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This month, just in time for Valentine's Day, we're meeting Loïc Nguyen, author of zombie-filled horror romance Dead to You.
It was a summer of love at Little Brook, but not for Jack. His boyfriend Michael had just disappeared at the stroke of midnight. However, any attempt to find Michael was cut short. Indeed, a zombie plague had just struck their town. Now Jack and his friends have to find a way out of this hell on earth. This is a story where noble ghouls and malicious angels tread. A land of dreams and nightmares that come true. A fairy tale during the apocalypse.
Meet the author and read a sample below:
Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
I started to write about six years ago at the start of high school. At first, it was only poems for catharsis as I felt very pent-up and adults just were not here to listen. I first was introduced to poems in elementary school for French class and I got into it quickly.
Why horror specifically? Is it something you write often, or is this your first venture into the genre?
I progressively found out that poems did not have the format I desired to express a bigger story. I moved to horror stories because I have always been a fan of these types of stories thanks to Goosebumps and Simpson Treehouse of Horror. I almost put a grotesque, paranormal, or a creepy aspect to my stories. I think that horror can be so many things at once, camp, frightening, activist… Horror is also a way to escape from the horror of real life. It is my way of dealing with this, by being friends will al the fictional ghouls, boogeymen, and creatures of the dark, I give myself some control over fear.
What are your goals for your writing?
My goal is to portray my world in a contemporary setting with an organized storyline. I’ve watched and read so many zombie stories, I would like to create one with my own rules and threats
What inspired the book?
I was inspired by the Walking Dead, particularly the Telltale Games, which made me shed a tear at the end. Talking about video games, Far Cry 5 pushed me to associate a zombie apocalypse with religion and cults. Zombie video games as a whole have inspired me, such as Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising, especially the concept of people going insane during the apocalypse. Also, I read a Street named Desire in High School, and some of the main characters were based on the play. Finally, there is a fairy tale influence, but the principal one is the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which again reinforces the Christian/Catholic aspect of my story.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why? Tell me a little about them.
My favorite character is Michael because he could be said to be my inner child. Consequently, he is very childish, but at the same time, he is cunning and more observant than he appears.
How do you balance horror and romance within the story? Are there any challenges to working with two very different genres?
Honestly, I wrote the story and came to the conclusion that it was a horror romance. So, we could say that it was natural to me and the only challenge was to make sure that the transitions between tones were flowing well. I saw some videos about cinema and movies, and it actually helped me how to slither between a love scene to a horror one. This is why I choose to have a Gothic Horror kind of story, as love and monsters are often married together in these worlds. So yeah, the main challenge is to know how to have an oily roller coaster, and not a ride that suddenly goes from horror to romance without any preparations.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the readers?
I hope you will give a chance to my story, it’s quite frankly the first one that I am really into. Take care!
She screeched. Owen shivered. His hands shook. The muscles of his legs became rigid, so he was unable to move, unable to help Lisa. Her face contorted into a foreign shape. The skin of her cheeks looked like they were about to rip themselves open. It was impossible. Lisa was a soldier. She was meant to be strong. She could not get hurt. Again, Owen felt that his friend was taken away. Blood spurted from the large vein in her wrist and covered her in its sticky wash.
Owen gaped at his left and gripped his skateboard. He staggered his way to the left. Out of breath, he stood up. With a shrill roar, Owen brought down the top edge of the skateboard onto the sick man’s head with a loud thump. The skull was smashed. It was smashed again, again and again, until a loud crack was heard, like a gunshot. Grayish-brown tissue swelled through the fractures.
Owen tore a swatch of cloth from the bottom of his t-shirt, coiled it around her wrist, and cinched tightly to control the blood from the wound. Then, he wrapped his arms around Lisa and headed to his car.
“Don’t worry, you’re gonna be alright,” said Owen.
“Owen…” Lisa shivered. “I-I have something to tell you,” she slurred. “I… I…” Her eyes closed and she passed out.
Owen’s hand tremored as he tried to unlock the car. The keys jingled between his fingers. Owen snatched the door open and placed her in the passenger seat. When Owen got in the driver seat, his heart thumped against his chest like a drum. Owen scanned the car panel. It was Lisa’s car, she was supposed to drive it. The last time he drove a car, it was through a computer screen. His thoughts spun around in a ring-a-ring o’roses. Then, they all fell down. A primal scream erupted from Owen. Droplet spits landed on the steering wheel.
“Imagine what Lisa would do. Come on Owen, you can do it.”
Owen exhaled and started the engine. As he grabbed the gear stick, he peered at Lisa. Her complexion was pale. Black veins began to snake on all sides of the bite. Then, Owen stepped on the gas. His vision of the road was fast-paced. Trees, buildings, and figures passed like bats out of hell. Owen stared only at the road. They were in town, not far from the hospital. “Think like Lisa, think like Lisa,” Owen chanted.
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