Blog Tour: Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies: Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the undead
If you're looking for a zombie-filled read, then you'll want to check out Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies (The Workhorsery), a novel by Victoria Dunn (the nom de plume of writers Victoria Higgins & Meghan Dunn). In the third and final stop of their blog tour, the authors tell us about bog snorkelling, the inner lives of zombies, Llanwrtyd Wells and how they wrote their novel.
CONTEST: Send the Workhorsery your answer to the question "should zombies have human rights?" for your chance to win a zomberiffic prize pack. The prize pack includes: autographed copies of all three Workhorsery novels (Victoria Dunn's Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, Derek Winkler's Pitouie and Jocelyne Allen's You and the Pirates); a genuine zombie crotchet doll; mystery prizes; and a hand-made, super-limited addition Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies Workhorsery tote bag to carry it all in!
Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies: Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the undead.
If you were at the last The Word On The Street festival in Queen’s Park, you might have heard my co-author and I hawking our first novel, Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies.
“Zombies! Get your Welsh zombies here!”
We were hard to miss.
People’s reactions to our pitch were never lukewarm. Some made straight for us, while others looked appalled and steered wide around our publisher’s booth. But even those who love people of decomposition wanted to know, “Why’d you write about zombies? And why Welsh zombies in particular?”
The first answer is embarrassingly practical. Our book started its undead life as an entry in the International 3-Day Novel Contest, a Vancouver-based competition challenging writers to complete an entire novel over the Labour Day weekend every year. We joined as a writing partnership, the two of us writing as a single author, swapping chapters back and forth. When trying to complete a novel in three days, insanity is inevitable and high literature is impossible. We needed a straightforward, fun concept that would survive limited sleep, interpersonal conflicts, unlimited carbs, and entirely too much caffeine. Since the process would turn us into the walking dead by midnight on Monday, zombies were a natural choice.
As writers with very little time, we also appreciated that zombies don’t have complex
inner lives, or overly complicated motivations. They know what they want, and they
don’t hesitate to go after it with admirable tenacity. They also don’t discriminate on
the basis of sex, race, creed or social class. A zombie might try to eat our protagonist’s
brains, but at least he won’t sexually harass Alice while he’s doing so. They never run for
political office, and they certainly won’t try to prorogue parliament.
Yes, zombies were perfect for our first 3-Day novel. To paraphrase The Kids in the Hall,
they’re cute and cuddly and an easy antagonist to write. But why Welsh zombies?
The Welsh part was a fortuitous accident. Having decided on zombies, we began by
googling “smallest town” on the theory that a zombie invasion of a tiny town would
be easier to write in three days than one set in Toronto. We then narrowed our search
to the UK on the theory that British zombies were more fun (influenced by the movie
Shaun of the Dead, we’re sure). Eventually we stumbled across not only the smallest town in Wales, but very possibly the coolest of the unpronounceable towns on the planet: Llanwrtyd Wells.
In the late 1970s, the townsfolk of Llanwrtyd Wells realized they couldn’t survive on
sheep farming alone, so they got together at the local pub and decided to create one
outrageous festival a year. Their very first festival took advantage of their two major
resources: peat bogs and desperately bored people. Now known as the World Bog
Snorkelling Championships, locals and tourists don snorkels and swim as fast as they can
in the boggy water. It was so popular, they’ve since added a bog snorkelling triathlon and
mountain bike bog snorkelling. Other popular festivals include the Man versus Horse
marathon (the horse doesn’t always win), and the Saturnalia Wobble which is a pub crawl
on mountain bikes. We decided this town definitely deserved a Zombie Wobble!
And with that decision, we had an entertaining antagonist and an unforgettable setting.
Writing the 3-Day novel was simply a matter of throwing our hapless protagonist into
the middle of things and seeing if she not only survived but also learned a whole new
appreciation for zombies. We won third place in the 2009 3-Day Novel Contest, and a
much reworked, expanded version found a happy home with the Workhorsery, a Toronto-
based publisher dedicated to providing us all with non-traumatizing Canadian Fiction.
(Yes, it exists!)
Because, after all, who doesn’t love zombies?
Other than the people who flee us at the next literary festival, as we chase them down,
shouting, “Get your bog snorkelling zombies here! Get ’em while they’re freshly
undead!” Although, they’re probably less worried about zombies and more concerned
about overly enthusiastic authors catching them.
Victoria Higgins & Meghan Dunn
Victoria Dunn, author of Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies
The most important novel published this year on the subject of bog snorkelling zombies
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