A little peek behind the curtains for Zombie Tetherball

I assume you're here because you enjoyed Zombie Tetherball.

Or you're related to me.

Either way, I will try to ignore the uncomfortable vanity part of this and give you some behind-the-scenes info on Zombie Tetherball. Just gonna assume this might be interesting to you... mom.

  • Zombie Tetherball was started as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month: nanowrimo.org) 2014. I got about half of the book done then, then I kept writing and revising for months afterwards. All-in-all it took about ten months start to finish.
  • Several of the characters had different names when I first started writing. Then, early in the process, I decided I would "cast" the characters as if this were a movie to help me get a solid visual. Like, what actors and actresses embody these characters I see in my head?  So, Liz (who was originally called Sarah) was cast as Elisabeth Shue -- she was the right forty-something actress that was both vulnerable and had a hint of a bad-ass side. I kept calling the character Liz so much in my head, that eventually she just became Liz. Keiko is Keiko Agena from Gilmore Girls. Justin is Justin Long. Matt is based on I guy I knew in high school--not his real name though and I won't out him mostly 'cause he doesn't know about this! Alan is my secret.
  • Many of the locations are from my real town, I just twisted their geography or details to suit me: Real old elementary school with stupid gym carpet, real abandoned tree farm, real giant radio tower (though I think mine is actually a weather tower), real books strewn across a cornfield.
  • My internet search was FBI-worthy while I was writing: How to make molotov cocktails, how to destroy a steel tower, what do dead bodies look like, what happens in skin-grafting, and a bunch of stuff I didn't use but pulled me into some loco searches.
  • My writing buddy, Robb, who agreed to jump in and do his own crazy project for NaNoWriMo and be my support system, also worked on his book that month and he came up with Leech, a very meditative, emotion-filled look at vampires.
  • The title. For most of the time I was writing it, the title of my word document was just "Bad Zombie Book." I did this to acknowledge all the advice I'd read about just getting out the bad draft. "Write the bad book!" they'd say. So, while I was filled with writer anxiety about 'how dare I think I have the skills to write a book,' I'd just say 'well, I'm just going to write the bad zombie book, then we'll see.' Then eventually after I'd written the scene where two characters actually play tetherball and are talking about how in tetherball you never really have a winner, you're fighting against the wrong things, it seemed to fit some of my ideas about fighting with people instead of zombies or fighting zombies instead of who's making zombies. Plus, it seemed to fit the school theme. Part of me kept thinking I would change the title into something better eventually, but then it stuck. Kinda like the names.
  • I wrote Alan in some ways to vent frustration with people in my life or the world that are so infuriating - selfish, misogynistic jerks. But then I tried to really think about what would make someone like that, what are the viewpoints that might make his feelings reasonable? It was an exercise in empathy for me. Plus, I grew to love Alan. He was the most fun to write -- it was like, let's just say all of the horrible things that would piss me off in real life and let's go with it.
  • So, don't know if any of this was interesting to you, but there you go. If you have questions about anything in particular, let me know in the comments. I'll answer! And hey, if anyone knows Elisabeth Shue and thinks she might be looking for a zombie movie... she can have right of first refusal on the movie rights!