Hiya snappers! I am happy to announce a new series called The Tattler's Studio. Once a week starting this week, we will be picking a blogger who hops at the Tattler Thursday Blog and Social Media Hop, to be featured on the following week's Tattler Thursday Hop Post. Then once a month, one of the featured bloggers will be chosen at random to be featured on The Tattler's Studio. How do you qualify to be chosen as a featured blogger of the week? You comment on one of the three hostesses blog pages with a funny, gross, or crazy kid story. Everyone with a confirmed comment will be eligible!
Our first featured Hopper is Alexandra Harris who blogs over at The Undead Journals. She participated in this weeks Tattler Thursday Blog Hop! She is an amazingly talented writer at only 21! I hope you enjoy the inaugural edition of The Tattler's Studio!
What inspired you to write about zombies?
I’m a very fearful person. I’m afraid of germs, afraid of eating food other people prepare, afraid of all sort of things like that. I’m afraid of getting sick. So when I would watch scary movies, movies about zombies and illness, it really scared me. Those were my greatest horror topics. So, I guess that’s part of what inspired me to start writing about zombies. I like to scare people, I love to tell scary stories and get a rise out of people, so when I recognized something that really scared me, I felt like I was really able to connect with people who would, like me, be scared of that kind of thing. So I guess the reason that this genre is the one I landed on was because I felt like I could efficiently scare people like myself.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I do. I can tell my writing apart from other people’s writing. I try to write in the same way I remember things, if that makes sense. There’s a constant narrative in my head of everything I experience, so I try to imagine that what I’m writing is my own experience and I try to write it in that way, so hopefully it feels a little more real or natural to read it.
How did you come up with the title? Well, the Undead part is pretty self-explanatory… The Journals bit was because the main character is supposed to be a researcher. My original idea was to have it actually be a weekly publication like a scientific journal. That didn’t happen, so it turned into more of like a personal journal or diary type of thing. The web address, studyingtheendofthworld was because TheUndeadJournals was taken by some spambot account. I was going to try to watch TheUndeadJournals til it opened up, but now that I’ve got some traffic with my current spot I think I’ll probably keep it.
Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?
Pay attention to the people and places around you. Everything can change in the course of a day, nothing lasts forever so you have to hold on to the things you love. And pay attention to the people around you. Cherish everything, because it’ll never the same as how it is today.
How much of the story is realistic?
A lot of the emotions and life events line up with my own. If you retrace my life and hold it up against the relationships Dahlia has, you’ll see some mirrored events. I try to make as much of the science in the story as realistic as possible—I read a biology book, and I hate biology! I also read up on things like bdelloids, different animals and theories and I try to use as much popular culture science as I can (yes, there is pop culture science!)
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yeah, I try to put myself in Dahlia’s shoes. I try to see her world through her eyes. So I guess that what happens in her head is what’s happening in my head under a different context.
What books have most influenced your life most? To be perfectly honest, if you have read few enough books to pinpoint which ones have changed your life, in my opinion you haven’t read enough books. Every book you read, every good book you read, is going to have an effect in your life. I’ve learned empathy, the ability to see life through the eyes of others, I’ve seen the world and so much the beauty and horror that exist or could exist within it.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Oh, gosh, again, how to choose? Ellen Hopkins, I think. She addressed a lot of things that I was curious about, afraid of, in beautifully poetic, very honest and open way. She addressed a lot of topics that teachers and parents were misleading about with honesty. She showed the power of drugs, not just their destructive power, but also their beauty, their appeal. Her writing shows the ability to know and trust teenagers as if they were actually adults and able to make their own decisions about life and I strive to be able to connect with my readers, to write with that kind of poetic realism.
What book are you reading now?
Currently I’m reading The Android’s Dream. It’s about a sheep. It’s a little bit slow, but it’s started getting interesting. It’s picking up speed. I rented it from the library because the first paragraph was about farting. Don’t judge me.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
What, like contemporary writers? Yes, I love Scott Westerfeld, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Hopkins, Neal Shusterman… A few others, whose names I can’t recall at the moment.
What are your current projects?
The Undead Journals, a mini book called The Corridor, a story about a boy who kills his family and tricks the world into trusting him. I’m also working on a lot of art projects. I like steampunk art, and I like horror art (big surprise, right?) And I think I may have just started a story about a young fashion designer with my cousin. I also work full time and have a lot of ongoing projects there at any given time. I’m also in school right now, so that’s a bit project, too. I like to stay busy.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I consider all my friends as family in that respect. Everyone I’ve trusted has been very supportive. I’ve got some loyal fans who I’ve never met in person, but I think that the person who helped me out the most so far, outside my family, would be Sarah Taylor. She dedicated a section of her own website to the blogs, and got the first few chapters in chronological order. That was really awesome, and it helped me get a few more people hooked who weren’t very blogger savvy. So shout out to Sarah, if I haven’t mentioned it today, you ROCK! Do you see writing as a career? I have a lot of careers right now. I’m an artist, a graphic designer, a writer, then a manager. I love all my jobs so much, I’m so lucky to have found a lifestyle that supports all my facets of personality! But yes, I do consider writing part of my career. I also consider it part of my personality, part of my therapy. It’s an integral part of my life. I can’t live without it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest story?
I made a vow when I started the journals that I wouldn’t edit after I posted. I wanted it to be raw, real, as if a real person really was writing her diary. I like that aspect of the blogs. I’ve had a lot of complaints about it, and if this were a book, I would understand. You don’t want to pay a lot of money for a book with a bunch of mistakes. But you’re not paying for this, I’m offering it out for free. So, I get to do my own project in my own style. Human beings make mistakes. As far as stories go? No, I didn’t really have control of how Dahlia’s world fabricated itself in the first place. I just record what happens there.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a wee thing. I was going through old mementos in the attic a few years ago and came across “the cat that climbed the hill” which was a very horrible story, written on notebook paper, bound in construction paper, glue, paperclips, and yarn, about a cat who climbed a hill. Complete with illustration. There was also the illustrated series I created for my young sisters, Amber and Sarah, called the flying spaghetti monster. I don’t remember why I started telling stories, it’s just always been part of who I am.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure, if you want to visit The Undead Journals
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes certain stories are difficult to tell. I have a lot of trouble letting go of characters, just like I have a lot of trouble letting go of real people. Sometimes I think the hardest part about writing is stopping for a break, for a breath. I get really involved in these stories, and sometimes it gets hard to remember to differentiate reality and fiction. Like my stories or don’t, but for me they’re very real.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Again, I don’t really have a favorite. I think the stories that most challenged my emotional and mental view of the world came from Orson Scott Card in the Ender series. I know, with the current controversy around that name, that It’s pretty dangerous to mention him as an influence, but regardless of the author’s personal views, the stories themselves had a massive influence on the way I look at history, war, and the ‘grand scheme’. I read those books many years ago, before I knew anything about Card or his religion or moral views. The man is gifted, although possibly a bit misled.
Do you have to travel much concerning your story?
No, the scenes are all places I’ve been, viewed through an apocalyptic lens.
Did you learn anything from writing your story and what was it?
I’ve learned about a lot of scientific things. Like I’ve said before, I would definitely NOT suggest reading the journals to study for your upcoming biology test, but I have tried my best to only use accurate information. My grasp of the subject of biology is sadly limited, but I try to use legitimate sources for anything I do include.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read! You can’t see what the pros are doing differently from what you’re doing if you’re not studying them. Enjoy your reading, enjoy your writing, and do it at your leisure. Find what inspires you and indulge. Like Ernest Hemmingway said, “Write drunk, revise sober.” Whatever gets your engines running, you need to indulge in that and record everything.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love you all so much! I love logging on and seeing that little line chart get all zig-zaggy with activity throughout the week! Also, I’m sorry I don’t update regularly. I’m trying, I really am. Again, thank you, you have no idea how much it means to me that you read my work and I love everyone who comments, good or bad responses, I love to hear from you all! And if you ever want to talk to me, I’m a pretty chill person. Just send me a message, or comment or what have you. I would love to meet every single one of you!
Hope you enjoyed our first Hopper of the week, my oldest daughter, Miss Alexandra Mallory! Go visit her at The Undead Journals .