Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor), as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog), and other horror novels. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.
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Rhiannon Frater Interview
What do you do when you’re not writing about the end of days or things that go bump in the night?
To relax after writing, I often play video games like Guild Wars 2, or binge watch television shows with my hubby. I also love to catch up with friends, window shop, and travel. I also tend to do a lot of research on the publishing business or for my latest work in progress. When you write full-time, you really never stop working. It drives my husband nuts that he’ll pause a show to get a drink, and I’ll immediately start doing something related to my writing.
Tell me about your latest book, something unusual if possible.
Dead Spots is a huge departure for me because it has nothing to do with traditional monsters. After the first few chapters, the book takes place in the world of dreams and nightmares where the manifestations of your mind become reality. I had a lot of fun researching dreams and chatting with my readers about their nightmares. I was surprised at how mundane a lot of those bad dreams actually are: getting to work late, missing a test, not being able to find your car, etc. My goal was to integrate some of the more dynamic nightmares into the story, and I found a way to get a lot of them into the narrative.
My main character, Mackenzie is completely devastated after the stillbirth of her son and the dissolution of her marriage, so her fears are especially horrific. There were a few times when I had to get up from my desk and shake the story off my shoulders for a few minutes. At times, the story would get really, really intense, and my imagination can be an evil thing.
Book Blurb & Cover
In the dead spots, dreams become reality, terror knows your name, and nightmares can kill you.
After a tragic stillbirth and a devastating divorce, Mackenzie has no choice but to start her life over. What should be a routine drive across Texas to her mother’s home becomes much more when a near-accident causes Mackenzie to stumble into a dead spot. Dead spots link the world of the living to the one of nightmares and dreams, where people are besieged by monsters and by situations born of highly personal fears.
Grant, her newfound companion, keeps her from spiraling into madness—he has survived decades in the dead spots’ dreadful landscape and vows that together they will find a way to escape.
With Grant’s guidance, Mac uses her will and life spark to restore abandoned buildings to their former glory, creating sanctuary for a night, or a day, or a few hours. But there is little respite in the dead spots. Horrible, unnatural birds snatch at Mackenzie’s few, precious reminders of her dead son. Graves open beneath her feet, attempting to swallow her whole. A killer clown lurks in the forest, eager for new prey.
Worse, death is not final in the dead spots. Even if a monster tears her apart, Mackenzie is doomed to return.
Friction between Mackenzie and Grant blooms when he cautions her against befriending others trapped in this nightmarish realm, yet she cannot ignore those who desperately need her help. As she learns more about the world, Mac starts to question who she can trust—and worse, to wonder who is real.
To escape the dead spots, Mackenzie will have to take a stand against her worst fears and fight to liberate herself and the survivors she’s come to care about.
What are you working on next and when can we expect it?
I’m wrapping up the last instalments of my supernatural serial, In Darkness We Must Abide. I’m finally bringing it to an end, and I’m very excited. I hope to have the finale available by the end of February. After that, I hope to finish The Lament of the Vampire Bride, the last book in my gothic horror trilogy set in the early 1800’s in Eastern Europe.
What makes you want to write about dystopia/the apocalypse and or horror?
My muse has sharp teeth and claws.
I really have no clue why these stories are born in my imagination while I sleep. They just show up in the brain matter. When I was very young, I had a great love of mysteries and wanted to be Agatha Christie. My muse had other designs.
I do like delving into an examination of the human condition under extreme circumstances. It is a much “safer” way to delve into difficult themes and concepts, but still have “fun” in the process.
Are you a prepper with an apocalypse plan in place, or are you just going to wing it?
I’m in Texas. We’re set. And honestly, if I was a prepper, I’d have the bad luck to be elsewhere when it all went down. Also, I’m not going to let fear rule over my life. I want to enjoy what the world has to offer and not worry about venturing far from home. If any sort of apocalypse happens, I just hope to be with my loved ones.
What’s your apocalypse/horror song?
I’ve never thought about it, honestly. How about “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage. That works!
I believe that the horror genre is way more accepting of female horror writers now, what’s your take on it.
When I started off in 2005 writing my zombie story that would become the As The World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege) and posting it online, there was a lot of pushback because of my gender and my two female protagonists. It was really rough at first. Some of the more respected male authors on the site really gave me hell. They went out of their way to make me feel unwelcome. They were the minority, but it hurt. Later, one of them apologized and admitted he’d tried to tear me down because he feared I was a better writer than him.
When I first self-published The First Days in 2008, again, there really weren’t many women writing about zombies. We were few and far between. Also, if there was even a whiff of romance or sex in our books, we were labelled Harlequin romances with zombies. It was very infuriating. Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is full of sex, romantic betrayals, and love triangles, but no one would ever day say that about him. I wasn’t too sure if it was an issue with the zombie subgenre, or with the horror genre as a whole, but it could be really disheartening.
There is a rich legacy of women writing horror from Mary Shelley to Shirley Jackson to Ann Rice, so it’s odd that there’s any sort of prejudice against females in the genre. I do occasionally see it directed at me in offhanded comments from both men and women that are along the lines of, “Oh, I didn’t expect such a scary story from a woman. It was really good.”
Now there are so many women in the zombie subgenre, I do think the mockery from some elements of the readership has significantly died down. But overall, we probably have a little ways to go before a female name on the cover doesn’t give certain people pause.
Happy reading my little book whores!
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