Today we have Scott Craven, talking to us about The Joys of Writing Middle Grade Zombies.
Ever since the first zombie sunk its teeth
into human flesh, or cracked open a skull to scoop a bit of brain appetizer,
the undead have gotten a pretty bad literary rap. Writers assigned them various
disabilities, from a slow, shuffling walk to an inability to not only recognize
a doorknob, but use it. Instead these dull-witted creatures attempt to crash
through windows, always alerting their well-armed prey. It was never going to
One day it occurred to me that if we just
gave zombies a chance, maybe we could be friends. I wanted to turn the genre
inside out, especially as zombies were making a huge footprint on pop culture.
I never set out to write a middle-grade
book. My first inclination was to devise an adult zombie who moved into the
neighborhood, and the horrified reaction when he is first seen mowing his lawn
(and learning just how many of area residents had guns).
The more I thought, I wondered if perhaps
there weren’t more fertile ground for imagination elsewhere. My character’s
goal would be to fit in, and adults can be an intolerant bunch once they made
up their minds. Kids, however, can
adapt. And if my zombie only wanted to fit in, his goal would match that of
every seventh grader on the planet. Now it was relatable.
I loved weaving my own seventh-grade
experiences. I was indeed tossed into a trash can, and a bully once locked me
in a trophy case, humiliations suffered by Jed.
But the greatest gratification of writing a
middle-grade book didn’t occur until the first book was published. Meeting kids
and talking to them about everything from storytelling to bullying has been a
I wrote Dead Jed first and foremost to
entertain, a book guaranteed to make readers laugh and smile, even as they
can’t wait to see how Jed gets out of his latest predicament. As the series
progressed, I delved into somewhat deeper subjects about realizing what makes
us who we are, and making the kinds of decisions that force us to seek deeper
But if the books result in just one child
speaking up about bullying, or realizing the importance of embracing who he or
she really is, then everything else is gravy.
Hmm, that gravy sure would taste good over
Want to know more? Here's a blurb on DEAD JED 3: RETURN OF THE JED:
With seventh grade behind him, Jed jumps at the opportunity to spend the summer in Mexico with his dad. But there’s just one catch: Luke and Tread get to tag along.
In Mexico, fitting inmight be easier than Jed imagined, with Holidays such as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Here, a rising 8th grade zombie boy and his zombie dog won’t draw that much attention.
But then Tread unwittingly sets off Mexico’s Chupacabra Defense Network and Jed accidentally collides with a bus. So much for blending in. The unusual pair catch the eye of a professional wrestler, who challenges Jed to a fight!
Their antics manage to capture the attention of a doctor whose knowledge of the undead causes Jed to question his very existence. Is this the answer Jed’s been hoping for since his parents sat him down for the “you’re a zombie” talk? Jed may have finally found a way to be normal, but at what cost?
Dead Jed: Return of the Jed is book 3 in Scott Craven’s humorous and heartwarming series about surviving middle school, fitting in, and embracing one’s differences – even if you are a zombie.
Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Dead Jed 3: Return of the Jed by Scott Craven (INT)
Contest ends January 8, 2016
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