The Format of Madeleine Roux’s debut novel Allison Hewitt is Trapped: A Zombie Novel should seem a bit familiar to the bloggers of Audiobook Week. The novel is a Blog of one women’s struggle to survivor in a Zombie Apocalypse. Those of you who are scared off by the thought of Zombie violence, yes, there are some brutal moments, yet there is also an incredibly strong female protagonist, and a whole lot of interesting peripheral characters. You can check out my review of the audiobook version here.
Bob: As I understand it, Allison Hewitt is Trapped started out as online serial. Could you tell me a little bit about its journey from serial, to book, and finally to audiobook?
Madeleine: Originally, Allison Hewitt Is Trapped began as an experiment to embrace the serial nature of the blog and bring a story to readers week by week. The story took on a new energy when readers began leaving elaborate comments and immersing themselves in the story. It was fascinating to see people take on these detailed roles and leave comments that showed their own evolution in the chaotic, zombie-filled world. I ran the blog for a few months before Kate McKean, who is now my agent, stumbled across it. She contacted me to see if I’d like to turn the story into a novel while still keeping the blog format, which brought some unique challenges. For the next few months I finished the story and polished it up. All of that happened in the summer and fall of 2009 and then the novel hit stores in January of 2011. I was completely floored when Audible expressed interest in making the audio version. As a writer, it’s so surreal to hear someone read your story aloud – it’s a completely new way of experiencing the plot and characters. The first time I listened it gave me chills!
Bob: One of the things that is appealing about the novel is that Allison is just a normal woman in an extraordinary situation. She really has no special combat skills, or anything that you typically see in heroes of zombie Apocalypse stories. What is it about the character of Allison that you think made so many people respond to her? Did you model Allison after anyone specific?
Madeleine: I think Allison is a blend of a lot of people, both from my life and from media influences. To me, there’s something extra appealing about seeing a character start at zero and grow from there. Allison isn’t a CIA operative or a soldier, and I think it’s more thrilling to see an average person use their wit and resourcefulness rather than a specialized training. Chances are, you’ll never see that character learn their marksmanship or survival techniques. With Allison, you see every step, every time she stumbles or overcomes and in the end that makes you more attached to her struggle. She’s not modeled on anyone specific, and while she and I might share a few characteristics, she’s much braver than I am. If zombies turned up I think I’d just hide in a cupboard in the fetal position.
Bob: In a recent notorious article a reviewer called High Fantasy a “Boy’s Club.” Until recently it seemed that the Zombie niche was a bit of a boy’s club, until female authors like you, Cherie Priest and Mira Grant entered the fray with some excellent and original zombie fiction. Also, anyone who spends a lot of time on horror website forums will see that there are a lot of female zombie fans. Do you feel that female horror fans are a neglected audience and what should publishers be doing to try to tap into that market?
Madeleine: There’s a lot of misinformation about what female readers want. I think there’s this false assumption that a book with a female protagonist will automatically be heavy on the romance and that’s just not true. Women are diverse in their interests. We don’t just want to read about romance and shopping, and the literary market is reflecting that now. It is a shame that horror often relies on putting half-naked women in positions where they have little to no chance of survival. Apparently that’s titillating to a certain demographic. I’d love to see those ladies put on a pair of pants and take back their strength. I have no doubt that from here we’ll only see more and more women (authors and protagonists) challenging the stereotypes of the genre.
Bob: My blog deals mostly with audiobooks. How pleased were you with the overall audio production of Allison Hewitt is Trapped and the performance of narrator Piper Goodeve? Were you involved in its production in any way?
Madeleine: I answered a few questions about pronunciation and there’s a brief illustrated section of the book that couldn’t be included in the audio production, but otherwise it was all the team at Audible and Piper Goodeve. She did a tremendous job capturing Allison’s humor and tone. It’s almost insane how much she sounds like my internal voice for Allison. I was never very interested in audio books before, but hearing my own has certainly changed that.
Bob: So, you’re trapped in a bookstore during the Zombie Apocalypse. One of your fellow survivors wants to burn some books for heat. Which books would you absolutely refuse to allow him to burn at least until you finish reading them?
Madeleine: Oh, man. All of them? I’m kind of rabid about that sort of thing. I don’t even like the thought of burning books I hate! But I would definitely guard the Neil Gaiman books and Ian McEwan selection. I haven’t finished all of The Sharing Knife books or A Song of Ice and Fire series yet, so I’d ask nicely that they leave those alone, too.
Bob: If you were stuck in Los Angeles when the dead started to rise, are there any specific zombie celebrities that you would enjoy ridding the world of?
Madeleine: That’s not loaded or anything. I will say as tactfully as I can that zombie Michael Bay would do best to stay away from any and all swinging axes.
Bob: Without revealing too much, tell me what to expect from Sadie Walker is Stranded?
Madeleine: Sadie Walker Is Stranded is set primarily on an island, so we get the fun of dealing with water and isolation. There’s a bit more romance in this one and a mystery, too, as well as a few follow-ups on characters from the first book.
You can purchase Allison Hewitt is Trapped from Audible.com. The print version is published by St. Martin’s Griffin and is available at most booksellers.