Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a little “scare” in her writing. Her latest book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, offers a twist on the Lizzie Borden murders. She also is author of a young adult book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, and books on dollhouse collecting and crafting, including Dollhouse Decor & More and In Miniature Style II.
Christine’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies including: Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Mystery Weekly, Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers and Swashbucklers, Athena’s Daughters, Silence in the Library; Feast of the Dead: Hors D’Oeuvres; Darlings of Decay; 100 Doors to Madness; Timeshares, Steampunk’d, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, DAW Books; and The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.
She is an award-winning journalist with stories published in daily to weekly newspapers and in various magazines. Her stories have received awards from local and national newspaper associations, and the Dog Writer’s Association of America.
Interview with C.A. Verstraete
Sci-Fi & Scary: What is it about zombies that appeals to you?
C.A. Verstraete: It might be the sheer horror of something wanting you for dinner. I think as humans we’re used to being in control of the food chain, not on it! Plus it’s the sheer horror “no it can’t happen” aspect.
Sci-Fi & Scary: You are one of the bloggers on http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com. How did that site come about? What do you like most about it?
C.A. Verstraete: I started the site as a way to get female zombie authors involved and promote not only my own zombie books, but horror and other books. It’s been fun and I’ve met a lot of authors through it. I’m a reader, too, so I love finding new books!
Sci-Fi & Scary: First there was Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies, then there was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and of course the tons of fairytale remakes out there like Christina Henry’s Alice. Now we have your work, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. What do you think inspires the re-imaginings in general? And specifically, what inspired yours?
C.A. Verstraete: Having read some of the other books, I think it’s fun to take history in a different direction, even if some may consider it sacrilegious. But it’s fiction! Some view zombies as an analogy of society’s wrongs. Every generation has its monsters, and zombies are this century’s version of horror or what’s wrong with the world, I guess. I’ve always been interested in true crimes so once I read the autopsy reports and other information on the Borden murders, it made perfect sense to me that the crimes could be “solved” in a different way. I was surprised no one else had thought of it.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Your website contains a good bit of information on Lizzie Borden. How long did you spend researching her, the trial, and all of that?
C.A. Verstraete: Lizzie Borden is actually a pretty popular topic, so it wasn’t too hard to find background material on her. I formed the story around the real-life murder and the trial after reading the inquest and trial transcripts. Of course, I had to change some events to fit my own scenario but I did base it on the real-life events. History can be fascinating. You wonder what drives people to commit such terrible acts. Even more, you wonder how they can go through with them. This is pretty gruesome stuff.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How long did it take you to write Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter?
C.A. Verstraete: It took about two years to write the book, research, and re-write.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
C.A. Verstraete: Getting it how I wanted. I actually had two different versions of the book.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What kind of zombies are your zombies? Are we talking the slow, plodding Braiiiiiins kind or the 28 Days Later rage virus kind?
C.A. Verstraete: I used the slower, hungry zombies. I think the slower ones are horrifying enough and fit the time period more. Life overall was slower-paced back then. Having zombies appear, something the characters describe as “something from Miss Shelley’s Frankenstein come to life,” was enough for them to digest. My favorite scene in Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is one toward the end where an older couple is simply petrified at what they’re seeing and Lizzie has to rescue them.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Do you have any more historical figure – zombie hunter (or other) books planned?
C.A. Verstraete: I am working on Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2. Next, I’ll have a supernatural-flavored mystery novella coming out (it may be in pre-order by the time of this interview) told from the point-of-view of Lizzie’s doctor and neighbor. The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River doesn’t have zombies, but it’s rather spooky. It answers my own questions about how he could have felt after coming on that horrific murder scene and what could be haunting the town to have such gruesome murders occur there.
Sci-Fi & Scary: I know you’ve written a lot of shorter stories for anthologies. What is the most popular anthology that readers might find your work in?
C.A. Verstraete: I have fun writing creepy little short stories. Some are strange, some are little gory… I’ve written a couple for the free Siren’s Call magazine and for different anthologies. It’s hard to pick just one, though one of my favorite flash stories, Grandma’s Green Thumb, was in the 100 Doors to Madness anthology. Links are on my website fiction page. http://www.cverstraete.com/horror-zombie-fiction.html. I am thinking of putting some of my creepy short stories together in a collection, too.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your favorite zombie book and zombie movie?
C.A. Verstraete: If I had to pick a recent movie it would be Maggie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and mood in that. The first, and probably my favorite, zombie book I read was Jonathan Maberry’s Dead of Night.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your favorite NON-zombie horror book or movie?
C.A. Verstraete: I love old movies and love to re-watch Whatever Happened to Baby Jane with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis whenever I can. I also like Gone with the Wind. I like a wide variety of movies and books.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What advice would you give to female horror authors trying to get established?
C.A. Vestraete: Take your time, do your homework and hone your writing skills. It doesn’t pay to rush things.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your writing style? Do you have a routine and focus on getting out a certain amount of words, or are you a “When inspiration hits”?
C.A. Verstraete: If I’m really pushing to get a project done, I will try to get in a certain number of words per week. But being a journalist by profession, I’m used to writing every day, so writing something usually isn’t a problem. I just have to push to get the project done between other writing.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How many of your stories come from nightmares or dreams that you’ve had?
C.A. Verstraete: Actually, the ending of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter came to me in a dream. I was still following some of the real-life events in Lizzie’s life, so the ending was part of my way in explaining the rift the sisters actually had. Emma moved out of their house and supposedly they never spoke again.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Do you think the zombie sub-genre is nearing saturation point? Or is that not possible?
C.A. Verstraete: It’s possible. So many books are coming out, it’s like a flood. Sadly, there are a lot of badly written and amateurish books (in all genres) that it gets harder to find the good stuff.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
C.A. Verstraete: I collect dollhouses, I love my dog, and I like working on miniature projects. I love to create! (I do share photos of my work on the website http://cverstraete.com or link to my other blog.)
Thanks again for hosting me! It was fun visiting with you and your readers!
Every family has its secrets…
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.