Blog Tour: Review + Interview: Return of the Loving Dead by Araminta Star Matthews and Stan Swanson

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E’ uscito l’8 maggio – in lingua inglese – un romanzo che mischia l’horror all’umorismo al romance, rivolto ad un pubblico young adults davvero interessante e sono certa piacerà anche ai più grandicelli (tipo me, per esempio). Protagonista del romanzo è Amber, una liceale come tante: studia arte, spera di vincere una borsa di studio per il college, ambisce alla parte da protagonista in Romeo e Giulietta ed è innamorata di Zach, con il quale immagina un futuro fatto di matrimonio e figli. Qualcosa però va storto, Zach muore e… rinasce come zombie. Ma potrà una sciocchezza come questa rovinare i piani di Amber? Lo scoprirete leggendo questo romanzo scritto a quattro mani da Araminta Star Matthews e Stan Swanson che ho anche avuto il piacere di intervistare! Ecco quindi trama, intervista e recensione e… buona lettura. 🙂

Return of the Loving Dead by Araminta Star Matthews and Stan Swanson
Genre: young-adult, paranormal horror
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: 8th May, 2014
Find it on Amazon (E.4,11)

Book summary

aramita-stan - the return of the loving deadBeing in love with a zombie bites, but that won’t stop true love. Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead is like no zombie book you’ve ever read.

Meet Amber Vanderkamp, senior at Stephen E. King High School. Amber is poised for class valedictorian when she graduates this year and has her sights set on the New York Center for the Performing Arts for college. Everything is wonderful in Amber’s world. She always gets the lead in her high school’s plays and is counting on the lead role in the school’s upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet to get a college scholarship for theater That is until her well-ordered world is thrown into chaos when her boyfriend, Zach Williams, dies and comes back as a zombie. But she simply can’t turn her back on the love of her life, can she? How does she deal with the pressure? And will she remain committed to the boy she once considered her soul mate and future husband? Especially when her mother (with secrets of her own) is encouraging her to wait and experience more of the world. And her flighty best friend, Jasmine, is acting even more peculiar ever since Zach has become a member of the undead club. Add in the class bullies, Caleb and Darla, who seem to be doing everything in their power to ruin Amber’s life and Zach’s existence, and all of the elements are present for a page-turning romp through a world where zombies, or “living impaired loved ones,” are a part of everyday life.

Sul sito del libro è possibile avere un’anteprima del romanzo: cliccate qui e buona lettura!

Purchase links: Amazon US – Amazon UK – Barnes & Noble

***Booktrailer***

Legato all’uscita del libro anche un book trailer davvero particolare, in vero stile vintage! Eccolo:

Interviste

  1. First of all, tell us about your writing: when does your writing love starts? What was your first novel (I think when you were a child)?

Araminta: My first novel was The Hobbit. My dad loves fantasy novels and he has a penchant for amateur theatrics. He read me Tolkein’s books with voices, hopping around my room as Golem or Tom Bombadil from the time of my earliest memories (around age 1 or 2), and my mother tells me he read to me in utero, too. I used to joke that I knew what Golem sounded like before Peter Jackson because I swear to you that Jackson must have secretly tapped my bedroom during my father’s nightly readings to get Golem’s voice for the movies. By the time I was five, I was already writing books. The first I remember was an “endless” story that I wrote on a sheet of paper glued to a paper towel tube so that the story could start and stop at the same place, never ending. That was for a Kindergarten show-and-tell. I was the kid who, even at four, would always answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “writer,” no matter what.

Stan: I don’t remember the first book I read, but strangely enough, I actually learned to read by reading comic books. I saw the pictures, but I wanted to know what the characters were saying. And they were much more fun than reading Fun With Dick and Jane. I wrote my first short stories when I was in middle school. I was a big science fiction fan and loved Twilight Zone, so that’s what I started writing about. I also wrote lots of poetry and then when I was 13 or 14 began playing guitar and started writing songs.

  1. In The Return of the Loving Dead you talk about Zombies: what inspires you to talk about this type of “monster?”

Araminta: Zombies are the only supernatural entity that scares me. There is nothing more terrifying to me than a mindless consumer bent on assimilating or consuming you and quite incapable of remorse. That’s why they were the topic of my first book, Blind Hunger. Stan’s idea for Horror High School spoke to me because it was a chance to take something scary and make it (mostly) funny.

Stan: I’ve always loved zombies even before they became “popular.” I saw “Night of the Living Dead” in the early seventies and never quite recovered from it. And Araminta is correct. They are as terrifying as they are relentless. It is easy to see ourselves as zombies in this day and age. Mindless creatures with cell phones attached to the ears. Man, now I’m scaring myself!

  1. “Being in love with a zombie bites, but that won’t stop true love”: what do you think about true love?

Araminta: Ha. That’s a tough one. I’m not sure I believe in “true love.” I believe we love many people in our lives and that the truest love tends to be in the most surprising places—not typically romance, but friendship, family, or the tenderness of strangers helping those in need. Amber and Zach are definitely in love in the book, even though one of them has a disability (living impaired) and can’t clearly express it anymore. For me, though, the strongest love in the book is between best friends, Amber and Jasmine. They don’t see eye-to-eye, they’re fickle and they fight a lot, and Amber isn’t always supportive of Jasmine’s choices, but at the end of the day, they show up for each other without fail. That’s true love. That’s unconditional love.

Stan: I don’t really believe in soul mates and don’t believe there is that one special person out there for you. I am very much in love with my wife, but what if we had never met? Would we both be unhappy and sad we had never met our one true love? Probably not. But I consider myself lucky that fate and timing were on my side and we did meet.

  1. Let’s talk about main character: may you introduce us to Amber?

Araminta: Amber Vanderkamp is your average girl-next-door. She’s pretty. She’s popular, or used to be. She’s got her eye on college. She’s in drama club, and she’s dating an average guy that she loves. She’s the kind of person you know. She probably lives on your street and you’ve waved at each other a dozen times in the past month or so. She’s your average teenager. If I’m being honest, my version of Amber is based on my best friend, and Jasmine is much closer to my interpretation of my teen years. As a result, they were both very easy to write.

Stan: Amber was sort of based on the girls I dated in high school. They were intelligent young women with an eye on the future.

  1. This novel is horror based but full of humorous that make the whole book work very well: what do you think about mixing them?

Araminta: In my opinion, almost all horror is hilarious. The masks, the corn-syrup blood, and the faux suspense of horror films make it easy for many of us to laugh at the macabre. Some of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard came from Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects, and the Hammer generation of scary movies. My all-time favorite “silly” horror film has to be the 1980’s interpretation of Lovecraft’s Re-animator. Sheer brilliance. When it comes to “real” horror, though, I have a harder time. Anything that could “really happen,” like murders or torture of people, and I can’t find humor in it at all. I can’t typically bring myself to read or watch that kind of horror. So, bringing humor to horror helps us dispel it. When I was younger, my mother used to teach me to “laugh” when I was scared because it scared the demons away. I guess it stuck.

Stan: Humor appears in most of my works. I consider it one of my strengths so I use it when I can. One of the criticisms of my first collection of short stories (Forever Zombie) was that there was too much humor and not enough blood and guts. I actually took that as a compliment. Laughter is one of the most important things in our lives. If we can’t laugh at things (whether it be ourselves or a scary story), then what is left except sadness or ambivalence?

  1. Thank you for this interview, it will be published in Italy where I hope will soon be translated: what do you think about our country? Have you ever been here or will you come?

Araminta: I have never been to Italy, but one of my dearest friends (who shares a name quite intentionally with the protagonist of my novella, “The Warehouse,”), Amanda, lived there for years in our tween years and we exchanged letters like avid pen pals. I learned vicariously about Italy through her writing and I have always wanted to visit. It sounds like a beautiful, passionate place with the best food I could dream up. I can’t wait to go.

Stan: I would love to visit Italy someday. It is high on my bucket list. The history is amazing and to be standing on some of those historic grounds would be profound.

Review

Come vi comportereste se una grave epidemia zombie vi rompesse le uova nel paniere? Proprio quando avevate pianificato il futuro proprio per bene e il fato ci si è messo di mezzo? Ashley non ha dubbi, non è sufficiente che il proprio fidanzato sia morto e tornato in vita per distruggere tutto quello che ha costruito. Certo, ci sono delle difficoltà, ma niente che una ragazza armata di buona volontà non possa fare, con l’aiuto di qualche amico e di tanta pazienza.

E’ così che quando Zach ritorna Amber decide di diventare la sua custode e portare avanti la sua vita insieme a lui. Tante sono le difficoltà, a partire dai genitori che vorrebbero tutt’altro partito per la figlia ma anche gli amici che non capiscono come possa portare avanti un rapporto di questo tipo senza diventare lei stessa un “mostro” come il ragazzo.

Il libro ha tratti ironici mischiati sapientemente ad altri decisamente horror, pur non tralasciando che stiamo parlando di un YA e quindi rivolto ad un pubblico giovane che non ama scene troppo crude o violente (se non in libri classificati fin da subito come tali). Il libro, come spesso accade, può essere letto sotto diversi punti di vista: dal semplice divertimento per una storia originale e ben scritta, fino a porsi interrogativi più profondi come l’importanza dell’opinione altrui e come questa possa influenzarci, del significato dell’amore vero, di quanto siamo disposti a rinunciare pur di stare con chi amiamo, della discriminazione ingiustificata.

Temi importanti affrontati con la caparbietà di Amber, una ragazza deliziosa che ha visto il proprio mondo implodere in un attimo ma ha trovato il coraggio e la forza di prendere in mano la sua vita – con ironia e intraprendenza – senza farsi demoralizzare.

Un libro di intrattenimento ma anche una bella storia sulla crescita personale e sull’affermazione di sé. Consigliato!

ENG Version

What would you do if a serious zombies outbreak will broke the eggs in you basket? Just when you had a perfect planning  for you future and fate has put it in the trash can? Ashley has no doubts, it is not enough that your boyfriend is dead and returned to life to destroy everything she has built. Sure, there are some difficulties, but nothing that a girl armed with good intentions will not be able to face at, with the help of a few friends and a lot of patience.

So when Zach returns to non-life, Amber decides to become his guardian and carry on his life with him. There are many difficulties, from parents who would like everyone else but him for her daughter and friends who do not understand how she can carry on a relationship of this type without became herself a “monster” like the guy.

The book has drawn mixed cleverly ironic to downright horror, while not forgetting that we are talking about a YA and then aimed at a young audience who does not love scenes too crude or violent (if not in the books immediately classified as such). The book, as often happens, it can be read from several points of view: from the simple fun for an original and well-written story, to deeper questions such as the importance of the opinion of others and how it can affect us, the meaning of  true love, how much are we willing to give up to be with those we love, of unjustified discrimination.

Important issues addressed by the stubbornness of Amber, a lovely girl who has seen her world implode in a moment but found the courage and the strength to take control of her life – with humor and resourcefulness – without being demoralizing.

A book of entertainment but also a good story about personal growth and on the affirmation of self. Recommended!

Author

aramintaAraminta Star Matthews is an author, educator, and instructional designer in Central Maine. Born a ginger to a pair of geek parents (one, a lover of all things Stephen King, the other a tabletop gamer and Tolkein-fan), Araminta has always been a bit of an odd duck. Her books typically feature strong, young women who are brilliant, clever, funny, and weird.  Her books include Blind Hunger, Write of the Living Dead, Before Black Mask, Before Weird Tales, and The Warehouse. Her notable shorter works include “Bark of the Covenant,” in One Night Stands, “The All-Consuming Hunger of Love” in Dark Moon Digest, “Under My Skin” in Zombies Need Love, Too, and “Every Time a Bell Rings,” in Slices of Flesh.  She lives in Central Maine with her miraculous dogs, Devo the whippet and Crivens the Jack-Chi, and her partner, Abner Goodwin.

Find Araminta Star Matthews Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon 

stanStan Swanson is a Bram Stoker award finalist and author of eight books including Forever Zombie (a collection of short stories), Write of the Living Dead (a highly-praised writing guide written with Araminta Star Matthews and Rachel Lee) and Return of the Scream Queen (co-authored with Michael McCarty and Linnea Quigley). He is also editor/publisher for Dark Moon Books and Dark Moon Digest. Upcoming titles include Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (the first book in a young adult horror series co-written with Araminta Star Matthews), Dead Sparrows (a collection of apocalyptic poetry) and The Methlands (a horror novel co-written with award-winning author Joe McKinney).

Find Stan Swanson Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon 

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