Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guest Post: Nancy Holzer - Interview with Deadtown's Protagonist Vicky Vaughn

I want to thank Nancy Holzner, author of Deadtown for stopping by today for an interview with Vicky Vaughn, Deadtown's Protagonist. Deadtown is in stores now!

Could you start off by telling readers a little bit about yourself?
The main thing to know about me is that I’m not human. I’m Cerddorion, one of a race of Welsh shapeshifters who trace our origins all the way back to the ancient goddess Ceridwen. Some norms confuse us with werewolves, but we’re not the same thing at all. Werewolves change into one creature—wolves—for the three nights of the full moon. The Cerddorion can also shift up to three times each lunar cycle, but the moon never forces a shift; we can spend the entire month in human form if we choose to. We can change our shape into any animal (or sometimes strong emotion can cause a shift), and we can do it at any time of the month, day or night.

Among my race, only females can shift. The ability manifests at puberty, and it disappears if the female gives birth. My older sister Gwen chose to give up shapeshifting when she started her family ten years ago. She had her reasons, but it’s not the choice I’d make. I spent years training to fight demons, and shapeshifting is an important weapon in that arsenal. To me, being a demon-fighting shapeshifter isn’t just what I do; it’s who I am. Of course, that makes relationships a little bit tricky. I’ll admit to being commitment shy. I don’t want to care about someone and then get mired in a big swamp of awkward when he decides he wants to start a family. Not gonna happen. So I keep my distance.

So you don’t date?
I said I’m commitment shy, not a hermit. Gwen is always trying to set me up with human guys—I think she’s hoping I’ll settle down and then we can swap recipes or something—but those dates invariably turn out to be disasters. Besides, I don’t need her help. I’ve been dating Kane (well, sort of) for almost three years. Alexander Kane is a prominent Boston attorney who also happens to be a werewolf. He’s passionate about securing civil rights for us monsters (don’t let him hear you say the word “monster,” though—to Kane, we’re “Paranormal Americans”). But his job means he works norm hours, and mine means I work nights, so we don’t get together as often as we’d like. But that’s okay, because we both love our jobs. Workaholics understand each other, you know?

And then there’s Daniel. He’s human, a detective. Nice looking. He’s about six feet tall, good build, with dark blond, curly hair and sky-blue eyes. We met when he had me pulled out of my bed by a couple of goons and dragged into headquarters for questioning. Not a very romantic beginning, I know, but that was due to a misunderstanding. I like Daniel. Maybe a lot. But I also get the feeling that there might be something he’s hiding from me. And that’s another reason why it’s smart to keep some distance between me and men.

You live in Deadtown, a section of Boston that’s restricted to paranormals. What’s it like living there?
Deadtown came into being about three years ago, when the zombie plague hit downtown Boston. That was a terrible day, like being in a war zone. I was right in the middle of it. One minute, everything was normal—people were hurrying down the crowded streets to go to lunch and run errands—the next minute all the norms around me were lying dead on the ground. Paranormals were immune, so we came forward to help enforce the quarantine zone and deal with the corpses. Except the corpses didn’t stay corpses for long. After three days, they started coming back to life. And so Boston found itself having to deal with two thousand newly risen zombies.

As you can imagine, the city wouldn’t let them leave the quarantine zone. Us, either. We got thanked for our help by being restricted to the area that came to be known as Deadtown. With time, the authorities used genetic testing to determine who’s human and who’s not—and required all paranormals to take up residence in Deadtown or leave the state. Because Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that grants paranormals any rights at all, most opted to move in.

Deadtown comes alive (so to speak) at night. Like vampires, the zombies don’t do well in sunlight. They won’t vanish in a puff of smoke or anything, but sunlight damages their skin. (And zombies don’t heal, so that’s a definite problem.) Dusk to dawn is when things happen here. Most zombies do manual labor on the construction projects that are constantly underway converting stores and office buildings into housing—Deadtown used to be a business district, so it wasn’t set up to become home to a couple thousand zombies, as well as vampires, werewolves, and assorted other nonhuman creatures. It’s crowded and, to tell the truth, it’s dangerous. Humans aren’t allowed in, for their own good. My neighborhood is full of creatures with superhuman strength and bad attitudes. Vampires (mostly) live by the rules and (mostly) stick to their one legally allowed pint of blood per donor per day. Werewolves make their way to one of the state-sanctioned retreat centers for the three days of each full moon. But zombies are still learning how to control their reanimated bodies. The slightest whiff of human blood sends them into a frenzy of hunger, and zombie blood-lust isn’t something any human would want to experience.

You work as a demon slayer. What’s that like?
I call myself a demon exterminator because I kill people’s personal demons for a living. For as long as we’ve existed, the Cerddorion have been sworn enemies of demons. Personal demons are the most common, and some people will pay me a lot to rid them of a demon infestation. It gives them peace of mind. My job is a lot like psychotherapy, but instead of a couch I use a flaming sword.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling with their own personal demons?
There are three main kinds of personal demons: Drudes, Eidolons, and Harpies. Drudes are dream-demons. They’re the source of most nightmares, and they feed on fear. Eidolons feed on guilt. Some Eidolons manifest as apparitions; others are a presence that keeps you awake at night, feeling like some hideous parasite is gnawing at your bones. And Harpies are revenge demons; people pay sorcerers to conjure Harpies and send them against their enemies.The thing about personal demons is that they don’t have independent existence. They’re conjured by overpowering emotion—fear, guilt, hatred. When emotions like those are left unresolved, they grow, and they take demonic form. So my best advice is to face negative feelings before they fester and grow into something you can’t control. I’d give you that advice even if you hired me. After I’ve clear out a demon infestation, if you don’t deal with the root emotion that conjured the demons, they’ll eventually come back. Face your fears. Face your guilt. Face your enemies. That’s how you conquer your demons.


Thanks Nancy!

For more information about Nancy Holzner and her books, please visit her site here.

21 comments :

  1. Thanks! that was fun reading. I just picked up Deadtown today. My city's Borders didn't have it out yet, so I had to go to Barnes and Nobles to get it. They had quite a few copies of Deadtown out - two spots at least five books deep - and that was just on one of those freestanding racks. There were even more in their Science Fiction section - No lack of copies there! But couldn't fine one copy at Borders.

    At least I have my copy now. I'm currently reading The Better Part of Darkness - as soon as I'm finished with that book, I'm sitting down with Deadtown.

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  2. Great interview.Explained alot about the character and book.I'll have to check it out.

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  3. @Mardel: Wow, thanks for that bookstore report! That's the best-stocked store I've heard about so far. Lst night, I had to pester the staff at my local chain store to go and get their copies out of the storeroom and put them on the shelf. (They had four.)

    Coincidentally, I'm reading The Better Part of Darkness now, too. I really like the idea of a single-mom protgaonist.

    @elaing8: Thanks! If you'd like a taste of the book, you can read the first chapter on my website.

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  4. Fantastic interview!!

    I like she's not human, and keeps getting set-up.

    Happy new year every one!

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  5. What a fun interview and very informative reading about the character from this point of view in a post...
    So glad when my copy of the book makes it to me, hate waiting on the mail these days....

    Jackie B Central Texas

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  6. Vicky sounds like a boat load of fun. I'm looking forward to reading this.

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  7. This interview certainly gave a lot of insight into the character and how the character thinks. Very interesting!

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  8. Great interview!!! I'd love to ask more questions about Deadtown, and what exactly do zombies eat. Is there some kind of engineered food.

    Can't wait to read the book!!!

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  9. Re: Heather - they have an insatiable hunger where they eat tons of food.

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  10. Thanks for all the comments! It was fun to interview Vicky and hear her talk about these issues from her point of view. I've been talking a lot *for* her lately, but I'd rather listen *to* her. :)

    Yes, Tina is right about the food question. The zombies eat normal food. They're always hungry, and they eat anything that's available. They love junk food, because they don't have to worry about calories, good carbs, bad carbs, nutritional content. They just need fuel.

    Zombies retain the same body type they had when they died, so if someone died skinny, that zombie can eat and eat and eat and never gain weight. As the teenage zombie in Deadtown says, "It's the only thing that doesn't suck about being reanimated."

    If you've got more questions, please ask! I'll be checking back throughout the day.

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  11. Great character interview! Very informative :)

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  12. Thanks, throuthehaze. I've been doing a number of interviews to promote the book, but Vicky is way more interesting than I am. :)

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  13. Thanks, Tina, for inviting me here and also for reviewing Deadtown. Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2010!

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  14. wow sounds like a great read. One question did this virus only attack that city and if so why.

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  15. Fun Interview! I love when she says she's not a hermit. I can't wait to read this.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

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  16. Interviews with characters are always an interesting read. I really like that the character's origins are in Welsh mythology.

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  17. Oh I love the background and how the author tied in one of my favorite goddesses. Great interview!

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  18. Loved the interview, explained alot about the characters for me.

    I'm hoping to get a copy soon.

    erfaulkner91(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  19. Aloha Nancy!!

    you are freakin' hilarious!! Your response in "so you dont date"
    ROFLMAO!!!
    I can tell... if I were to have dinner with you iced tea would be sloshing out of my nose and I;d be gagging on my steak!!=)
    I just adore your personality!!=)

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  20. Great Interview:) The book sounds really good.

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