Monday, April 8, 2013

Evil Dead News Exclusive - Plague Nation Book Review/Interview with author Dana Fredsti, sword fighting Deadite

I recently had the pleasure of reading Dana Fredsti's new book Plague Nation. It is the sequel to Plague Town, which Evil Dead News reviewed last year. Plague Nation is the second of a trilogy that delivers more of the same action and zombie goodness that its predecessor had, but with even more drama and countless pop culture references. Fans of the first book will enjoy this sequel and will be left wanting more of Ashley Parker's story.

Before I go any further, here is the synopsis from the book's official website:

Sequel to the thrilling zombie novel PLAGUE TOWN. Ashley Parker was a ordinary woman who was also a “wild card,” immune to the emerging zombie plague, drawn unwillingly into a shadowy paramilitary organization. Having stopped the wave of the undead that swarmed their facility, the wild cards are forced to travel to a secret laboratory in San Francisco. En route some are killed, while others are kidnapped by an unknown enemy. But the worst is yet to come, as the plague begins to manifest in key locations worldwide. And the truth begins to emerge about the paramilitary society, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús.

Plague Nation returns us to Ashley Parker's world of combating the walking dead. As if being a part of a secret, zombie-killing paramilitary team weren't enough, Ashley and her team, having survived a zombie onslaught on a small California town, must now deal with an outbreak in the city of San Francisco. There is plenty of gore and zombie mayhem in Plague Nation, but this sequel also further develops Ashley's relationship with team member Gabriel. It also contains a romance between two other "wild-card" team members, showcasing Fredsti's ability to interweave multiple storylines and flesh out secondary characters. On top of that, the novel contains conspiracy, tragedies and an impressive cliffhanger, but I will not spoil the fun for you. If you are a zombie lover, you can read this book as a stand-alone and won't be disappointed. However, I recommend reading the first book, Plague Town, as well. This book series, as I said in my review of the first book, could easily be developed into a TV series or even a movie.

Look for Plague Nation: An Ashley Parker Novel on April 9th, 2013, in the United States ( and April 26th, 2013, in the UK (

 Titan Books | Titan Books - Twitter

Plague Nation's author, Dana Fredsti is not only a novelist and screenwriter, but is an ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting. She has worked on various films, including Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness as an armourer's assistant, sword-fighting captain, and sword-fighting Deadite. She also starred in the movies Princess Warrior (1989) and Bloodbath (1999).

Keep on reading for our exclusive interview with Dana Fredsti:

In our last interview, we asked you about the B-movie Princess Warrior (1989). Can you tell us a bit about working on the 1999 movie Bloodbath, wherein you played Maggie Donovan?

I could tell you about it, but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously. No, really.

Sigh. Okay, fine.

I wrote the script for Bloodbath as a present for Dan Speaker (friend and swordmaster for the Academy of Theatrical Combat) for his first directing gig for Vista Street (the same company that made the craptastic Princess Warrior). We talked about a storyline and came up with "What if Elizabeth Bathory were alive and well and making movies in Hollywood?" The executive producer added his notes to the script, which had something to do with a B story where one of the characters is obsessed with vitamins and the hero should be a werewolf who has a magic sword 'cause the magic sword is the only thing that kills vampires. No, I am not kidding. And when the executive producer tells you to add vitamins, heroic werewolves, and magic swords to the script, you do it. So I did. And did I mention you're really mean to make me talk about this?

At any rate, I wrote a (very) tongue-in-cheek script, including the deliberately cliched over the top tough (and kinda stupid) cop Maggie, not knowing I'd end up playing her in the movie. Dialogue was rewritten by actors on the spot, about a quarter to a third of the script didn't get filmed due to a six day shooting schedule, and the production values were on par with the original Dark Shadows series.

It was a blast. Joe Pilato played the role of police captain, the actors were enthusiastic about the script, and we drank a hell of a lot of wine while filming. No cherry juice for us, oh no. We had bottles of Vampyre Merlot on set. It was goofy, silly, and there's an outtake of me as Maggie after being rescued from the very tame orgy scene by the werewolf (played by Dan), and we're filming this at, oh, 1am, and doing take after take, and I just went off in a sing-song version of my lines without even being aware I was doing it. My only real regret is the quarter to a third of the script that didn't get filmed.

And now I really will have to kill you.

There seems to be no end to zombie fiction, TV shows or movies. Why do you think that is?

Because it's about time that vampires and werewolves make room for their rotting cousins so those of us who really like zombies can stock up on books, shows and movies and enjoy ourselves. Sure, there's a certain amount of crap out there written/made by people who want to cash in on the popularity of the genre (if zombie related books/shows/movies didn't make money, you can be sure there'd have been an end to it by now), but there's a lot of really good stuff created by talented people who really love the genre. And those of us who love the genre will keep reading/watching as long as quality (or just fun) material is being generated.

The next Ashley Parker novel is called Plague World. Can you reveal a little of what is next for Ashley? Can we anticipate a Spring 2014 release for the third book?

Yes, you can anticipate a Spring 2014 release of Plague World (or my ass is grass), and as the title hints rather broadly, the plague has gone global. I have been enjoying researching various places worldwide to infect via "interludes" in the book. As for what's next for Ashley, let's just stay it will be increasingly difficult for her to know who to trust after the events of Plague Nation, and she's going to have to up her game even more. Hard to say anything else without spoilers… or giving away the fact I'm still writing Plague World… and while my editor makes me write an outline first, I'm still MUCH more of a pantser than a plotter.

Dana as a sword-fighting Deadite in Army of Darkness

Any thoughts on the upcoming Evil Dead remake? Have you seen any of the trailers?

I have seen the trailers and they look fun! I'm trying to go into it without any expectations as far as comparing it to the original(s) because a substantial amount of time has passed since the first movie (we don't need to specify how substantial, right? RIGHT?!), and I'd like to enjoy it without any preconceived prejudices based on the original. The trailers look like fun and I can't wait to see it.

There has recently been talk of doing a direct sequel to Army of Darkness. If they were to shoot Army of Darkness 2 here in the States, would you consider being a sword-fighting Deadite once again, if the script called for it?

Absolutely, although I'd have to go on a juice only diet to get back to Deadite-weight. I went a diet of strawberries/bananas and not much else for two weeks before filming to lose enough weight originally and that was… er… several years ago. But I would never turn down a chance to sword fight if I had the opportunity. And if not, if working on the original was meant to be a once in a lifetime experience, I have no complaints. :-)

For more info on Dana visit:
Dana Fredsti - Twitter

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