Dead Head Reviews (DHR): Thank you for joining us today, Elle. You were the first contributor to Dead Head Reviews. Was it the first time you reviewed books?
Elle Turpitt (ET): Thanks for having me! I’d actually been reviewing books on my own blog for a while, but mainly whatever I’d picked up and read myself. Joining Dead Head Reviews meant I received my first ever ARC, and I had to dig out my very old Kindle so I could read them.
DHR: What is this “Kindle” you speak of, hehe. When and who published Night of the Loving Dead?
ET: Alban Lake published the story, on 13th February this year, through Digitally Disturbed. Bill Otto was fantastic – he was just on the verge of taking over when I submitted, and told me how much he loved the story and really wanted to put it up on the site when they started Digitally Disturbed. It was also reprinted in Alban Lake’s Nightsong in October.
DHR: Very cool! What made you go with a zombie story?
ET: Well, I originally wrote the story for a Valentine’s Day flash fiction competition on the critique website Scribophile. I didn’t want to just do a typical love story. Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters etc have all been overdone when it comes to romance (not that I don’t still love them), and I wanted to try something different. Shuffling, decaying zombies aren’t exactly what you think of when you think of romance and love and Valentine’s Day, so I wanted to try seeing if writing something about two zombies falling in love would work. And whenever my brother read one of my stories, he kept saying, “It’s good, but where are the zombies?” so I wanted to write something for him, too.
DHR: I like the way your brother thinks. Are there any particular influences for this story?
ET: Probably quite a lot! I went through a period of reading lots of different zombie fiction, with a variety of different takes on the creatures, especially in anthologies, but I really loved Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series, and the fact that those zombies kept circling back to where they were from, the places they knew as humans. That always stuck with me.
DHR: The whole return where they knew as humans totally reminds me of the original Dawn of the Dead. What genres do you typically write in?
ET: Usually horror and fantasy. Though I’ve done some contemporary stories, usually dealing with mental health and relationship breakdowns. But horror and fantasy are where I feel most at home.
DHR: Have you seen the film Warm Bodies?
ET: I actually haven’t, but I do really want to see it and read the book. I got asked that a lot when I was getting feedback on it, too.
DHR: After you watch it you’ll understand why I asked, ha. Do you have a favorite zombie novel, film, or show?
ET: Film – Shaun of the Dead. Book – World War Z.
DHR: So much yes on Shaun of the Dead! Besides zombies, what else ranks highest on your list of hobbies and interests?
ET: Everything and anything horror, definitely. Disney, as anyone who knows me is well aware. Other than that, I just enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on, including graphic novels, and playing video games really.
DHR: How has the reception on NOTLD been?
ET: Outside of Bill Otto’s feedback, I actually haven’t had much! Possibly because it’s such a short story. Although my favorite people have read it and said good things about it. (My brother, I should note, still hadn’t read it last time I spoke to him!)
DHR: Kill the bugger off in your next story and make him a zombie! Do you plan on exploring a larger word count zombie story in the future?
ET: It’s definitely something I’d like to explore, though whether it’s on the survivor or zombie side remains to be seen. But it is something I like exploring, though I probably wouldn’t do it soon unless I had something really new to add.
DHR: Is there anything you’re currently working on that we can know about?
ET: Mostly short stories, I have some horror stories out on submission, so fingers crossed something comes out of that! And I’m working on first drafts of what will hopefully, eventually be a short story collection, so we will see.
DHR: Fingers crossed on this end too! Would you like to make a shout-out to anyone?
ET: Firstly, has to be my always supportive boyfriend, Richard (@jedi_werewolf) for always being there to pick me up after rejections. My dad, cause he’s the best. My brother Alex, my biggest fan even if he hasn’t yet read Night, and my brother James – those two fostered a love of horror in me by torturing me with everything that scared me as a kid! But also some of my favorite horror writers – J. Askew, S.H. Cooper, Laurel Hightower and Gemma Amor. As well as Bill Otto, Alban Lake’s editor, for championing my bitesize story.
DHR: Jedi Werewolf…what. a. badass name! And those are some good brothers right there. I appreciate you giving us your time!
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Interview conducted by Patrick R. McDonough