Book Chat: Sick by Tom Leveen

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Book Chat is a special feature here in the blog that features and highlights authors and their books through an interview.

Are you familiar with these films namely; Resident Evil, Dawn of The Dead, Shaun of The Dead, and Zombieland? Or maybe you’re such a big nerd of these books namely; World War Z by Max Brooks, Feed by Mira Grant, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion? Notice how they sound similar? Of course, they all shout Zombies!

If you are a huge buff of zombies, today, I have brought you a very special treat that will surely zombify your inner being! Tom Leveen, author of an upcoming zombie book titled Sick is here on the blog to answer some questions regarding his new book, plus, get a glimpse on what he is working next! Read on you zombie freaks!

RELEASE DATE. October 31, 2013
PUBLISHER. Amulet Books
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SYNOPSIS. Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead as a group of unlikely allies tries to survive a deadly outbreak. 

Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving. 

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lock-down, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Tom Leveen has 22 years of theater experience as an actor and director. He was the Artistic Director and a co-founder of two companies: Chyro Arts Venue, an all-ages nonprofit visual and performing venue; and Is What It Is Theater, a community theater that operated for 13 seasons. Tom lives with is wife and son in the Phoenix area. PARTY was his first novel, followed by ZERO (a 2013 YALSA Best Book) and MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRL, all with Random House. SICK, a YA Horror is his fourth book.

First things first, what gave you the inspiration for the novel?
Except for the whole monsters thing, the story is more or less true in terms of a typical day for me in high school. My friends and I got into a conversation a while back about what would happen if a zombie apocalypse happened while we were there, and we all agreed the drama department would be the easiest building to defend. That was really it—the rest wrote itself! The main difference is that I wrote from an outsider’s point of view instead of a drama student, because I also wanted to investigate that Lord-of-the-flies aspect, the us-versus-them that happens in schools everywhere.

In fact, it’s really the chief thing I hope readers take away. Sick isn't (supposed to be) a hack-n-slash gore-fest, or the literary equivalent of a B-grade horror movie. It’s about real people with real prejudices and fears, and how those things change and alter under extreme circumstances to reveal who we all really are. The blood and guts are fun too, don’t get me wrong . . . but I hope everyone also enjoys the character arcs and growth that happens.

The characters began as loosely based on my friends, but there’s not much of them left by the time you get to a final, published book. Still—they’re in there. It’s always fun to listen to them debate which one of them is which character in my books!

The question we all want to know is how would you choose to survive a Zombie Apocalypse?
I've discussed this with friends too. We had a lengthy, in-depth discussion once about “zombie migration patterns,” and concluded the wilderness would be our best bet simply because of the numbers: there just won’t be as many zombies out in the desert or forest like there will be in a metropolitan area. So I think we’d head out to the desert or mountains.

My wife gives me a hard time about this sometimes, but I think it’s essential that everyone be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. A lot has been made of this since the novel World War Z (which is awesome by the way; I met Max Brooks at a ComiCon once, great guy). But for real: If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for every possible natural disaster. I’m not one of those people who literally thinks, “The Zombies Are Coming!” But if they did, we’d have plan, that’s all I’m sayin'.

What would be your song choice to accompany a zombie beat down?
Ooo . . . that’s a great question. I think maybe The Wait by Metallica (I think that’s a cover). Or Postmortem by Slayer. And then to round things out, maybe some Mozart; like the overture to Le Nozze di Figaro.

If a movie got green lit tomorrow and you had ultimate power who would be your dream cast?
All brand-new, unknown actors! No previous experience with Nick or Disney, let’s get some new blood up there. (No pun intended.) Except maybe the cast of The Way Way Back. That would be a great cast to start with. Maybe Allison Janney could play Brian’s mom, Anna Sophia Robb could play Kenzie . . .

What’s next on your writing agenda?
That’s always a tricky question, because there’s what’s actually hitting shelves, and there’s what I’m working on. There’s usually a one-to-two-year delay between the two! Next coming out is a contemporary (realistic) YA called Random, about a girl who’s being charged in the suicide death of a former friend of hers, and the night before entering a plea, a random guy calls and says he’s going to kill himself unless she can talk him out of it. That comes out Summer 2014. Right now I’m working on a big handful of various novels—supernatural, realistic, middle grade . . . all across the board. One is about what might happen if the world literally went to hell. I’m still working out the mythology for that one.

What are some of your favorite books we should all be reading?
I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately . . . highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver on that front. For the supernatural fans out there, you have to read Lisa McMann’s Cryer’s Cross. Loved that. The old YA Horror novels by John Bellairs are still among my favorite (like The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt), as is the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. One of my all-time favorites is the audiobook version of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.


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