Book Trailer Premiere: Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!
I met Jorge Lacera at the NCTE conference this year. Jorge illustrated the cover for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. He told me that he and his wife Megan had a picture book coming out in the spring and when I saw the cover/title, I was in.
We are here today to premiere the trailer for Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!, published by Lee & Low Books. It arrives on April 2nd. With this being their first proper picture book and all, I had to ask Jorge and Megan a few questions . . .
Travis: Hi Jorge and Megan! What was the initial spark for this story?
Jorge: Megan was itching to write a zombie story. As soon as she said the words, Jorge was in. But a story about what? It took many conversations, sketches, a failed rhyming manuscript and multiples viewings of The Walking Dead before a
character with zombie legs emerged.
Mo Romero (yes, his name is a homage to the late hero of horror, George Romero), the veggie-loving zombie kid protagonist of our book, paid us a visit one day. We imagined this boy who was different from all the other zombies in his world. He loved his parents, though he was different from them too. Mo wasn’t sure what to do about it. But he was sure he had to do something. We wanted to help him figure it out. Finally, we were off and running.
Travis: Is Night of the Living Dead the best zombie movie of all time? If not, what is?
Jorge: Travis, this is one of the most crucial questions of our time. The answer affects us all in such profound ways. Night of the Living Dead is terrific, no doubt. But did the sequel–Dawn of the Dead–find a way to actually eclipse its predecessor? We believe this may be the case. It’s hilarious AND scary, with sharp, biting political satire that’s still relevant today. Additionally, there are blue zombies. Blue!!! A revelation. 28 Days Later is also a great one. Is it truly a zombie movie? It’s unclear, as there is a rage virus involved. But still…so good.
Travis: This is your first proper picture book. How was the process different than you expected?
Jorge: The process was longer. MUCH longer. Honestly, we can’t believe how long it took from idea to publication. We count seven years. We have lived in three different states (Rhode Island, California and now Texas) during the making of ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES! So many dummies were cast aside as we started over yet again. Once we signed our deal with Lee and Low, we must have revised the manuscript and illustrations at least ten more times. With every revision the book grew stronger and while there were days in which we wanted to just be done, we are so glad that we kept going, that we kept refining. It feels like a true feat to hold this book in our hands!
Travis: What was your collaboration like for this book? Are you working together the whole way, or are there times when you’re each off doing your own thing?
Jorge: Collaborating for us starts with a lot of talking. In the morning over coffee, on long walks, as we’re grocery shopping, while driving in the car listening to tunes. We work out many ideas, plot points, character arcs as we talk. Then, there’s the period that we both go off on our own…Jorge draws character sketches, thumbnails of scenes, key spreads. Megan writes the manuscript along with ideas for what might be included in the art or ways to make a joke or emotional moment
pop. Now, it’s sharing time. We read the manuscript out loud, hang up all of the pages of artwork. We’re like archaeologists, examining what we’ve un-earthed. From there, together we develop a plan of attack for the next round of creative. We do this over and over again. And. We. LOVE IT!
Travis: Key question: what snack puts you in peak creativity mode?
Jorge: Cuban crackers. I’ll also take dark chocolate.
Megan: Is coffee a snack?
Travis: I think it counts. Thanks Megan and Jorge!
Jorge & Megan: Gracias, Travis!
And here for the first time, the trailer for Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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