Everyone else is running away from the zombie apocalypse, but Zach Paul and Viola Ortiz are running towards it. Zach wants to honor a pact he made to look out for his brother, and Viola has unfinished business with an ex-boyfriend. Quickly, the two realize they need each other to survive, but it’s not long before they figure out they need much more than that. Together, Zach and Viola must make a desperate run for life, honor, and love.
I loved writing this book, but was also really nervous about several risks I took. I only managed to finish writing it after I realized that the things that made the book feel risky were also the things that made it feel special--those were the things that represented my voice and unique vision. I hope I can remember that for future novels.
Here are a few of the things that made me both nervous and excited, and explanations of why that is:
-- My hero, Zach, is a pacifist, and that includes zombies. He's really unnerved by the excitement the zombie apocalypse creates for people, and doesn't like that people suddenly feel justified picking up shotguns and going to town.
This makes me nervous because I worry it will alienate fans of zombie fiction, which so often involves... picking up shotguns and going to town.
This makes me excited because it feels like a truly different take on a crowded genre. Also, Zach's morality allowed me to explore a lot of interesting things about his character, such as how a man can be both masculine and nonviolent (and he totally can!) and how a person handles negotiating with an ethical position when under extreme duress (hint: Zach does not perfectly uphold his morals at all times).
-- Both Zach and my heroine, Viola, are Roman Catholics. Zach practices more actively than Viola, and has a patron saint he venerates, but both are believers. However, they also have a lot of premarital sex, and they don't feel a lot of conflict about it.
This makes me nervous because I actually don't see a lot of actively religious people in romance outside of the inspirational genre. I worry that nonbelievers will be offended by my characters' beliefs, and I worry that believers will be offended that the characters don't behave exactly the way the Church says they should.
This makes me excited because I really liked representing what to me is a realistic portrayal of two sincerely religious people. Zach's religion absolutely informs his pacifism, and both Zach and Viola are respectful of the faith. They basically decide not to pay too much attention to the Church's position on sex, and that is realistic to my own experience and that of many people I've known, even if the Church might not like for me to say so. Zach says at one point that he's got other sins that he's a lot more worried about. Religion and sexuality are often in conflict, but I don't know that they have to be. While religion definitely holds positions on sexuality, do these have to be the dealbreakers they're often made out to be? I'm a very devout religious person myself, and there are plenty of things I don't do "right" and plenty of places I personally compromise with the Church's official position. Why should not following sexual prohibitions be seen as more horrible than failing to, say, give to the poor? (And, in some cases, I think religious people should stand up and protest the Church's negative positions on sexuality. I am both devoutly religious and absolutely in support of LGBT rights inside and outside of church--but that is a discussion for another day). I guess the point here is that sexuality and religion are complicated together, and I'm glad I let that be messy in my book, because that's the way it is in real life.
-- Viola holds a lot of opinions that I don't consider "healthy," especially in the start of the book. Zach engages with her on many of them, but I sometimes felt strange writing from her viewpoint since she certainly has screwed up ideas about what relationships mean.
This makes me nervous because I worry that readers will think I'm in support of all Viola's viewpoints, or that everything she says is something I would say.
This makes me excited because it allows for character growth. Also, I am not entirely made up of healthy viewpoints myself, and it is good to remember that I can explore that sort of thing in fiction.
Also, lest you think this is a work of philosophy and not adventure, let me add that this book includes lots and lots of dramatic escapes from perilous situations, lots of hot sex, and lots of zombies. I can't wait to share it with you, and will post more details when I've got them.
In the meantime, check out my other books from Breathless Press, Not the Leader of the Pack and Not His Territory, which are both on sale at the Breathless site for 40% off!