From a Month-Long Writing Marathon, A New Tale of the Undead

By Neal Comment

carrie-ryan-bookcover.jpgYou may recall a few weeks back, when we considered a cluster of zombie novels coming out from St. Martin’s early next year. It was right around that time that we got an invite from Delacorte to come out to dinner with a few other media types and some children’s librarians to meet Carrie Ryan, the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which falls into similar territory, although it doesn’t use the Z-word: Imagine The Village, but instead of the future, what’s out in the woods is a horde of “The Unconsecrated.”

Ryan, who until recently was a practicing lawyer in North Carolina, says she went years without watching any horror films after a traumatic experience as a child with a TV showing of Poltergiest—until four years ago, when a boyfriend (now fiancé) asked her out on a movie date and then proposed the Dawn of the Dead remake. Two years later, Ryan decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and chose a story about a young girl in an isolated village surrounded by the undead as “a love letter to my fiancé,” she explained to us. “He had sparked this interest in me, made me realize I could write this story.” That first month, she wrote the first 20,000 words, and six months later she had a finished rough draft; revisions took up the summer, and the book was sold by last October. (Editor Krista Marino invoked the “took it home on Friday, read it all Saturday, made an offer Monday morning” book deal template; she also picked up the sequel while she was at it.)

So: The 10th annual National Novel Writing Month starts Saturday. If you’re planning to take a shot at writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, let us know!

(photo: Darren Cassese)