Interview: Catherine Cheek

Tell us a bit about your story, "She’s Taking Her Tits to the Grave." What’s it about?

A trophy wife comes back from the dead and searches for the man who raised her.

What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

The idea for this story actually came from the theme of the World Fantasy Con for 2007 which was “ghosts and revenants.”  I didn’t know what a revenant was, so I wikied it and found that it was a person who came back from the dead and caused great trouble for the living.  It’s that last part that intrigued me. What kind of trouble could they cause? 

Tell us about the protagonist of the story.

Melanie is a woman whose face and body has been her entire career. She’s so vain and in such strong denial about losing her looks that she doesn’t accept her own mortality until she’s actually rotting.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

I had a hard time with the ending. I had to reveal who had raised her, and what his response to her would be, and I wrote two different men with two different responses.  Neither one worked, so I had to scrap them and come up with a third option.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

My body is getting older every day, and I suspect that it will one day actually stop working.  In fact, everyone I know is getting older, even children.  Life is a fatal epidemic.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I had to pore over maps of Los Angeles to find out the path that Melanie walked from where she left her car.  I didn’t have to do any additional research to find out about how the human body decomposes, because I’m morbid and read books on forensics for fun.

What is the appeal of zombie fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about zombies? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?

One of the reasons people like zombie stories (the traditional sort where the protagonists are hacking apart bodies in a mall, for example) is because it allows the hero to kill and maim viciously without losing the moral high ground. After all, it’s not murder if they’re just zombies.

What are some of your favorite examples of zombie fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Shaun of the Dead.  Hands down favorite.  I can’t handle dark unless it’s funny.

Any new work of ours just out or forthcoming you’d like to mention, or anything else you’d like to add?

Umm…I’ve got a (zombie-free) novel I’m trying to find a publisher for.