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The Sirens of Suspense




A Facebook application once told Jesse Petersen that she'd only survive a day in a zombie outbreak, but she doesn't believe that. For one, she's a good shot and two, she has an aversion to bodily fluids, so she'd never go digging around in zombie goo. Jesse is the author of the LIVING WITH THE DEAD series, which includes: MARRIED, WITH ZOMBIES, FLIP THIS ZOMBIE and EAT, SLAY, LOVE. The books, which combine the best elements of zombies, comedy and the Ghostbusters, follow California couple Sarah and David as they try to save their marriage, and themselves, after the zombie apocalypse.

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After sampling many other genres, you found your passion in zombie fiction. Many authors discuss how important it is to "write what you know", so in this case, what inspired you to try the genre? 

Well, my passion is really in all my writing. I just had an idea for a funny zombie story and ran with it. I don't really believe in "write what you know". After all, then we wouldn't have any books about vampires, zombies, historical times because who "knows" those things personally?


How do you deal with the zombie canon? Do you stick with the preconceived notions everyone has from zombie movies (and did you have to re-watch them as research?)? What ones did you decide to break or bend? Why?

As I said, I completely wrote a book to entertain myself, so I wasn't thinking "I have to stick to this canon or that". I wrote what I thought was funny. I did watch a lot of zombie movies at the time, but it was more for background mood. And also cause I like zombie movies.


Last week was Valentine's Day. You married your high-school sweetheart, and unlike your fictional protagonists Sarah and David,  have made it without re-discovering each other during a zombie apocalypse. Can any of the relationship tips in MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES translate to a pre-zombie world?

Sure, I think all of them. At the core, the tips in the beginning of each chapter are about working together, overcoming differences and being a strong team. That's what marriage is all about.


Thoughts on The Walking Dead? If you could tell the group one thing they're doing wrong, what would it be? Or, if you could change the show in one way, what would it be?

Oh, The Walking Dead vexes me. I love it and I HATE the way all the female character are written. Bitchy, useless, over-sexualized, stupid. You can pick which character fits which label. That would be what I would change. Get a little Sarah in those girls.


You recently moved from Illinois to Arizona. Do you think the extreme differences in climate will affect the way you approach the zombie apocalypse? Also, are you eager to see a brain fry on the sidewalk? ('Cuz that's what's going to happen in the summer in Arizona, with or without zombies.)

I've actually already gone through a summer here, so I know the score. And FLIP THIS ZOMBIE is set in Phoenix, so I've already done zombies in the heat, too. As far as how I would handle them differently, here in Tucson we wouldn't get a slowing or stopping effect from the cold weather, so there would be no "winter break" after the apocalypse. Otherwise, it's still shoot to kill.


If given a choice, would you rather be shot after being bitten so as to avoid the risk of killing your friends, or would you want to try out what being a zombie is like? (Reader Question)

SHOT. For sure. Who would want to lose control like that. It's not like you'd "know". You're basically brain dead.


What is the average life-span of the average zombie, and are they able to metabolize food other than living human flesh? (Reader Question)

Life span is until I shoot them in the head. :)



QUESTION FOR JESSE? COMMENT ON THE INTERVIEW? Ask here, or tell us your thoughts on zombies by clicking Comments button further down on this page, or commenting on this blog entry on our Facebook page and be entered to win a copy of MARRIED, WITH ZOMBIES! 



Writing ambience: I write full time and have for 10+ years. I don’t believe in froofy things like ambiance. I sit down and do my job.

Reading now: I just finished THE HAPPINESS PROJECT for my book club and loved it.

Book or eReader? Both, but most of my reading is on my Kindle now.

Favorite protagonist (other than her own): Shaun in Shaun of the Dead.

Favorite big or small screen zombie: I never root for the zombies. :)

Where would she like to be when the zombie apocalypse hits: With my family.

Tool of choice for killing zombies: Shotgun.

Cats or dogs: Cats.

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