Dana Fredsti is an actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting, whose credits include the cult classic Army of Darkness. Her favorite projects, however, included acting alongside Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Josef Pilato (Day of the Dead). She has been a producer, director, and screenplay writer for stage and film, and was the co-writer/associate producer on Urban Rescuers, a documentary on feral cats which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Valley Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Along with her best friend Maureen, Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. While no actual murders occurred during their performances, there were times when the actors and clients made the idea very tempting. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon (Rock Publications, 2007). Dana also co-wrote What Women Really Want in Bed (Quiver Press) with Cynthia Gentry, their second writing partnership after Secret Seductions, for which Dana used the pseudonym Roxanne Colville.
She has written numerous published articles, essays, and shorts, including stories in Cat Fantastic IV, an anthology edited by Andre Norton (Daw, 1997), Danger City (Contemporary Press, 2005), Mondo Zombie (Cemetery Dance, 2006), and Hungry for Your Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Her essays can be seen in Morbid Curiosity, Issues 2-7, as well as the anthology Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues Scribner, 2009). Dana finished Plague World (Titan Books, August 2014), the third book in her Ashley Parker paranormal/zombie series (think Buffy meets The Walking Dead) and is hard at work on a new urban fantasy series. She also has written spicy genre romance under her nom de plume Inara LaVey.
Through seven plus years of volunteering at EFBC/FCC (Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center), Dana’s had a full-grown leopard sit on her feet, kissed by tigers, held baby jaguars and had her thumb sucked by an ocelot with nursing issues. She’s addicted to bad movies and any book or film, good or bad, which include zombies. Her other hobbies include surfing (badly), collecting beach glass (obsessively), and wine tasting (happily).
I love all animals (even the ugly ones), but I’ve always had a special affinity for felines. Like many other kids, I used to fantasize about having a pet tiger or lion. The heck with owning a horse; I wanted a black leopard named Sheba as my companion. I knew on some level this was an impractical dream, but not until I hit my mid-thirties and started volunteering at the Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center did I fully understand just why exotic felines do not make good pets.
Volunteering at EFBC-FCC has been a life-changing experience (click here to read an essay published in Morbid Curiosity about my experiences) and I would urge anyone in the L.A. area (or willing to put in a bit of a commute) to check out the site: www.cathouse-fcc.org.
I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one, usually two or three, cats in my household. I had two when I got married and moved to Glendale. A couple more found their way to us via friends and a knack for finding lost kittens. Then, the discovery of a litter of kittens born to a feral mother (henceforth known as Momma Cat) resulted in a steady increase in numbers until we had a total of seven felines (not counting the foster kitties that cycled through our house into good homes). When I moved to San Francisco, I once again got involved in feline fostering and now Dave and I have 10. We spend a lot of time with broom and dust-buster keeping up with the shedding. Go here for pictures, check my blog, Zhadi’s Den, for periodic cute cat stories. What can I say? It’s a disease!
KITTEN & CAT RESCUE (Rogue Rescue)
I have set up a Donate Button below. The purpose behind this button is to raise money to neuter/spay rescue felines, most of them taken out of shelters such as King’s County in Fresno before they’re euthanized. Sadly, local shelters have recently changed their policies so they won’t do the low cost spay/neuters for the public for kittens under 4 months old. This creates a huge problem as the rescue shelters won’t take the kittens unless they’re fixed. This means we have to go through private vet hospitals, which charge a helty fee: $100-$200 or more, depending on gender. >> Please read more.
I don’t remember exactly when my love affair with wine started, but I do remember the first time I had wine that brought the phrase ‘nectar of the gods’ to life for me. I was at a friend’s (his name was Mike, but everyone called him ‘Animal’) birthday party at his dad’s house in Del Mar. His dad was something of an oenophile and wanted to celebrate Mike’s birthday in style. We had steamed crab with butter for dinner and two bottles of wine, one a German white from the ‘30s and the other a red. I don’t remember what country it was from, the year, or any other details. There were about 15 of us at the party so none of us got a lot of either wine. But both of them were genuinely transcendent, well beyond quaffable (thank you, Rex Pickett and SIDEWAYS) and made an indelible impression on taste buds.
I also remember the first two bottles of red wine that convinced me wine didn’t have to be sweet and white. The first was a bottle of ’95 Marques de Caceres Rioja that an old roommate brought home to share with dinner. I think we had it with your basic red sauce spaghetti and it tasted really good. Not transcendent, but damn fine. The second was some Black Mountain Fat Cat Cabernet from Trader Joe’s. I had it with pizza and once again, just that perfect pairing of food and wine that leaves its mark.
Because of these two experiences I turned my back on the beloved Beringer white zin and the sweeter German whites of my youth and flung myself head first into the red wine experience. Champagne was still on the list of wines I would drink, but other than that, it was red, red, red. Cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, syrah (or shiraz if you’re from down under), pinot noire and those were just the beginning.
I took wine classes, bought and read books starting with Wine For Dummies and ranging through Red, White and Drunk All Over (by Natalie MacClean, my favorite wine writer and author the newsletter Nat Decants) to The Wine Bible. I found the subject fascinating, both historically and gastronomically. I realized I’d have to reintroduce white wines into my diet if I wanted to experience the world of wine to the fullest and a taste of Sanford’s Barrel Reserve Chardonnay (they called it their white wine for red wine drinkers — this was back when Sanford was still really Sanford) put my taste buds on the right track. The world of wine expanded exponentially and it’s just the beginning. So many countries, wine regions and varietals, so little time, doncha know.
My favorite wine bar in San Francisco has got to be The Hidden Vine in the Fitzgerald Hotel on Post Street. If you’re in the neighborhood, definitely check it out and enjoy Angela and Brian’s hospitality and great wine selection!
I’ll be putting up a list of my favorite wines and books on the subject in a bit!
ALL THINGS ZOMBIE
I can’t really explain this one beyond-well-I like zombies. Or rather I like books and movies about flesh eating reanimated corpses that are now erroneously called zombies. The fascination started with George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (the original) and then was firmly cemented with DAWN OF THE DEAD, which I saw on my first official date. Yup, my first date involved walking corpses munching on human flesh. One could speculate how this might have shaped my romantic future, but I think we’ll just leave it alone for now.
DAY OF THE DEAD was added to the list, along with Lucio Fulci’s atmospheric, but flawed film ZOMBIE (or ZOMBIE FLESHEATERS), the only film to my knowledge that pits shark against zombie. It also has more shots up Tisa Farrow’s nostrils than should be allowed, as well as characters stupid enough to stop and rest in an a cemetery when on the run from zombies. I have since seen CITY OF THE DEAD/GATES OF HELL, with my favorite cheesy 80s star Christopher George; NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (set in New Guinea, but peppered with documentary style nature shots of African elephants and other inappropriate wildlife); FROM BEYOND (did you know tarantulas make clicking noises when they move and eat flesh? I didn’t either): RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (and all of its inferior sequels); ZOMBIE THREE and ZOMBIE FOUR (all zombies wear pajamas and drool black goo from their mouths); THE DEAD NEXT DOOR; NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (so bad it’s good); THE DEAD LIVE (even WORSE than so bad it’s good); DEAD MEAT (the only Irish zombie movie I’ve seen so far); CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (fashion crimes that must be seen to be believed); ZOMBIE HONEYMOON (a more serious offering than you’d think from the title); NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the remake, directed by Tom Savini and starring Pat Tallman, Bill Mosley (both of who I met on the set of ARMY OF DARKNESS) and Tony Todd, and was much better than I’d expected; DAWN OF THE DEAD, the recent remake (loved the first 10 minutes, but I still can’t wrap myself around the concept of fast moving zombies); DAY OF THE DEAD; CONTAGION (convoluted piece o’ poo where the zombie virus is evidently caused by fairy lights); 28 DAYS (and WEEKS) LATER (not strictly zombies, but close enough for government work, especially these days), and…well…probably a few more that escape my memory right now.
I’ve written and published two short stories involving zombies (see THE GOODS page for details), and collect er…well, I like to call it ‘zombie literature.’ Heh. I have the novelizations of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD, as well as a hard to find sequel to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD called RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (not to be mistaken for the movie of that title, although there is also a novelization of THAT movie that I also own); Skipp and Spector’s BOOK OF THE DEAD ONE and TWO (Still Dead), and Skipp’s MONDO ZOMBIE; ANTHOLOGIES OF THE FLESH (three of â€˜em), Robert McCammon’s NIGHT BOAT (pissed off Nazi zombies in a sub); the AUTUMN series by David Moody; CELL by Stephen King; a few really bad self-published offerings and my absolute favorite zombie novel of all time, Max Brooks’ WORLD WAR Z. If you read only one piece of zombie literature in your life, make it WORLD WAR Z. And check out his first book THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE. Fun, but not on the same level as WORLD WAR Z. I’d even recommend this book to people who don’t suffer from the same strange affliction of zombie fascination that I do.
Best zombie website is Homepage of the Dead. Check it out!
I used to make fun of surfers when I was in high school. Mind you, I went to Clairemont High (aka Ridgemont High) during the Spicoli years, so there was some basis for mockery. But now I realize I brought down some heavy-duty karma on my head because I fell in love with surfing when I hit my ‘40s (go here for more details). Since moving to San Francisco, I haven’t been out nearly as often as I’d like (the ocean is colder, wilder, and more full of large toothy beasties than it is in Southern California), but I’m happy to say I finally went out at Ocean Beach (the stretch of beach in between the San Francisco Zoo and the Cliff House and Sutro Baths) all by my lonesome. Dave watched me from the shore in case I got into trouble, but it was a gorgeous day and I feel like I’ve passed some sort of personal milestone.
Favorite surf movies include: BIG WEDNESDAY; STEPPING INTO LIQUID; RIDING GIANTS; BLUE CRUSH (sue me, it’s fun); ENDLESS SUMMER (one AND two); and…well…POINT BREAK. It’s so bad it’s good, what can I say?
I haven’t read a lot of books on the subject of surfing yet, but I have read THE BIG DROP (personal essays on big wave surfing); Kelly Slater’s autobiography and am now in the middle of MORNING GLASS, THE ADVENTURES OF A LEGENDARY WATERMAN by Mike Doyle. More on these later in the ‘What I’m Reading’ page of my blog.
A Special Thanks ~
I want to thank Leslie Keats, my buddy and fellow bad movie lover and website designer for the care and time she’s taken in the design of my site. Please check out her website and other web design work here.