LF: Tell us about your book.
MRF: It’s an #ownvoices teen zombie story, with a badass female lead who is also bisexual. Her foster cousin, Marco, is the voice of reason. He’s the one to finally say “no, really, it’s zombies”. I wanted to write a zombie book and populate it with characters who didn’t fit into the “normal” box. I also wanted to play around with narrative structure, so the story is told in two timelines: Then and Now. If you buy a paperback copy, you will also see some exceptionally cool chapter drawings that correspond with the timelines. My spouse-slash-muse, Stephen, drew those.
LF: Why was it so important to have kick-ass females in your book?
MRF: I think representation is so important, and I want more awesome stories that don’t have a male lead. I went into this with the desire to write a strong, smart-ass, and somewhat vulnerable protagonist. Because there’s a strength in vulnerability too. And while the entertainment industry is coming around, bisexual people are still often portrayed ways that can be harmful. That’s not to say that there aren’t some awesome bisexual icons out there, but one can never have too many kick-ass bi heroines!
LF: You touch on depression, self-harm, and suicide. Why was it so important to you to add this?
MRF: It wasn’t something I specifically set out to do, it sort of came organically as I began outlining Cate’s character. More #ownvoices. I don’t remember seeing protagonists when I was young who explicitly dealt with those things, and I think mental health is something that should be explored and represented in fiction.
LF: What inspired you to write and to become an author?
MRF: No one thing inspired me to do either. I had an instructor my first year of college who point-blank asked me why I didn’t write fiction. The truth was that I hadn’t ever thought to until then. As far as writing a book, as with most authors, this was not my first manuscript. But it was my better manuscript. I planned endlessly before ever putting fingers to keyboard.
LF: Is there any side to writing that you find hard?
MRF: Just making myself do it can be the hardest part. I have so many ideas, so much going on in my head, ideas for my current story, or for a whole new story, but my depression makes me somewhat immobile at times.
LF: How long did it take you to get published?
MRF: Well as I said, this is not my first manuscript. If you count the time from my very first submission of my very first piece, it took me about two years. If you count only the time it took to get this piece picked up, it took about four months. I was really lucky this time. NineStar gave me a chance and I will be forever grateful. For that, and for so much more.
LF: Anything else you would like to add?
MRF: Just a big, huge thank you for having me! I so appreciate your time.