"This book and author are now among my favorites! Wow! I might be a little partial to this story because I love morbid comedy, urban fantasy, and a good mystery. I'm also a big fan of original ideas, since they're so rare anymore.
Jesse is a Necronite, though people still use the z word (zombie). She dies for a living... literally. She's a death replacement agent. Psychics (another dirty word) find people who are near death, via remote viewing, and Jesse gets paid to take their place. As a Necronite, she reanimates after a few hours, heals after a few days, collects a paycheck, and does it all over again. The world isn't quite ready for this heap of awesome, particularly the Church, who have started petitioning for Necronites to be decapitated after death so they can't come back. After a client tries to off her during a death replacement and her handler goes missing, Jesse soon finds herself in the middle of an investigation. With trust issues off the chart and danger around every bend, her only option is to do a little digging of her own.
This is a spectacular introduction to a series I'm definitely going to be following all the way through. Jesse is a riot, and yet very complex and lovable. All of the characters are really great, and though it's on the back burner, the love triangle was a refreshing twist too, since Jesse is bisexual. Both of the love interests are exciting and sincere, and it makes it so much harder to decide who to cheer for. I'm so torn, but I can't wait to see how it all unfolds."
I had a lot of questions for Kory after I read her debut...
Q: Dying for a Living is a really original take on zombies. How did you come up with the idea? And what kind of research did you do to evolve the idea?
KS: I actually did not set out to write a zombie story—and many would argue that Jesse isn’t a zombie story at all. I wanted a heroine who discovered and came to term with her powers, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like exactly. I read a craft book about how choosing your protagonist’s occupation is really important and that is when I realized what I was missing. So I started to approach it from the position of what is the most interesting job ever and it sort of evolved from there. And the research evolved naturally. As I tried to solve the questions/complications of Jesse’s occupation and world, I sought to answer those questions.
Q: Love triangles are pretty common in urban fantasy these days, but it's much rarer to find a bisexual love triangle. What inspired this part of the story?
KS: Apart from my own sexuality, bisexuality is a good fit for Jesse’s personality. Sexuality is a part of a person’s personality and I try to match sexuality and personality for my characters in a realistic way.
Q: Jesse lives in Tennessee, but you're in Michigan. Have you ever lived in Tennessee? Did you have to do anything special to research setting?
KS: I was born in the Midwest—my father’s family is from Granite City, IL near St. Louis—but I was raised in the South, Tennessee in particular—where my mother’s family is from. I also went to college in Clarksville, and drove into Nashville often to visit family, friends, or visit the good bars. So most of what I describe in the book is from personal experience.
Q: If you died and woke up to discover you were a Necronite, would you sign up as a death replacement agent? Or would you hide your ability to be safe?
KS: I would sign up for as a death replacement agent. I am not good at “playing it safe” and I would love the challenge that death replacing poses. But I am also a bit of a rule-breaker, so I would probably have a hard time following all the rules and would likely do a few things that would get me into trouble later.
Q: How long did it take you to write Dying for a Living? And how long did it take to write the second installment, and when can we expect to see it?
KS: I banged out the first draft in about 5-6 months. And then I spent a year revising on and off before I got an agent. But several other revisions happened over the span of four years. It took me about 10 months to write the sequel, which should be out September 2014.
Q: If Dying for a Living made it to the big screen, who would you love to see play your characters and why?
KS: I’ve answered this one in other interviews, and often my ideas change, but here is a good list:
Jesse: Emma Stone
Ally: Jennifer Lawrence
Lane: Liam Hemsworth
Gabriel: Ian Somerhalder
Herwin: Tom Hollander
Rachel: Jena Malone
Brinkley: Mark Ruffalo
Garrison: Woody Harrelson
Caldwell: Tom Cruise
Kyra: Emmy Rossum
Kirk: Morgan Freeman
If you haven't read DYING FOR A LIVING yet, you're missing out. But fret not! Here's your chance to win an autographed copy!
5 Things About Kory:
1) She once spent the night in the trunk of a car
2) She has a BB pellet lodged in her arm
3) She has a black belt in Uechi-Ryu
4) She rescued an epileptic pug
5) She can read fortunes
Learn more about her and her work at: www.korymshrum.com
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