Zombie Apocalypse: Fast Food Zombie

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Jane Whittingham weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is your best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?

 

MY SPECIAL SKILL

On first glance I might not appear to be the best person to have on your team in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never held a gun. I’m not particularly strong or fit. I have no outdoor survival skills. And I’m not exactly a dab hand with a baseball bat.

What I do offer, though, is a very special skill set gained by watching countless hours of cooking competition shows on television.

Stay with me here. In the aftermath of a zombie attack, food will likely be scarce and hard to come by. As the saying goes, though, an army marches on its stomach. How are we going to feed ourselves with no fast food outlets to rely on?

Friends, this is where my special skill set comes in. Thanks to all those episodes of Iron Chef and Chopped, I will be able to take the most random assortment of ingredients and turn them into something (somewhat) nutritious and (hopefully) delicious (or at least edible). I’ve seen chefs turn ground beef into delectable desserts, so I think I’m well prepared to handle even the most challenging culinary scenarios.

Now, this might not seem like the most vital skill in the face of global annihilation, but nutritious meals will help survivors keep up their strength (and avoid disastrous food poisoning), while tasty dishes will help build morale.

So hand me that tinned asparagus of questionable age, those bags of squished marshmallows, that bottle of cola and that squirrel you just trapped and let me work my magic!

rain city

Jane Whittingham is a children’s book author and librarian. Her debut picture book, Wild One, was published by Pajama Press in Canada in November 2017 and will release in the United States in March 2018.

In addition to books, she’s also passionate about travel and does share the occasional travel-themed post on Raincity Librarian. She also adores anime, Korean dramas, strong black tea, sushi, and her home city of Vancouver (aka RAINCITY).

 

Zombie Apocalypse: Long Legs as a Weapon of Choice

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, up and coming author Laurie Crookell weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

 

 WHEN ZOMBIES COME TO TOWN

 Warwick Castle. Warwickshire, England. 2018.

The castle’s walls rise from the ground like oversized tombstones. Majestic towers guard each corner, as if giant knights carved from stone. An entrance way beckons, the drawbridge extended like a hand of greeting. I stroll into the courtyard, where overgrown rose gardens soften the harsh, stone walls.

Thunderous clouds loom overhead. Lightning bolts flash through the sky. Gnashing teeth clatter. Are prisoners still languishing in the dungeons? I glance about. Augghhhhhh!

Zombies! Everywhere. Clawing at me. Grasping for my limbs. Has the apocalypse arrived? Blood oozes down the zombies’ decomposing faces, their matted hair hanging like rats’ tails dripping in sludge. The stench of rotting flesh and putrefied skunk spray rushes up my nose. The zombies moan. Low. Deep. Guttural. Spine-shivering.

Fear slithers through my body, squeezing my insides with gut-wrenching dread. My heart plunges, thumping to the erratic rhythm of panic and fear. Thud-thud. Thump. Thud-thud-thud. Pound. My heart flips inside out.

I run, feet hammering the ground, my brain racing like a Formula One race car. What am I going to do? How do I get rid of zombies? They didn’t teach that in Economics 101. Help, I’ve never even seen a zombie movie. Quick. Think. Wait, that’s it. My long legs! I can outrun and out-climb those zombies any day. To the towers!

The zombies surge forward, their ragged clothing flapping against their limbs. I run even faster. The nearest turret rises before me. I scramble through the open four-foot thick, wooden door, pushing it shut behind me. Thud. Clunk. I bolt the door, metal clanking on metal, as the bolt slides into place.

A spiral staircase swirls to the top. I sprint up the turret stairs, two at a time. Up and up, whirling around in a dizzying coil. My sneakers grip the worn, stone steps. Sunlight filters in through narrow slits along the turret walls. I pant. Beads of sweat drip down my face. I push myself upwards, only a few more stairs.

I reach the top, shove open the wooden door, and then bolt it shut behind me. Clank! I stroll to the edge and gaze out at the vista below. Emerald green grass, like velvety moss, stretches before me, masking the battles of historic times and drawing my attention away from the teeming zombies below.

I’m safe. At least, for now!

Nighttime flies in on raven’s wings. Black. Eerie. Ominous. Shadow’s twin, lurking, like a cloak over earth’s noble throne. Zombies gnash their teeth, while moving en mass against the turret door below. I slump to the cold, stone floor. Hunger sneaks in, my stomach churning. Does anyone deliver pizza this time of day? I pull out my cell phone and dial.

“Air delivery, please.”

A deafening crash echoes through the night. The zombies break through the first bolted door. The apocalypse at ground level has begun. Will my pizza arrive before the zombies?

Before long, a helicopter swirls overhead. A rope drops with a pizza box dangling on the end.

“Hey!” I holler. “Can I hitch a ride out of here?”

The pilot nods. I grab hold of the rope. The helicopter lifts up, its propellers whirring overhead. I hang on tight, swaying back and forth as I dangle midair. Zombies burst through the door and swarm onto the top of the turret.

I laugh. “So long, you zombie devils! My long legs will beat you every time.” I fly off into night’s ebony silk sky, luminescent stars twinkling over my victory. “Take that, you flesh-eating zombies! I win!”

laurie

BIO: Laurie Crookell is an up and coming writer, with 13 awards from provincial, national, and international writing competitions, along with 14 published newspaper and magazine articles. She hopes to soon land a publishing contract for her picture books and young adult novel, after which, perhaps she’ll write a movie script about zombies.

Zombieapocalypse: Knit Your Escape!

Zombie Apocalypse: Knit Your Escape!

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Eileen Cook weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is your best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?
This is a difficult question to answer. Right off the bat I know my biggest downside- an active imagination. I’m the MASTER at imagining the worst case scenario, which means I would be picturing zombies popping out of every possible dark corner. I would be that person who was always screaming: “ACK Over there! Over there!”  and then once everyone ran over and realized there was nothing but a shadow would start to ignore me, or leave me behind because my constant screaming was both annoying and attracted the wrong kind of attention.
The one useful skill that I could bring is that I can knit. In most zombie shows I can’t help but notice everyone’s clothes look pretty shabby. Not that being fashionable is the most important thing when attempting to outrun the un-dead, but you don’t need to look bad either. Plus, I can make socks. If you spend a lot of time running you’re going to want comfy socks. And, not to freak anyone out, but knitting needles are big giant pointy sticks. I’ve never tried this on purpose, if you stabbed a zombie with one, it would hurt and into the eye would be a sure fire way to kill one. I have managed to stab myself (granted never through the eye) by accident and I can vouch it doesn’t feel great.

 

Headshottypesmile-768x1152.jpg

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, THE HANGING GIRL, came out in October 2017. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Thrice a Zombie Weapon…

Zombie Apocalypse: Thrice a Zombie Weapon…

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Sylvia Gunnery weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan. And she does so as a story! Sylvia is one of the authors I’ll be doing workshops with at the SD73 Young Authors’ Conference in Kamloops on May 4th.

 

Zombie Apocalypse Challenge

It’s midnight (of course). The wicked winter wind howls around the corners of my house and the angry Atlantic Ocean pounds against the rugged shoreline. Salty spray is hurled at the trembling windows. All dire warnings. But is anybody listening?

Snow swirls out of the darkness like desperate, lost ghosts.

Or zombies.

A sudden knock sounds on the front door. Eerie. Eager. Then again.

Through the frosted window I think I see, in the dangerous darkness, a crowd (more of a small collection, than a crowd, actually) of desperate zombies, huddled helplessly together. They plead with undead eyes for me to let them come in out of the apocalyptic storm. The winter nor’easter, my first weapon, has grabbed the zombie spirits by their fleshy (er..I mean…) creepy throats. They are already faltering in their gruesome intentions!

But the zombies are not yet conquered. (Of course not.)

My second weapon is ready.

I open the door. Zachery (I already know his name because I’m the one writing this scene) stands at the head of this zombie collection. He’s the one who came up with the brainy (yummmmm) idea to appear at Crescent Beach on this winter-storm night. Zachery nods to his nearly dead followers. Like a group of ten-year-olds at Hallowe’en, they crowd into my porch. I close the door against the wild wind and frigid, foreboding night.

Grey eyes stare out of decayed faces. Grey and blistered lips curl across pointed and purposeful teeth.

“Hu…” I stop myself (before it’s too late) from asking if anyone’s hungry.

“Thi…” I stop myself (before it’s too late) from asking if anyone’s thirsty.

My second weapon has begun to work its magic. Silent. Invisible. It oozes into their brittle zombie bones. Finally, their grey and gruesome zombie thoughts slowly begin to melt away in the warmth of the fire in the wood stove. (Note: slowly begin to melt away.) It’s not over yet!

I have one more weapon left! (Three is always a good number in story structure–you know, like three wishes, or three little pigs, or three blind mice. Or, in this scene, three zombie-conquering weapons.)

With my third weapon, I will turn this boney band of beleaguered bodies into a calm collection of curious creatures!

“Sit down, everyone. Make yourselves comfortable,” I say. “Do I have a story for you!”

It was a dark and stormy night…

About the author…

Sylvia Gunnery first took herself seriously as a writer when she attended the five-week Banff Centre writing session in 1976 under the instruction of W.O. Mitchell, Alice Munro, and others. Since then she has published over 25 books for teens and children as well as professional resources for teachers of writing. A recipient of a Prime Minister’s Teaching Award, she has presented at conferences, libraries, and schools across Canada.  In 2016, she was honoured with a WFNS Legacy Membership.  Sylvia lives at Crescent Beach, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  Her newest YA novel is Road Signs That Say West (Pajama Press 2017).

Zombie Apocalypse: Zombie Escape Artist

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Karen Spafford-Fitz weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

Full disclosure: I have never watched a zombie movie in my life.

I don’t really understand what zombies are, or what they’re capable of doing. So I’m possibly the least qualified person to write about how I’d respond during a Zombie Apocalypse. Nonetheless, I’m surprised by my strength of conviction about how I’d survive such an attack.

First of all, I am NOT a morning person.

In fact, I have been described as [wait for it….] a ZOMBIE in the morning. Doesn’t that already give me an edge? So if the Zombie Apocalypse were to happen in the morning hours—and my odds are 50/50—any zombie warriors would simply assume I was one of them and would pass me by. Because we’re talking zombies—not cannibals, right? (PLEASE tell me zombies aren’t cannibals too. Otherwise, I’m hooped!)

Just in case I’m wrong about the cannibalism thing, I have a second skill that would surely prove invaluable:

I am profoundly directionally-challenged. In fact, the only thing more non-existent than my knowledge of zombies, is my non-existent sense of direction. My daughters even have a rule when travelling with me: “If Mom says to turn left, just turn right and you’ll be fine.” My directional challenges are virtually on the superpower level. I defy anyone to figure out why I just turned left, veered right, hopped over a fence, or made any other directional move. Even I am without explanation for them. I am one-hundred-percent unpredictable and would baffle even the smartest—or the dumbest—zombie going. Take that, Zombo!

If, on the slightest off-chance, neither of the above happened to work, I’d do something else supremely clever. Like, I’d eat a clove of garlic or I’d wear a cross. Because that would work too. Wouldn’t it?

Karen

Karen Spafford-Fitz is the author of three middle-grade and teen novels: Saving Grad, Vanish and Dog Walker. Her two new books, Unity Club (Orca) and Push Back (Lorimer) will be released in fall 2018. Karen lives in Edmonton, Alberta where she anticipates adding “Zombie Escape Artist” to her resumé.

 

Zombie Apocalypse: Saved by Book Characters

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Cristy Watson weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

A few days after James McCann asked me if I would like to join several authors in writing a guest blog post…

…for his new website, I was driving to work early in the morning along Highway 10 on a stretch of road between Cloverdale and Langley. As I came over the crest of the hill, I was thrown off guard by the strangest sight. On the road, close to the white line dividing the two lanes going East, was a workman’s glove. Now you may think that isn’t all that strange. However, the glove was HUGE and it was not lying flat on the ground, but rather, it was propped up, and I swear it looked full, as though there was a hand in it and it was reaching for my car! Of course I swerved, and thankfully, avoided causing an accident, but I was unnerved by what I saw. Was I channelling James and my future blog post to his page, or was this something more sinister, something about which I should be worried?

So far, I have not seen any other signs of a future apocalypse.

But what I spotted that day has definitely put me in the right frame of mind to be prepared for the future, and for writing this blog today. So what skills do I possess to help me, if the end of the world is nigh? Well, my best defence would be to somehow get to Calgary where my sister lives. She is the one person who would know how to defend us. She is an expert in all things related to Zombies. In fact, I phoned her for a little research, and her first response was that I should throw my Rupert Holmes album at the approaching horde. I laughed at her reference to Shaun of the Dead and she took that moment to add that she can think of a number of my albums that could be thrown toward the slow-moving masses of grizzled, hanging flesh. She went on to share other ideas that did not include ruining my record collection. However, none of them seemed to be solutions I could manage.

I have to admit it – I would be in trouble. I am fairly inept when it comes to the necessary skills and knowledge required to survive in a world over-run with Zombies. So, I have decided to look at the characters in my books. Would they fare any better than me? Would they be able to protect me?

In Benched, Taz would probably be my go-to character for support.

He is fast, jumpy and impulsive, but also loyal to his friends. He would rise to defend those he cares about and would literally, run circles around the zombies, but that would only be helpful for so long.

Living Rough has a main character who loves Edgar Allan Poe and is in fact, nicknamed, Poe.

On his own he wouldn’t be much of a threat, but if he could get a hold of The Tell-Tale Heart, he could throw it at the Zombies. That might buy him some time.

My next story with Orca Currents, has a secondary character named Toby, who loves to play Plants vs. Zombies on his iPad. If he were able to access plant arsenal, we’d all be saved! Failing that, I would still be in trouble!

In my latest book with Orca (released January 2019) my MC, Roonie, would be all over this epidemic.

She loves to dance HIP HOP and has all the right moves. She could dance her way out of this. Since I have trouble touching my toes, I might still be in trouble!

Of my three books with Lorimer Sidestreets, only one character comes to mind as being able to help me.

As long as we can find a car with gas, Logan loves street-racing. He’s living on the edge and is reckless enough to get us out of town, running over anything that gets in our way. We won’t have enough gas in the tank to get all the way to Calgary, but since the Rockies are a high climb, hopefully the Zombies won’t have reached that far, yet. And then Sis, the rest is up to you!

In my current WIP called A New Dawn, one of my main characters is a leader of the Winged-People.

Even though her wing is damaged and she can’t fly, her comrades can. I think I would fare well on the back of one of her clansmen! Because all my characters are fictional, my final thoughts on my best skill for surviving a Zombie attack – I don’t have one – so I better turn and run!

 

 

epic_fail

Dungeons and Dragons and Creative Writing

Over the next few months, I’ll be running workshops that connect Dungeons and Dragons to writing creatively.

Writing Your Story Dungeons and Dragons-style

Whether you write contemporary tales or fantasy epics, the popular game of Dungeons and Dragons can make you a better writer. See how modern writers have been influenced through creating characters, maps, and collaborative storytelling to work through tough plot points!

At the end of this workshop, you’ll have the tools to say goodbye to writer’s block forever and get that novel written and polished.

What does that mean, exactly?

When I was 14 years old, I ran a weekly D&D game with my friends and had to come up with stories–sometimes on the fly. The purpose of D&D is that you have a storyteller, known as the Dungeon Master, who narrates the story to the players. This includes the setting, plot, and non-essential characters. The players are the ones who tell the Dungeon Master what the essential characters do–and as any writer knows, your characters can often screw up your intentions for the plot.

So now, many years later, I have been playing D&D 5th edition as a player and messing up the well-thought out plot my Dungeon Master has created. For the last month, I have been running my own game at the library as storyteller for a group of teens who continuously challenge me as a writer. There has not been a game where the teens haven’t forced me to rewrite the story and to accept the path the characters (whom they play) want to take.

20180227_190153

The teen D&D game uses apps.

20180227_211030

We also use 3D printed characters!

How does this translate into writing?

To create a story as a Dungeon Master, I had to write and create the following things:

(1) A map of the world where the story takes place.
(2) Maps of all the towns the characters may visit.
(3) Histories of the world and of the towns. Plus, of the spaces the characters may travel between towns.
(4) A plot that would get the characters (acted out by the players) to want to go from Point A to Point Z.
(5) Sub-plots that those characters would experience along the way. (Points B to Y.)
(6) Non-essential characters (played out by me) that would challenge the players. Some are friends, some are foes. Some who are friends, turn out to be foes. Some who are thought to be foes, turn out to be friends (the players had quite a bad turn here when they thought they were rescuing a farmer’s daughter from cultists, only to discover they were freeing an evil werewolf’s daughter from a group of warriors and wizards who could have saved her. Notice the past tense there…)
(7) Constant writing and rewriting of the plot week-to-week, and sometimes during the game, when other ideas surface either through the players or through my own ideas.

20180206_185210

The adults also play D&D at my library!

Those seven steps are essentially what it takes to write a book. And I’ve used this technique to write several books of urban fantasy, apocalypse, and contemporary tales.

IMG_5517

Last of these covers for Rancour and One-Eyed King!

I’ve taught workshops before where we played D&D to inspire our stories. I even created my own “Apocalypse Survival” role-playing game for classrooms, which I did for a few years while the apocalypse still seemed like a far-fetched idea.

How about you? Do you use Dungeons and Dragons (or other role-playing games) to inspire your writing? If so, I’d love to hear about it!