Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Interview with Christine Verstraete.

Full Name:
Christine (C.A.) Verstraete

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Chris is good.


Current hometown:
Small town, Wisconsin

Favorite city and why?
I'd have to pick Bruges, Belgium.  I visited it some time back as my grandfather was born in Belgium.  I love the history and medieval atmosphere.

Birthday / Age:
Dec. 7 - Older than you think.
Why do you think that women have a problem with admitting their age?  I’ve had a few male interviewees that have been coy about their age, but the females that have been intentionally vague about their age outnumber them about ten-to-one.  Why is that?
For me, I think it's more of an online thing - the less personal information I put out there the better.
That’s a fair answer.

How would you describe yourself physically?

How would someone else describe you physically?
Wow, you're short.

Current occupation / Dream job:
Freelance writer.  Writing was always my dream job.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I collect miniatures and decorate dollhouses.  I also have saltwater fish and raise seahorses.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?

Weapon of choice:
If you read my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, you'll know what I prefer.
I hate that answer.  Mostly because I’ve been getting that a lot lately since I’ve mostly been interviewing zombie genre authors as of late.  Mostly authors have been using the preceding question to promote their book with an “If you read my book (or series of books) you’d know what my plan is.” answer.  It’s been really specific to the zombie genre author interviews I’ve been doing lately.  I’ve done around eighty interviews over the past three months with a wide variety of authors, artists, musicians, and film-makers and no other sub-class of creative type have tried to use a question to get people to buy their work as frequently as the zombie genre authors have.  Why do you think that is?
I understand the promotional instinct and the desire to direct potential purchasers/readers towards one’s internet presence as frequently as possible.  I’ve spoken with Lloyd Kaufman from Troma on a few occasions and every answer to every question is a promotion for Troma.
Me: “How are you doing Lloyd?”
Lloyd: “Well, the newest film from Troma, (Name Of Film) just won an award at a film festival!”
Me: *rolls eyes exasperatedly* “Yeah.  Great talking to you Lloyd.”
I understand what he’s doing, but it’s exhausting.
The whole interview is a promotional tool for people to get to know a bit about you.  The links to all of the places that people can buy your books will be included at the end of the interview.  My intention is to try to give you an opportunity to let your fan base to get to know you a bit better and for people that haven’t heard about you before to learn about who you are and find you interesting and engaging enough to look up your work.  I’d hate for them to think that you were the mercenarial sort that would use any excuse to try to pitch your book.  So, I ask you again, what is your weapon of choice?
Okay, okay, I give.  I confess: personally I'm not a weapons person.  I hate hunting.  I see no need at all for automatic weapons unless you're in a war.  Zombie hunting is fictional, so, of course, a weapon has to be used to fit the situation.  As my character is a teen, I didn't make her Rambo-ette.  She uses a paintball gun and pellet gun since there is a certain zombie-killing solution/"formula" she also uses (hey it's fiction!) - but neither always works as planned.  Just like real life, I guess.
See?  That wasn’t so hard!

Do you have any special skills?
I'm pretty crafty - and not in the sneaky sense.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Bachelor's degree, journalism.

Any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have fish, seahorses, and a German Shepherd dog named Gracie.

What is your favorite animal?
I love most animals, especially dogs—and elephants; reptiles and spiders, not so much.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Being a journalist, I hate seeing stupid things posted online with no sources or back-checking.
I regret to admit that I do absolutely no sourcing or back-checking for my interviews.  To be perfectly honest, I have no idea who half of the people I interview are when I offer to interview them.  I think it provides an interesting dynamic because they can pretty much tell me anything they want to tell me about themselves and I’m not approaching them as a fan of their work which helps the interviews to avoid becoming ego-pumping fluff pieces not worth reading.
Interviewer: “I love your work!”
Interviewee: *with fake humility* “Well, thank you for loving my work!”
Interviewer: “You’re so awesome!”
Interviewee: “Aw shucks!  I am pretty awesome aren’t I?”
I agree as it's fun to read about people you might not have known about before.  But I meant back-checking for factual news items.  Though, yeah, some back-checking can  be done so people are who they say they are, or at least to make sure they are honest and not claiming they won a Pulitzer or something and didn't.  Lots of fake decorated veterans out there today, it seems. (ha!)  'Course it depends on what the purpose of the story/interview is, too.  I don't back-check on blog interviews unless something really sounds off, like them claiming to be a former astronaut or something… Lara Logan on CBS got caught up in that recently when it turns out a story source lied and someone at the station didn't back-check enough.  Big oops.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I probably like most of the things that are bad for you—and I won't drink anything blue.
Why blue?
No special reason other than it just seems, well, unnatural.  (I know, even if it is already "artificial" right?)  Just a quirk.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
You can't get blood out of a turnip.
You can’t, can you?  I also heard that dogs can’t look up.
But dogs do look up.  Mine does anyway.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Probably going to college.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Began writing fiction.  I love it.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Not start sooner.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I began writing poetry in high school and knew I wanted to write.  Writing for newspapers seemed to be the best way to do that.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do? Newspapers are struggling, but reputable news writers and people to report the news are still needed.  Taking a basic journalism course is terrific training for any kind of writing.  It teaches you discipline, writing to deadline and writing to a word count.  The cure for "writer's block" - deadlines.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on / finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I've written about everything from child abuse to pet rescues. I've won several awards for fiction and nonfiction.  These include Best Mainstream Magazine Story from the Dog Writers Association (2012) and awards from state, suburban and national newspaper associations.  I've also written a kid's mystery and a nonfiction book on miniatures.
My book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, was named the young adult winner for the 2013 Halloween Book Festival and is nominated for a Lovey Award for best paranormal/sci fi/horror book for the 2014 Love is Murder mystery conference.

What projects are you working on now?
I'm working on a book about a historical figure, figuring out a sequel for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, and working on some short stories.  I'm still having fun writing about zombies.
I appreciate that as a journalist, you know the proper formatting for mentioning a book title.  Most people submit their book titles in ALL CAPS.  I admit that since I format my responses in italics, I have to take a bit of liberty with the “book title in italics” rule, but the interviews just look better on the blog that way.
For me, I think italic looks better in blogs as then you can see the title better, too.

Let me ask you a question that I want to ask all of the zombie genre authors.
Why zombies?  Why not vampires or werewolves or serial killers?
I tried vampires and, well, it didn't work for me though I like reading about them (but not the 'sparkly' kind!)  Serial killers - way too sadistic.  I guess zombies are the "monsters under the bed."  They can be a catch-all of what is wrong in society, or represent whatever you want them to be, I guess.  It's more the fight to survive - us vs. them, I think, that has gotten me thinking, what if…?  I think the end-of-the-world and everything-falling-apart aspect fascinates me, especially as you watch all the chaos in other countries and things going wrong in ours…. you pray fiction doesn't become reality.

What are you watching?
Criminal Minds is on right now.

What are you reading?
I have become a serial reader.  I have a lot of books going at once.

Favorite author / book?
I like so many - I read Stephen King, of course.  I like historical, horror, zombie and all kinds of fiction.  I love reading about Cleopatra and ancient Egypt.

Favorite band / song?
It's hard to pick one.  I enjoy Celine Dion to big band, the Beatles and others.

Least favorite band / song?
I'm not a big rap fan.

Desert Island Music / Movies / Books: You know the deal. Five of each.
Plague Tales, Anne Benson
The Stand, Stephen King
Dracula, Bram Stoker
A zombie anthology
Biography of Rembrandt (forgot the name)
Celine Dion, Beatles, Disco, Glenn Miller, 70s rock
Gone with the Wind, Pirates of the Caribbean, Imitation of Life, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Hotel for Dogs

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I wanted to be an archeologist.  Always thought it'd be cool to dig up dinosaur bones.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive - Queen of England
Dead -Cleopatra
Fictional - Let's say the person who writes the fiction like Edgar Allen Poe. HG Wells would be really interesting to meet, too.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best: Newspaper reporter though I still do that freelance.
Worst: Working in a fast food restaurant and smelling like fried fish.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thanks for giving me the soapbox.  I'm usually the one asking the questions.

Pitch parade:

Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie (print and Kindle)
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

About the Interviewee:
Christine Verstraete enjoys writing both flash and short fiction with a touch of the fantastic or macabre.  Her stories have appeared in various anthologies including Darlings of Decay, Feast of the Dead - Hors D' Oeuvres, 100 Doors to Madness, plus in Timeshares and Steampunk'd from DAW Books, and coming in the Athena's Daughter's anthology from Silence in the Library.
Her new book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, tells the story of Becca, a girl whose life is turned upside down when her cousin comes home and infects her with the zombie virus.  Now she must learn how to cope as a part-zombie, with all the weird quirks that includes.  Learn more at her blog, or website,

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

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