It’s Party Time: Our Q&A with Gena Showalter

A Mad Zombie Party is the fourth instalment in Gena Showalter’s the White Rabbit Chronicles. Ali and her crew of zombie slayers are recovering from their battle and despite winning, the crew still lost some of their closest friends and the feeling of loss is heavy. Frosty, still grieving the death of the love of his life Kat, goes on a journey of retribution and self-discovery. The road to recovery isn’t revenge but learning how to let go. You can read a full blurb of the novel here, or visit Gena’s website.
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Supernatural themes are so prominent in YA fiction at the moment, why do you think that this is, and why did it interest you as an author?

Within the scope of a paranormal novel, anything is possible. I can go as far as my imagination will take me. And I like to go far!

Who were your zombie inspirations when creating the world of ‘The White Rabbit Chronicles’?

To be honest, a scripture inspired the zombies. (Ephesians 6: 12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the powers of this dark world…) To me, the zombies represented a dark force, almost demonic, intent on devouring – and destroying – the humanity of the slayers. And, well, anyone else who got in their way.

Kill…them…all…

A Mad Zombie Party is the fourth instalment in the ‘The White Rabbit Chronicles’. What has been your favourite aspect of developing these characters across the series?

Is it bad to say my favourite aspect of developing these characters is everything? I freaking adore the cast of the White Rabbit Chronicles. I took traits from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, twisted them, and made them my own. Alice’s insatiable curiosity coupled with ‘the pool of tears’ – Ali’s grief over the loss of her family – and how falling down the rabbit hole became a trip down a pit of misery and despair for her. How she woke up to find a whole other world existed around her. As for the other characters, I adore the mystery and playfulness of the Cheshire ‘Kat.’ The urgency of the white rabbit, courtesy of Ali’s sister. The way the Mad Hatter (cough Cole cough) answers Alice’s questions…but only confuses her more. And last by not least, my darling Frosty – possibly the March Hare? – who is killing mad and has his own sad tale.

Have any of the characters surprised you and developed in a way that you did not originally plan?

Of all the characters in the series, the stars of A Mad Zombie Party surprised me most. In the beginning, Frosty is a happy-go-lucky guy who’s totally and completely in love with his girl. He can’t imagine himself with anyone else. Then he loses her, and he’s beyond despair. He’s angry with the world and lashing out.

Camilla Marks appears (for the first time) in The Queen of Zombie Hearts, and I’ll just say it: She’s a witch with a capital B. She had her reasons – a past even more tragic than Frosty’s – and a desire to save her brother, no matter the cost. But, when she is forced to face the consequences of her actions, she is shamed and determined to find absolution.

They don’t get along, and it’s a miracle they don’t kill each other. But as they work together to stop an unspeakable evil, they learn more about each other – and themselves. Their character arc (and growth) delighted me.

Sometimes humans are more dangerous than monsters

The influence of Alice in Wonderland is very strong throughout the series. What sparked your fascination with this classic?

Alice in Wonderland isn’t your typical fairy tale. There’s no prince falling for a princess and no happily-ever-after – both of which are usually must haves for me. But, I see the story as a celebration of the power of imagination. Nothing is impossible.

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And, when a classic tale is so beloved and well known, a retelling of any kind is a risk. But I knew with such a wildly imaginative canvas from which to work, I could – hopefully – engage readers and take them on a crazy new journey, doing my best to pay homage to the original story while twisting the characters and plot to fit the confines of my own tale.

In Alice in Zombieland the zombies are the main antagonist, whereas in the latest novels Anima Industries and the humans have caused more conflict for Ali and her crew. Why did you make this change?

Sometimes humans are more dangerous than monsters, and I wanted the kids to find out why.

The central plot of A Mad Zombie Party seems to be about Frosty’s path to forgiveness. Does Ali take more of a backseat in this installation?

Ali does take a backseat role, but she’s still very present. She’s a driving force behind many of the scenes and character reactions, even when she isn’t on the page.

You mention on your website that you would love for your books to be made into movies. Who would be your dream cast for A Mad Zombie Party?

You know, I’ve been working so much I’ve gotten behind on my movie and TV show watching, so I’m not up-to-date on actors and actresses. I’m always eager to hear what readers think, who they’d cast if they could.

I see the story as a celebration of the power of imagination. Nothing is impossible.

Moving forward is a prominent theme in A Mad Zombie Party, how do you see Ali and her crew moving forward after this book?

I want to tell, I do, but I’m afraid I’ll give away too much information about the end ‘notes from’ as well as the bonus scene offered in the exclusive Barnes and Noble edition. I’ll just admit to wedding bells and the pitter-patter of little slayer feet and leave it at that.

What’s your zombie apocalypse survival plan?

Kill…them…all…

A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter is published by Harlequin, rrp $19.99.

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