CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH A.M. GEEVER
*This interview contains spoilers from LOVE IN AN UNDEAD AGE
1. What was the inspiration behind this story?
I just wanted to tell an interesting story that could also be a social critique, which is what George Romero did in his films.
2. Tell us about your main character.
Her name is Miranda Tucci. Living through the zombie apocalypse has really changed her, in some ways for better but in other ways for the worse. But she’s a survivor and has a very strong moral compass that, despite everything, has stayed intact. She’s smart and sassy and a real smartass. And a babe.
3. Which is your favorite minor character and why?
Karen. She is fun to write.
4. What is your favorite personality trait of your main character?
It’s a two-way tie between her loyalty and her sense of right and wrong.
5. What is your favorite personality trait of your bad guy/girl?
I don’t have one. He’s too much of a creep.
6. Tell us something funny about one of your characters.
I can’t think of one! How bad is that?
7. I’m inviting your main character to dinner. What should I make?
Pasta, with an excellent tomato sauce. And booze… lots of booze.
8. Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
Yes. Doug became this hilarious smart ass, which made him so much fun to write. But mostly I was surprised by the love story… it was not supposed to be Miranda and Mario.
9. Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.
The officer turned back. Walter stepped forward. Sebastian twitched. And the chapter of the Agreement Day Gala is one of my favorites.
10. How long did it take you to write this book?
Years! About six or seven, mostly because I was working full-time.
11. If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?
I’d like Jennifer Lawrence or Shailene Woodley to be Miranda. Maybe Cara Delevingne.
I don’t know about Mario… I ended up basing him on Timothy Olyphant (his interpretation of his character Raylan Givens from Justified), but if they stuck to the ages in the book he would be too old. But he’d still be my first choice. Maybe Kit Harrington? God, if Jon Snow could be Mario that would be freaking amazing!
Connor would need to be someone who can pull off the Boy Scout earnestness without it being cheesy… that’s a tough one. Maybe Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn Ironside from Vikings!) or Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)? I think I like Tom Felton better for Doug, actually. Doug would really need to be someone solid, someone who can pull off his irreverence w/out making him seem like the class clown.
Lily James would be a great Emily.
Walter… if I can’t use my dad then Gabriel Byrne or Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos from Game of Thrones) would be my first choice, by a mile. Ciaran Hinds is probably my favorite Irish actor of all time but I don’t know that he’s right for Walter.
Callan Mulvey could pull off the crazy creepiness of Jeremiah… he is hands down my first choice for Jeremiah.
12. How did you come up with the title?
Originally I was calling it Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Story. But one of the women in my writing group kept saying, “It needs more zombies.” And I’d explain that while it’s set in the world with zombies, it’s not about zombies. It’s about the people. And then I’d hear, “It needs more zombies.” So I had to come up with a name that conveyed that it was about people and was a love story first and foremost. After I changed the title, she quit saying that.
13. Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story.
There’s a parking garage at the San Jose Airport (see link below) and it’s got all these arms on the sides, and it looks like a zombie pit. Everyone thinks so. It took me about three years to realize it’s supposed to be people waving “hello” or “goodbye” to people coming or going from the airport. I mentioned it to the over designer (Doug Dean, who is AMAZING) and he ran with it. It was one of three designs and when I saw it I knew it was the one.
14. Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)
As far as books in the zombie genre go it’s very unique. Most deal with living through the appearance of zombies. Mine is set ten years AFTER that has happened and is about the society that has sprung up as a result. That is very different from 95% of what is out there. Also, it’s a kick ass love story with action and adventure and suspense and great characters. It’s a roller-coaster ride.
15. Is there an underlying theme in your book? If so, tell us about it and why/if it’s important to you.
My book is a social critique of inequality, justice, and greed. Can’t afford the vaccine? Then die, just like millions of uninsured Americans do every year because of how our health insurance “system” is set up to make money, not provide care. Want the vaccine but can’t pay? Then be a doser, which is essentially being an indentured servant/wage slave, just like the millions of people who stick it out in soul-crushing jobs they hate for the health insurance. Are you displaced, coming from somewhere else because of how bad it is at home? Fuck you – we’ll lock you up in one of Donald Trump’s concentration camps on the southern border. And some people won’t like that characterization if they like Trump but I wrote this book years before he was elected. Yet here we are, with immigration at the forefront and dehumanization of desperate and vulnerable people as topical as ever. Trump just happens to be the latest, most blatant and crass version. Have lots of money and power? Clearly you are entitled to it and it makes you a better person than everyone else, which is definitely what the people on the City Council in the book who are running the show believe, and we have the highest levels of income inequality in America than since the Great Depression. We have money infecting our political system so that it no longer answers to or represents regular citizens, but the rich corporations and people who bankroll their campaigns. Oil companies who are fighting anything that might cut into their profits by denying the damage fossil fuels are doing to the planet that are going to make it uninhabitable because they care more about making money right now and don’t care about the long-term impact, which is crazy! Where do they think they or their kids or their grand kids are going to live? This book is a social critique about all of that.
16. Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What message do you hope readers get from your book?
That change is possible, but we have to work and fight for it, and be vigilant to keep good things intact. And that love really can transcend just about any hardship or challenge that the world throws at us if we will let it. There are two quotes I really love that sum up this book. The first is something from Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave who became a fierce advocate for the abolition of slavery. The first two lines are the most famous, and what most people might recognize, but the entire quote is even more powerful.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”
And the second is from the Bible, from First Corinthians, verses four through eight. First and second Corinthians are letters that were written by the Apostle Paul to a community of Christians in Corinth. The Pauline letters were Paul’s take on what the message of Christianity is, and how to live one’s life to reflect those values/beliefs. I have a masters degree, a Master of Divinity, because at one point I thought I would be a minister. So I was trained to be a theologian, as well as in more practical things like how not to piss off your faith community too much without compromising yourself… I’m only kind of joking about the latter. At any rate, I took this great New Testament class and really ended up liking Paul, which I did not expect, and this is hands down my favorite. It’s read at weddings and sometimes people groan and roll their eyes because it is so ubiquitous, I know I did at one point when I was younger. But it really is an amazingly beautiful and powerful message about what love is, or what it can be.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”