Monday, May 19, 2014

Kate Walden Directs: Night Of The Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata; Blog Tour: Excerpt

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today I'm thrilled to be apart of the blog tour for Julie Mata's Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens, which is out TOMORROW from Disney Hyperion. Find out a little bit about the book, check out the trailer, and read an excerpt from chapter 5!

By Julie Mata    
Pub Date: May 20, 2014 
ISBN: 1423194594
Price: $16.99
Ages 8–12

Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses—her mother’s prize organic hens—are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways.

But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch.

If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win—with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing—in filmmaking or in life—ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.

Debut author JULIE MATA co-owns a film/video production business, where she works as the producer and writer. Previously she pounded out copy as a television reporter, producer, and freelance writer Julie lives with her husband and two daughters in Wisconsin, along with three dogs, two ferrets, one bearded dragon lizard, and a parrot. She’s also owned chickens, although none were zombies, as far as she knows!

Read an excerpt


I show Alyssa her scene so she can read it over. She never has many lines—it’s mostly screaming and running—but she suddenly frowns. “Dude, we’re shooting in the base-
ment? Are you kidding?”
Oops. I meant to break that to her gently, but I forgot with the uproar about Lydia. Our basement is actually the perfect setting for a horror movie. It’s dark and creepy and smells like an old dead person with really bad breath. My dad says we have mice, but I’m pretty sure they’re rats, and the walls are always damp like they’re sweating.
The problem is, it’s a little too perfect for a horror movie. It’s seriously scary. There’s an old cistern, which is like an aboveground pool made out of concrete. It’s way too dis- turbing to swim in, and there’s no water in it anyway.
People used it for storing water before indoor plumbing got invented. Now I’m pretty sure it’s a rat condo, so I keep my distance. The entire basement is lit with two bare bulbs plugged into the ceiling, so it’s got lots of dark, shadowy corners and huge, invisible cobwebs that stick to your face and make you want to scream and run upstairs.
Before she agreed to be Mallory, Alyssa made me prom- ise there wouldn’t be any scenes in the basement.
“I’ve run out of locations,” I tell her. “What do you expect after twenty-three scenes?”
“I’m not going in the basement,” she says stubbornly, “and not the woods, either. I keep getting burrs in my hair, and last time I think I got poison ivy.”
“Well, where am I supposed to put you, then?” I say crossly. I’ve already shot in every room in our house, the chicken coop twice, the woods three times, the road, the ditch. . . . But now that Lydia’s coming over, I suddenly don’t want to shoot in the basement, either. She might decide to tell kids at school how disgusting it is.
Alyssa shrugs. “We could run through the corn. We haven’t done that before.”
Just like that, she comes up with a brilliant idea. “That is perfect!” I shout, and Alyssa smiles modestly.
It’s September, so the corn in the nearby field is way over our heads. It’s already dried out, so it sounds shivery when it blows in the wind. I don’t think Mr. Edgarton will
mind. He owns the field, but he’s nice and he was one of the picnic zombies. I figure he won’t care if we knock down a few cornstalks for art’s sake.
So I do a quick rewrite. Here’s how the first part of the scene reads:


Mallory opens the fridge door. Empty, except for a bottle of ketchup and an old sour cream container. She opens the sour cream, but it’s full of gross globs of blue mold.

[My mother always has old containers of sour cream float- ing in the back of the fridge like handy horror movie props.]

She opens a cupboard, tips a box of cereal upside down, and shakes it. A few flakes fall out. The rest of the cupboard is bare.

There’s no food. What am I going to do?
She moves to the window, carefully draws back the curtain, and peers out. The yard is empty. She notices the tall corn in the field across the street. Her face lights up.

Lucky for me the farmers planted their crops before they turned into zombies.

But is it safe? She peers down the road. Empty. No zombies in sight.


Mallory tiptoes onto the front porch, then runs across the road.

Here’s where I get stuck. How do I introduce the Lydia zombie? It has to be good. Then I get a pretty genius idea myself—the zombie will drive our old pickup down the road and squeal to a stop near Mallory. Of course, it would have to be my dad doing the driving. If I shoot it right, the reflec- tions off the windshield from the sun will hide who’s really driving. Then I can cut away to a shot of Alyssa’s horrified
face. The next shot would be Lydia getting out of the truck like she’s doing the driving.
I’m excited at the thought of using my first-ever stunt car. Now I just need to convince my stunt driver.
My dad reads over the scene and purses his lips.
“I don’t need a gaffer anymore,” I tell him. “But I really want you to help us today, so I thought this would be per- fect.” I give him my pleading, fragile self-esteem eyes.
Finally, he smiles. “Sure, why not? It’s not like we live on a major freeway.”
“Thanks, Dad!”
The rest of the script will mostly be Lydia chasing Alyssa through the corn and Alyssa screaming, but I have to come up with an ending. Mallory always kills the zombies that chase her, and it’s always with a different weapon—that’s a signature calling card of my movie. She killed all the picnic zombies by tricking them into falling into the pond in our backyard. Zombies can’t swim, so they all drowned. (Hey, it’s my movie, so I make the rules. If I say zombies sink like rocks, then that’s what they do. Movies are so much better than real life.)
Luckily for me, Derek has a toy weapon arsenal that would equip an army. So far, Mallory’s weapons have included pistols, machine guns, a knife, a sword, rope, a wrench, poisonous plants, rat poison, the lawn mower, a sharp stick, and a can opener, among others.
I try to think what might be in the field that Mallory could use. She’s already killed a zombie with a large rock, so that’s no good, and ears of corn hardly sound lethal. Then I have my second inspiration of the day—Mallory can jump in the pickup truck and run the zombie down.
My dad balks at the idea, but I finally convince him by explaining exactly how we’ll do it. Using the right camera angle, it will be easy to make it look like the pickup hits Lydia without actually running into her. By then, there are only ten minutes left before Lydia is supposed to arrive, and I still have lots to do. Take the kitchen scene, for instance. The entire fridge has to be cleaned out, so I get Alyssa working on that. The food also has to be pulled out of the cupboard, and I need an empty cereal box. All our boxes are pretty full, so I grab a gallon freezer bag and dump my mother’s organic Puffed Brown Rice Crisps into it. Then I put a couple little crispies back in the box so they can fall out when Mallory shakes it.
I hear the crunch of gravel outside, and my stomach does a one-eighty flip. My zombie has arrived.

Debut author JULIE MATA co-owns a film/video production business, where she works as the producer and writer. Previously she pounded out copy as a television reporter, producer, and freelance writer Julie lives with her husband and two daughters in Wisconsin, along with three dogs, two ferrets, one bearded dragon lizard, and a parrot. She’s also owned chickens, although none were zombies, as far as she knows! 

Watch the trailer

1 comment:

  1. This sounds terrific. Zombie chickens. How can one resist?


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~