1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I didn't decide exactly - I've always been writing, for as long as I can remember, in the same way that people might doodle or play with their hair. It was only in 2009 that I finally decided maybe I should try and get something published. I've always loved writing stories, but I suddenly felt the urge to share them with the rest of the world.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
I loved a lot of what are considered the iconic SF authors like Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov, or fantasy by Terry Brooks and J.R.R. Tolkien. But as a teen I discovered Anne McCaffrey and Ursula Le Guin and devoured their books. Today, I'm a devoted fan of Jaine Fenn and Neal Asher--both SF authors who tend toward lots of spaceships and explosions.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Restless In Peaceville?
Warm Bodies, initially. I loved that film, and the book by Isaac Marion. But they got me wondering why so many films depicted zombies as brain-eating, groaning monsters when I'd come across very different zombies in books by Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony. So I looked into the whole mythology, found out the brain-eating was a Hollywood convention, and decided I wanted to do something different. Then someone on Facebook mentioned Louisiana voodoo and that was kind of it. I made myself a zombie story soundtrack on youtube, did some research and got writing.
4. Will we ever see any of these characters again in the future?
I have a file of notes and a handful of scenes written for a sequel, featuring all three main characters. But other things have taken priority and my publisher has recently changed their submission guidelines too, so I'm not likely to be getting to it any time soon. Not unless I suddenly sell lots of Restless so that my publisher wants a sequel. *a so very unsubtle hint* :P
5. What was it about the afterlife and suicide that brought on this novel?
Oddly enough, I don't personally believe in an afterlife. I've seen death close up, and it convinced me we don't go on to somewhere else. Despite that, I still find the idea fascinating in a morbid kind of way. I've done various depictions of what might come next, from the queue to infinity in Restless In Peaceville to an underground society of demons and the damned in a futuristic angel story. Maybe it's my way of denying it with my mind but secretly hoping there IS something else. As for suicide--one of my classmate's in secondary school walked in front of a train one night. I was quite miserable as a teen and obsessed a lot over killing myself, but his death really shook me out of that. I just realized what a waste it was, and I saw how much it hurt the people left behind. I don't condemn suicide in any way - it's terrible that a person can get that low that they feel there's no alternative, and I wish more could be done to help them. But it got me wondering how it would affect someone if they were forced to stick around afterward their own suicide and have to see the consequences. So that's what happens to Luke.
6. Were any of the characters' personalities or emotions taken from real life?
Well, Luke being miserable about his life was how I felt as a teen. Also, I have a very strong sense of justice - I hate it when people break the rules, and when they get away with it too - so that was Annabelle's motivation. I suppose some might see her mission more as just revenge rather than justice, but it does define her purpose in the sequel (as far as I've got with it).
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
Hmm, I've already done several under the speculative fiction umbrella. I'd like to write some really hard SF - so far what I've written is probably more in the sci-fantasy category, along the lines of Star Wars. I'd love to be able to write comedy, but apparently my sense of humour only appeals to me.
8. What would you do if you woke up as a zombie?
Actually, I pretty much feel like one until I've had my first coffee. Lol! I think I'd probably be a lot like Marvin the Paranoid Android, with his completely cynical outlook on the universe. Just mooch around being miserable, and probably enjoying it.
9. Was there any intended symbolism behind the way the dead were thrust out of the afterlife and why?
I wanted to give the impression that those being thrown out were considered undesirables simply being shown the exit, like one of those celebrity events where if your name isn't on the list, you aren't coming in. Because the Catholic faith is a big part of the story - Luke is an atheist, but even after being murdered Annabelle still has her faith - and suicide is considered the biggest sin you can possibly commit, I wanted to have that feel to the whole experience Luke went through. It's not nice, but it was the wake up call Luke needed to try and put things right. It was also a test for those leaving, to see if they were willing to risk something horrible rather than just hang around where they weren't welcome.
10. Would you like to see Restless In Peaceville as a film or TV show? Who do you want to see play your characters?
Oh, I would love to see it as either! I partially based Luke on a young actor who played a modern day teen werewolf in a BBC series called Wolfblood--Bobby Lockwood--so I'd love to see him play the part since he influenced it. And one of his co-actors was Aimee Kelly, who'd make a pretty good Annabelle. Sean Bean or Sean Pertwee might do for the Peacemaker. It needs to be a kind of Clint Eastwood type of actor.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
I'd like to be making a comfortable living from my books, with a happy fan base and a lengthy backlist. It would be awesome to see something of mine end up on the screen, whether TV or film, but I'm realistic about the odds of that ever happening. I can dream!
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
I'd go back to working in a laboratory. I was an analytical chemist for 12 years before becoming a stay-at-home mum, and I loved the work. I wouldn't necessarily go back to the same job, but give me some test tubes and some chemicals and I'd be a happy little mad scientist...I mean lab technician!
13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
I'm writing two more YA zombie shorts to follow on from the first that I have releasing in April (Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened), editing my debut scifi romance novel Keir for re-release in May and releasing the rest of the series, and I have plans to write a sequel to a superhero novella--When Dark Falls--that was released back in November last year.
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
I don't know that I'd aspire to collaboration, but if I could have had Anne McCaffrey mentor me, or maybe even just have given me feedback on a story, that would have been awesome.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
My nickname as a teen was Dormouse. I didn't have my first tattoo until I was 40. My first crush was Luke Skywalker.
Find Pippa online via: