I'll cop to it! Cora's story Little Deaths was the very first story I read for consideration from the pile for Hungry for Love. I remember thinking, Oh baby, if the rest are like this...I am in for a treat. It really worked for me--her torrid little tale.
Now let's peek into her pretty head and see what she has to say about it, shall we?
The idea for setting Little Deaths in Houston, TX came from a trip to a writing conference several years ago. Instead of flying, my husband and I drove the distance, and this was before we had a portable GPS we could swap between our cars. In fact, this was the trip that convinced us we needed to buy a GPS...so we would never, ever get lost like that again.
The drive took six hours, and all we had with us were printed directions to the hotel. We had downloaded them from the internet, so as you can probably guess, they were half-assed directions at best.
We had no trouble actually getting to Houston. However, we came into the greater metro area at rush hour on Friday afternoon. The traffic was insane. Picture multiple lanes of bumper to bumper traffic at a stand still. We ended up trapped on an overpass, in a center lane, with no way on or off the interstate. To make the experience even more memorable, we had an ambulance howling behind us. We couldn't go anywhere. I jokingly told hubby, if this was the start of the zombie apocalypse, we were totally screwed.
At the time, he wasn't feeling my sense of humor. We'd been sitting in traffic for about thirty minutes, and the directions we'd downloaded from the internet didn't take into account the post-Hurricane Rita road closures and detours.
It had been a couple of years since the hurricanes (Katrina, and then Rita), and you could tell there was still a recovery effort going on. The road signs along the interstate were a beat up mess. Some signs were torn in half, others were either covered up with plastic sheeting or were missing entirely. So, basically, we were in a strange city, driving blindly to a hotel we had never been to before.It was a nerve-wracking situation.
Our first goal was to simply get off the interstate before we ended up out of our target area and on the other side of Houston. When hubby finally managed to get to an exit ramp, we ended up in probably the worst possible neighborhood. Again, many of the street signs were missing so we didn't know exactly where we were, and by that time, it was getting dark. After driving around in circles for another thirty minutes, we decided to call the conference cooridintor to ask for clear directions to the hotel.
It's not something you often think about when traveling only a state or two away from home, but there is a definite state-to-state difference in the way people communicate directions. Call it a local flavor. The woman helping us on the phone told us we needed to get on the "feeder road" to reach the hotel. We had no idea what a feeder road was or how to find it, because in Louisiana, we call them service roads. Even so, she somehow managed to explain it, and steer us in the right direction to get us to our destination.
In Little Deaths, when Rachel is trying to make it home to find out if her husband has survived the explosion that kicked off the infectious outbreak, I tried to keep that fearful, nervous energy consistent for her character. I pulled a lot of her internal conflicts from my own experience of being lost in Houston during that trip. You'll also "see" the interstate and feeder road mentioned in the story.
A final thought. Not knowing what you have to do to get yourself to a safe place is terrifying in any situation. It's even more terrifying when you're not familiar with the customs in that area, or in Rachel's case, when the rules of society are suddenly and completely stripped away.Everything she once took for granted as familiar about the local customs, about the area itself, and even about human behavior, turns chaotic and becomes potentially life-threatening within a matter of hours. Now, add the well-being of a loved one to the equation and consider how traumatic it would be to go through something like that while flesh-eating monsters are tearing people apart on the streets.
I believe that sense of being lost within your own back yard in a time of crisis adds to the fear factor when it comes to zombie fiction, and that's one of the finer nuances I was trying to capture in Little Deaths. I hope you enjoy my story.
Cora Zane lives in an area of northern Louisiana known as "out in the sticks," which she swears is as good a place as any to wait for the start of the zombie apocalypse. She drinks a lot of tea, and writes sexy fiction every chance she gets. Her publishers include Cobblestone Press, Ellora's Cave, Wild Child Publishing, and Cleis Press. You can find her online at www.corazane.com.
Cora's latest release: Chasing Moonlight. Available now from Cobblestone Press.