombie. The Risen series will wrap up and a new cast with a new “horror” will come to play. I might even dip my toes into the world of “caped crusaders”. I’m going to need a lot of cupcakes!
WIDW: Okay where can the readers find you?
Marie: Half asleep at my desk! I’m always cruising the social media world even if I’m not the best at keeping up the posts. On Twitter I can be found at, @MarieFCrow. In the wonderful land of FB, https://www.facebook.com/MarieFCrow.Author. Plus my own private section of internet fun, MarieFCrow.com. Oh, and I hear there is an Amazon page, too.
About The Risen
Amazon (Link to Book)
Paperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Marie F Crow Publishing; 1 edition (May 14, 2013)
Helena Hawthorn has lived her entire life in the dark shadow of her perfect younger siblings, The Hawthorn Angels. Now as the world awakens to a new horror, she will have to risk everything to keep them safe or forever be haunted by the failure to keep them alive. Each day will bring a new victory, or a new scar, as Helena learns that the dawn waits for no one.
With her newly bonded family, the local motorcycle club G.R.I.T., they will discover the world now holds much deeper horrors for them than they could have ever imagined. The Risen not only stalk the earth but stalk their nightmares as well.
Categories: IAI - Indie Author Interviews