Lee Murray Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse

Today I’m interviewing Lee Murray about her latest children’s book, Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, a clever book that breaks with tradition and presents a classic theme in a new light. These zombies are not like anything you’ve seen before. I loved this book and thought you may too, especially with Christmas coming up. Kids love video games – or reading about them!

Everyone loves a new computer game, especially Seb, who accidentally downloads a game that turns all the adults in Bridgetown into zombies. He and his friends must figure out how to save the world – after he deals with his screaming little sister!

Let’s see what Lee has to say about her book…

Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Congratulations on the release of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse! What’s the story about?

Twelve-year-old Seb downloads the latest Chaos game, along with its new subliminal feature. It’s awesome: hero Bastion Axestone storms though town, slaying the zombies. But after Seb downloads the game, all the adults in Bridgetown, maybe in the entire world, turn into zombies. Talk about a disaster! Now Seb and his best friends, Darren and Talia, have to work out how to reverse the effects of the game. Only, it’s not so easy to save the world, when you need to walk the dog and look after your baby sister Ava…

What Hogwarts house would your Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse characters Seb, Darren and Talia be in?  

Sebastion and he tells me he’s a Gryffindor, like his zombie-slaying hero Bastion Axestone. It’s true they’re both inclined to be courageous—or maybe reckless is a better word. Seb’s mate Darren likes to think he’s a Gryffindor too, but, in reality, Darren’s a tried and true Hufflepuff. He’s a good friend, though. Loyal. Patient. Darren’s always there to help Seb out of a pickle, including letting Seb copy his maths answers before Mrs Pike turns up to class. Talia is Seb’s secret crush. The prettiest girl in school, she’s a Ravenclaw: a stickler for rules and ultra-smart. 

Is Bridgetown a real place?

Bridgetown is definitely a real place, only I’m not sure where. It could be in the US, or maybe in Australia or New Zealand. I should google it sometime. I’ll know it when I see it. It has a Founder’s Park in the middle of town, a school, sport fields, and streets named Mannering and Hulme. The thing is, Bridgetown could be anywhere that people spend too much time on their devices and ignoring the things going on around them.

 At the end of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, readers are equipped with a REAL solution to the zombie problem. That concept could be worth millions of dollars, and yet you wrote it in a book. Why?

That’s the fantastic thing about speculative fiction; it allows us to test possible futures from a safe distance (where no one is actually being chased by teeth-gnashing ravenous zombies) and, sometimes, when we’re writing these stories we stumble across practical solutions to real problems. Of course, readers looking for clues to surviving the apocalypse, will have to pick up a copy of the book and find out for themselves.

Are any more books planned in this series?

Yes! I’m currently writing two more adventures involving Seb, Darren, and Talia called Dawn of the Mutant Invasion and Dawn of the AI Revolution. A Spanish language version of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse is also in progress and will be available from IFWG Publishing, Australia.

Lee Murray, author of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning author and editor. Her books for children include Battle of the Birds, Misplaced, and Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, among others. She lives in New Zealand’s sunny Bay of Plenty, where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock. https://www.leemurray.info/dawn-of-the-zombie-apocalypse

@leemurraywriter  https://www.leemurray.info/contact

GeyserCon Photo Tour!

GeyserCon 2019 in photos

GeyserCon, NZ’s 40th national SFF convention, came, and it went —  in a blur of sci-fi & fantasy discussion, events, education,  networking, crafting, hilarity and fun. I had a busy weekend. For me, there were many highlights, best shown in photos! Okay, the photos aren’t brilliant, but they’re all I have!

Kids’ Workshop – Super Heroes & Interactive Fiction

A.J. Ponder and I taught a large class of kids in the Young NZ Writers Big Day Out — jam-packed sessions on how to write superheroes and interactive fiction like Mystic Portal, Dragons’ Realm and Attack of the Giant Bugs!

It was lots of fun, with very cool kids who all shared enthusiasm for writing and reading.     

Artist Janet Keen judges the kids’ art contest.
A.J. Ponder with budding artists

NZ Youth Laureate Award Book Launch

Editor Lee Murray and judge Piper Mejia, both of Young New Zealand Writers, did a fabulous job coordinating the NZ Youth Laureate Award, reading the manuscripts and coaching the winning authors.

Representing Phantom Feather Press, A.J. Ponder and I  launched the NZ Youth Laureate books at GeyserCon with Young New Zealand Writers.

Winner:  Emma Uren, It’s A Small World.

Editor’s Choice: Xiaole Zhan, The Extinct.

Emma Uren and Xiaole Zhan
Emma & Family
Xialoe & Mum
Eileen, editor, Lee Murray, Emma, Xiaole & A.J. Ponder
Lee Murray with Guest of Honour Kaaron Warren (both award-winning dark fiction authors), who is awarding finalist Denika Mead her certificate.
Gorgeous covers! It’s a Small World by Australian artist David Schembri, and The Extinct, designed by A.J. Ponder.
Something Strange Happened in Rotorua – an anthology from Young New Zealand Writers included finalists from the NZ Youth Laureate Award
Readings from the youth anthology.

Click on a cover to order your copy!

6:30am in the Redwoods

Groan, not that early in the morning! Yes, it was worth it. Yes, we’re all bleary-eyed after little sleep the night before! The redwood forests in Rotorua were beautiful.

It was still dark outside… and cold. Brrr…
Yes, that’s geothermal steam in the background, not cloud! A sleeping dragon (taniwha) maybe?
Rotorua Redwoods are riddled with mountain-biking tracks

GeyserCon: Future of High Fantasy Panel

I had an interesting time moderating a panel discussion on the future of High Fantasy with fellow writers Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair, Mark Johnson and Dan Rabarts. This photo does not do the panel justice. Although the photographer only caught Mark Johnson laughing in this shot, we did have fun, and the audience did too. It was a stimulating discussion, first thing in the morning — a great start to the day.

Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair (thinking hard), Mark Johnson (laughing at David’s witty comment) and Dan Rabarts (listening)

GeyserCon: Marketing for Indie Authors

Yes, I did give a presentation and there is a photo somewhere on the internet on someone’s feed, but I don’t have it! Rumors said it was great though!

GeyserCon: Creating Fantasy Maps

Ava Fairhall teaches at Yoobee design school. I was lucky enough to meet her online in an international writers’ forum and find out she lived near me! Ava gave a fascinating presentation on creating fantasy maps. The huge coloured map on the left is Dragons’ Realm, the world of my Riders of Fire series.

GeyserCon: Masquerade

The fun kept going all weekend!

Make-up specialist AJ Josephs prepares a little dragon. He did an amazing session on cosplay make-up, where he made over half his face like Deadpool. Unfortunately, this is the only shot I got of him in action!

Ready to rock!  Watch out for the guy in the back! He’s trouble (Darian Smith is a great writer of epic fantasy).

Told you Darian Smith was trouble. Those dragon eyes kept sliding around! Creeeepy.
Fighting fit!
Dragon mid-flight
Who killed the dragon? Horror writer Paul Mannering, who came back to life as a zombie, when the dragon got him back 1 minute later!

Cosplay Guests of Honour

Lauara VanArendonk-Baugh & Alena VanArendonk, our international cosplay experts, entice Lee Murray into a costume. Well, a hat anyway.

Laura, Lee & Alena

You’d never believe that in real life Alena (right) has really long hair!

Craft Corner

Victoria Dreyer had a fun time with kids (young and old) in the craft corner (writers have multiple talents). No prizes for guessing which piece of dragon-themed jewellery I made!

World Con 2020 – ConZealand

There was lots of cool news about ConZealand, WorldCon 2020! You can get more info here and confirm the rumours that George R R Martin is toastmaster and that great authors like Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon will be here in NZ next year!

Sir Julius Vogel Awards

It wasn’t my turn for an award this year, however here is the talented line up.

The 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards list is here.

More fun

 

Mr Col Slaw, aka Col, became the vege of choice and the official mascot for GeyserCon, although he was shredded after the awards ceremony, leading to many tears.
Guest of honour Alan Baxter presents Denika Meade with a prize during the young adult workshop. I’m lucky to have Denika, an accomplished author in her own right, as one of my Riders of Fire teen beta readers. Please note, that as well as being an excellent dark fantasy author, Alan is a Kung Fu black belt and is known known as “the cabbage shredder”.

GeyserCon is over

I met new readers, networked with writers, fantasy fans and friends. We also swam in the geothermally-heated pool, chatted in the bar, and to top it all off, had a pizza party in my room!

But, one last question: when a dragon’s not eating tacos or pizzas, what does it eat?

Answer: Dragon fruit!

I look forward to ConZealand in 2020 and hope you join us for New Zealand’s first WorldCon!

Free Books – Load up your E-Reader for Christmas

Free books for Christmas

Do you love exploring?

Imagine all the worlds out there waiting for you…

Actually, you don’t have to do the hard work of imagining them yourself. Authors that have done that for you — by creating amazing worlds that you can explore. Imagine that!

WIN!

With 49 free books on offer and a chance to win a $25 gift card, you’re bound to find something you love to read over Christmas — military thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, dragon riders, paranormal, sword, sorcery & archery. There’s even a unicorn lurking on one of the covers in the background, and a zombie staring out of another.

Three New Zealand authors feature in this promotion, too.

So, if you like your kiwi military thrillers gritty and dark, check out Into The Darkness by Lee Murray. For humorous sword and sorcery, try The Secret Child by A.J. Ponder. Also check out Teyla Branton’s The Change, a paranormal urban fantasy with an intriguing cover. And plenty more!

You might even find one of my dragons lurking there! It could even be a bronze one who’s lost his rider…

Click here or click the image below to try your free books and WIN, because if you receive a gift card or not, it’s still a WIN with your e-reader full of books for the holiday break.

 

2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award – Best New Talent

Sir Julius Vogel Best New Talent 2017I was absolutely thrilled – and more than a little speechless – to receive a 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent at Lexicon, the New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy National convention. The full 2017 SJV awards list is here.

SJV Taupo Lexicon (1)With the deep blue backdrop of Lake Taupo, and snow-tipped ranges across the water, the setting for Lexicon was magical. Ninety teenage writers attended workshops on Friday and boggled us with their talent. A weekend full of interesting panels, discussions, impromptu meetups with writers and fun social activities kept me on my toes. Not to mention the last-minute accommodation booking I made without realizing my bed was situated above a nightclub. It was actually above a nightclub AND three bars, the only nightlife in Taupo!! Yes, I was dancing all night – even in my asleep.Sir Julus Vogel Award Eileen Mueller Grace Bridges

Even though I was on the shortlist, it was still a nerve-wracking process waiting through the ballot and having that envelope opened on stage in front of my eyes. Then there was that long moment: sitting, stunned, while people nudged me to get to my feet!

Sir Julius Vogel Award Lee Murray Eileen MuellerThank you to my wonderful readers for nominating me. And thank you to everyone who has supported my writing – by beta reading, believing in me, critiquing my work and brainstorming plot fixes. Thanks to my publishers, The Fairytale Factory and Phantom Feather Press, they’re great! I’d also like to thank the New Zealand speculative fiction community, Romance Writers New Zealand and Holly Lisle’s online writing community.

My critique groups deserve a proper mention. I’m lucky, I have two. Monkey Lab: Alicia Ponder, Charlotte Kieft, Michelle Child and Peter Friend; & Clarke’s Critters: Lee Murray, Simon Fogarty and Alicia Ponder. Everyone needs a tribe, so thanks for being mine. You’re all more than critique partners, you’re wonderful friends.

Sir Julius Vogel 2017 Winners
2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award Winners

SJV Awards Shortlist

Thank you – SJV shortlist

I am thrilled to be on the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Award shortlist in two categories.

Sir Julius Vogel Award
Sir Julius Vogel Award

Thank you to all my readers who nominated me for Best New Talent, and also to those who nominated my short story Call of the Sea, which was published last year in the At the Edge anthology, edited by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts.

The 2017 SJV awards are presented at Lexicon, New Zealand’s National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Taupo in early June.

The full 2017 Sir Julius Vogel shortlist is here.

It’s an honour to be on the shortlist alongside such great authors. I’m stoked.

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Dragons with Lee Murray

Interviewed by Lee Murray

 

Lee Murray Writer
Lee Murray

Talking dragons is one of my favourite past-times. Okay, and reading, writing and flying on dragons too… Whatever, dragons are cool. My middle-grade dragon fiction caught the attention of Lee Murray who has won five Sir Julius Vogel Awards and an Australasian Shadows Award for writing and editing.

 

On her blog Lee Murray.info, she interviews me about my dragons – yep, about the one that’s too short to fly, others that hide in the bathroom, your desk, and even in… Oh well, you’ll have to pop over and visit Lee and I to find out the rest!

Call of the Sea

At The Edge anthologyCall of the Sea – Living Through Loss

Thirteen years ago today, my son died. He was half of fraternal twins – the healthy half. His twin sister had been chronically ill for two years, and I had been housebound caring for her. Tough times for an extrovert.

After her recovery, we had a normal life for three months, out & about with the twins and their older brother. Having fun.

Then Tommy died, overnight of strep A.

Plunged into an abyss, I had to keep mothering, keep going for my kids. I’m so thankful I had them to wake up to. My husband and I clung to each other in an ocean of grief. Our family was our life raft. The community rallied around us, keeping us afloat. It was fourteen months before I laughed again. Two years before I felt anywhere near normal. Our family would never be the same again.

We now have four healthy kids and one somewhere ‘on the other side.’

My story, Call of the Sea, in the At the Edge anthology, explores how easily people lose their sense of identity when they lose a child. In order to survive, we need to be nurtured. Kendra, estranged from her cheating ex-husband, doesn’t get this support. As her life disintegrates, she journeys to the edge of insanity. Or is she sane? Maybe the rest of the world just can’t see what she does.

Tiny excerpts from Call of the Sea:

From the first scene…At the Edge_front cover

“Wind moans through the tunnel on the deserted playground. The ropes on the massive climbing frame jerk. Grey waves thrash the shore, flinging spray over the naked sand. The Pōhutukawa dance, the silver underskirts of their dark green leaves flashing, like shy debutantes ‒ as if to tempt an unsuspecting fool into loving them.
My hands itch for a brush and canvas.
Breathing deeply, I shove the swing harder than I need to.
“Higher, Mum,” Aihe calls, swinging her legs for momentum. But she doesn’t get far. The gale is against us.”

… and from the second scene…

“Is that Mr Lenton?” a woman’s gravelly voice asks. “Mr Terry Lenton?”
Mr? Definitely not work. “Speaking.”
“This is Inspector Turner of Wellington Central Police.”
Terry clears his throat. “Yes?”
“Sir, we have your children in custody.”
“What? My kids!” Terry’s pulse bounds, fork clanking onto his plate.
“Could you come down to the station right away, please?”
“What’s happened? Where’s Kendra?”
“We were hoping you could tell us.”


At the Edge
available from 1 June 2016 on Amazon

Step up, as close as you dare…

…to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights,
at the edge of town, where the cell phone coverage is decidedly dodgy,
at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks,
at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows,
at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring-side seat,
at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on…

From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 22 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes, tales told by the children of warriors and whalers, convicts and miners: people unafraid to strike out for new territories and find meaning in the expanses at the edge of the world.

Compiled by award-winning editing team Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, and including a story by Arthur C. Clarke finalist Phillip Mann and introduction by World Fantasy Award winner Angela Slatter, At the Edge is a dark and dystopic collection from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best speculative writers.

At the Edge will be launched next weekend at Au Contraire 2106, the National New Zealand Convention of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

At The Edge

Story accepted for At the Edge

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve had a story accepted for At The Edge, a dark speculative fiction anthology being released in the middle of 2016.

At The Edge anthologyMy story Call of the Sea explores some dark themes, indeed – abandonment, rejection, grief and insanity, but  be warned, I like happy endings.

There were a truckload of submissions. The award-winning editors, Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts, said they had enough quality stories to make two great collections, but are only making one at this stage. The anthology will be published by Paper Road Press and launched at Au Contraire, the NZ science fiction fantasy convention, in Wellington this June.

Here is the table of contents for At the Edge, alphabetically by author surname:

Joanne Anderton, “Street Furniture”At the Edge_front cover
Richard Barnes, “The Great and True Journey”
Carlington Black, “The Urge”
A.C. Buchanan, “And Still the Forests Grow though We are Gone”
Octavia Cade, “Responsibility”
Shell Child, “Narco”
Jodi Cleghorn , “The Leaves No Longer Fall”
Debbie Cowens, “Hood of Bone”
Tom Dullemond, “One Life, No Respawns”
A.J. Fitzwater, “Splintr”
Jan Goldie, “Little Thunder”
J.C. Hart, “Hope Lies North”
Martin Livings, “Boxing Day”
Phillip Mann, “The Architect”
Paul Mannering, “The Island at the End of the World”
Keira McKenzie, “In Sacrifice We Hope”
Eileen Mueller, “Call of the Sea”
Anthony Panegyres, “Crossing”
A.J. Ponder, “BlindSight”
David Stevens, “Crop Rotation”
David Versace, “Seven Excerpts from Season One”
Summer Wigmore, “Back when the River had No Name”
E.G. Wilson, “12-36”

The cover artist for At the Edge is Kapiti-based Emma Weakley. It should be a great volume. I’ll keep you posted.