Today I've got Scott Craven, author of Dead Jed from Month9Books here for an interview. This books looks like something my zombie-obsessed second grader would love!
Tell me a bit about yourself…where you’re from and how you came to be a writer…
I was a high school sophomore in search of an elective when I saw that Journalism 1 was offered right before lunch, just the gap I needed to fill. I loved to read but cared little for writing at the time. And as the class went on, I still was disinterested in writing, yet the class would lead to a journalism career that now is in its 35th year. Over the years I’ve heard journalists talk about how they were motivated by a need to tell the truth, to defend the downtrodden, to pursue ideals leading to a better America. But the first time I saw my name in print in the high school newspaper, I was hooked. Turns out I was just 30 years or so ahead of my time when it comes to fashionable self-obsession. (Full disclosure – I am no longer motivated by ego, I swear).
Tell me what genres you write and why?
It seems I write in middle-grade speculative, which I had no idea was even a genre when I started writing “Dead Jed.” Even as I dashed out the first chapter, I had no idea who might be interested in such a story. Turns out it’s children in 4th through 7th grades, an audience that seems so narrow. My hope is the book will catch on with parents. Ideally the child asks them to read the first chapter, and adults get such a kick out of it, they grab it after the child’s in bed and continue with the story.
What's your latest book about?
My latest, and only, book is narrated by Jed Rivers, a pretty normal 13-year-old whose limbs may fall off when he gets nervous. He had no idea he was a zombie until he blew out candles on a cake, and his lips rocketed into the frosting. Now he is entering the scariest year of anyone’s life – seventh grade. And he has to do it as a zombie. The school bully does what school bullies do, and starts to take Jed apart piece by piece. Fortunately for Jed, all he needs is duct tape and staples to keep it together. He spends his year fending off bullies while teaching students that not all zombies shuffle around eating brains. Some of them just like to fit in, maybe play some football.
What themes do you particularly like to use in your writing and why?
As with the genre, “Dead Jed” was not about certain themes. But as writing progressed, the bullying subject came through loud and clear. The second book continues that theme, though Jed is much more confident about himself as he’s learned what it means to be a zombie. I hope young readers take from the book that being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Differences are to be celebrated, because they are what makes us who we are, lending to individual talents that can make the world a better place.
When creating characters for your books, how do you go about it?
As protagonist, Jed is the most flawed of the characters. Not because he is undead, but because he fails to realize his capabilities by not embracing who he is. As such, Jed needed a strong supporting cast of friends. I also tried to give depth to the bully because cardboard figures are too easy to knock down.
What advice do you have for a beginning writer?
Simple. Read and write. Then write and read. “Dead Jed” is my first attempt at a book, and I am told I am very lucky because most authors have a handful, if not a dozen, of unsold manuscripts scattered about their homes. But I’ve been a writer for 35 years. Rather than unsold manuscripts, I’ve had thousands of stories published in newspapers. I write seven days a work, either for work or on my own. This week, for example, I started a story on a physician who happens to be a nun (or a nun who happens to be a physician) that runs a medical clinic for homeless people. On weekends I work on the blog, or marketing for the book (this interview, for example). The more you deal with words, the better you will get. At some point you will find your voice. Congratulations. Success will come any moment now.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention? (i.e. where you get your inspiration?)
Don’t tell anyone, but some of the worst things that happen to Jed happened to me in seventh grade. Thrown head-first into a trash can? Check. Allowing the bully to copy off my test to avoid getting beaten up? Check. Stuffed into a display case? Check. Seventh grade was a miserable year. There were days I just wanted to stay in bed. But my only regret was that I never told anyone how I felt. I suffered in silence, made it through, and went on to bigger and better things. But if I’d leaned on a friend, or a trusted teacher, or my parents, I wouldn’t have had to face that alone. It’s true I can look back and laugh at it all, especially through Jed’s eyes, but that doesn’t mean I’d want to go through anything like that again.
ABOUT DEAD JED:
Publication date: December 1, 2013
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
ISBN eBook: 978-0-939765-56-7
Author: Scott Craven
Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.
From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!
ABOUT SCOTT CRAVEN:
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.
Link to Goodreads:
· Three (3 ebook copies of Dead Jed by Scott Craven (International)
· One (1) signed paperback copy of Dead Jed by Scott Craven (US only) a Rafflecopter giveaway