Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Win a free copy of Blind Hunger!

What if George Romero directed 1985’s The Breakfast Club instead of John Hughes? Mr. Romero, the godfather of all zombies, would most certainly have replaced Molly Ringwald’s bento box lunch with a gourmet tapenade of genetically altered tomatoes. 
Those tomatoes would have carried a rapid-spreading zombie-making virus. 

The teenagers wouldn’t have been running from their detention monitor with the threat of expulsion from school, they would have been running from a zombie detention monitor for fear of losing their lives. 

If Romero had a hand in any part of The Breakfast Club, we may have ended up with Blind Hunger. But he didn’t. Araminta Star Matthews penned this young adult gem of zombie fiction.

In Blind Hunger a group of kids ranging in age from 9 to 17 band together when the adults of their sleepy New England town go zombie. They start the day going about their normal everyday lives. But everything changes once they get to school.

The kids are from different backgrounds and different cliques: Max, the nerdy misfit, Rachel, the princess, Kiley, Rachel’s sharp-tongued younger sister, Bryan, Rachel’s jock boyfriend, and Sage, at 9, the youngest and the brain.

Hormones play a part in the book (Of course they would, we’re dealing with mostly teenagers!). But not necessarily in the way one might think. You see, hormones factor in as to whether you’re going to turn zombie. Once the testosterone or estrogen starts flowing through the veins, you’re destined to become one of the living dead. 

There’s definitely a “don’t mess with mother nature” theme. Humans try to take on the role of earth mother in their attempt to eradicate world hunger. They take nature into their own hands, fabricate an unnatural reproductive process in plants that results in “zombie fruit.” And as the old saying goes, we are what we eat.      

Blind Hunger concludes with the characters all growing up, fast, over the course of one horrific day of chaos. The team of zombie-fighting kids emerges “graduated” from their school, having survived the labyrinthine halls and the zombie obstacles around each bend. They accept their differences and bond together for survival. But the zombie adults will never see them as anything more than food. The kids are the heroes. The adults are the villains. Plain and simple.

The child protagonists are all ticking time bombs. Eventually they’ll become adults, and therefore become zombies. But I don’t have any doubt they’ll give Mother Nature a run for her money. The kids bonded together to battle zombies in Blind Hunger but each will have a personal battle down the road: to fight off the infection before becoming one of the living dead.

I had the chance to ask Araminta Star Matthews about her book and about zombies in general. Here are her answers to a few of my questions:

*In Blind Hunger a group of kids band together after all the adults in their world turn zombie. Do you think a group of kids without parents reflects a societal issue we have today when children at times seem to be left without many adult figures? 

I think parents do the best they can with what they have. At least, I hope most do. I know better than to speak in generalizations. I also think kids really do grow up "faster" with each new generation. When I was growing up, we didn't have cell phones and the internet was just an infant to us. I could spend hours alone in my neighborhood without being bothered or feeling unsafe. I once walked the railroad tracks for miles with my friends completely without supervision or a way to call home (though my parents would have been so angry if they'd known). So, I guess I'm not sure this is societal issues of today. I think they've always been there.

The fact that sometimes kids really do have to fend for themselves without an apocalypse coming along is all too real, I'm afraid. Kiley is myself as a teen, wit as sharp as an obsidian knife and a sarcastic remark for everything. Bryan is a bit like that kid in school who always got medium-good grades and was good at sports. And all four of them really were survivors long before the apocalypse. Bryan surviving life without a mother and with a load of guilt. Kiley surviving her angst-addled years wildly misunderstood. Max surviving abuse and neglect. Sage surviving the social isolationism that comes with being gifted well beyond your years. Of course they'd find each other, and of course they'd make it. They may well be the only ones who would.

I’m doing a lateral serial for Dark Moon Digest (which will be 20,000 words on Sage's friend, Bekah's, story) and the sequel (to Blind Hunger). I also think children are a lot more capable and powerful than adults realize. We have this tendency to silence children. We don't listen to them and we certainly don't validate their ideas, when the truth is, the best paradigm-breaking progress comes out of the mouths of babes. Children are resilient, complex, brilliant personalities. I've gotten some criticism from reviewers and editors that my children (in the story) are not realistic, that no child could be that smart or insightful or skilled, but I forcefully disagree with that assessment.

*Do you feel there are different reasons as to why the zombie genre is popular in both young adult and adult fiction?

The whole aspect of this fixation with zombies is not entirely new. There were zombies in The Epic of Gilgamesh and hints of them in religious texts. I think the idea of a zombie echoes our innate fear of death, or perhaps more accurately, what comes after we die. Do we lose our consciousness, travel to a heaven, ressurect, become mindless creatures, and essentially lose all that makes us, us? In addition, zombies represent the mindless in general.

I've witnessed desensitization when there are so many people about, no one does anything to help someone being hurt or in need. I've cringed at the dismal voting turn-outs, or the profound lack of interest many people have in helping each other grow. At the oceanside this summer, I spent every weekend staring or swimming in salty water and I was amazed at how many people were just texting, so completely absorbed in technology that they never once looked at the water the whole vast number of hours we were there. Technology seems to zombify us a little bit.

*The proceeds of Blind Hunger go to a very special cause. Tell us a little about this. 

Before the book published, I agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to The Literacy Volunteers of Androscoggin County partly because I'm on the board and really believe in what we do there. After the book published, my little niece, Riker Star Dresser, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a diagnosis very rarely given to infants. She was just three months old at the time. Her mother is my oldest and closest friend. She's one of the people I walked those railroad tracks with.

I'm a trustee of The Riker Dresser Benefit account and I'm raising money and awareness of her situation to ensure a smooth transition home after my little Star gets her bone marrow transplant.

A portion of my proceeds will go to help her and the family deal with what faces them.

You can read more about Riker at the website we created for her: rikerstardresser.com

And you can read more about Araminta Star Matthews at www.aramintastar.com 

Would you like to win a free copy of Blind Hunger

Simply comment on this blog and send me your answers to the following zombie trivia questions at  : contest has ended. 

Whoever answers all correctly will have their name placed into a drawing that will take place Sunday, August 21, 2011, at 10 PM PST. The winner will be announced Monday, August 22, 2011, and their name will be posted on my blog. 

Ready? Set? Go!

1. What is a zombie's favorite food? (looking for a particular human organ here)

2. Who is known as the godfather of all zombies?

3. World War Z's author Max Brooks is the son of which Hollywood comedy legend? 

4. To kill a zombie, it's best to:

a.) Drive a wooden stake through its heart.
b.) Shoot it with a silver bullet in the foot.
c.) Decapitate it.

5. Where is Blind Hunger author Araminta Star Matthews from? (www.aramintastar.com) 

Good luck!


drakesuniverse said...

Sounds like a good book!

jason said...

Sparks my interest! I'm going to answer the questions now.

Pardiman said...

I will answer the questions.

ccarpinello said...

Can't believe I got all of the answers right!

As a retired high school teacher, it was refreshing to see Araminta's understanding of young people. I dare to say that most people not involved on a regular basis with kids have no idea of the struggles they are going through. Thanks for your insight Araminta.

Michelle Oppegaard said...

I have to say the part of the article I agree with the most is that digital technology may turn us all into zombies eventually!!
The book seems to correlate nicely with the Breakfast Club.
JLMR lives!

Dominique Eastwick said...

Great BLog lady :)

Anne E. Johnson said...

Many of the great works of children's lit focus on kids behaving above and beyond what anyone thinks they're capable of. Nice to see this message woven into the Zombie sub-genre!

Patrick said...

I'm always up for good zombie fiction. Fiction for free is all sorts of awesome. Plus, it's a great opportunity to connect with other writer folks. Both to share the art and to talk amongst people who know how good it feels to write.

Thanks for posting.

Dante's Heart said...

I'm excited to read this. It sounds like a great story, and one that taps into two issues that are near to my heart: hunger, and the plight (and resourcefulness) of children in an impoverished or decaying world. Bravo, Araminta, for having the courage to address that - most writers even of apocalypse fiction shy away.

One need only talk with the nearest program working with homeless kids in your own city ... or look at a documentary like "Kids with Cameras" (featuring a program to train red light district kids in Calcutta as young photographers and get them into schools) to find stories that will move you ... and break your heart.

Looking forward to reading Blind Hunger.

Daniel Fusch
Author, The Zombie Bible

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a very interesting premise. There seems to have been an overabundance of YA horror novels, as well as zombie novels in the last few years, but this has actually piqued my interest.

Zombie fiction is a notoriously difficult field in which to write, largely since the desires of the antagonists are so limited in the majority of cases, that the story hinges on the protagonists and their tale of survival.

Survival is such a key feature of some of the best YA fiction, that this seems an ideal twist on the genre and it is one that I am hugely looking forward to checking out.

Kevin G.Bufton

Tamara said...

Hey ... sounds like a creepy cool premise ... I love it...:-) Love your blog, Julie. Hey, have you ever seen or heard of the indie zombie flick that was made here in Washingtin a few years ago???

AMThompson said...

Haha! Would Romero's Breakfast Clubber's have had a dance scene?

Victoria said...