In Mary’s world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
First, thanks so much for stopping by!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got the idea for The Forest of Hands and Teeth?
I know it sounds random, but I think the idea came from a few things. First, I’d been fascinated with zombie/ post-apocalypse books/movies/graphic novels ever since my fiance, JP, talked me into going to the opening night of the Dawn of the Dead remake when we were in law school. Second, I’d been writing a chick lit YA but needed to start a new project for National Novel Writing Month and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write. Third, JP and I had been talking about the world of a short story he was working on set in a town at the edge of a forest full of zombies and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
One day I was complaining about not knowing what to work on for NaNo when JP said “Write what you love” and I said “Haha, the zombie apocalypse” and he just smiled. A few days later I was walking home from work mulling over an article on the overfishing of tuna and thinking about how strange it would be if one day tuna became a really rare delicacy and our kids or grandkids were shocked that we had cans of it just lying around in our pantries. This got me thinking about memory and history and wondering just how much we could forget when the first line of a story popped into my head. Afraid of forgetting it, I emailed it to myself and when I got home I just kept writing. Two weeks later I’d written a third of the rough draft! It really felt as though it all came out of nowhere even though when I look back on it the seeds of the idea must have been simmering for a while!
How long did you spend writing/revising your novel before sending it out into the world of agents?
I know the exact moment I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth because I still have the email where I sent myself the first line! So I started it on November 2, 2006 and finished the first draft some time in April. Then I spent that spring and summer revising — I revised that book A LOT. Not only rewriting sections, but going over it again and again (and making my CP’s and fiance go over it again and against as well!) I think for me I really thought this was the best book I could write at the time and I wanted to give it the best chance I could. Eventually, my CP, Diana Peterfreund (of the killer unicorn fame) got tired of me fretting over minor edits and forced my hand, making me query agents in August.
I read recently on your blog that you’ve decided to write full-time (congrats!), but I’d love to hear how you juggled your full-time job and writing before you made that switch.
I’ve always heard that the busier you are the more you get done and to a certain extent I think that’s true with me! I was so busy with both the law job and writing that I never had time to sit down and talk myself into some good old fashioned procrastination (it’s a sad day when you procrastinate procrastinating!). But it was tough to juggle both — I gave up most TV shows, I gave up cooking, going to the gym, gardening, cleaning the house (some of those things really weren’t hard to give up!). I’m lucky that JP is also a lawyer and a writer so he understood when I wanted to stay in on a Saturday rather than do something fun or when I would spend date nights talking about plot points.
I remember the first morning I was a full time writer and going to Publishers Weekly and my first thought was, “I have to get to work” and then I realized that catching up on industry news WAS work — it was a great feeling!
I bet it was!
What has your favorite part of this whole process been so far?
Wow, good question and hard to decide — there have been so many parts of the process that have been awesome! I still think one of the best moments was the day that I sold when JP came and picked me up from work. I was holding the deal memo in my hand and he was going to take me to our favorite restaurant to celebrate and we just stared at each other filled to the absolute brim with excitement before we both started laughing and screaming and jumping up and down.
I love reading about authors’ CALL stories. Can you share yours with us?
I totally love reading call stories and it still feels weird to have my own! I got the call on a Monday morning but I was convinced it wasn’t a call about the sale. My agent had been planning to send my book out on submissions on that Monday but then Friday afternoon before he called to tell me that he was going to send out sneak peeks to a few editors who’d expressed interest to give them the chance to get started reading it over the weekend. So when he called on Monday morning, I assumed he was just going to go over the rest of the submissions because his tone was so casual.
But then he said the words I love to hear: “So I have some news,” and then he told me that he’d gotten a pre-empt offer from Delacorte! I just remember sitting at my desk, staring out the window and not knowing what to say! It was a crazy wonderful day and we accepted the offer just before I left work to celebrate that evening!
That’s such a great story!
Since you’re writing about zombies, I bet you did lots of fun research. What’s your favorite zombie movie?
I think I’m sentimental and have to say that my favorite is the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It’s the first one I saw, it’s the one that STILL scares me and can make me jump even though I’ve seen it multiple times, and it’s the one that really made me start to think about post-apocalypse survival. But JP and I really do love to watch zombie movies — I’ve totally loved the recent resurgence of them! And yes, there are some truly awful movies out there, but those are some of the most fun!
I also love the Dawn of the Dead remake. Definitely scary.
Can you share your favorite line from your book?
“My mother used to tell me about the ocean.”
There are a lot of lines that I love but I still think my favorite is that first line because it’s what started it all. This book literally appeared out of thin air — I wasn’t planning on writing it at all and then the first line popped into my head and that was that!
That’s a fantastic opening line.
And finally, what is your favorite YA novel that you’ve read lately?
I’m re-reading my friend Saundra Mitchell’s debut, Shadowed Summer, because I got to read the ARC last spring and want to remember the beautiful language.
That’s another one I’m looking forward to reading.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Carrie! Congrats on your debut, and I can’t wait to see it on the shelves.