After five years working on the world of “The Walking Dead,” Jay Bonansinga is changing gears and working on a world of dreams. His new novel is the Young Adult book “Lucid,” about a brilliant high school student whose dreams are haunted by a mysterious door. Jay took time to talk to Examiner about the new book, the world of walkers, and what it’s like to write a Young Adult novel for the first time.
Reid Kerr: Thanks so much for your time, Jay. Where’d the idea for “Lucid” come from?
Jay Bonansinga: It’s an idea that had just been stewing and marinating in my imagination for all these years. When I was in college there was a magazine called “Omni,” it was a magazine of science and innovation. They published great fiction, and there was an issue that was sort of the “Dream Issue” with this product called the Dream Machine that you could actually use to have lucid dreams. I could never lucid dream, but I’ve always been absolutely obsessed with the idea. That eventually led to this book, “Lucid,” which I’ve put everything I know about dark fantasy and dreams into.
Reid: Why go Young Adult with this one?
Jay: It’s probably only because the main character is an 18-year-old girl. That particular thing seemed to resonate with me. It might be that I learned about this when I was eighteen or nineteen, and was obsessed with it from that age. After a while I said to myself, if she’s an 18 year-old girl, and I’ve never cracked the young adult market, I’m going to make this a young adult novel.
I’m going to make it as scary as my “Walking Dead” novels, but I’m not going to make it as profane and graphic. It’s kind of a fascinating experiment for me. The horror in it is suspense, as opposed to gore. I think that’s a finer emotion to conjure.
Reid: Was changing your target audience a learning experience for you?
Jay: In a word, yes. I will fully confess, I’m not ashamed of it, I’ve been allowed to play in this amazing sandbox called “The Walking Dead” for five years. I’m on my sixth book for them. They have really treated me like a rock star. I can say pretty much anything and go anywhere I want to in those, and imagine the most gruesome events ever. I get teased sometimes for coming up with more ways of saying a skull has exploded than any other writer. I have more words for cerebral spinal fluid and brain matter and entrails than any other writer working today, and it’s simply because I’ve stumbled into this amazing family of artists and fans.
I’m just super blessed by this thing, but that’s where the learning comes in. I’ve had to reorient myself.
For more with Jay Bonansinga, including his work on “The Walking Dead” and his next book, please click here.