I'm thrilled to have Annie Rachel Cole stopping by to today talk about her middle-grade book How NOT to Train a Zombie. Be sure to check out the full March MG Madness schedule and enter the big box of books giveaways here.
How NOT to Train a Zombie
by Annie Rachel Cole
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How does a thirteen-year old become the most popular kid in 8th grade? He trains a zombie to be a pet... And that's exactly what Max Taylor plans to do, even if he had to lie, steal, and lose his best friend in the process.
Don't try at home! (Ooops! That's four words :P )WS: Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers (especially reluctant readers) why they should give HOW NOT TO TRAIN A ZOMBIE!!! a try?
Wanting to be the most popular boy in 8th grade, Max Taylor decides to steal a zombie and train it like a pet dog, but of course everything goes wrong and now he has to save his best friend.
WS: Grab a copy of HOW NOT TO TRAIN A ZOMBIE!!! and answer the following:Favorite chapter?
chapter 4Favorite page?
ChadFlip to a random page and give us 1-2 sentence teaser:
"If none of these work, I'm coming after you Max Taylor." Chad pulled out the stopper and drank the contents of the vial.WS: Why did you decide to write a middle-grade book? What do you love about writing middle-grade?
"I'm going to sit down and write a middle grade book about zombies." Actually, nope. Didn't happen that way. Sorry:)The original idea of writing a zombie book actually was the result of several zombie nightmares I had. To deal with them, I started jotting down ideas and playing with them.Once I had the idea for the zombie book, the name Maxwell Taylor immediately popped into my mind (and yes, I tried changing his name--it didn't work! Characters can be so stubborn about little things like a name change.), but I didn't know anything about him.One day I was watching and listening to my students in the few minutes of free time they had before the bell rang, it suddenly dawned on me--this was the perfect age for Max--the awkward, "I rule the campus," want to be part of the in-crowd, "don't hug me mom," junior high kid.
WS: Why do you think middle-grade is such a popular and important category of books?
I think the reason middle grade books are so popular now is because of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Not only did it get children reading, but it got the adults reading too. The adults realized there were some really good middle grade books and they kept reading the books, often with their kids. Middle grade books are important because they deal with a lot of the issues middle grade students are currently dealing with, but they also feed into the fantasy/dystopian themes the kids love. Because of these things, we're getting a group of kids interested in reading which will hopefully make them life-long readers, and it will trickle down to their kids.
WS: What is your all time favorite middle-grade book?
Harry Potter series, especially The Sorcerer's Stone
WS: Who is your favorite middle-grade hero and heroine?
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger
WS: When writing HOW NOT TO TRAIN A ZOMBIE!!! were you inspired or influenced by any specific zombie pop culture (books, movies, tv shows)? Did you have a hard time writing a middle-grade appropriate zombie tale, since zombies are usually seen as scary?
I haven't read any zombie books, though I've got Rot and Ruin and Hollowland in my TBR (To Be Read) pile. I havent had the chance to watch the Walking Dead series. my son has watched the first season and has told me I have to watch it. I want to go see Warm Bodies, but I doubt I'll be able to get hubby to go. He's not really into the horror movies.So what have I watched with zombies? I've watched a couple of the Resident Evil movies, Night of the Living Deadand Return of the Living Dead 1 and 2, but that's been a long time ago.So what inspired me to write a zombie story?Nightmares!!!Several nights of nightmares about zombies. When I have nightmares, I have some really scary ones. It was one of those, if I'm going to dream about them, I might as well write about them. I played around with the various ideas and then the next thing I knew, Max Taylor made himself known to me. Once I realized he was an 8th grader, the rest of the plot fell into place and I wrote the outline of the book.Funny thing, the zombie nightmares quit--haven't had one since I completed the outline. The outline sat for several months in my ideas binder. I found it during Christmas vacation while looking through the binder for some notes about another story idea. I didn't have a lot of problems writing for the middle grade audience. The hardest thing was trying to make it scary, but not too scary.
WS: Fill in the blanks:
My favorite middle-grade curse word or expletive is
oh flipping horsefeathers
I wish I could train a zombie to
grade papers and do chores like cleaning the toilet and the cat box
If I could jump inside any middle-grade book, I'd choose
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
The last great book I read was
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey.
WS: If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by HOW NOT TO TRAIN A ZOMBIE!!!, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
The vanilla cake part would be grayish green with a blood red macroon center--the brains of the cupcake. The icing would also be grayish green. On top I would sprinkle some crushed Oreos to look like the dirt that obviously accumulates on zombies. I would have candy bones sticking out of the icing with splatter drops of red gel across the top to look like blood. Let's just call it the Zombie Exterminator Brain Special, just for the late night hunger attacks will hunting zombies.
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I live in Texas with my husband, son, and two cats who think they run the place. I read, write, play Texas Hold’em poker, and occasionally compete in BBQ competitions with my husband. Our team name is Outcast Cookers. I also teach in a public school.
Win a signed copy of
How NOT to Train a Zombie!
Annie has generously offered two signed copies of her book for two winners.
-there will be 2 winners who will each win one book
-will run from 3/7 - 3/31
-must be 13+, one main entry per person
-winners will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-I am NOT responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
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