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Mike Martin
01-28-2009, 06:33 AM
Hey ya'll,

I've been working on a YA zombie project, and it's occurred to me that there's precious little YA zombie material out there. Aside from Carrie Ryan's upcoming The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I actually can't think of ANY non-comedy YA zombie books. Anybody have any suggestions?

wandergirl
01-28-2009, 06:53 AM
A bunch of YA authors are coming out with a unicorns versus zombies anthology: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2008/11/a-new-anthology.html

I, for one, am team unicorn.

jmascia
01-28-2009, 06:42 PM
I honestly can't think of a single zombie YA book.

MKL1025
01-28-2009, 07:57 PM
Generation Dead

Zombie Blondes

Melissa_Marr
01-28-2009, 08:14 PM
The two I'd name (Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands & Teeth and Generation Dead) are already listed. Ryan also has a sequel.

Aside from these few, there really aren't many serious YA zombie books out or coming out that I've seen listed.

I've heard that YA horror can be a tough sell, but I think (hope?) there's still room in the market for it.

Red.Ink.Rain
01-28-2009, 08:15 PM
I'd pick up a scary YA zombie book. The fact that there are not a ton of zombie books out there is probably in your favor.

Diana Peterfreund
01-28-2009, 08:55 PM
There's a ton out or about to come out:

Zombie Blondes
Generation Dead (now a four-book series)
Soulless
You Are So Undead to Me (and it's upcoming sequel, as well as Boy Eats Girl, by the same author)
The Zombie Queen of Newbury High
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (and it's upcoming sequel)
Dead Beautiful (Hyperion)

Some of course are more horror-focused (like Soulless), some are more social commentary (like Generation Dead), and some are more literary (like The Forest of Hands and Teeth).

Melissa_Marr
01-28-2009, 10:25 PM
I don't know Dead Beautiful or Soulless. Are they non-comedic?

iirc, Zombie Blondes, You Are So Undead to Me, and The Zombie Queen of Newbury High are lighter/more comedic. The other two--FoHT and Generation Dead--are more serious.

I think it's like in adult, the sort of "dark but with humour" or "dark humour" stories still seem more prevalent.

Mike Martin
01-28-2009, 10:36 PM
There's a ton out or about to come out:

Zombie Blondes
Generation Dead (now a four-book series)
Soulless
You Are So Undead to Me (and it's upcoming sequel, as well as Boy Eats Girl, by the same author)
The Zombie Queen of Newbury High
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (and it's upcoming sequel)
Dead Beautiful (Hyperion)

Some of course are more horror-focused (like Soulless), some are more social commentary (like Generation Dead), and some are more literary (like The Forest of Hands and Teeth).

Great; thanks for the list, Dianna! I hadn't been aware of Soulless.

Mike Martin
01-28-2009, 10:41 PM
The two I'd name (Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands & Teeth and Generation Dead) are already listed. Ryan also has a sequel.

Aside from these few, there really aren't many serious YA zombie books out or coming out that I've seen listed.

I've heard that YA horror can be a tough sell, but I think (hope?) there's still room in the market for it.

Thanks for the reply, Melissa! (I'm an admirer of your work, so I'm really flattered.) I know you did a blurb for TFOH&T. I'm trying to get my hands on an ARC at the moment; I've heard a lot of wonderful things about it, and one of my film school classmates actually made the book trailer for it.

I think you're right about YA horror being a tough sell. It seems there's very little straight horror out there; it's almost always a blend of genres. That actually makes me sort of more hopeful about my project, as I was never really comfortable in thinking about it as a horror novel. It's got a more literary voice, for instance, and there are also LOTS of thriller aspects as well. Ought I then pitch it more as a thriller, you think, when I begin querying in the coming months? (Hard to say, I know, when you've not read the book, but I'm just thinking of putting a certain slant on material that might be able to be pitched two ways, given its subject matter.)

Thanks!

- Mike

Melissa_Marr
01-28-2009, 11:48 PM
I've been pimping the FoHT like a madwoman. It is SO good. And, fwiw, I'm not friends with the author so that is 100% objective . . . or as close to objective as anyone gets when it's an opinion ;) I can't imagine anyone not liking it, so I certainly hope you get a chance to read it.

As to the pitch, I'm SO not an expert. I think "dark fantasy with ____ elements" is a viable phrase. I tend to refer to FoHT as "dark fantasy" but I think "literary dark fantasy" or "post-apoc dark fantasy" or any number of modifiers could work. I think the key phrase is "dark fantasy." THe nuances that make a thing need other modifiers are hard to pin down in defining our own work. (I, for one, am utterly bemused by the variety of modifiers I've seen for my books--up to and including it being for both "adult" and "teen" readers.)

BTW, it's not zombies, but another one that fits the readership is Scared to Death by Alan Gibbons. I don't know if it's out in the US. I picked it up in London & loved it. It's such a curious market niche. Darren Shan is the obvious big name in the YA darkness. . . but I think there is getting to be more room for it, and I hope that Ryan's book will create more demand for it.

Umm, and as a 2nd fwiw, I would mention the film school experience in the query. I have a friend who's out of the film industry & it really shows in the way his visuals in text are conveyed. I SEE his settings & characters when he writes. His action conveys well. I realized that some of it is a direct result of his writing as if we were seeing through a lens.

Good luck with your project :)

M (who likes dark fic enough that the hope of writers getting more into the market is giddy-making)

Melissa_Marr
01-28-2009, 11:50 PM
PS The Gibbons book is about teen brothers too. (Saw your other thread)

Mike Martin
01-29-2009, 06:04 AM
I've been pimping the FoHT like a madwoman. It is SO good. And, fwiw, I'm not friends with the author so that is 100% objective . . . or as close to objective as anyone gets when it's an opinion ;) I can't imagine anyone not liking it, so I certainly hope you get a chance to read it.

As to the pitch, I'm SO not an expert. I think "dark fantasy with ____ elements" is a viable phrase. I tend to refer to FoHT as "dark fantasy" but I think "literary dark fantasy" or "post-apoc dark fantasy" or any number of modifiers could work. I think the key phrase is "dark fantasy." THe nuances that make a thing need other modifiers are hard to pin down in defining our own work. (I, for one, am utterly bemused by the variety of modifiers I've seen for my books--up to and including it being for both "adult" and "teen" readers.)

BTW, it's not zombies, but another one that fits the readership is Scared to Death by Alan Gibbons. I don't know if it's out in the US. I picked it up in London & loved it. It's such a curious market niche. Darren Shan is the obvious big name in the YA darkness. . . but I think there is getting to be more room for it, and I hope that Ryan's book will create more demand for it.

Umm, and as a 2nd fwiw, I would mention the film school experience in the query. I have a friend who's out of the film industry & it really shows in the way his visuals in text are conveyed. I SEE his settings & characters when he writes. His action conveys well. I realized that some of it is a direct result of his writing as if we were seeing through a lens.

Good luck with your project :)

M (who likes dark fic enough that the hope of writers getting more into the market is giddy-making)

Melissa,

Thanks again for the generous reply! I love your idea about calling it "dark fantasy/____" I think you're spot-on. It is strange, isn't it, how the industry doesn't seem to be pushing a dark fantasy/straight-horror trend, when Shan has had such uber-success? I'm thinking particularly of the opportunities for books geared toward guys. Top of my head, there's Shan, and Horowitz has done some stuff (which I think might straddle YA/MG, not sure). But other than that, the market does seem (unjustifiably?) thin. I had to second-guess folks who do this for a living. But I do think there's a definite audience there wanting to be served, and your comment about Carrie Ryan expanding that audience REALLY encourages/galvanizes me. So, again, thanks!

Also - w00t to your comment on mentioning I went to film school. I've worked as a screenwriter - had a couple things optioned when I was school in school - so it's rather lovely discovering the skills that cross over into this medium. :]

Oh! One more thing!

Since we got onto queries...I've been blessed, through various film school connections, to have some terrific mentors in my writing life, including National Book Award nominee Joshua Ferris (Then We Came To the End). Is it kosher, do ya think, for me to mention that? (And maybe to quote some of the kind things he's said about my writing?)

- Mike

Diana Peterfreund
01-30-2009, 12:32 AM
Soulless is by Christopher Golden. Great cover. I've seen it all over. It's very classic zombie horror. I have not read Dead Beautiful, as it's not out yet, but it's by a Columbia MFA student, is described as a zombie love story, and was acquired for six figures by Donna Bray right before she left Hyperion in 2008.

I agree with you, Melissa, about the awesomeness of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, though you make me feel as if I should add the disclaimer that the author is my critique partner. ;-) I can be very objective though -- it's amazing!

Maprilynne
01-30-2009, 03:54 AM
Forest of Hands and Teeth. Yes!!! Read it!! Love it!! That's an order!!;)

EXCELLENT book!!

Melissa_Marr
01-30-2009, 09:58 AM
Melissa,
Top of my head, there's Shan, and Horowitz has done some stuff (which I think might straddle YA/MG, not sure). But other than that, the market does seem (unjustifiably?) thin. I had to second-guess folks who do this for a living. But I do think there's a definite audience there wanting to be served, and your comment about Carrie Ryan expanding that audience REALLY encourages/galvanizes me. So, again, thanks!


It's a hard thing to guess. There wasn't a plethora of faery books when I wrote WICKED LOVELY (although there certainly are a bunch coming now). I didn't think there was much of a place in the market for what I write. I mean there were the folklore-fiction parents like de Lint, Bull, & Gaiman. Then there was Holly Black. I figured the market wasn't that strong, so the response to WL knocked me over, yanno?

There haven't been a lot of serious literary zombie texts either, but Carrie Ryan just nailed it beautifully.

I don't know that we can predict it--or that an absence is indicative of a market that is impossible.

OTOH, I wouldn't ever suggest writing TO a market bc that often doesn't reflect our individual passion & interest. I say write to your passion bc the genuine passion (IMO) is the ingredient that a book needs. If you've done that (as it sounds like you have) & the market's at the right place, it can work. And, yanno, if it doesn't, you can shelve it & write something else. I suspect markets will circle back around.



I've worked as a screenwriter - had a couple things optioned when I was school in school - so it's rather lovely discovering the skills that cross over into this medium. :]


Honestly, I think experience like that can really make a difference. I could be biased, of course, but I think it's worth mentioning. And, the having work optioned is a big plus.

In my queries, I referenced the fact that I taught university--including gender studies, folk & fairy tales, and classic lit. I wrote folklore & feminist fiction, so that was worth mentioning. There's a paragraph specifically for presenting any important traits that are a factor. Your film school & screemwriting experience, as well as experience as a pro reader, fit that.




Since we got onto queries...I've been blessed, through various film school connections, to have some terrific mentors in my writing life . . .

I'm not sure abt the quote thing. (Sorry.) I know of writers whose books were sold with endorsements attached, but I think those were in the same genre/audience.

What I know is that you certainly don't need them. There's the illusion that this is a business abt "who you know" but I knew no one. Most writers I chat with knew no one. There are a few exceptions where they had an "in" or a quote or what have you, but I firmly believe that what sells is the writing & the story (& a dash of good luck/timing/planetary alignment).

Sometimes books that are . . .umm, not particularly well written sell on concept alone. Sometimes lovely writing takes a common concept & sells it. Sometimes market hungers or (in a rare case) name backing (be it celebrity or other) sells it. It's not a predictable thing though.

So as my experience is not useful in this one, I'll say "maybe" is my best answer ;)

Good luck. Let me know if there are more questions I can answer. I enjoy talking to new folks :)

Melissa_Marr
01-30-2009, 10:12 AM
Soulless is by Christopher Golden. Great cover. I've seen it all over. It's very classic zombie horror. I have not read Dead Beautiful, as it's not out yet, but it's by a Columbia MFA student, is described as a zombie love story, and was acquired for six figures by Donna Bray right before she left Hyperion in 2008.


Thx, Diana. I shall watch for those.



I agree with you, Melissa, about the awesomeness of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, though you make me feel as if I should add the disclaimer that the author is my critique partner. ;-) I can be very objective though -- it's amazing!

Oh, I'm just absurdly neurotic about that. My friends laugh at me bc I threatened them if they posted any reviews of my books in blogs or Amazon or anywhere. They sometimes ignore me, but overall, it's been a respected request. I have become friends with one writer whose support would be very influential, so my coping mechanism is to ask that he not admit to knowing me. I adore him, so I don't want him to think for a split second that my affection is abt anything but HIM, yanno?

I like a clean division btw social & business. (So much so that I get all kinds of depressed when anyone comes to me for a blurb rather than utilizing proper channels. It's so very awkward when that happens & taints things, imo.)

Admittedly, I've blurbed two authors who are friends but one was already a NYT author & the other I read before we were friends. (Both were done w/o the authors knowing their editors were contacting me.)

That division gets harder by meeting so many people, but I try my best to assure that my readers know whether or not I'm potentially biased.

So, umm, yeah. . . I'm just reeeeaaaallllllly neurotic there. :)

Red.Ink.Rain
01-30-2009, 10:53 AM
I still need to read your books, Melissa. I've got to be honest though - I was tempted to skip straight to Ink Exchange. The lure of the tattoos/faeries is much, much greater than the allure of faeries/love triangles/Summer Kings for me. :) Can you read them out of order and still understand?

And I Am Legend is another zombie horror, although I guess that's not really YA.

Melissa_Marr
01-30-2009, 11:17 AM
I still need to read your books, Melissa. I've got to be honest though - I was tempted to skip straight to Ink Exchange. The lure of the tattoos/faeries is much, much greater than the allure of faeries/love triangles/Summer Kings for me. :) Can you read them out of order and still understand?

And I Am Legend is another zombie horror, although I guess that's not really YA.

*grin* I know I'm probably a Bad Author for admitting this, but I love hearing that ppl wanna skip to INK. It's my favourite so far.

FE is the only book that isn't completely stand-alone: it sorta wants another book after it. WL, INK, & the 4th book (which is not out for a year) are all able to be read totally free-standing. FE is the anamoly.

[Sorry to veer off topic, Moderators.]

Mike Martin
01-30-2009, 09:20 PM
It's a hard thing to guess. There wasn't a plethora of faery books when I wrote WICKED LOVELY (although there certainly are a bunch coming now). I didn't think there was much of a place in the market for what I write. I mean there were the folklore-fiction parents like de Lint, Bull, & Gaiman. Then there was Holly Black. I figured the market wasn't that strong, so the response to WL knocked me over, yanno?

There haven't been a lot of serious literary zombie texts either, but Carrie Ryan just nailed it beautifully.

I don't know that we can predict it--or that an absence is indicative of a market that is impossible.

OTOH, I wouldn't ever suggest writing TO a market bc that often doesn't reflect our individual passion & interest. I say write to your passion bc the genuine passion (IMO) is the ingredient that a book needs. If you've done that (as it sounds like you have) & the market's at the right place, it can work. And, yanno, if it doesn't, you can shelve it & write something else. I suspect markets will circle back around.



Honestly, I think experience like that can really make a difference. I could be biased, of course, but I think it's worth mentioning. And, the having work optioned is a big plus.

In my queries, I referenced the fact that I taught university--including gender studies, folk & fairy tales, and classic lit. I wrote folklore & feminist fiction, so that was worth mentioning. There's a paragraph specifically for presenting any important traits that are a factor. Your film school & screemwriting experience, as well as experience as a pro reader, fit that.




I'm not sure abt the quote thing. (Sorry.) I know of writers whose books were sold with endorsements attached, but I think those were in the same genre/audience.

What I know is that you certainly don't need them. There's the illusion that this is a business abt "who you know" but I knew no one. Most writers I chat with knew no one. There are a few exceptions where they had an "in" or a quote or what have you, but I firmly believe that what sells is the writing & the story (& a dash of good luck/timing/planetary alignment).

Sometimes books that are . . .umm, not particularly well written sell on concept alone. Sometimes lovely writing takes a common concept & sells it. Sometimes market hungers or (in a rare case) name backing (be it celebrity or other) sells it. It's not a predictable thing though.

So as my experience is not useful in this one, I'll say "maybe" is my best answer ;)

Good luck. Let me know if there are more questions I can answer. I enjoy talking to new folks :)

Melissa,

I think you're so right about the passion thing. As a reader, it's always SOOO obvious when I get something that someone has just written because they think it will be popular. It always feel drab and lame, and it never ever sells. Meanwhile, I've read stuff that is SO not "commercial" on the surface, yet it sells for HUGE amounts and skyrockets writing careers. I'm thinking particularly of Travis Beacham's "A Killing On Carnival Row (http://www.countingdown.com/movies/3951213)." I know Travis - went to school with him - and he wrote this murder mystery about faeries and Victorian England for his junior year project. I mean, talk about "uncommercial/too weird," right? Yet the thing was brilliant, and he sold it like 4 months after graduating, and now he's working with Brian K. Vaughn and J.J. Abrahms, and just wrote the remake (with Lawrence Kasdan) of "Clash of the Titans."

So - yeah. Right on, M :]

(And BTW, PM me if you'd like to read a draft of "Killing..." I think you'd REALLY dig it.)

- Mike

Mike Martin
01-30-2009, 09:21 PM
And also - thanks for the offer on info! I'll definitely take you up on that :]

- Mike

Melissa_Marr
01-31-2009, 12:08 AM
Mike,

Is that the one Del Toro was going to do but now isn't? (*has Del Toro fangirl moment*) Killings, faeries, Victorians . . . if that DOES end up on the screen, I will be there (is it in production or still just at the ponderously ambling fwd stage). As a rule, I don't really go to the theatre much, but that one sounds so perfectly hitting my tastes that I'm giddy thinking abt it. The ONLY film I went to that I wanted to see (& did, repeatedly) in the past I don't know how many years was PAN'S LABYRINTH. Freakin brilliant.

I love texts & films that truly respect the lore. That's so essential to me. Del Toro is a "deserves choirs singing" sorta person for me bc of how well he respected fairy tale & faery tradition & the beautiful metaphoric possibilities therein. I saved an article in RUE MORGUE where they discussed how he had them read Lang's fairy books.

Umm, yeah, I hope your friend's film gets made.

M.

M.