Jeff Norton is an author and producer. He creates compelling characters, amazing stories, and immersive worlds for all ages, in all media. He is the author of the high-tech thriller MetaWars series from Orchard Books and the upcoming humour series Memoirs Of A Neurotic Zombie from Faber Children’s.
Through his production company, AWESOME, Jeff is also currently producing a pre-school television show, developing his first feature film as writer-director, and co-writing books with other talented authors.
All American Adam By Jeff Norton
I grew up in Canada (Burlington, Ontario), lived and worked in America for a while (Ohio, then Boston, then Hollywood) and now live in London, UK – so I’m spoiled with choice as to where to set a book. I’ve got a fair amount of geographic experience to pull from.
When I first started ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’, the story of OCD suffering zombie Adam Metlzer, my default setting was my own neighbourhood in West Hampstead. I’d made a short film (https://vimeo.com/32102311) about a grown up zombie who struggles to get his old life back and I’d even imagined one of my characters as a werefox (we have foxes in the garden), but I couldn’t quite make Adam’s voice work as a Brit. And voice is crucially important, especially when writing in the first person.
I attended middle school in Ontario and briefly considered setting it there, but I found it difficult to separate fiction from fact. ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’ wasn’t mymemoirs; I wanted it to read like the experiences of a fictional character and not an autobiography. So I looked to the south.
There’s a town in the middle of a cornfield in Ohio, called Oxford. Like the UK’s Oxford, this one is a university town (Miami University, not to be confused with Florida), best known for its sports and good-looking students (it’s nickname is J.Crew U).
Oxford, Ohio features immaculate streets, mannequin-like students, and an eerie isolation (it’s literally surrounded by corn on all sides!). When I first visited, I wondered what evil lurked beneath this all-American veneer.
And years later, I set out to answer that question.
Adam Meltzer lives in Croxton, Ohio a thinly veiled cover for the home of the Red Hawks. This felt like the right setting for my story of an OCD zombie, his friends the vegan vampire and reluctant chupacabra, bent on discovering why he’s become the undead. All roads lead back the university (where Adam’s father works) and the setting (the college, the football stadium, the corn) all become as much of a character in the book as our heroes.
When writing a character, they just are who they are…and the same goes for a setting. Adam’s voice, background, and experiences are born out of this small university town in southern Ohio. It’s as part of him as his family and OCD affliction.
In the book, you’ll get a feel for Adam’s hometown. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to visit the real Oxford, Ohio. Just watch out for evil afoot.
And if you go, they’ve got the best steamed bagels in the world here.
Jeff Norton’s ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’ publishes from Faber on 7th August (today!)
‘My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped pinata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.’
Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer – pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam’s family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door . . . three months after his funeral.
Soon Adam’s back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam’s number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.
A hilarious adventure caper – if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead – all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you’re undead.