Today I have a big treat for you! It’s an interview with Scott Craven, author of the MG Dead Jed series, to celebrate the release of Book 2. He’s hysterical. Enjoy!
What/Who were some of your favorite books/authors growing up?
I was way into Dr. Seuss, mostly because he made up words and got away with it. When I made up words, I received frowny faces (a integral part of the grading system in elementary school, eventually leading to emoticons).
But the series I was most into when I was young was Winnie the Pooh, even after finding out it was about a bear and not what I thought.
When did you start writing? What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
I started writing at least by second grade when I authored my first thesis – “How Pilgrims Discovered Thanksgiving” (a flawed work earning a frowny face).
And the hardest part of writing is the entire process. Which is why everything about writing is such a joy, from a turn of phrase that brings a smile to your face, to that email from an agent that says she’d like to represent you, to the editor who says your novel should be ready to go once you switch around chapters and add a new lead character and change the ending.
What inspired you to write a zombie novel?
As a longtime fan of the zombie genre, I wondered what might happen if a member of the undead rang the doorbell rather than breaking through a window. What if he went for a handshake instead of tearing out a chunk of flesh? How would the world treat a zombie who just wants to fit in? The short answer, I knew, was, “With a bullet to the brain.” Fortunately, it was a fun topic to explore with Jed, who makes sure not to mumble or stumble among people who might be armed.
Jed is a super rad kid who just happens to be a zombie. Is he based on somebody you know? (Zombie or human?)
Knowing this answer makes me seem like a narcissist, Jed is based largely on my own misadventures in middle school. I was thrown headfirst into a trash can, I was stuffed in a locker, I was shoved into a trophy case. All I really wanted to do was disappear. The “rad” Jed is what I wanted to be, the kid who embraced his singular qualities to rise above. Of course, I never rose above in middle school. But life still turned out very well.
Jed also deals with some bullies at school. What’s your advice for other kids who may be dealing with a bully?
I wish I had the be-all, end-all answer to this. I would gather all the world’s victims and share the secret of success, and we’d all be so much better for it. Bullies, however, often are as cunning as they are nefarious. Social media has made it so much worse, adding a technological way to induce fear and doubt.
My best advice would not be to victims, but to their friends. Be there for them, stand up for them, and intervene for them. Javon does that in the first book. Be a Javon.
I’ll definitely try to be a Javon.
In other news, I heard that Dead Jed, book one in the series, was optioned by Nickelodeon. (Holy smokes, Batman!!)
If you had your way, who would play Jed and his friends?
First, let me say how excited I am that Jed was optioned for a TV movie. And here is where I show my age. Do you remember Fred Savage from The Wonder Years? He would have made an awesome Jed. Or a young Frankie Muniz. Luke could be played by Luke, the kid across the street on whom he is based. Anna could have been played by Lisa Jakub, the older sister in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” So it looks like all we need to get “Dead Jed” made is a time machine.
Can I have a cameo?
Absolutely. And please let us know as soon as you’re done with the time machine, because Fred Savage is going to need a turn.
Score! So, what’s next for you in terms of other movies I can star in? What projects are you working on?
There is a third Jed book in the pipeline, a tale that involves some international intrigue. After that, I am up for suggestions. Tweet me at @Scott_Craven2 with #bookidea. Better yet, how about some Jed fan fiction?
I often ask people how they would survive in a zombie apocalypse. But your zombie is a stand-up guy, which makes me wonder: Do you think the onset of zombies would bring an apocalypse? Or just a new type of world where non-dead humans and zombies could live side by side?
There are literary worlds where vampires and werewolves coexist peacefully with humans (for the most part). Why not zombies? Here is the treaty –
“We the undead promise not to attack, bite or otherwise devour flesh-bearing humans in exchange for not being shot in the head.”
If political parties got along as well, we’d all be in a better place.
Sounds good to me. Thanks for joining us, Scott!
Readers, here’s a bit about the book and an awesome giveaway!
The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he’s always wanted–a dog–and again, his parents tell him they’re not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake–a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can’t expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he’ll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.
Make sure to tweet Scott with the hashtag #bookidea!