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News, Writing

Christine Morgan – Raus! Untoten! Author Interview

Social media is a valuable tool if you’re an author and you use it correctly. Incorrectly used, Facebook, Twitter and any number of other sites can suck your creative time into a black hole from which there is no return.

Correctly used, it can help you reach out to your readers and find projects, such as Raus! Untoten!

However, it doesn’t matter how many projects you find if you’re not attracted to them, so I asked her what she found so interesting about the project, “I love themed anthology calls, I love writing historical fiction, and the undead are always interesting. That era in particular presents a fascinating challenge; if zombies are the throwaway monster bad guys of horror, like orcs are of fantasy, Nazis are often depicted that way in action movies. I remember an exchange a friend’s and my characters once had in a superhero game that went, “You kicked her in the head!” and “She’s a Nazi! You’re SUPPOSED to kick Nazis in the head!” But, they’re also people, and I wanted to explore beyond or behind that.”

She hit things perfectly on the head with this. Everyone knows that orcs, undead and Nazis are the bad guys. Which is why this anthology is so exciting. If bad guys do bad things such as using creating undead, what does that make the ‘good’ guys if they do the same?

Being attracted to a project doesn’t do any good if you don’t have some good ideas lurking at the back of your mind and I was interested to know what the inspiration was behind this project.

To be honest (contradicting my previous answer though this does), my initial idea was to do a spoof sequel of that trashy 70’s exploitation movie, “Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS.” I was going to call it something like “Return to Medical Camp Nine: Nazi Zombie Sex Slaves.” But then I thought, no, let’s just not go there right now. Let’s try for something more serious, something different, something that touched more on the horrors of war, indoctrination, separation from family, and the effects of it all on the ordinary, everyday folks. Not even on soldiers, so much, but on civilians, and children. Plus, you know, zombies.

Hating spoofs, and strongly disliking comedy writing – I’m a grumpy nearly  40 year old man – as well as being a father of two daughters, this story really hit home hard and I loved the way that it was written so I’m very happy that she didn’t take this route.

Nazis, for their inhumane cruelty and ruthlessness are scary enough, but I wanted to know what scared Christine most about the undead, “If we’re talking zombies, and in this case I am, they represent damn near the perfect storm of my personal greatest squicky fears. Infection, mess, and most of all LOSS OF SELF. Losing my ability to think, to recognize and care about my loved ones, to imagine and create and communicate … that is my all time worst terror. I would happily be a brain in a jar if I could still think, create and communicate.”

Not so sure that I would enjoy being a brain in a jar – no matter how creative I was – I swiftly moved on to find out what made her choose Zombies for her story.

“Zombies worked best for what I wanted to write about. The mindlessness and indoctrination aspects, I suppose … the loss or giving up of individuality … it seemed to go together pretty well. Propaganda and social pressure are forms of infection, infection of the mind and soul if not the body. Typical ghosts and vampires have too much personality, memory, history and self to suit the purpose.”

After a few easy questions, I thought I would throw a harder one at her. Most authors hate the pitch/synopsis-writing aspect of getting a story out to the rest of the world, so I gave her 100 words or less to tell me about her story.

“Be Good and Be Brave” is really two stories that intersect, but are kind of about the same things … heritage, family, belonging, loss. I started with a picture in my head of a scared little girl on a train, separated from her parents. She only has a child’s understanding of war. All she knows is that she misses her mother, who promised her that everything would be all right. The second story is that of a farmer who’s seen his friends, relatives and neighbors ousted from their homes because of the ideology that sought to bring ‘true’ Germans back to the values of rural living.”

Writers are sensitive souls, you only have to look at their Facebook pages to get an idea as to their insecurities and fears, so I thought I would ask her what she felt the hardest thing about being an author was.

“The waiting and the angst. The agony of suspense after sending off a submission, wondering how long it’ll take to hear back, wondering if it’ll be accepted, if I did something dumb and sent the wrong file or didn’t follow the guidelines. When do I do a follow-up query? What if I do a follow-up query and it turns out they replied weeks ago and I look like an idiot? I know in my head that the worst thing they can do is decline and not accept my story; editors and publishers aren’t really going to come egg my house or whatever. But my nerves say otherwise, and every time I send out a story, it feels like.”

That said, why on earth would she want to be an author?

“Masochism? No, not really. Really, I can’t help it. I can’t stop. I can’t NOT write. Having people read something I write, that’s a great bonus. Getting paid for it is icing on the cake, or extra gravy, depending on whether you prefer sweets or savories. But, words to me, language to me, storytelling to me, those are like play-dough, a complete sensory, mental and emotional experience, a toy, limited only by my own skill.”

Finally, with Fringeworks being a mostly e-book based publisher, I asked her what her thoughts were regarding the whole ebook versus hardcopy debate that never seems to abate.

“As a writer, I’m fine with either, hey, whatever gets the stories out there so someone might be able to read and enjoy. As a reader, I personally still prefer books in book form. I don’t have an e-reader and don’t plan to. Any occasion I’d need more than one book to read, I’d bring my laptop and I have a program that will do that. Anything else, I’d rather have just a plain book. Less worry and expense if I drop it in the tub or leave it on the bus, for instance. And there’s something just solidly real and comforting about being surrounded by bookshelves (seriously, house is full of ’em)”

If you’d like to learn more about Christine and her writing, please go to: http://www.christine-morgan.org/

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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