Posts Tagged ‘stone bridge press’

Linda Watanabe McFerrin Talks about Zombies

September 6, 2010

Linda Watanabe McFerrin is an award-winning novelist, short fiction writer, travel journalist, writing teacher, and all around literary guru.  Her first novel, Namako: Sea Cucumber, was published by Coffee House Press in 1998 and was awarded a Best Book for the Teenage from the New York City Libraries.

Linda’s newest novel, Dead Love, published by Stone Bridge Press, is being released this week. It is a novel about zombies centered in Japan. It begins when Clément, a lovesick ghoul, falls for the beautiful Erin. What follows is a breathless story that moves from Tokyo to Haiti to Amsterdam to Malaysia. Along the way you will encounter Yakuza (Japanese gangsters), Haitian witch doctors, ballet dancers and assorted horrible characters.  There is even a little zombie sex mixed into this pot. Yuch! 

 You can buy Dead Love in paperback, e-book, or a special limited hardback edition that includes a manga treatment of one of the chapters.

Linda will be making a number of appearances around the Bay Area.

 Andy: Linda, congratulations on the publication of Dead Love. I want to talk about zombies today. When we first began speaking about this book (full disclosure: I’m the literary  agent who represents Linda), you made the striking comment that you believed zombies really exist. Well, excuuuse meeee!! But I don’t believe I have encountered many zombies at Cody’s over the years or even in your literary salon, Left Coast Writers. How can you defend this astonishing claim? Could you tell us a little bit about the science of zombies and how one can identify them.

Linda: Thanks, Andy. Right. Dead Love was actually inspired years ago when I read a book by noted ethno-botanist, Wade Davis, who also happens to be one of my literary and travel heroes. Davis’ book, The Serpent and the Rainbow, was about his search in Haiti for a kind of zombie formula—the substances that bokors, the Vodoun shamans or witchdoctors, have been using for generations to drug their victims into a death-like stupor. This is actually a crime in Haiti, and I have an old newspaper clipping about a man who was sentenced to prison for the crime of zombification. Zora Neale Hurston famously wrote about zombies in Tell My Horse. There are photographs of the unfortunate creature in her book. Because my novel is truly bizarre fiction grounded in fact, I include the truth about zombies in the first chapter of the book, and I footnote many of the ultra-weird things that are fact-based. They are essentially much stranger than fiction, and that is a big part of the point of Dead Love: that what’s real is often extremely surreal.

Andy: When I see the deals coming down for new titles, I notice that there are a lot of people writing in the zombie genre. Why do you think they have become so popular?

Linda: I actually think the zombie craze is part of a larger attraction that has taken literature and other art forms by storm, and that is a fascination with the supernatural. Perhaps this fascination has something to do with the absence of myth in our supposedly reality-based lives. Myth and magic are manifestations of the unconscious and its odd connection to the numinous in the everyday world. I think zombies are, in some ways, symbolic of a state of mind. We all feel a little like a zombie from time to time. We succumb. This is not an enviable position, which is probably why we want to kill zombies. They are that loathsome (and for some, very lovable) part of ourselves.

Andy: I know when I’m acting like a zombie, Leslie doesn’t find it particularly loveable. But let’s go on.  What about zombie spin-offs of the great classics? Pride and Prejudice For Zombies was one of the best-selling books in many years. Can you think of some other classics that would be good grist for the zombie mill?

Linda: Oh, Wuthering Heights is just begging to be repurposed for zombie fans. I also feel Brave New World would be wonderful with zombies in it, though it kind of has them already, don’t you think? Actually a lot of Shakespeare’s plays, Titus Andronicus for example, would be super if the characters were zombies. And what if Romeo and Juliet had a happy undead ending in which the star-crossed lovers rise again as zombies? Come to think of it, dig up almost any of the great old works of literature and I believe you’d find them suitable for reanimation with a zombie twist.

Andy:  Yes, Linda. I think it would be simply splendid to have Don Quixote tilting at zombies instead of windmills.  There seem to be a lot of zombies and vampires in books for young adults. Why do you think teens are so attracted to these creepy characters? Are teen girls looking for different things than teen boys?

Linda: Kids have always loved fantasy. We all do. That’s why fairytales have endured. These are the new fairytales. And even in those old stories collected by the Brothers Grimm there were witches and evil trolls and devilishly deadly folk. And there was a lot of gore. At root, I don’t think the lust for gore is gender based, but I do think it goes well with a little romance and possibly some humor.

Andy: Dead Love isn’t really a teen book though is it? Do you think teens are going to read it though?

Linda: No, it isn’t a teen book. It’s full of sex, death, and dismemberment. But it’s an easy read (wasn’t it Ernest Hemingway or Nathaniel Hawthorne who said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing”?) and a darkly poetic one. It’s also quite cinematic, so I think teens are going to be drawn to it. They always ferret out what’s best in literature. If they’re lucky, they can pull marvelously inappropriate books from their parents’ bookshelves. I remember grabbing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas from my mother’s bookcase.

In Dead Love, the young Erin carts around her mother’s books on ghouls; so there you have it. In fact, a few teens have already gotten their hands on the novel. One of them said, “So usually when I read 300 page books it takes a little while. This one was different … every page seemed to just fly by (not like it was unmemorable) but because it was really good.”

Andy: Maybe I’m just a sicko, but I really enjoyed the zombie sex in this book. Can you give us a few tips and techniques to have better sex with zombies?

Linda: Andy, please remember that Erin is only part-zombie, which accounts for the amazing sex … kind of the best of both worlds. If you are talking about most zombies, well, let’s just say that there is generally quite a bit of slobbering involved, as well as considerable sucking and biting, which might not be so bad, depending on your proclivities. However, I should warn that eventually all of this leads to chewing and you need to be careful about your partner’s parts falling off. That’s never a good thing.

Andy: Linda, I’m getting really turned on by  all this. So I better end this interview before things get out of hand.


Linda Watanabe McFerrin on Social Media for Writers

May 12, 2010

Linda Watanabe McFerrin is an author and  teacher of creative writing.  Her new novel, Dead Love , is being published this Fall by Stone Bridge Press . Dead Love is an incredible Zombie story that takes place in Tokyo, Haiti, Malaysia,  and Netherlands.  For those of you who have, how shall we say, somewhat exotic taste in the sexual, you will be turned on by the slightly green, slightly clammy, slightly putrescent  sex scene.  You can find out more about it on Linda’s  Dead Love blog   and her website . Linda will be attending the Book Expo America Convention  in New York this month and will be signing copies of Dead Love there on Thursday,  May 27.

Linda understands that the hard work of the writer really begins after the book is written. Book publishing, has become focused on the mass audience. They concentrate their resources on the few big blockbuster books and frequently give short shrift to everything else. That is why it is essential for the writer to promote her own book. Linda is going to talk to us today about social media for writers.

Andy: Linda, welcome to Ask the Agent. Tell us why it is so important for authors to understand the new social media and how to use it to promote books.

Linda: Well, Andy, though my undergraduate degree is in English and Comparative Literature and my Masters is in Creative Writing, I also have a background in sales and marketing. Even though I spent years doing sales and marketing in the apparel industry and knew how important marketing is, I had trouble applying what I’d learned to my own projects. Artists and writers sometimes recoil from this part of the process, but if you are getting  your work published,  it means you want to share it.  Visibility is critical to achieving that end. We expect our publisher to provide this, but sadly, it’s often what’s missing. What’s really exciting … or, I should say “revolutionary,” is the way the Internet has made new and volatile communication channels available to everyman and everywoman. Writers can now reach the potential audience online directly and without the costs and restrictions that used to be associated with that kind of outreach.

Andy: So let’s break this down to the major venues: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.   Can you go through each of these and tell us their strengths and weaknesses?

 Linda:  Sure. Let’s walk through the fundamentals and let’s do it in bullets. That’s easiest.

  • Website : This is the foundation of any online presence. It defines the artist and the artist’s product. My first website went up in 1998 and it has served me well and saved loads of time. It certainly eliminated the need to mail out lots of author bios and portraits and it allowed people I hadn’t yet met to become more familiar with my work.


  • Blog: Many websites today are no more than this. Blogs are the new journalism and one of the key sources of information and interaction on the web.


  • Twitter: The fastest moving, most mobile method of interaction is the phone or the hand-held device. Twitter is a micro blog designed for short, immediate, and constant updates.


  • E-mail: This is still the most widely accepted method of online communication. In 2009 ninety trillion emails were sent. The average number of emails a day is 247 billion. Clearly, this is where contact lists are key.


  • Facebook and other online social media networks like Myspace: There are so many of these. They are a super way to expand a platform and reach out to those with similar tastes. Each network has a distinct identity. Best to know what it is and whether it meets your specific needs before sinking time into development.


  • Google and other search engines: These tie it all together. We feed search engines with content and we use them to find content relevant to our objectives.


I use all of these on a daily basis and could devote hours and pages to further defining each and every one of the areas. The Internet is massive, fast moving and, once you overcome certain insecurities, it’s also fun. For a totally shocking real-time update on statistics, you can go to and read and scroll to the “Social media statistics in real time” section.

Andy: Ok. It sounds like it is essential to develop an Internet marketing and promotion plan and to take control quickly. We can assume that your publisher is too busy to labor in the Internet trenches. What are the elements of a good plan?

Linda: A good plan begins with a well-crafted Mission Statement. To be really clear on something, you need to know what you want to achieve. I want, for instance, to use the Internet to reach out to readers who would enjoy but might not know about my work. It’s actually a lot like the writer’s task of selecting a protagonist and defining his/her inner and outer story goals, which is—as any writer knows—key to developing a plot.

Andy: Describe how you are implementing the plan for Dead Love.

Linda: I have four websites:, the oldest (1998);,, and the newest: For Dead Love, the most active is the site. Everything about the book finds its way onto the site and is mirrored variously in other Internet locations.  is the hub where the bulk of my content in support of the novel is captured. It has a fairly high ranking with search engines. Erin, the near-zombie Dead Love protagonist posts daily on the site in a blog called “The Daily Slice.” It’s a little bit of the dark side, often but not always zombie-related. I share the link with social media networks on an ongoing basis. To me this is the new journalism. Erin reports on Dead Love related topics—literary, pop culture, current events—every day. The novel is also serialized on the site in bite-sized, easily digested segments once a week.

Andy: Penguin Books has a spiffy little .pdf pamphlet on Internet marketing for writers that lays out the fundamentals of Internet marketing. But you are saying that the author needs to be an expert in this. What resources do you recommend to help the authors improve their expertise and develop strategies.

Linda: Things are moving so quickly in the social media area that it’s difficult to keep up. I’ve had a number of marvelous advisers every step of the way and I was truly resistant at first! Bradley Charbonneau  got me started with my new site models. Laurie MacAndish  King  also helped tremendously. I deeply respect the knowledge and advice of Cheryl McLaughlin  ; she created my first YouTube video. Then there’s social media guru, Peter Lang, my current key mentor. Peter’s recommendations follow. These are online resources and tools that are available to everyone: (Follow top industry sites in order to keep up with this ever changing online world)

Resources: (a favorite!)

Tools: or

Andy: Do you do any consulting on this?

Linda: I do, but with a “total marketing” focus. I work on brand establishment and communication for writers. I have a new program that allows for a full year of training and consulting. I meet with selected writers every month to discuss platform and marketing and tailor outreach programs that work in today’s fast-paced, hyper-creative environment. The program features guest speakers in major marketing areas online and in print. It’s intense and exhilarating, and if anyone’s interested, they should send me a note via Facebook, which is one of my favorite Internet playgrounds.

Andy: And what about traditional media? Advertising is expensive,  but is there any way an author can exploit it to promote their work?

Linda: Certainly. I’ve used postcard mailings to drive web traffic, and when we go to  the BEA (book) Convention later this month, I’ll be signing advance readers copies of Dead Love. There’ll also be Dead Love T-shirts and buttons. I used to direct art for a major T-shirt line and I love T-shirts; they are wearable art. Also if a writer has expertise in an area, that writer should be publishing stories that demonstrate that expertise both in print and online. I think the key thing is to produce interesting and enlightening content. That’s what writers are supposed to do. The problem has been, in the past, that there was no sure outlet for all that creativity. There is now with the Internet. Finally, we have a way to share it.