aka Fiona Carter
We actually didn’t get the interview done on Cinco de Mayo. We were otherwise engaged. The following exchange occurred Seis de Mayo. The day after. Late in the afternoon.
Johnny: So what the hell? What’s with the initials?
Fiona: Don’t talk so loud.
Johnny: Ouch. You either... and don’t duck the question.
Fiona: Okay, fine. They stand for Fiona Jane Robin, and Titchenell is my maiden name. I kept it as a pen name as sort of my compromise on the whole changing my name or not changing my name marriage debate. Husband’s name for legal and personal use, father’s name for professional use. Problem solved. Plus I already had some short stories out under Titchenell when I got married, and unlike Carter, the Titchenell name is nearly dead and has never been famous yet, so it’s really easy to Google without finding a bunch of stuff you’re not looking for. Very useful for an author.
Johnny: But what’s with the initials?
Fiona: Getting to that. My mother insisted on giving me two middle names, because multiple middle names are common in Australia, where she grew up, and she didn’t have any middle names and was jealous. My father wanted me to be an author right from the beginning, so the multiple middle names grew on him when he connected the idea with J.R.R Tolkien. Hence “J.R” as my middle initials. How could I not use the initials as my author name when that’s what I was given them for, and then in spite of everything we know about how parents’ plans necessarily go awry, I actually did grow up to be an author?
|That is a worm in the |
bottom of a Tequila bottle.
They do that on purpose!
Johnny: Eh, my head. You don’t talk so loud.
Fiona: ’Scuse me for gathering the wherewithal to answer a question. How much did you have, anyway?
Johnny: I remember shots. Did I eat a worm at the bottom of a bottle? I don’t remember much after that.
Fiona: You’re asking me? I’m a lightweight… relatively. Did we split that whole bottle? Feel dead on my feet. Or at least like something dead on its feet scooped out most of my brain.
Johnny: Speaking of zombies, tell me about your book, what’s it called?
Fiona: I told you yesterday! Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)!
Fiona: No, he’s a Vampire slayer. Big difference. No vampires in my debut novel.
Johnny: Oh. Well okay. So, tell me about it. Funny? Sad? Scary? Heart-warming?
Fiona: All of the above, I’m told. It’s about a group of teenagers who take a road trip across zombie-infested America to rescue one of their friends who got stranded in New York when the apocalypse struck. It’s about them working out their problems with themselves, with each other, and learning to keep their sanity, remember to laugh, and build new lives. And yes, there are some scares and tragedies along the way.
Johnny: Near future dystopia, zombie infested America? Check. What caused the zombie-near-apocalypse?
Fiona: It’s not dystopia! Why do people keep saying that? “Dystopia” isn’t synonymous with “YA with Sci-Fi elements,” you know. To have a dystopia, you have to have an organized society to criticize. Apocalyptic chaos is the opposite of organized society. Anyway, apocalyptic chaos also makes it pretty tough for a bunch of kids to know why a disaster of global proportions is happening. It’s not like they can get on their iPhones and look it up. If there is any organization left looking into it, they don’t have any way to broadcast the answers. Besides, we’ve all heard all the different explanations for zombies already. They’re here, okay? Does it matter why?
Johnny: Okay, okay. Damn can you stop that cat from stomping around, like that? My poor head.
Fiona: Shhhhhh…. Don’t yell at me. It’s your cat.
Johnny: Yes. I definitely ate a worm. Why do they put worms in bottles? Hell of a Happy meal toy. Do your zombies eat worms? Brains? Brains polluted with tequila worms?
Fiona: Brains. Flesh. They’re not picky. And I don’t think the worm could have made that much difference by the time we got to it.
Johnny: Tell me about Cassie Fremont. Is she like you? Does she leave tracers when she moves, like you?
Fiona: No, no tracers, not even on the morning after a particularly epic night she and her friends spend barricaded in Graceland with a full bar cart and a collection of Elvis movies no one could be expected to sit through sober, which for some reason springs readily to mind today. She’s got almost all my ladylike refinement, though. And my habit for sarcasm.
Fiona: Got spines in your tongue?
Johnny: I was thinking the tracers.
Fiona: No, wait, that part I remember, you couldn’t have! I thought it was weird how you padlocked the desert garden before opening the bar.
Johnny: But I gave the key to the DJ. And the DJ’s still passed out in the bathtub. Do you think she still has it?
Johnny: What’s the age group for Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)?
Fiona: Probably younger than this conversation. I’ve had some parents read it and call it utterly inappropriate for young adults and others recommend it to their twelve-year-olds. It’s YA, I’d say early YA. I consider it quite restrained, especially compared with the much edgier YA Horror I’m working on down the line, but I don’t want anyone saying I misled them, so I’ll just tell you what’s in it like they do with movies. It’s got hard PG13 language, yeah, including the one permitted F word, underage drinking, plenty of zombie violence, but very little human-on-human violence and no sex more explicit than the vaguest of implications. Readers and parents, make your own choices. I really don’t feel so good. Is this carpet important to you, Johnny? Johnny?
Johnny: I heard you. You remember when I woke up and ate those jalapeño buttons?
Johnny: I don’t think they were jalapeños.
Johnny: Stop wiggling. Tell me about your path to publication. I’m always interested in how writers become authors.
Fiona: Well, I’ve been writing all my life, started getting serious about publishing in my late teens, got some short stories out in anthologies and and wrote a few novels that never got off the ground, including the start of a Paranormal Romance-y YA Fantasy epic that was the first one I finally got the nerve to send out. A long string of agents told me it showed promise but was phenomenally poorly timed for the market. So I went back to the drawing board with the next idea that grabbed me, which was Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). Because zombies are cooler than fairies, and because I’d had more writing practice by then, and mostly because I’m sublimely lucky, that manuscript caught the eye of Jennifer Mishler, my super amazing agent. She placed it with Jolly Fish Press, and-
Johnny: What’s that freakin’ noise? That incessant mind-crushing clamor?
Johnny: Yeah. I said that in the intro.
Fiona: The intro you gave the audience two days from now? Sue me, my time-displaced Spanish is rusty. Today’s the launch date for Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)!
Fiona: And I’m hungover at your blog mansion covered in piñata paper and margarita salt.
Fiona: And I’ve got book things to do.
Fiona: And I had some of those jalepeño buttons too.
You can find out more about Fiona, F.J.R. Titchenell and Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) by following the links below. Just keep your voice down. We can hear colors right now.