Welcome, one and all, to another author interview! Today, we’re welcoming M. Rose Flores, author of The End abaord for a chat about zombies!
Welcome to the site! For those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you give us a quick introduction?
Thank you for having me! I’m a writer and dog trainer from the Pacific Northwest, although I have lived all over. Both writing and dogs are my greatest passions. In fact, the dog in The End, Chaz, was based on my dog.
Your debut novel ‘The End’ was released on April 16 by NineStar press. First up, how did it feel to see your book enter the world?
It was surreal. I kept forgetting and then remembering that my book was a real book! It was in my head and in my computer for so long, and then suddenly it’s this thing that I can hold and that people can read. So far it has been educational and exceptional.
Was it a long road from conception to publication? How long did you work on the story before getting it signed?
I worked on this book for about two years, from first concept (through a thousand-mile move back to my home state) to finishing the final draft.
How did the book end up with NineStar press, and how have you found working with them so far?
I got a response from NineStar during a Twitter pitch contest, after about four months of rejection. So far, I have loved working with them. I learn so much daily, from the editors, from Raevyn, and from fellow NineStar authors.
The book is a horror/thriller title that follows seventeen-year-old Cate in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. First up, what drew you to zombies as a subject?
My spouse, Stephen, is a HUGE zombie fan. He drew me to zombies in the first place. I have always loved apocalyptic stories, near-realism stories, and stories dealing with “what if”. But Stephen has converted me to a full-on zombie nerd, and the idea of a YA zombie book that takes pace during the apocalypse and has a bisexual female lead was right up my street.
The story cites three things as important: that zombies exist in the world, that not all zombies are just zombies, and that Cate is immune to the infection. The second of those things really interested me as it hints at there being more to the infection than simply turning people into flesh eaters. What can you tell us about this point without being too spoilerific?
Not a lot, other than what’s already on Twitter. But basically, they’re different, more intelligent than your average undead shuffler. They will absolutely be explored in greater depth in future installments.
The concept that the characters must face up to their phones being hunks of plastic and little more is an interesting one as, as a society, we’re pretty reliant on such tools right now. Was it fun to thrust characters into a world where they were no long a viable tool?
It was. I think, as someone who grew up without mobile phones until I was nearly an adult, it’s easier for me to imagine being a part of that kind of world. But for people like my little sister, who is 16, there has never been a time when phones weren’t a part of everyday life. To lose that instant, worldwide connection would be pretty difficult.
I noticed that the book also deals with emetophobia – the fear of vomit. This is quite a complex fear as it can be rooted in a number of different things. What attracted you to using this in the book, and how big a role does it play?
The book doesn’t actually deal with the fear of vomit, but the act. I read somewhere that even the word “vomit” can be too much for some people, so in the warning, I deliberately used “emetophobia” in hopes that that the readers who would need the warning wouldn’t be triggered by the warning itself.
Do you have a favorite character or scene in the book that you can tell us about?
Marco is my favorite character. He was more fully-formed in the early stages than anyone.
What’s next for you in terms of writing? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
I’m currently wading through book two in this series. I would tell you the title, but that might give some stuff away.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there?
First, and probably this is obvious, write. Write on napkins, in margins, on typewriters and computers. Write even if you’re just journaling. And take a writing class if you can. But more important than anything, you have to believe that you can do it. Not all the time, because very few people possess the confidence to believe in themselves all the time, but some of the time, in quiet moments or before bed or when you’ve just written something you love, take a second and tell yourself that you absolutely can do this. Because you absolutely can.
Moving away from writing for the moment, you work as a professional dog trainer. How did you come to enter this business, and what is your favorite part of it?
My favorite part of dog training is knowing that every family I work with leaves my classes with a deeper understanding of their dogs than they had before they came to me. I have seen people go from being minutes away from surrendering their dog to a shelter, to knowing what their dog needed and knowing how to communicate their needs to their dog, and being a happier family for it. By the way, you can train all animals in exactly the same way – positive, reward-based training works with nearly all sentient beings. I owe my entire training career to my sweet old lab, Chaz. He was the first dog I ever worked with, and the first dog I had as an adult. He was not socialized, even though he was nine when I started with him, and the most he knew how to do was sit on cue. By the time I moved from California back to Washington, his owner had asked me to take him. She said, “Chaz loves me, but you are his person.” And I truly believe that we were meant to find one another. In the nearly four years we had together, I watched him learn everything I could think to teach him. The increase in enthusiasm and confidence were astounding. He died very recently, but he will always live on in my work. He’s in The End, like I said before, and I am sure that won’t be the only book I write him into.
Do you have any current favorites from the world of entertainment? Any film, TV, music, book or game recommendations?
I am a huge fan of Sense8, in fact I am rewatching it currently in preparation for the finale. I love the pacing of the Hunger Games trilogy, the voice of American Gods, and the self-awareness ofThe Princess Bride (in fact, I love any work of fiction – book or film – with an element of self-awareness). I also love everything I have ever read by Jhumpa Lahiri. Her work takes up more space on my shelf than any other author. Except Rowling, I suppose, but to be fair, Lahiri’s books aren’t nearly as thick!
Do you have any final messages for readers? Where can they go to find out more about you and your work? Feel free to link to anything you want.
To follow my work and my authorial musings, you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/writemod and Twitter @writemod (engage with #ItsProbablyZombies to see tidbits and to converse with me).
Thanks again for having me on your site!