This interview took place over instant messenger between myself and the author of Eat Your Heart Out, Dayna Ingram on October 13, 2011. The interview has been edited for flow, to fix typos and capitalization, and to make us both sound less like prats, but for the most part is intact. Links added by blogger and not necessarily endorsed by Dayna.
Dayna Ingram grew up in Ohio and has since moved to the Bay Area, where she spends most of her time workin’, schoolin’, and forcin’ her dog to wear sweater vests. For more info on her writing projects, visit thedingram.blogspot.com. Her new novel Eat Your Heart Out will be available from Brazenhead sometime in November.
LibsLIB: It's been about a year since I last interviewed you. What have you been up to since then?
Dayna Ingram: Let's see. I moved to berkeley, I got promoted at work, I wrote some more things....I am one more semester away from graduating....ummm... I discovered Battlestar Gallactica somewhat to my detriment, as I put off a lot of important things to watch it, such as bathing and sleeping.
LibsLIB: Your last novel was self-published, while this one is going through a small press, what have your experiences with that been so far? Do you prefer one over the other at this point or is it too early to tell?
Dayna: Selling a manuscript is more exciting because it's like, "Hooray! A stranger likes my story and thinks other people will too!" It's nice to have someone in your corner, and Alex Jeffers (the editor/publisher of BrazenHead) has been great. One thing that's the same with both self-publishing and small press publishing (at least in this case) is that there is still no marketing budget. BrazenHead will send out review copies, but that's it. So I'm still grass-rootsing it.
LibsLIB: Do you get to choose who receives review copies, or does Jeffers make that decision?
Dayna: He does it. I could maybe make suggestions. But I can also send copies on my own to places.
I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I don't want to step on any toes, I'm so new at this!
LibsLIB: If there was one person you could make sure read Eat Your Heart Out, who would it be?
Dayna Michelle Rodriguez.I'm going to send her a copy. Maybe her intern/personal assistant will like it, at least
LibsLIB: What exactly is your fascination with Michelle Rodriguez?
Dayna: That is like asking me why I love butter. Butter is delicious. She is fierce. She is a strong, sexy lady. She fought some zombies in a movie one time. And I have a thing for bad girls, you know this.
LibsLIB: You dedicated your novel to her, in your own opinion, flattering or borderline creepy?
Dayna: Haha, I thought it was funny. Who do you think Renni Ramirez is? I'm just solidifying the image for the reader. But it might be a bit creepy.
LibsLIB: Speaking of Renni Ramirez, do you consider this a lesbian novel with zombies, or a zombie novel with lesbians?
Dayna: A lesbian novel with zombies.
There's a lot more focus on the lesbians. If it was a zombie novel with lesbians, I think I would have killed off a lot more characters. For the gore factor.
LibsLIB: You decided to go with the classic slow moving, mindless zombies, is that your ideal zombie, or do you like other zombies as well?
Dayna: That is my ideal zombie, especially if I were running away from one. I like that zombie best because it's super creepy, being stalked by something so slow and smelly. It's also easier to underestimate those types of zombies, and that's when shit starts getting real.
I love the zombies in Left 4 Dead (the game) that explode zombie-attracting goo on you, though. That's a pretty cool survival tool for the species. If you can call zombies a species.
LibsLIB: Do you have any favorite zombie movies or books?
Dayna: Yes. My favorite zombie book is Max Brook's World War Z. I think he took a very cool angle on it, oral histories of the Zombie War, that allowed him to explore a lot of different aspects of a zombie outbreak in a realistic way. My favorite zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead, because it managed to make me laugh, make me cry, and creep me out a bit. Not since Steel Magnolias has that happened.
LibsLIB: Do you feel that LGBTQ are underrepresented in the zombie genre? What do you think including them has to offer in terms of storytelling?
Dayna: Yes, I think they're (we're) underrepresented in all literature and media. I recently Googled "lesbian zombie novel" and got only one hit that had anything to do with zombies, the rest was all lesbian vampires. In terms of storytelling, I think it just adds something for a reader to relate to, or just be aware of. "Hey, gay people fight zombies too!"
Eat Your Heart Out might have been just as sexy if one of the main characters was a man, but they're women, so, hooray! I would like to plug the website AfterEllen.com right now, which is an entertainment website for and by LGBTQ peoples. A quick search of that site will show anyone just how very little we are represented in the media.
LibsLIB: You have some unusual names in your book (Biff Tipping, Carmelle Souffle), why did you include such unusual names and how did you come up with them ?
Dayna: I must confess that is a result of having written the first draft of this for NaNoWriMo. I didn't have time to second-guess names, and they just sounded good at the time. Biff Tipping sounds like beef tips to me, and he's kinda big and beefy, and Carmelle Souffle is all creamy and delicious. I really like food.
LibsLIB: If you had to pair Eat Your Heart Out with a particular food and/or beverage, what would it be?
Dayna: Chocolate cake that you must eat with your face (no hands).What did you eat while you read it?
LibsLIB: I don't eat much while I read, I think I remember eating black licorice.
LibsLIB: Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year? What will you be writing about and do you have any advice for other NaNoers?
Dayna: Indeed I plan to! I am going to work on a novella called BLAM!, which borrows heavily from Noir traditions and has a little fun with sex and gender. My advice is: don't plan what you are going to write too far ahead of
time. Focus on immediacy: What do you want from this immediate scene?
What do you want to express here? (Expectations amount to pressure and pressure amounts to not writing!) And don't get discouraged if you are behind by, like, 10,000 words with two days to go. There is this magical potion called 5-hour Energy.... It's also good to have buddies to write with, and encourage each other. But that's true in all things. Also throw in a bunch of crazy extra words and adverbs, you can edit them out later.
LibsLIB: Is there a NaNoWriMo novel you'd like to see someone else write?
Dayna: Zombie Unicorns!!