Friday, August 10, 2012

ROMP with Nancy Holzner: Dating a Zombie for Dummies

Dating a Zombie for Dummies 
by Tina
So, you're probably thinking that my dating life went over a cliff after I got zombified. And that's just not true. I wouldn't say it went over a cliff at all. I'd say it went over Niagara Falls. Without a barrel.

Okay, I can't really blame the boys. I mean, before I died and got reanimated, my own idea of zombies was totally based on old Romero movies and Shaun of the Dead, all rotting and moaning and hungry for brains. (Come to think of it, there was this guy who sat in the back of my Algebra class who kinda reminded me of those zombies—and that was even before the plague hit.) Not exactly anyone's first choice for a prom date, right?

Three years ago, back before the plague, I did okay in the dating department—or as okay as you can do when you're 15 and your fascist parents won't let you ride in a car with a boy or stay out past 10. There was this one boy, Joey Tommasino, that I had a wicked crush on, and I think he liked me, too. In fact, I think he was going to ask me to the first school dance of that year, so I talked my BFF Jenna into ditching school and going into Boston to shop for dresses.

Which is how we ended up smack in the middle of the stupid plague zone. Wrong place, wrong time, or what?

So after I died, my life totally changed. At first, all the norms were worried they'd catch the virus, so we couldn't even leave Deadtown for, like, forever. Later, we could leave but only if some human got a permit to take us out. It felt great to go back out into the big wide world, until I started to notice the stares. And the pointing. And the name-calling. Okay, so maybe it was time to give up my dream of being on the cover of Teen Vogue. But being treated like a freak-show escapee got old, fast.

What about zombie boys, you ask? Most were in school when the plague hit, but there are a few in Deadtown. The nicest one is Brandon, but Jenna is crushing on him big time—he's like, all she ever talks about—and I'm not the type to play in my best friend's sandbox, if you know what I mean.

Things changed for the better, though, when I finally got my shot at fame. Monster Paul, who'd been a popular singer before he became a zombie, wanted to put together an all-zombie band. So I tried out to be a backup singer and I GOT THE JOB!!! All of a sudden, I was being interviewed on TV and appearing in magazines. I started getting fan mail, including emails from guys who thought I was hot and wanted to take me out on dates. A lot of them were creeps or dorks or creepy dorks, but—and this is the amazing thing—some weren't.

So my dating life has been looking up. Even though the band broke up after a couple members got eaten by demonic crows at our one-and-only concert (bummer, right?), I'm still in touch with some definite non-loser guys. Of course, it takes some skill to pick out the non-losers from all the jerks and morons out there. So if you're thinking of asking a zombie on a date, pay attention to my list of do's and don'ts. When you know what to expect, you have a much better chance of surviving your date.

Tina's Tips for Dating a Zombie

Leave the weapons at home. You are not Woody Harrelson, and this is not Zombieland. If I see a gun on you, I'll tie the barrel in a knot and return it to you in a location that'll require a doctor to remove it.

Don't stare. If your mother didn't teach you that staring is totally rude, what are you even doing out in public?

Don't start a date by asking if you can feel my skin. Who does that? (Answer: You'd be surprised.)Yes, the texture is different from yours. No, it's not ice cold. And maybe—just maybe—if I like you I'll let you cop a feel. (*Sigh* That used to mean something sooo different back in the day. And I never quite got there with Joey Tommasino.) But if I even suspect that you're taking me out just so you can run back to your friends and be all like, "Dudes! I touched a zombie!" I'll be happy to count the number of somersaults you make when I throw you head-over-ass down the road.

Don't take pictures unless I say it's okay. I'm not some animal in the zoo, you know. Unless you want to eat your camera phone, ask first. Common courtesy, folks.

Don't assume I'm JUST a zombie. I mean, when being a zombie is who you are, it's not really all that fascinating. I don't walk around all the time going, "I'm a zombie, I'm a zombie." I've got a life—or an undeath or a life after life or whatever you want to call it. The point is, I have interests. I like music and gaming and fashion. And even though I quit my apprenticeship, I'm totally into demon-slaying—all the different kinds of demons and the cool weapons you use to fight them.

Bring food. Seriously. Like, a couple of grocery bags full. Zombies eat—it's what we do. Even if you're taking me out for dinner, I'll need snacks on the way there, while we're waiting for the appetizers to arrive, and on the way home. Junk food is best. Zombies can eat whatever we want and not gain a pound. It may be the only thing that doesn't suck about being reanimated.

Flirt with me. Hey, I'm not going to bite your head off. (Unless you forgot to bring the junk food—just kidding.)

Try to avoid bleeding. Yeah, I know, this one's a little tricky. But, see, a side effect of the plague is this little thing called blood lust—and I'm not talking about the good kind of lust. When zombies get a whiff of fresh human blood, we feel a need to feed. We can't help it. Even a teensy little paper cut could result in me trying to gnaw your arm off. So don't plan activities where you could injured, like ziplining or rollerblading or whatever. And it never hurts to bring an extra bag of junk food. Most of us prefer Twinkies to living human flesh, anyway.

See? Dating a zombie isn't all that different from dating a norm. Just relax, be courteous (we like doors opened for us, too!), don't try to kill us, don't bleed, and don't be a dork. How could it get any simpler?

by Nancy Holzner
Book #4 in the Deadtown series
Genre: Urban fantasy 
Publisher: Ace

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border—but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself.

DARKLANDS, the fourth novel in Nancy Holzner's Deadtown series, is now available. For information on Nancy and her books, visit her website. You can also find Nancy on Facebook and Twitter. And visit her Kickstarter page to find out about her plans for a Deadtown prequel!


Calling a spirit is tricky business. To do it right, you need a ritual dagger, along with candles, incense, salt, and an altar loaded up with all kinds of magical paraphernalia. Except for the kitchen salt shaker, I didn’t have any of that. What I had was my intention.

I stood in the center of the living room, having pushed its few pieces of furniture against the walls. I took a couple of minutes to get centered, breathing deeply and going inside myself. Breathe in . . . breathe out. Breathe in . . . breathe out. No thinking, no guilt, just a steady focus on each breath. When the world seemed to pulse in time with my heartbeat, I opened my eyes. I pointed at the cabin floor and moved in a slow, clockwise circle. I concentrated on my intention: protection. I projected my will from my brain, my heart, down my arm and through my pointing finger, creating a sphere of protection around me. Nothing could enter the circle unless I allowed it.

Let it be so.

Then, I called the Night Hag. I pulled up everything I knew about her legend. I remembered the terror I’d felt as a child—lying in bed, sure she was coming for me, pulling my pillow over my head to block out the sound of galloping hooves. I could see the pages of a book of Welsh folktales, one from Mab’s library, where I’d read her story. I felt the uncanny shiver that had tingled through me when, walking alone at night in a dark Welsh lane, I’d felt something pass by. My pulse pounded like those galloping hooves. My whole body trembled with the desire to run, to flee, to stay out of range of the hag and her pack of hellhounds. But I stood my ground.

And I called her to me.

“Mallt-y-Nos!” My voice rang out with a confidence I didn’t feel, pushing past the cabin’s walls. “Matilda of the Night! Lady of the hunt! Mistress of Hounds! Night Hag, who drives lost souls to the Darklands! I, Victory Vaughn, do invoke thee!”

The words echoed back to me, then faded. My intention cut through the silence, as I held the image of Mallt-y-Nos in my mind. A silhouette on horseback, shadowy against the moon, long hair flying behind her as she rode. She reined in her horse and cocked her head, listening. I called out again: “Mallt-y-Nos, come to me!”

In my imagination, the hag wheeled her horse around. She whistled to her hellhounds. Shrieking a bloodcurdling hunting cry, she raced toward me.

“Come!” I shouted, shrieking too, raising the volume to blot out the horrible sound of the hag’s approach. “I command thee!”

Hounds bayed and howled in the distance. The sound grew closer. The ground shook as thundering hooves pounded closer, closer. I clamped my hands over my ears and kept shouting. I wasn’t saying anything now; I was just making noise. Anything to fight the terror of her approach.

An explosion jolted the cabin as the wall collapsed. I staggered back a step, almost falling, covering my face with both arms. A tingle in my shoulder told me I’d bumped into my protective magical barrier, and I jerked forward. I had to stay inside the sphere.

I dropped my arms to see what I’d called

I stared into the fiery, red eyes of a massive steed. Flames shot from its nostrils, but they broke to the left and right before they reached me. Hounds leapt forward, jaws snapping, but they couldn’t reach me. My protection held.

“Quiet!” shouted a woman’s voice. The hounds fell back, milling around the cabin. The wall they’d burst through remained intact. The half-dozen hounds that crowded the place didn’t look like any dogs I’d ever seen. Each was the size of a small horse. Their eyes glowed red and orange, lit by inner fire. Saliva dripped from their fangs; it sizzled when it hit the floor.

The horse turned sideways, and Mallt-y-Nos came into view. I blinked. This was the Night Hag? The woman astride the horse was young and beautiful, with blue-green eyes and golden blonde hair that flowed, shining, to her waist. She looked nothing like the nightmare hag that had terrorized my childhood imagination. “Why have you summoned me?” she demanded, regarding me imperiously from her demonic steed.

Before I could answer, her face changed. Wrinkles formed around her eyes, on her forehead, between her nose and mouth. Her blonde hair faded to gray, then bleached white. Her skin went from creamy to blotchy red to jaundiced. I gaped, unable to look away, as the beautiful young woman sagged and faded into an ancient crone. Finally, the hair thinned to a few wiry strands. The skin shriveled and peeled away, baring the skull beneath. Flames consumed the eyes, leaving only a red glow.

I looked into the face of death.

The cycle began again. In the course of a few minutes, Mallt-y-Nos flowed from youth to middle age to decrepitude and death. And back again. And then again. I stared, fascinated, almost forgetting the terror of her presence.

In her death’s-head form, she pointed a skeletal finger at me. “Why did you call me?” she asked again, her voice impatient. Youthful flesh covered her skull. Her cheeks turned pink; her eyes sparkled. Thick, shining hair cascaded down her back. “Do not suppose, mortal, that you can command me. I came because I was curious. Mortals run from me; they do not request my presence.”

That I could believe. Even in her youthful form, she was terrifying.

“I called you to ask you a favor.”


Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts with her nose stuck in a book. This meant that she tended to walk into things, wore glasses before she was out of elementary school, and forced her parents to institute a “no reading at the dinner table” rule. It was probably inevitable that she majored in English in college and then, because there were still a lot of books she wanted to read, continued her studies long enough to earn a master’s degree and a PhD.

She began her career as a medievalist, then jumped off the tenure track to try some other things. Besides teaching English and philosophy, she’s worked as a technical writer, freelance editor and instructional designer, college admissions counselor, and corporate trainer. As Nancy Conner, she writes how-to and reference books on topics ranging from classical mythology to using Office 2010.

Nancy lives in upstate New York with her husband Steve, where they both work from home without getting on each other’s nerves. She enjoys visiting local wineries and listening obsessively to opera. There are still a lot of books she wants to read.

This giveaway is sponsored by Bewitching Book Tours.
They will contact the winner.


  1. Great post! I really need to find out more about these zombies from Deadtown! Sounds like a fresh take on the undead... Or I guess it would be infected in this case?

  2. Thanks, J.J.! I have a lot of fun writing Deadtown's zombies. And every time I do a blog tour, Tina seems to shove me aside and take over for at least one post. :)

  3. Didn't read any of them yet. Thank you for the giveaway :)

    1. I hope you'l get a chance! Good luck in the giveaway.

  4. I LOVE Tina! She cracks me up! "Cop a feel", indeed.

  5. LOL Rebe. She cracks me up, too. I'm never quite sure what she's going to say.

  6. I am going to have to recommend these books to my sister, she loves Zombies.

  7. Thanks, June, I hope she'll enjoy them. My zombies are a little different from the norm, as Tina demonstrates. Many readers have told me they're a fun change from the moaning, shambling kind. :)

  8. Nice book! It's always nice finding books that discard the normal idea of things!

    1. Thanks, Arely! Lots of readers find my zombies fun--I hope you'll check out the books!

  9. What a fun post! I loved Deadtown and really need to finish catching up on this series.

  10. I haven't gotten into zombies yet I may have to check it out.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.