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/Fox Spirit Books 2016). 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’s first series for Titan Books were the Ashley Parker novels Plague Town, Plague Nation, and Plague World (think Buffy meets The Walking Dead). She’s writing an urban fantasy series based on the Lilith mythos called Spawn of Lilith. The second book, Blood Ink, is being released April 2019. She’s also co-writing a science fiction series, Time Shards, with her husband David Fitzgerald. Shatter Wars, book two in the series, will be released end of January 2019. She also has written spicy genre romance under her nom de plume Inara LaVey.
Through ten 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, 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 ten, along with an awesome dog named Pogeen. We spend a lot of time with broom and dust-buster keeping up with the shedding. Check my blog, Zhadi’s Den, for periodic cute cat stories. What can I say? It’s a disease!
KITTEN & CAT RESCUE (Purrchance Rescue)
Purrchance Rescue is one of many organizations devoted to pulling animals from shelters in areas such as such as King’s County in California’s Central Valley before they’re euthanized.
Purrchance has helped save hundreds of cats and kittens by finding fosters, providing financial and hands-on support to their fosters when needed, and holding adoption events at Petfood Express to find these babies their forever homes. We’ve fostered more than a few over the years (and still have some of them due to what we like to call ‘foster fail’), and it’s a very rewarding experience. If you’d like to help, please check out how here!
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 fifteen 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 that 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 noir… and those were just the beginning.
I took wine classes with my friend Billy, who introduced my sister and me to some amazingly good wines and took me on two ‘field trips’ led by Robert Balzer (one of the three Roberts of the wine world). I 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 was just the beginning. So many countries, wine regions and varietals, so little time, doncha know.
My favorite wine bar in San Francisco is Vin Debut in West Portal. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!
ALL THINGS ZOMBIE
Like so many people these days, I love zombie. Or rather I enjoy 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 (again, the original), 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 a cemetery while 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; 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 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 a butlooad more since I first wrote the text for this page.
I have more zombie-themed novels and anthologies than I have shelf space for, and we won’t even talk about what’s on my Kindle. Some good, some bad, some in between.
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. 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?
A Special Thanks ~
I want to thank Leslie Keats, my buddy, fellow bad movie lover and website designer for the care and time she’s taken in the design of my site.