Lynn Messina has gone where no woman has ever gone before—and hopefully never will: zombie sex. In her new book The Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies Lynn has put a whole new twist on the zombie genre.
Hers are not the George Romero leg-draggers of yesteryear, but rather 21st century, human-brain-shunning, animal-craving, shoe-loving, datable undead—or in politically correct terms, “the reliving”. Yes, even zombies have civil rights in the future.
Being a wife, mother, and author of six books is no easy feat, and now seemed like a good time to find out just how Ms. Messina manages to do it all:
Hi , Lynn, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I see you're not only a New Yorker, but a fellow Long Islander as well. I’m a Baldwin/Freeport girl, where did you live?
I'm from Bellmore. I went to Kennedy at the same time as Amy Fisher, though I was two years ahead.
You know the old saying, “Only in New York”, what’s the strangest thing you've seen here?
Early one morning, we saw a pickup truck stop on the street outside of Washington Square Park and two men roll a black baby grand piano off the flatbed. It was bizarre because the driver pulled up to the sidewalk headfirst rather than alongside, so his truck was completely blocking the traffic, which he was blithely indifferent to. Of course the police come right up to them, and the guys seemed shocked by the interest. Watching, I got the feeling they'd done this every morning for years and this was the fine time anyone noticed. It was fascinating street theater.
At least you were treated to something G-Rated, most people aren’t that lucky. So, you’ve now got six books under your belt. Were you always a full time writer or did you have a "day job"?
What a lovely compliment! But I'm not a full-time writer. I still work in magazines a few weeks a month. I'm a copyeditor, which is an excellent job for a writer because the work ebbs and flow, leaving you plenty of time to write books on the clock.
Very impressive. Now I feel like a bigger slacker than usual. Did your parents support your dream of being a writer?
Always. For my sixteenth birthday, my dad bought me a writer's handbook with essays on how to write by successful authors. The only one I remember was by Stephen King, and the only tip I remember was never use a thesaurus because if you can't think of the word, you shouldn't use it. I get such a kick out of that now because I'm always bringing up the thesaurus on Word. I find word reps to be the more egregious sin.
I totally agree. I wish I would’ve listened back in high school about expanding my vocabulary; but, using $2 words always seemed a bit elitist to me. Now, I feel like my reviews are going to be reduced to: “Me likey book”…
So, what's the worst job you’ve ever had?
For one week during the summer before my sophomore year in college, I filled in as the receptionist at a glue factory in Queens. I asked the owner if they really made glue out of old horses, fully expecting him to roll his eyes and be like, “Just because it's in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, doesn't mean it's true.” But instead he said, “Well, some of our glues are organic and some are not.” I'm pretty sure organic is code for “horse”.
OK, let’s talk about your new book The Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies. I love the tag line on your website: “Not all the good ones are married or gay.” At times it really did feel that way. Did you find dating tough in the sense of finding a “good one”?
I met my husband when I was twenty-four. Wow. Seeing that in writing is really sobering cause I felt so old at the time. If I found dating difficult, it was because I had a knack for attracting guys who were good friends, and I could never shift gears.
I never had the friend problem. I was (and still am) a freaks and geeks magnet. I never fail to attract the strangest guy in the room. What’s the worst date you’ve been on?
College. We were en route to see an Ernst Lubitsch film and got into a car accident. My date bumped the car in front of him at a red light. It was totally minor. Nobody got hurt. But he kept saying it wasn’t his fault, and he was clearly in the wrong. It was a very long wait for the police and he spent the entire time muttering that he was being framed. I think the accident unhinged him. Or he’d always been unhinged and I hadn’t noticed until then.
Hey, I dated that guy! I think it’s very fitting that the best place to meet single zombies is in a slaughter house—an appropriate metaphor for the bar scene—in what aspect would being with a zomboy be better than a regular man?
I honestly think the best part of dating a zombie is he’d never, ever check his phone or Google something in the middle of a conversation.
Ah, so you’ve met my husband… As you point out, zomboys have many similarities to regular men. What’s your biggest man turn-off?
Engrossing interest in sports.
Wow, you really have met my husband. Some of the men in my past repulse me, but reading about having sex with a putrefying zombie truly grossed me out...How did you feel writing it?
First of all, the sex scene you read was a lot tamer than the first one I wrote. My agent was the original ewwwww, and I tempered it in the wake of her response. But I was kind of surprised by how repulsed she was because I actually thought it was pretty clever—the juxtaposition of the disgusting reality with Hattie’s romantic description. I thought the silliness of it was evident, and everyone would be in on the joke.
I’m turned off if the guy has coffee breath… forget death breath and a dangling eyeball… If you were Hattie, do you think you could actually go through with it?
In regards to your writing, are you a free-flowing writer or do you plan, plot and outline?
No plan, no plot. Just an opening sentence that usually winds up getting cut. I revise a lot. But I do that only after the first draft is done. I inevitably change course in the middle of a book but I keep going. To stop and edit in the middle would be fatal.
I commend you for being so steadfast. Do you have a special place or time where you like to write and are more productive?
Time is special to me. There are very few days when I can sit down at the computer and write for eight hours straight. There’s always some stupid, pain-in-the-butt errand that has to be run or some social obligation that I don’t want to do as much as I want to do it.
I know that feeling. Ok, time for the bonus round: What inspires you?
Other people saying ridiculous and/or stupid things.
What’s your biggest fear?
That I’ve spent my entire life worrying about the wrong things.
Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?
Who are your three favorite male actors?
Right now I’m all about TV: Joel McHale, Timothy Olyphant, Alec Baldwin
Which book or movie would you rewrite the ending to?
Little Women. Like 99.9 percent of the population, I’d put Jo with Laurie. And yet when I had the chance—when I wrote Little Vampire Women—I couldn’t do it. I totally flinched.
What’s going to be the topic of your next book?
I have no idea. Several people now have asked about a sequel to Girls’ Guide. The thought hadn’t occurred to me but now that the seed’s been planted…
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or discuss?
Nope. I’m tapped.
I hear ya, sista. Lynn, thanks again for taking the time. It has been a true pleasure.