‘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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 7th 2014 by Faber & Faber (first published August 5th 2014)
Middle School Memoirs
By Jeff Norton
I remember middle school very well. I spent three years at Pineland Public School in Burlington, Ontario, Canada when I was eleven, twelve, and thirteen (and coincidentally, Costa-winning YA author Moira Young also went there) and they were formative years for me, and likely for most people.
After the cozy confines of my very nourishing primary school (which has since been knocked down to build houses), I was daunted by the prospect of being back at the bottom of the social hierarchy. And with good reason!
In theory, middle school was a safe harbour, a type of staging ground between the idyll of primary school and the intensity of high school.
In reality, it was a seething petri dish of gossip, hormones, crushes, frenemies, and mid-pubescent awkwardness.
When you enter middle school, in sixth grade (age 11 for most students) you enter at the bottom. It’s a humbling experience; perhaps inspired by the Marine Corps who believe they have to strip you down in order to build you back up. From the moment you start in sixth grade, your only goal is survival.
You’ve got three years ahead of you and if you can avoid getting bullied too badly or embarrassing yourself too much, you might just make it to the holy land of high school.
At Pineland, everyone developed at a different rate – literally separating the men from the boys. Hair grew, voices dropped, and deodorant became a gym-bag must-carry. It was our first exposure to sex-ed, as thirty slightly terrified twelve year olds learned about the birds and bees from a gym teacher who was just as embarrassed as we were…as he should be; there was no information about birds or bees.
But sometime in seventh grade, usually post the spring break we called “March Break” (for obvious reasons), everything changes. The eighth graders are on their way out, and you’re suddenly in the on deck circle to be on top of the heap. A type of collective confidence takes over as everyone relaxes a bit, looking forward with positive anticipation for the first time.
And by the time you return for eighth grade, at the top of the ladder, the teachers treat you different, with a bit more respect, and there’s enough bully fodder below you that you feel assured that you’ll probably survive the whole experience – and then you start enjoying yourself.
You end your middle school career on a high, knowing that you’ve conquered your fears and the worst of your puberty, and look forward to the adventure of high school….thoughnot fully appreciating that you’ll be back at the bottom once again.
To channel my middle school years, I wrote most of ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’ back in my hometown last summer, including working in my school library. I believe Adam’s world is richer for me having revisited the ghosts of middle school, those friends, enemies, bullies, and beauties who still haunt the hallways of Pineland Public School.
Some day they may knock that school down for more houses, but the memoires are still inside me…and now, shared with you as seen through Adam Meltzer’s undead eyes.
Jeff Norton’s ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’ publishes from Faber on 7th August. Jeff is on the web at www.jeffnorton.com and tweeting as @thejeffnorton.
Jeff is the author of the award-winning MetaWars series for young adult readers and the new ‘Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie’ for middle-grade readers.
A reluctant reader as a boy, Jeff is passionate about creating stories that will turn reluctant readers into lifelong ones.
Before writing full-time, Jeff managed the Enid Blyton literary estate. Jeff moved to London from Los Angeles where he’d developed and produced the critically acclaimed interactive movie Choose Your Own Adventure, based on the best-selling books.
Originally from Canada, Jeff lives in London with his wife and two young sons.