Monday, 24 January 2011

Interview with Rusty Fischer

Yes, my friends, it's Monday again. But turn that frown upside down, because I've got an interviewee that can wake the dead! Or at least he does in some of his books. Let's welcome YA writer Rusty Fischer.

Hi, Rusty! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Florida, where I’m married to my beautiful wife Martha and fortunate enough to write full-time for a living. I’m also a former teacher who never stopped reading kids’ books! In my day, it was all about the Goosebumps phase and everybody loved R. L. Stine! I left teaching to work full-time for a teaching magazine just as Harry Potter hit, so I missed that phase but was thrilled to see literature invigorating young minds all over again! Since then I’ve watched young adult, or YA, continue to transform and evolve into something truly magical and exciting!

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first book when I was nine-years-old. It was a total Zorro-Man in the Iron Mask mash-up called The Swords of Malakki. I’ve been writing ever since! This was WAY before computers, before I even had a typewriter. I used to buy a spiral bound notebook and some construction paper. I’d design my own cover with the construction paper and glue it to the outside cover of the notebook, then start the book on the first page and just. Keep. Writing.

There wasn’t much room for editing or mistakes, so I tried to be pretty careful. Later on my parents got me a Smith-Corona typewriter, so I would design a cover, punch holes in the typed pages and create a book that way. Today I basically do the same thing; I design a cover for each work-in-progress and then write the book, although I’m happy to say I do a lot more self-editing now than I did in the past!

Tell us about ZOMBIES DON'T CRY. Besides, duh, Zombies, what’s the story about?

Zombies Don’t Cry is about a girl named Maddy who becomes a zombie; period. Maddy learns that she’s not alone, and that zombies have all these rules about not dating humans – a bummer, since she’s crushing on the kicker for the school football team. She also learns that there are good zombies and bad zombies, and once the bad zombies find out about her, she has to join the good ones to save the kids at her school.

Very cool. How did the idea of the story come to you?

I’m a big fan of the YA zombie classics, like Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby and You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay. I got to thinking, what if zombies weren’t just a plot device or background characters, but the main character? How would that work? How would a zombie wear makeup? What would she dress like? How could she “pass” among the normal kiddos?

From there I had to figure out how Maddy could become a zombie, and I thought a lot about electricity and how that might work. But with the main character a zombie, I had no room for “bad” guys, so I had to create bad zombies and… I was off!

Sounds great! What else have you got in the works?

I have a few things going on, actually (thank God!). After Zombies Don’t Cry, I have a vampire book coming out called Vamplayers. I hope to do the same thing for vampires that I did for zombies, which is something slightly new and hopefully unique. I also have Detention of the Living Dead coming out, which is another zombie book. So I’m pretty stoked with all the zombie love going on, and hope young readers catch the living dead fever! (Not literally, of course!)

LOL, right. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Not being able to finish a book, like, overnight! (And, trust me, I’ve tried.) Seriously. I’ll get an idea and want to finish it right away. So I have to force myself to juggle my day job, a healthy marriage, my physical health and actual cleaning and grooming with writing, and it’s not always easy. One thing that helps is that I’ve kind of gotten used to the process of editing and how that can make a bad book good, or a good book even better.

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Be yourself! Seriously, you have to trust yourself enough to really go to town and write what you want – the way you want. One of the things I love about YA is the originality of the genre. There is so MUCH going on, from vampires to zombies to werewolves, to ghouls to faeries to reimagining old fairy tales, to the end of the world to magicians and witches, it’s just really fun to watch new things come out and change the landscape.

The way that happens is by you using your voice to create something unique and original to yourself. People read books, especially young people, to go somewhere they’ve never been before. So take them someplace new; someplace only YOU can take them. That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten, and the best advice I can share.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I’m pretty boring and usually focus on “facing forward” and putting all my energy into the keyboard-slash-computer-monitor. There’s nothing fancy on my walls; heck, there’s “nothing” period on my office walls. (I just realized that!) I don’t have a nice desk; it’s basically a fold-up picnic table and a desk chair with the left arm broken, but I don’t like change so it works for me. But… but… I do have to have light jazz Christmas music on real soft in the background, a jar candle burning on the left corner of my desk and a paperback 1,001 baby names book I bought at the dollar store to help me choose character names when I’ve run out of creative juices. That’s about it!

I wouldn't call that boring. Unique, maybe, but not boring. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I was going to say ESP, but I’d rather be able to fly!!!

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: flame thrower, bicycle spokes, and petunias.

Dang, I didn’t know I’d be tested on this stuff!!!! Here goes:

Margaret put down her flame thrower and surveyed the barren landscape, frowning at the wilted petunias poking through the rusty bicycle spokes and lighting another cigarette with the flickering sparks from a crackling loganberry bush.

How was that?

That was awesome! Oh, wow, the visuals! Okay, here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Thanks to my family for hearing about zombies for the last two years, thanks to the good folks at Medallion Press for taking a chance on zombies when everybody else was buying vampire books, and thanks to young people for keeping reading alive when everyone else is going to the movies!

And finally, where can people find you online?

I run a blog about reading, writing and publishing YA called Zombies Don’t Blog @, where you can get lots of publishing advice if that’s your thing, or lots of FREE zombie and vampire books, stories and poems to read if you’d rather do that. Either way, all are welcome!

Rusty, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. Your book sounds amazing, and I'm sure all the zombie fans out there, as well as YA readers in general, will be on the look out.


Paul Joseph said...

Alright! Another former teacher with a passion for quality YA literature. I agree; it becomes more and more exciting as the years progress. A pleasure to learn about you, Rusty, and another stellar interview, Ms. Dorothy!

Gina said...

That was quite the intro! ^_^ KUDOS to Mr. Fischer on the love of reading children's books....there are so many adult readers that miss out on the magic that lies in this genre merely because they are deemed "children's lit". Though I'm not certain the book would be for me (having a go at a zombie read right now....grant it it's my first, but not too keen on this particular creature), I can see it having a wide appeal to paranormal readers. Agreed on the writing test....there's some great visual power in that sentence! Thanks for the great interview guys! Best of luck on your future endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I've seen Rusty online, but I learned so much more about him from reading this.