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Write On Ottawa: Discussing writing with a possible zombie (no, really)

By Alejandro Bustos on October 1, 2013

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Victoria Dunn is the evil hive mind of local writers Victoria Higgins and Meghan Dunn.  Using this pen name, the duo jointly wrote Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, a wacky novel published by The Workhorsery that is filled with zombies, bog snorkelling, and an organization called the Odyssey International’s Enforcement branch that fights the supernatural.

In an act of magic, Apartment613 fused the two writers together to form their single, joint-persona. Below is a transcript of the email interview with Victoria Dunn, a mysterious creature who has her own Facebook page.  If you want to “meet” Victoria in person, she will be attending the Can-Con Conference scheduled for October 4-6 at the Minto Suite Hotel in Downtown Ottawa.

Apartment613: How did you come up with the idea to write a novel about zombies?

Victoria Dunn: The first draft of Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies was written for the 2009 International 3-Day Novel Contest.  When you’re going to lock yourself in the basement for 72-hours, it’s nice to write about something fun like zombies invading a bog-snorkelling festival.  Plus, you don’t have time for both plot and character development, so action-packed zombie mayhem powered us through the three days.

The first draft won third place in the contest, giving us the confidence to rewrite and expand the novel adding even more action and much needed character development!

Apt613: Given that your brain is split between Victoria and Meghan, how did you merge two different writing styles, character ideas and plot twists into a single narrative flow?

Alice Hearts Welsh ZombiesVD:  When we write as Victoria Dunn, it’s a team effort from the very beginning.  First, we brain storm the entire plot, the characters involved and the general theme of the novel.  We then  research the settings and fun plot elements like cutting-edge Taser technology or how to survive a plane crash (spoiler alert!)  We sign up for the 3-Day Novel Contest (we’ve done four so far), create an outline dividing up the chapters, and write the first draft over September’s long weekend.  During editing, we rewrite each others chapters until we no longer remember who wrote what.

Also, when we write as Victoria Dunn, it’s in a different style than how we write as individuals. For instance, Victoria personally believes all adverbs are evil and kills them on sight.  Meghan, on the other hand, loves her “ly” attachments and exclamation marks too – the more, the merrier.  However, even while composing the first draft together during a sugar and caffeinated fueled marathon, Victoria will include the occasional descriptive adverb, and Meghan works hard to curtail her enthusiastic punctuation.

Apt613: Do you have plans to write a sequel to Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies?

VD: Already working on the penultimate draft of the sequel, Alice Hearts Sexorama.  This novel opens with a succubus summoning at a sexuality trade show, and sexy wackiness ensues.

Apt613: Does having a hive mind allow you to come up with literary ideas which other “solitary” writers may not have thought of?

VD: Yes, the ideas we come up with together are more offbeat and creative than either of us come up with on our own. Plus, writer’s block is a thing of the past.  One of us says “I’m stuck on a scene.  I can’t figure out how to remove the dead body,” and the other one suggests giving the character a spatula (a handy multi-purpose tool for corpse-handling).

Apt613: Besides writing about zombies, are you involved in any other literary projects?

VD: We’ve drafted several more adventures for Alice and Welly, from battling time-travelling Nazis to facing down Cthulhu in Disney World.

Apt613: Given your hive mind are you a zombie?

VD: At the end of a 3-Day Novel Contest, we do bear a striking resemblance to the living dead.  One year, Meghan got a fever and started hallucinating faces in the door, while Victoria consumed so much sugar, she couldn’t stop jumping for two hours until she crashed.  Good thing we take at least a year revising the book after sanity has been restored.

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