Come on up for the Rising

The great people at Orbit books have made this funny, interesting, scary, and captivating book trailer for the Newsflesh Trilogy.  If you haven’t read the books, you should check it out; if you have read the books, you should check it out; if you got here by accident, you should check it out . . .

Also if you’re in the San Francisco area on Saturday at about 5PM, you should come on down to Borderlands and meet the brilliant mind behind Feed and Deadline, the great Mira Grant herself.  Details about the event can be found here.

Hopefully see you there!

Feed    Deadline

“Deadline” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2011)

Deadline
starstarstarstarstar

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Feed and Deadline.

On the first day of May of 2010, Mira Grant graced the world with the first book in the Newsflesh Trilogy, Feed . . . and it was good; it was very good.  And now, on the thirty-first day of May of 2011, the long wait is over and readers get to finally enjoy the sequel, Deadline.  Once again Grant has achieved the incredible with a long story of over six hundred pages that will have you wide eyed and mouth wateringly hooked from the very first to the very last.  Middle books in trilogies are often weak compared to the strong start and captivating end, but Deadline is a worthy next installment that is as good as Feed in many ways, making it feel more like a continuation of the same book.

Shaun Mason is in a very dark place.  In a world where every person wakes up with the fear of zombies in their minds, as well as the terror of somehow amplifying at any moment, Shaun doesn’t really care anymore.  When he had to shoot his sister and kill her before she fully amplified, it was definitely a turning point in his life.  And now he has very little to live for; his sister was everything to him, and had always joked about what she would do when he was dead, because he was the risk taker.  There was no scenario for when George was killed and Shaun was left all alone.  Though there is one little light in this dark, dark tunnel and that is that Shaun still talks to his sister . . . in his head.  She’s alive and well in his brain and he talks to her, has conversations with her, even argues with her.  Fortunately, anyone else who spends time with him knows that Shaun is now pretty much crazy and they all just deal with it.

But the world must go on and Shaun has a news organization to run, along with an experienced team, he makes the decisions when he has to and lets the talented people he has working for him do what they do best., while the former daredevil who used to fly in the face of danger for the chance to get some great zombie footage is no more.  And then a member from the CDC drops into their laps with an incredible story to tell.  A story that has everything to do with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, how it might have got started, and where the CDC is on the cure.  She’s also faked her own death and appears to be off the radar, and then a devastating outbreak coincidentally happens right where Shaun and his team are currently hanging out.  Some make it out, while others are incinerated, as outbreak protocols are followed.  This event awakens the spark and drive that has been missing in Shaun for some time.  Now he has something to go on, a clue that will lead him on the trail to finding out who had his sister killed and how this virus got “accidentally” released and destroyed the world.

Deadline continues right where Feed left off, and Grant manages to keep the pace and fear and excitement going throughout, supplying plenty of horror, scifi tech, and lots of fascinating medical and virus details that add further to the story.  She also addresses the harsh reality that she created in Feed, where no one is safe from becoming the walking dead, and lives will be lost no matter what.  Readers will find Deadline a worthy addition to this fantastic trilogy that is as good as anything created by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with an ending that will leave them yearning for May of 2012 and the thrilling conclusion in Blackout.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on May 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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Feed    Apocalypse Scenario

An Interview with Mira Grant (April, 2010)

Mira Grant

Mira Grant

Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire’s pseudonym.  Mira Grant’s first book is the zombie horror/science fiction novel Feed, the premiere book in the Newsflesh Trilogy.

Alex: Who is Mira Grant?

Mira: Mira Grant is the thing under your bed.  Born and raised in the spider-infested wilds of Northern California, she has devoted her life to warning people about the impending threat of the zombie apocalypse.  Since most people don’t want to listen to her warnings, she’s taken to carrying lots of weapons, because she’ll need a way to cut through the undead hordes when her prophesies finally came to pass.  They laughed at her in the academy, but she doesn’t really mind, because she knows the last laugh will be hers.

Also, she’s an author.

Alex: What does Mira Grant do that Seanan McGuire wouldn’t?

Mira: Write political horror thrillers.  Walk into the cornfield at midnight with grim determination.  (Seanan would also go into the cornfield at midnight, but there’d be more “frolicking gleefully” than “stalking grimly.”)  Compile a list of 200+ warnings about the dangers of Mira Grant.

Alex: What does Mira Grant like to do for fun?

Mira: If she told you, she’d have to kill you.  Sorry.  It’s a matter of national security.

Alex: Do you feel like a different person, or perhaps think of yourself differently when writing as Mira Grant?

Mira: Not really.  I tend to present myself day-to-day as a happy Halloweentown Disney Princess, so Mira Grant is just sort of me through a much darker mirror.  She’s definitely a caricature, but when I’m working, I’m a whole bunch of different people.  Mira is just one more character.

Alex: When did you know you wanted to write a zombie horror series?

Mira: About halfway through Feed.  Before that, I thought I was just writing a zombie horror novel.  Surprise!  But I knew I wanted to do a zombie novel when I realized that all the books I was seeing had one thing in common: the apocalypse came, and we lost.  I wanted to go in the other direction.

Alex: Have you always been a fan of zombie stories?

Mira: Oh, yeah.  As long as I can remember.  And since they did a lot of zombie stories on early Doctor Who, “as long as I can remember” means “basically since the age of three.”  I just love their little shambling terror!

Alex: Do you pray or perhaps sacrifice small animals to an effigy of George Romero?

Mira: George Romero, no.  Stephen King, on the other hand…

Alex: Did you at all plan to have your zombie novel published in a time when it seems like there’s a new story, film or piece of work involving zombies being published every week?

Mira: No, and I was a little…not annoyed, exactly, but fussed to realize that was the case.  Feed took about four years to research and write, and when I started, the zombie renaissance was still a little ways away.  I’m hoping this will just mean there’s a larger audience, because people love their zombies.

Alex: With the “glut” of zombie material currently being made, do you feel the full effect of Feed may be diluted somewhat?

Mira: Not really—not if people can get their hands on it.  I read a lot of zombie fiction, so I’m pretty familiar with what’s out there right now, and I believe I can honestly say that Feed isn’t like anything else that’s currently on the market.

Alex: Where did the idea for Feed come from?

Mira: All the zombie fiction for a long time had the apocalypse coming to a world that was just totally unprepared—and see, that isn’t realistic, because if the zombies came tomorrow, and acted like the zombies in the movies, we’d know what to do.  Also, the Internet changes things.  Assuming the network stays up for any real amount of time, we’ll be able to share information, to react, and to fight back.  That was the beginning.  Everything else sort of came from there.

Alex: You have some incredibly strong and developed characters with Georgia, Shaun and Buffy.  Where did they come from?  Are they based on real people in any way?

Mira: They just…came.  Seriously.  I thought “Wow, here’s the story,” and it was like George just marched into my head and started dictating.  I got to know Shaun and Buffy as the story went on, through the lens of her experiences with them.  It was awesome, and daunting.

Alex: There’s a lot of politics, journalism, science and technology playing important parts in Feed.  How much of this did you know or have experience with, and how much of it was hardcore research?

Mira: I did so much research for this book.  Holy cats, the research.  I had to learn more than I ever thought I’d need to know about viral engineering, modern political process, wireless technology…the list is epic.  I had some really good subject matter experts, which is a good thing, because otherwise, my head might have exploded.

Alex: The cover is pretty eye-catching.  Did you have any involvement in that?

Mira: I did not.  But isn’t it pretty?

Alex: What separates Feed and the Newsflesh Trilogy from every other zombie story out there?

Mira: The Newsflesh Trilogy is about what comes after the dead.  It’s about the way societies adapt to just about anything, including the constant threat of the zombie uprising.  And I think it’s a much more chilling approach, in some ways, because in my world, the zombies aren’t the only thing you have to worry about.

Alex: If Feed got made into a movie, do you have any ideal actors you’d like to see play Georgia, Shaun and Buffy?

Mira: First off, I’d want James Gunn to direct.  Just putting that out there.  If the movie was made in the next few years, I’d want Allison Scagliotti for George (Warehouse 13), Jason Dohring for Shaun (Veronica Mars), and possibly Bryce Dallas Howard for Buffy.  The characters are supposed to be pretty young, so my casting choices will naturally change as time passes.

Alex: Did you always know where Feed was going and how it would end?  Or was it more of a rough outline and you let the characters take you along for the ride?

Mira: I both did and didn’t.  Some of the later events in the book were really a surprise to me, and I think were only possible because I’d already realized that this was going to be a trilogy, rather than a stand-alone book.

Alex: What can readers expect from Deadline?

Mira: Big changes, big shocks, and a lot of digging into the underside of the post-Rising world.  Also, things explode.  I like it when things explode.  It’s…soothing.

Alex: And what about Blackout?

Mira: Blackout will change everything.

Alex: What will Mira Grant be working on after the Newsflesh Trilogy?

Mira: I don’t know yet.  These are pretty hefty books, and I’ve barely started book three, so I’m sort of stuck in this paradigm right now.  I’m toying with the idea of a trilogy about parasitic infection, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Alex: What’s available for fans at www.miragrant.com?  And what will be added in the future?

Mira: Right now, you’ve got some really kick-ass icons and wallpapers, a list of reasons to beware of Mira Grant, and the Horror Movie Survival FAQ.  We’ll be adding more graphics, more tips on getting through a horror movie alive, and some links to other handy zombie survival resources.

Alex: Is Mira Grant more like Georgia – reporting accurately with crucial details from a distance; or like Shaun – throwing herself into the thick of it, taking chances for the thrill?  Or is she neither: someone who likes to hide in her home protected from the zombies?

Mira: Definitely more like Shaun.  Luckily, the zombie virus is too afraid of Mira Grant to infect her.

Alex: Other than the Newsflesh Trilogy, what is your all time favorite zombie book and favorite zombie movie?

Mira: My favorite zombie movie is James Gunn’s Slither.  No contest.  I love it like fire.  Zombie book is a little harder.  So…

FAVORITE ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY: The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams

FAVORITE SERIOUS ZOMBIE BOOK: World War Z, Max Brooks

FAVORITE SERIOUS YA ZOMBIE BOOK: Soulless, Christopher Golden

FAVORITE FUNNY ZOMBIE BOOK: Breathers, S.G. Browne

FAVORITE FUNNY YA ZOMBIE BOOK: You Are So Undead To Me, Stacy Jay

FAVORITE INSANE ZOMBIE BOOK: Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines

Hope that’s a good enough list!

Who is Mira Grant?

Mira Grant is the thing under your bed.  Born and raised in the spider-infested wilds of Northern California, she has devoted her life to warning people about the impending threat of the zombie apocalypse.  Since most people don’t want to listen to her warnings, she’s taken to carrying lots of weapons, because she’ll need a way to cut through the undead hordes when her prophesies finally came to pass.  They laughed at her in the academy, but she doesn’t really mind, because she knows the last laugh will be hers.

Also, she’s an author.

What does Mira Grant do that Seanan McGuire wouldn’t?

Write political horror thrillers.  Walk into the cornfield at midnight with grim determination.  (Seanan would also go into the cornfield at midnight, but there’d be more “frolicking gleefully” than “stalking grimly.”)  Compile a list of 200+ warnings about the dangers of Mira Grant.

What does Mira Grant like to do for fun?

If she told you, she’d have to kill you.  Sorry.  It’s a matter of national security.

Do you feel like a different person, or perhaps think of yourself differently when writing as Mira Grant?

Not really.  I tend to present myself day-to-day as a happy Halloweentown Disney Princess, so Mira Grant is just sort of me through a much darker mirror.  She’s definitely a caricature, but when I’m working, I’m a whole bunch of different people.  Mira is just one more character.

When did you know you wanted to write a zombie horror series?

About halfway through Feed.  Before that, I thought I was just writing a zombie horror novel.  Surprise!  But I knew I wanted to do a zombie novel when I realized that all the books I was seeing had one thing in common: the apocalypse came, and we lost.  I wanted to go in the other direction.

Have you always been a fan of zombie stories?

Oh, yeah.  As long as I can remember.  And since they did a lot of zombie stories on early Doctor Who, “as long as I can remember” means “basically since the age of three.”  I just love their little shambling terror!

Do you pray or perhaps sacrifice small animals to an effigy of George Romero?

George Romero, no.  Stephen King, on the other hand…

Did you at all plan to have your zombie novel published in a time when it seems like there’s a new story, film or piece of work involving zombies being published every week?

No, and I was a little…not annoyed, exactly, but fussed to realize that was the case.  Feed took about four years to research and write, and when I started, the zombie renaissance was still a little ways away.  I’m hoping this will just mean there’s a larger audience, because people love their zombies.

With the “glut” of zombie material currently being made, do you feel the full effect of Feed may be diluted somewhat?

Not really—not if people can get their hands on it.  I read a lot of zombie fiction, so I’m pretty familiar with what’s out there right now, and I believe I can honestly say that Feed isn’t like anything else that’s currently on the market.

Where did the idea for Feed come from?

All the zombie fiction for a long time had the apocalypse coming to a world that was just totally unprepared—and see, that isn’t realistic, because if the zombies came tomorrow, and acted like the zombies in the movies, we’d know what to do.  Also, the Internet changes things.  Assuming the network stays up for any real amount of time, we’ll be able to share information, to react, and to fight back.  That was the beginning.  Everything else sort of came from there.

You have some incredibly strong and developed characters with Georgia, Shaun and Buffy.  Where did they come from?  Are they based on real people in any way?

They just…came.  Seriously.  I thought “Wow, here’s the story,” and it was like George just marched into my head and started dictating.  I got to know Shaun and Buffy as the story went on, through the lens of her experiences with them.  It was awesome, and daunting.

There’s a lot of politics, journalism, science and technology playing important parts in Feed.  How much of this did you know or have experience with, and how much of it was hardcore research?

I did so much research for this book.  Holy cats, the research.  I had to learn more than I ever thought I’d need to know about viral engineering, modern political process, wireless technology…the list is epic.  I had some really good subject matter experts, which is a good thing, because otherwise, my head might have exploded.

The cover is pretty eye-catching.  Did you have any involvement in that?

I did not.  But isn’t it pretty?

What separates Feed and the Newsflesh Trilogy from every other zombie story out there?

The Newsflesh Trilogy is about what comes after the dead.  It’s about the way societies adapt to just about anything, including the constant threat of the zombie uprising.  And I think it’s a much more chilling approach, in some ways, because in my world, the zombies aren’t the only thing you have to worry about.

If Feed got made into a movie, do you have any ideal actors you’d like to see play Georgia, Shaun and Buffy?

First off, I’d want James Gunn to direct.  Just putting that out there.  If the movie was made in the next few years, I’d want Allison Scagliotti for George (Warehouse 13), Jason Dohring for Shaun (Veronica Mars), and possibly Bryce Dallas Howard for Buffy.  The characters are supposed to be pretty young, so my casting choices will naturally change as time passes.

Did you always know where Feed was going and how it would end?  Or was it more of a rough outline and you let the characters take you along for the ride?

I both did and didn’t.  Some of the later events in the book were a really surprise to me, and I think were only possible because I’d already realized that this was going to be a trilogy, rather than a stand-alone book.

What can readers expect from Deadline?

Big changes, big shocks, and a lot of digging into the underside of the post-Rising world.  Also, things explode.  I like it when things explode.  It’s…soothing.

And what about Blackout?

Blackout will change everything.

What will Mira Grant be working on after the Newsflesh Trilogy?

I don’t know yet.  These are pretty hefty books, and I’ve barely started book three, so I’m sort of stuck in this paradigm right now.  I’m toying with the idea of a trilogy about parasitic infection, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

What’s available for fans at www.miragrant.com?  And what will be added in the future?

Right now, you’ve got some really kick-ass icons and wallpapers, a list of reasons to beware of Mira Grant, and the Horror Movie Survival FAQ.  We’ll be adding more graphics, more tips on getting through a horror movie alive, and some links to other handy zombie survival resources.

Is Mira Grant more like Georgia – reporting accurately with crucial details from a distance; or like Shaun – throwing herself into the thick of it, taking chances for the thrill?  Or is she neither: someone who likes to hide in her home protected from the zombies?

Definitely more like Shaun. Luckily, the zombie virus is too afraid of Mira Grant to infect her.

Other than the Newsflesh Trilogy, what is your all time favorite zombie book and favorite zombie movie?

My favorite zombie movie is James Gunn’s Slither.  No contest.  I love it like fire.  Zombie book is a little harder.  So…

FAVORITE ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY: The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams

FAVORITE SERIOUS ZOMBIE BOOK: World War Z, Max Brooks

FAVORITE SERIOUS YA ZOMBIE BOOK: Soulless, Christopher Golden

FAVORITE FUNNY ZOMBIE BOOK: Breathers, S.G. Browne

FAVORITE FUNNY YA ZOMBIE BOOK: You Are So Undead To Me, Stacy Jay

FAVORITE INSANE ZOMBIE BOOK: Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines

Hope that’s a good enough list!

“Feed” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2010)

Feedstarstarstarstarstar

There have been many books about zombies, many are being written right now.  Almost all of them are about zombie invasions, zombies attacking killing humans, people turning into zombies, and basically humanity’s innate fear of zombies.  Feed by Mira Grant is nothing like these books, and yet it is a zombie horror novel; the first book in the Newsflesh Trilogy.

It is the future, the year is 2039.  Twenty-five years ago the Kellis-Amberlee virus was released and began turning humanity into zombies.  The world is now a very different place: many people rarely leave their homes, or the protected confines of their neighborhoods; many places have been overridden by zombies, while the government does what it can to feebly protect its people.  Georgia Mason (named after someone who understood zombies very well) and her twin brother Shaun are bloggers.  When everything went to hell a quarter-century ago, the media denied what was happening, mocking the bloggers who were purportedly telling the truth.  Now the bloggers have become the media, for they are the only ones brave (or stupid) enough to get close to the zombies and report what’s happening.

It’s an election year and Republican Senator Peter Ryman is running for president, looking to change the country, to make the American people feel safe and protected once more.  George and Shaun and their techie Buffy have been picked as members of the media to cover Senator Ryman’s campaign, launching them into journalism stardom.  But then something terrible happens, at one of the Senator’s events; zombies attack and people die.  As the Senator’s campaign continues, George, Shaun and Buffy try to put the pieces together and work out exactly what’s going on, and why the Senator is being attacked, in an attempt to ultimately find out who is behind it all.

Mira Grant is not simply telling a good story about zombies; she is instead telling a fantastic story about a group of young bloggers covering the campaign of a hopeful presidential candidate in a world where there are zombies and fear is a part of everyone’s everyday life.  And as the book comes to a close, the reader realizes there are things in this world that are worse than zombies.  They’re humans.  If you’re going to read a book that has anything to do with zombies at all, read this one.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on April 28 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.