Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Author Interview: Sophie Littlefield

On Monday I reviewed Afterlife by Sophie Littlefield and loved it – check out my review here! I was so intrigued by the story I wanted to quiz the author and by a combination of stalking and flattery I was able to corner Sophie down and interrogate her...
 First tell us a little about yourself...
I've been writing for close to two decades and I've written in nearly every genre - I can't seem to stick to just one!  I've been a waitress, a computer professional, a copy writer, a homemaker, and now a professional writer. Waitressing burned the most calories, computers was the one I was least competent at, writing copy changed the way I look at the relationship between writers and readers, and raising children was the most humbling and rewarding thing I've ever done. And every day that I get to be a writer is a good day. I've been published for less than two years, so consider that against 20 years of trying, and that'll give you an idea of how often I've been rejected. 
How would you describe Aftertime?
Aftertime is the story of a broken woman who restores herself through sheer determination, impossible hope, and the love of her child. It's also the story of the end of our world as we know it, and its reemergence as a stark place beset with, among other things, zombies. It's also a romance of sorts.

 What kind of research did you do for the book?
Because my fictional apocalypse involves bioterrorism, I learned about real and hypothetical bioterrorist tools and techniques online. I brainstormed with my brother and my editor to come up with geopolitical conflict scenarios.  I've also done a fair amount of research into the plants that grow in California, where my book is set. This latter subject was a joy for me, as I've always loved gardening and don't have time to do much anymore.

Zombies are very popular at the moment for books, TV and films – what do you think draws us to them?

I've read dozens of reasons why people like zombies, and they are astonishingly varied. The current favorite seems to be that in a time of economic upheaval, when the news from many corners of the world is bad, we are drawn to explicit good/evil dichotomies, and by removing all ambiguity from a villain (zombies are dead! they have no feelings! they want to eat you!) we have a perfectly evil character to root against.
Other intriguing ideas range from the idea that zombies explore racial tensions to zombies as loss-of-innocence allegories to corporeal mortification as the path to the sublime. To all of which I say "hmmmmmm"....

The Walking Dead

I don't personally think that any of the above makes a lot of sense. If you watch THE WALKING DEAD, I think you might agree that a zombie story is a perfect story setup for exploring *character* (of the non-zombies, that is). You have an essentially static evil, and everyone else's character arc is set against that. When you have a paranormal creature with its *own* character arc (vampires, werecreatures, etc.) then the non-paranormal characters' story impact is diluted.  Which is of course not wrong, just a different type of story.

I loved the different reactions of people in Aftertime – how do you think you would react in the ‘zombie apocalypse’?
Isn't that a fascinating question? :)  The reason I gave my main character a child - specifically, a child in danger - in AFTERTIME was that I wanted to arm her as strenuously as I could, and there is no fiercer combatant than a parent whose child is threatened.  I'm a mom, and if anyone threatened my kids - be it a school bully or an online predator or a zombie - I would fight back with a passion that could level entire cities.
Now, if my kids were safe and accounted for, I'd probably just retreat to the nearest WalMart ladies' restroom with a huge shopping cart full of Diet Coke and kettle potato chips, and a stack of tabloid magazines, and hope the problem took care of itself.

 What would you stock pile for the end of days?
Oops!  I think I just answered that. Well, here in California we are taught to be prepared for natural disasters so I know about the importance of lots of drinking water and good shoes and spare eyeglasses. Beyond that, I've just started backpacking, and have discovered the amazing world of freeze-dried food. I just survived 48 hours on a few foil packets of grayish powder that weighted about three ounces, in fact. It was...oddly not awful. So I think I might start there.

Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
Ahhhhh....the Smiling Woman of 1979. I had just barely gotten my driver's license, and I and a friend had gone to the double feature at the drive-in. On the way back, driving pitch-dark Missouri backroads, we saw this....woman, wearing a diaphanous white hooded robe, shimmering and FLOATING two feet above the ground on the side of the road and grinning eerily.  My friend and I screamed and I drove faster.  I swear it's true, and for corroboration, you could ask Mary Anderson, who went on to become a criminal defense attorney, which is neither here nor there, except it somehow makes my story seem more credible.

 What have you got coming up next?
Next up is the third in my Stella Hardesty mystery series, A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL (June, St. Martins Minotaur). And then in July will be the sequel to AFTERTIME, titled REBIRTH. I can't wait to see what you think of it! The third and final book in the series is titled HORIZON and will be out in February 2012.

Finally  a 30 second, quick question quiz...
Favourite Book you’ve read?
I can't possible answer that!! How about my favorite book I read last month? That would be LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave.

Favourite Book you’ve written?
Ugh, next you'll be asking me which of my children I love most!  I'm going to cop out and say it's always the one I wrote before the one I'm working on (because it's part of my process to despise every word of my current project and be convinced it's drivel and all my best work is behind me and I'll never write again.).

Favourite food?
Kettle potato chips!
Favourite film?
"Love Actually" daughter and I watch it every year to kick off the holidays.

Favourite music?
I love all sorts of things, depending on my mood and the character I'm writing, but in the end I would say country (of the Chris Knight/Steve Earle/Emmylou variety)

Favourite authors?
my dad, my brother, and my friends

Any pets?
A beagle named Bridget

Favourite saying/quote?
"The only way out is through"

Sophie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
Aftertime is out in stores now. 


  1. Great interview! Ms. Littlefield is a new to me author - and I am a total zombie geek - so Aftertime has been added to my must have list. :)

    Have a great day!


  2. Ha! If a criminal defense attorney can back up your supernatural experience, I totally believe it.

    Fabulous interview. The bit about leveling a city if your child was in danger vs hiding in the bathroom if they were safe would totally be me too. LOL!

    And I watch Love Actually ever year too!

    Melissa, Loved your review for Aftertime, so I was so delight and enchanted by this interview. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I can read about zombies, but watch them, no way. I tried to watch The walking dead, but got nightmares every time, one time even 2 ;)

  4. @Michelle - it's definitely worth reading! :)

    @Missie - *Blushing* thanks so much! :)

    @Blodeuedd - compared to other supernatural creatures zombies are definitely gory!

  5. Love this interview!

    Oh I think I'd just sit and cry if there were zombies abound. I'm only brave when I read it.

    I'm curious about the lady in white. I guess I wouldn't be good to have around. If I knew she wasn't a strange person just dressed that way I might stop to say "hello!". :D

  6. Great interview!

    I have to say I'm not a zombie person. And I didn't add this book to my list at first for that reason. But the more I heard about the book the more curious I got. So I now have the book on my want list. ;) Thank you!

  7. Hey everyone, thanks again to Mel for having me here, and to the rest of you guys for the friendly reception!