Coming Soon: YA horror novel SICK by Tom Leveen

SickMechfinalTitle: Sick

Author: Tom Leveen

Publication Date: October 21, 2013


Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits, the troublemakers — the ones who jump their High School’s electrified fence to skip school regularly. So when the virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. In other words: Zombies. The whole school goes on lockdown and the military surrounds the fence, and Brian and his best friend Chad are safe (and stuck) in the theatre department — far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theatre kids who he’d never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theatre. But it won’t be easy and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates. In a world turned upside down, who exactly are the real monsters?

*Photo from Goodreads and synopsis from Abrams and Chronicle Books



First things first what gave you the inspiration for the novel?

Except for the whole monsters thing, the story is more or less true in terms of a typical day for me in high school. My friends and I got into a conversation a while back about what would happen if a zombie apocalypse happened while we were there, and we all agreed the drama department would be the easiest building to defend. That was really it – the rest wrote itself! The main difference is that I wrote from an outsider’s point of view instead of a drama student, because I also wanted to investigate that “Lord of the flies” aspect, the “us versus them” that happens in schools everywhere.

In fact, it’s really the chief thing I hope readers take away. SICK isn’t (supposed to be) a hack-n-slash gorefest, or the literary equivalent of a B-grade horror movie. It’s about real people with real prejudices and fears, and how those things change and alter under extreme circumstances to reveal who we all really are. The blood and guts are fun too, don’t get me wrong…but I hope everyone also enjoys the character arcs and growth that happens.

The characters began as loosely based on my friends, but there’s not much of them left by the time you get to a final, published book. Still – they’re in there. It’s always fun to listen to them debate which one of them is which character in my books!

The question we all want to know is how would you choose to survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

I’ve discussed this with friends too. We had a lengthy, in-depth discussion once about “zombie migration patterns,” and concluded the wilderness would be our best bet simply because of the numbers: there just won’t be as many zombies out in the desert or forest like there will be in a metropolitan area. So I think we’d head out to the desert or mountains.

My wife gives me a hard time about this sometimes, but I think it’s essential that everyone be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. A lot has been made of this since the novel “World War Z” (which is *awesome* by the way; I met Max Brooks at a ComiCon once, great guy). But for real: If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for every possible natural disaster. I’m not one of those people who *literally* thinks The Zombies Are Coming! But if they did, we’d have plan, that’s all I’m sayin’.

What would be your song choice to accompany a zombie beat down?

Ooo…that’s a great question. I think maybe “The Wait” by Metallica (I think that’s a cover). Or “Postmortem” by Slayer. And then to round things out, maybe some Mozart; like the overture to Le nozze de Figaro.

If a movie got green lit tomorrow and you had ultimate power who would be
your dream cast?

All brand-new, unknown actors! No previous experience with Nick or Disney, let’s get some new blood up there. (No pun intended.) Except maybe the cast of The Way Way Back. That would be a great cast to start with. Maybe Allison Janney could play Brian’s mom, Anna Sophia Robb could play Kenzie…

What’s next on your writing agenda?

That’s always a tricky question, because there’s what’s actually hitting shelves, and there’s what I’m working on. There’s usually a one to two year delay between the two! Next coming out is a contemporary (realistic) YA called RANDOM, about a girl who’s being charged in the suicide death of a former friend of hers, and the night before entering a plea, a random guy calls and says he’s going to kill himself unless she can talk him out of it. That comes out Summer 2014. Right now I’m working on a big handful of various novels – supernatural, realistic, middle grade…all across the board. One is about what might happen if the world literally went to hell. I’m still working out the mythology for that one.

What are some of your favorite books we should all be reading?

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately…I highly recommend “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver on that front. For the supernatural fans out there, you have to read Lisa McMann’s “Cryer’s Cross.” Loved that. The old YA horror novels by John Bellairs are still among my favorite (like “The Mummy, The Will, and the Crypt”), as is the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques. One of my all-time favorites is the audiobook version of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.



One thought on “Coming Soon: YA horror novel SICK by Tom Leveen

  1. Okay, I don’t know who wrote that synopsis, but they are amazing – those first 3 sentences completely hooked me! I totally want to read this now, even though I not a ‘zombie’ sort of person. Love the interview btw. Okay, need to add this to my TBR list like NOW. 🙂

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