On the Internet, no comedic writer, male or female, has achieved what L.C. Spoering has for herself in the short span of a year and a half. At 35 she’s bought a house, is holding a job as an admin for a medical practice, and has co-written and published a zombie apocalypse love story, After Life Lessons, a story of the human struggle for survival, overcoming grief, and learning to hope again. And yes, there are zombies, too.
Accomplishments are accomplishments. That nobody else has attempted this combination (probably) of life events should not be part of the discussion. While it is worth noting that Spoering is also a mother of two children whom she breastfed for years well beyond what is fashionable in America, and is married to Andrew Spoering a very nice man that actually cooks, I won’t do it, because it might dilute the significance of her fulfilling her lifelong dream of publishing a book.
I will say, however, that she has also published work on www.readbroad.com under her own name and that of Yom Ama, ( Steamer trunk dogs), and that has been wickly funny each time I’ve been able to persuade her to write for me.
broad caught up again with Spoering one halcyon day when the sky was blue, summer birds spilled their songs into the soft, warm air, and trolling the internet with the windows closed was the only thing we could think to do.
We interviewed her and here’s what we asked her:
broad: You’re a writer, wife and mother, and a new home owner who has co-written a zombie romance novel that is being rather well-received on goodreads. The obvious first question is: If you were a zombie, what would you go for first, brains or heart?
Spoering: The thought of being a zombie is actually high on my list of nightmares, just outside waking up one day a Republican. I can’t say that I’ve put a lot of thought into my organ harvesting, but I’m going to say brain, if just because you can crack a head easier than a chest. Now I sound like a serial killer. I think I’m okay with that.
broad: I know I need to ask you all about yourself, but this issue of broad is dedicated to happiness. What is the secret to happiness in a zombie apocalypse world?
Spoering: I would think it would be finding the only intact Trader Joe’s warehouse full of 2 Buck Chuck. In the case of our characters in After Life Lessons, the secret is likely security and the notion that you’re not alone in the world. Also, coffee, as we made patently obvious in the last few chapters.
broad: Talk about your writing process with co-writer Laila Blake (who lives in Cologne, Germany). How did you meet her? What experience have you, or she, had with the walking dead? Is she dead? Are there people in your life that are dead and still walking around? This book is pretty good, you can’t tell me that you two actually made all of this up.
Spoering: We met on an online forum after a ridiculous internet-style debate about breastfeeding. It turned out we had a lot in common (silly music crushes, a tendency towards watching television shows over and over, an addiction to stupid click computer games) and we started writing together. As I said, I’m terrified of zombies. I have managed to sit through Zombieland, but Shaun of the Dead was too scary for me. Neither of us really care for zombies, although Laila has managed to watch The Walking Dead since long after our first draft was completed. I still refuse. As far as I’m aware, Laila is alive. Now, zombies are dead, so I assume their Skype abilities, (we wrote together using Skype) are subpar. But, then, maybe that was the plot twist of Dawn of the Dead and I’m missing out.
broad: When was After Life published? How long did it take to write? Please tell us how you’re reaching people with your book. Basically, how are you marketing it?
Spoering: After Life Lessons was released in April of 2014 through our micro-publishing house Lilt Literary. It took us roughly four months to complete the first draft, another couple to complete the second. And then another couple for the third and forth. All told, it was about a year and a half from start to publish. We launched a blog tour in February, and have reached out to many of our book reviewer friends over the internet. We’ve done a lot of guest posts and interviews, and made up games on Facebook. We both tweet a lot. I’ve lost 15 followers in the last month! I’m pretty sure that’s a record without tweeting a racial slur.
broad: I must confess I don’t read a lot of zombie novels, like I’ve read zero, so I’m not sure if zombie romance is some brand-new genre, or if this bloody, corpse-strewn path with heart is well-traveled. Is zombie romance a thing? Also, if you don’t mind answering this, will novel two have any kind of Fifty Shades flar? As you know, that is my most favorite romance.
Spoering: My zombie knowledge could fit in a thimble and have room left for a shot of vodka. I know post-apoc is a popular setting for stories, but most focus on the fight against zombies and less on the lives of the people. Given that both Laila and I have a soft spot for character-driven stories, the zombies are just there for the drama. Obviously, as Fifty Shades second biggest fan (I defer only to you), we plan to have many references to Emily’s (the main character in After Life) “inner goddess” and at least one Red Room of Pain. Also, we will name a goat Christian Grey. (Spoering’s review of Fifty Shades of Grey here http://www.nicomgmt.com/sites/broad/fifty-shades-a-great-book-if-you-look-past-the-writing/)
broad: This is first book you’ve written and published?
Spoering: This is my first book. Laila’s first book, By the Light of the Moon, was originally released last year, and Lilt Literary just re-released it with new chapters; her second book, an erotica novella, Driftwood Deeds, came out earlier this year with the sequel to be released this summer, with The Hottest State publishing imprint. My erotica has appeared in anthologies from LadyLit Publishing, and Cleis and Seal Presses. My next book, a YA/magical realism novel, At the Edge of the World, will be released late this summer with Lilt Literary.
broad: I’ve enjoyed a lot of time with After Life Lessons in the bathtub, on break from work, before going to bed at night, and I must say that I’m impressed with all the emotions described in this book. I guess that says something about what I typically read, a lot of autobiographies by comedians, and, lately, a book on habits. In that type of literature, emotional references are few, unless they are being made fun of or analyzed. So I was impressed at emotional depth in this book. Tell me of your writing past. What made you want to be a writer? What made you want to be a romance, erotica, humor writer? What writers, besides the ones at broad, influenced you?
Spoering: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I was never much good at anything else, so writing it was! I’ve tried my hand at most genres, but found my first real success in erotica, as it goes. My real passion, though, is in upscale/literary fiction where people sit around and talk a lot. I read a lot of fiction, and so my influences are a little on the muddled side. I love Jeffery Eugenides, and some of Michael Chabon’s stuff (but not all of it), and specific books by other people– White Oleander, Hideous Kinky, The Descendants, to name a few.
broad: What is your crappy day job like? What do you do? If you don’t mind, compare somebody you work with to a zombie. What kind of zombie, would, for example, your boss be? One with a rotting head, or a rotting foot? Even if everybody’s really nice where you work, I think this is a good exercise for you as you have another book to write on this subject.
Spoering: I’m an administrative assistant of sorts to a doctors’ practice. That means I type up notes, pretty much, and talk to a lot of doctors and nurses. I’m not a medical person at all, so it’s a little like being in a class where you’ve done none of the studying or homework. I fake it well, though. I like my personal bosses (I really do!), but administrative staff, as with anywhere, is already pretty much zombies. Do zombies eat money? I bet there are some that do.
broad: How did you and your partner split up writing tasks. Was it chapter by chapter, or did you pick a character and write mostly him/her?
Spoering: We write together, in real time using Google Drive. It is amazing that way, where we can be in the document at the same time and trade off. It’s a bit like having an alternate personality that takes over the keyboard from time to time.
broad: Is Song (character in After Life Lessons), a little like your son, Milo?
Spoering: Yes and no. I actually based more of Song on Kate, my now-10 year old. Milo would be a lot more willing to follow directions. Kate would want to be the one fighting zombies (and, in fact, as an entire plan of action designed with her friends for the inevitable zombie apocalypse).
broad: You said you have nightmares about zombies. You also said zombies were just for the drama. I’m still wondering, why zombies? Burning houses, drug addiction, suicide, crime, those are packed with drama. Why the living dead?
Spoering: I like exploring the totally unknown. There’s no real way for zombies to exist, so the notion is completely whatever you make of it. It’s fun to let the brain really just scare the crap out of you rather than try to be factual in any real way.
For more Spoering projects see: http://www.liltliterary.com/
Michelle LeJeune is the editor and publisher of www.readbroad.com. While her busy life often makes her feel like she’s moving like a zombie, she is not a zombie.