Dark Dreams
Interview: Rhiannon Frater, Author Of The Mesmerized

DevanSagliani | 15 Sep 2014 18:00
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rhiannon frater

"Robert Kirkman can have love triangles, sex scenes, etc, and he's still considered a gritty horror writer. If a woman includes those story aspects, she's writing a Harlequin novel with zombies."

The job Rhiannon Frater's held prior to her current occupation as a successful novelist sounds like something she might have invented for one of her characters - governmental consultant. The gig required that she traverse the vastness of the Lone Star State, leaving her fetid imagination unfettered to run wild during the long stretches. It was during one of these trips that she conjured up the idea of As the World Dies- based on two women fleeing into the Texas hill country in an attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse.

The story took on a life of its own, growing from simple chapters posted online into a sprawling three novel series she later self-published at the request of her rapidly growing fan base. The books were eventually purchased by Tor and went on to sell like proverbial hot cakes. Since then Rhiannon has written over a dozen more novels, most featuring vampires and zombies, and earning a string of impressive accolades along the way. As The World Dies earned her a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her novel The Last Bastion Of The Living was declared the #1 Zombie release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Lit Reactor declared her novel As the World Dies: The First Days one of the top 10 novels to read, listing her among other heavy weights like Jonathan Maberry and Carrie Ryan.

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Despite seeing success with small press publishers like Tor and Permuted Press, Rhiannon continues to publish both independently and through the traditional system. That tenacity, it would seem, is finally paying off. Earlier this year, Permuted announced the creation of a Platinum line to be distributed through Ingram into brick and mortar bookstores worldwide, including highly sought after shelf space inside the dwindling number of Barnes and Noble stores. Her newest release, The Mesmerized, has just been released in hardcover from Permuted as well. Set in Las Vegas, the story focuses on a woman vacationing with her family who witnesses the start of the apocalypse, when humanity is transformed into mindless drones by a terrifying supernatural event only she appears immune to.

I had the chance to talk at length with Rhiannon about her work, her journey to full time writing, her love of Texas, and what kind of vampires work the best.

Devan Sagliani: Most writers can only dream of writing something so good that it goes from being self-published to being in bookstores worldwide. Tell us a little about what it's been like and how you feel the process has changed who your writing?

Rhiannon Frater: Well, it was surprising. I didn't expect to transition from Indie Author to Hybrid Author. I truly believed that my niche was in the self-publishing world. I turned down several publishing offers before I acquired an agent and seriously pondered shifting As The World Dies to a traditional publisher. I decided that my criteria for letting As The World Dies go to a publisher was an advance that would allow me to go full-time and it to land at a well-respected publishing house. When my agent called to tell me Tor had a solid deal on the table, I was mute with shock. I couldn't wrap my head around it. To a lot of writers in genre, Tor is the Holy Grail. I was in shock for a few days, then I did a happy dance and started planning my exit from the day job.

Of course one of the advantages of being with Tor was having a senior editor with over twenty years of experience help me revise the story I had written for fun while traveling on the road into a much tighter, better read. I learned so much from her notes and the trilogy -and my writing as a whole - definitely benefitted from her expertise.

I remember when I saw The First Days on the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble and I felt a great sense of relief. It was like "At last..."

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