Monica Valentinelli’s contribution to The Zombie Feed Vol. 1 is a visceral, irreverent,  stream-of-consciousness narrative from the perspective of troubled Officer Mike Francis, a badge-carrying member of civilized society’s last-stand response to a world gone mad. It’s not the zombies Office Mike worries about–with a little fire, he can manage them–it’s all the other nutcases left behind, the ones who hide behind their fancy gated mansions and pretend like nothing’s changed. With them, you just never know what to expect, and that can be deadly. This is no quiet tale of love and loss: it’s a story that cuts to the quick and reveals the rotten madness even the living try to hide. If you’re brave enough, check out Monica’s story, “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” in The Zombie Feed Vol. 1!

You can pick up your copy of The Zombie Feed Anthology on Amazon.comBarnes & Noble.com, or from The Zombie Feed directly. Get it on your Kindle or your Nook (or in any e-format from Smashwords) for just $2.99! Seventeen awesome zombie stories for $2.99? Can’t get any better than that! :D

1. The Writing Question: Do you tend to plan your stories before you write them, or do you write and just see what you discover in the process? 

Depends upon the story. If I’m writing on spec, I have to hear the story in my head otherwise the prose is robotic and stunted. If I’m writing “to” spec, on the other hand, I often work with the editor or project manager to make sure I’m fitting whatever voice they need for the publication. Then, I let that idea simmer for a bit before I start working on a draft. Longer stories like novels and novellas, on the other hand, I have to plot out regardless. Otherwise I wind up wasting precious time because I have no idea where Plot A begins and Plot D ends.

“Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” was interesting because I heard a song in my head before I sat down to write it. Wrote the song first, then the story. The process felt like I was writing a creepy refrain to a musical pastiche. I think this was the fastest story I’ve ever written and polished because it was just that clear in my head. Doesn’t always happen that way, though I wish it would.

2. The Horror Question: Some writers claim that writing dark stories is easier than writing light ones. True or false for you, and why?

True! When I write in the dark, I focus on conflict and contrast. What isn’t dark, as opposed to why the dark is so terrible. Why did the dark infiltrate into a normal world? Where did the dark come from? Those questions help me develop the world I want to tell my story in. Then I hone in on characterization. How does that character feel about the dark? What is their role in that world? Are they contributing to the dark, or are they fighting against it?

Writing lighter themes requires me to employ different techniques for conflict, plotting and characterization. Satire or black humor is still dark enough, but when it comes to penning the happy, happy… I often feel those stories come across as disingenuine and not compelling enough to submit to any market. Mind you, I am my own worst critic, but what can I say? I like big guns, vampires, and a little blood in my stories. :)

3. The Oddball Question: If you could be friends with one fictional character, who would it be and what kind of venue would you meet at?

I am a huge “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fan, so I would have to say Arthur Dent would be that guy. In terms of what venue? A pub, of course! I’d gladly share a pint just to hear about his travels and near misses. Especially with the Vogons and their terrifying bouts of poetry. ‘Course, I’d ask him to take me along on a trip or two…

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Monica Valentinelli is a professional author and game designer. Described as a “force of nature” by her peers, Monica has been published through Abstract Nova Press, Eden Studios, White Wolf Publishin, Apex Magazine and others. Her  credits include: a short story entitled “Pie” in the award-winning Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas anthology through 12 to Midnight and The Queen of Crows. For more information about Monica, visit www.mlvwrites.com .

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