Monday, August 31, 2015

BOOK REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Once Upon a Zombie by Billy Phillips


BLURB:

When Caitlin Fletcher’s mom disappeared (or left?) four years ago, Caitlin began suffering from breathless bouts of anxiety. Her new move to London, with her Dad and her brainiac sister, threatens to lead to more situations that will trigger panic. Now, she’s having anxiety over the possibility of having anxiety!
Caitlin’s life takes a turn for the bizarre when she’s tricked into climbing down a “rabbit hole” landing in a wondrous fairy tale universe —except it’s crawling with savage starving blood-eyed zombies. All the timeless fairy tale characters who once lived forever are now the living dead— think Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Even worse they’re famished. Definitely not the ideal situation for a vulnerable young girl prone to panic attacks.

REVIEW BY: Angel, age 12 years, 9 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

Caitlin Rose Fletcher writes for unexplained news.com, so when her friend/crush Jack sees information about sightings of zombies, he wants to go check out the cemetery with Caitlin. He wants to go on Halloween, which also happens to be Caitlin's birthday. That's when Caitlin's journey begins starting off with a wormhole, zombie princesses, Lord Amethyst Bartholomew, the caterpillar and the Queen of Hearts. 

I LOVED this book. It is definitely my type of book with it being zombies mixed with fairy tales. I have to admit, this book is one of the best ideas for a book that I have ever heard of or read. 

My favorite part of this book is when Caitlin meets all the zombie Disney princesses (i.e. Snow White, Cindy/Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel. I especially liked the part of meeting Rapunzel because she reminds me of myself because she is determined and sticks up for Caitlin when the Queen of Hearts tries to harm her. Rapunzel is a great leader. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 and up. 

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BILLY PHILLIPS
conducted by Angel


1. How did your idea of putting zombies and fairy tales together come about?

My oldest son David came to me and said I should write a Zombie book because of the popularity of zombies. My company owns the original Junior Elf children’s books which include Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood etc, so my immediate thought was to blend the two genres together.

2. Will there be any other books that follow up with this book? If so, I would be happy to review them for you. 

Once Upon a Zombie is trilogy. I am writing book two right now. The tentative title is Once Upon a Zombie, Book Two: The Lord of the Curtain. 

I will be happy to send them for your review.

3. What was your favorite part when you were writing this book?

The scene of Caitlin at the clay bank. I saw the whole scene in my head, visually, and it was just so cool to me. And the ending, the twists. Which I won’t reveal. SPOILER ALERT NOT NECESSARY!

4. How old were you when you started writing? How old were you when you started this book?

I was writing short stories and plays when I was in grade school. I was around 10 years old. Even younger. I would write stories and get classmates to act them out in front of the class. And I would write comedy sketches and variety shows and we would put on a show for the entire school. I wrote Once Upon a Zombie last year. I was 56. But I feel 18! My kids call me “teen dad”. Well, that's what I tell them to call me.

5. Where is your favorite spot (i.e. couch, garden, office, etc.) to write? 

Home office/Den. 

6. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everything. I feel like a sponge. I could pick the most insignificant item and then spin a whole web of story around it. I have to filter out the world around me every day to stay focused on one project at a time. The world is filled with endless inspirations for stories. And that’s because the world and our lives ARE story.

7. What kind of writing outline or method did you use to write this book?

I write a lot of scenes and plot/structure and dialogue in my head as I go for walks. Then I do a lot of freestyle writing, jumping and letting it come out and lead me. But I also do some outlining as well. It’s definitely a blend of all three. For me, different stages of writing a novel require different methods.

8. Which zombie character is your favorite? Mine is Rapunzel. 

Zombie Cinderella.

9. What is your favorite book of all time? Favorite author?

I don’t know if I can list one all time favorite book. My tastes change over time and I love variety. It depends upon where I was in my life during the read.

If I had to pick a few all time favorites I would say, Catcher in the Rye, is one of them. It blew me away when I was in Junior High School. Also, The Godfather by Mario Puzo. He took a pulpy, melodramatic concept and made it soar. I love A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. There is deep wisdom in that book, deeper than most people realize, in my humble opinion. I read it once a year. As a kid I loved Tom Sawyer. And also To Kill a Mockingbird. I think the best ever movie adaptation of a book is the film To Kill a Mockingbird. The acting, the music, the tone, the directing and pacing, it’s like a living novel. Favorite authors include Ken Follett. The Man from St Petersburg was amazing. He took a pre-World War I setting (potentially boring and dated for a thriller to be read in the 21 century) and the subject of anarchy (potentially dry and boring) and without any high tech gadgety and weapons like we see in today’s book and movie thrillers, and yet he whipped up a gripping page turner. He made it all fascinating and tremendously interesting. I learned a lot from that book. I only read it recently and totally loved it! I wish they would make it into a movie.

George R. R. Martin is a favorite because somehow he evokes scenes in my mind like magic. I’m not a fan of descriptive scene writing. I often skim over paragraphs when they are overly descriptive. But he did it in such a way that he evoked textures and feelings and smells, and emotions, igniting my senses of perception with his descriptive words and writing style and it blew me away. In Game of Thrones, I would study his sentences and paragraphs over and over wondering how he managed to conjure up such vivid experiences in my mind as I read. I see why it takes him so long to write a book because there is magic, power and deeply thought out design in every word and sentence that he writes. I am sad to say I don’t read enough fiction. I just don’t have the time. And my tastes also include non-fiction. I love non-fiction. 

10. How old were you when your first piece of writing was published? 

For various reasons, I only tried to get published in my late thirties and I was fortunate to have the book published on my first try. But I was ghostwriting.

11. Any other interesting facts about you. 

I often share lectures around the world on the subject of science and spirituality. I had the honor of lecturing twice at NASA. Once at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and once at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

THANK YOU MR. BILLY PHILLIPS FOR YOUR INTERVIEW! 

Readers: Stay tuned because there will be a giveaway for an autographed copy of this book in the near future on 5 Girls Book Reviews. 

This books publishing date is October 1, 2015.