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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Story You Want to Read

Please welcome guest blogger Jesse Petersen

Often people ask me how it was that I went from writing dark, sensual historical romance (as Jenna Petersen) to writing a sarcastic, modern zombie comedy (MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES, available now!!) that is more fantasy than romance (though it does have a romantic element). A few people have even given me the “oh, well that kind of thing is hot right now”. This, of course, implies that somehow I saw that zombies were getting hot and just pumped out something in that genre in the hopes I could hop on a bandwagon and ride it off into the New York Times Bestseller sunset (HA!!).

In truth, my reasoning was far less nefarious or even well-though out. See, I just wrote a book I wanted to read.

Now if you follow me at my site for writers, http://www.passionatepen.com, you may already know how I feel about the whole concept of “Book of Your Heart”. I don’t really buy into that. I never write a book I don’t feel passionately about and love with all my heart when I start out into the adventure of writing it (although level of love may vary depending how the page count is going). And I suppose that means that every book is also a book I want to read. I write because I want to see how that story I thought of will play itself out. I’m the first reader and so I always make a valiant effort to entertain myself, if no one else.

But with MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES, the whole thing played out differently. I never set out to sell the book. I wasn’t thinking about market or trends or changing genres or what would happen next. I just had an idea for a scene where a man and a woman, drowning in a bad marriage, go to see their marriage counselor and it turns out she’s been turned into a zombie. And I wanted to write that. It made me laugh. It made me wonder what would happen next. So I wrote it. And then I wrote some more. And then some more.

At some point, yes, my agent did encourage me to finish what I’d started because she felt it was marketable. And I’ll admit that I did start looking at Publisher’s Marketplace at some point and see how stories with a zombie twist were selling. I had hopes (ones that ended up realized when the auction began on the book last December). But I truly wrote the book because I wanted to write it. I wanted to make myself giggle. I wanted to be sarcastic and swear and have my heroine make pop culture references that I never got to touch in historical romance.

In short, I wanted to entertain myself on a different level. And if you can find stories that do that for you, trends won’t matter. Your voice will sing, your passion and love will come through and the book will be worth more than any amount of money you receive for it in the long run.

Write the books you want to read. You’ll never regret it.

Jesse’s life as a writer began when her husband made the brilliant observation that she was much happier writing than doing anything else. So she took the plunge and decided to do that full-time. After many years and many books in different sub-genres, she was bitten by the zombie bug (not a zombie, but the bug) and took off on a zany adventure which culminates in the publication of the “Living With the Dead” series from Orbit.

When not coming up with creative methods of zombie disposal she lives in Central Illinois with her high school sweetheart husband and two cats. She spies on her neighbors from her office window, plays video games and obsessively practices Sudoku, even though she realizes none of these skills will help her in an apocalypse (well, maybe the video game thing). In addition, she volunteers at her local zoo where she feeds monkeys and creates enrichment for the tiger. Her “cat nip in a big bag” trick is a favorite amongst the big cats (and the small ones).

Oh and from time to time she even writes, which is still what she likes to do best. She also loves chatting with other zombie lovers and fans of her stories (if you don’t like the stories… well, why are you still reading this??). She encourages you to contact her at the various places listed on this fabulous website.

Married With Zombies

A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. 

Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they're on the verge of divorce and going to couples' counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things - the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client's throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn't mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don't eat their brains, they might just kill each other.


Lynda K. Scott said...

Great article! And I totally agree. My books and short fiction are always offshoots of 'what I want to read'.

Wishing you great sales, Jesse!

Keena Kincaid said...

Love it! I loved the idea when we talked about it last January and now that the book is out, I'll be firing up the Kindle.


Deborah Schneider said...

Jesse -- I can vouch for the fact that you've been writing really funny stuff for a long time. After all, as one of your first critique partners, I should know. Sheryl and I are delighted you finally got to put that comic voice to some good use. You always cracked us up in the group.
I'll never forget the hero who had a big problem, those damned muddy pants!!