Dead in Bed by Bailey Simms
Genres: Zombies, Mystery, Thriller
You've never, ever read a book like this.
Now available in one complete edition, the critically acclaimed Dead in Bed is partly a suspense thriller with a strikingly original story, partly a page-turning mystery about a disease that makes anyone infected hopelessly crave sexual contact, and partly a neo-western adventure through the American heartland. If you can handle a smart, controversial protagonist who's willing to do anything—no matter how difficult or morally questionable—in order to survive, the series will pull you in with the force of an unshakeable addiction.
Dead in Bed: The Complete Novel is a collection of the full Dead in Bed serialized novel (Parts 1 - 7 of 7)
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As emotionally incisive as it is shockingly sexy, as heartbreaking as it is hilarious, the hyper-talented Bailey Simms' tour-de-force series is harder to put down than books by writers twice her age.
Dead in Bed follows Ashley, an everyday girl who's stuck in an unsatisfying relationship and a dead-end job. But when a sexually-transmitted plague breaks out in her small town, slowly leaving anyone infected with a bizarrely amplified libido, everything about her life changes.
Facing quarantine, draconian martial law, the onset of winter, and a rapidly-spreading plague, Ashley, her family, her friends, and everyone else in her small American town find their true feelings for one another surfacing—both amorously and violently.
When everyone in Ashley's life begins taking comfort in one another's arms, no one really knows who's infected with the plague and who's not. And because the disease perpetuates itself as an aphrodisiac, sex, the very thing that offers comfort, only contributes to spreading the plague.
In a crumbling world with little to lose, however, Ashley begins to discover a desire to live she didn't know she possessed and opportunities she's never had. Her newly-acquired agency may come at a price, however, when Ashley ultimately must choose between her own survival and the people she loves.
This is like the hardest opening interview question in the world, ever. It’s so deceptively simple! But here goes: How about “controversial”? ...Hmmm. No. That doesn’t quite sum it up. Maybe I should try to coin the term “zi-fi”? I like that! ...But that’s not quite it either. Or “psychosexual”! That actually gets much closer to the heart of the Dead in Bed story! But, still, that’s not quite it...
I guess I’ll have to go with “unclassifiable,” then. Annoying, I know. But unclassifiable is honestly the truest single word I can come up with. I really wanted to write a novel that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. Whenever I’m asked to check a box for genre, when publishing on Amazon for example, I always have a lot of trouble choosing between “thriller” or “horror” or “romance” or “sci-fi,” or anything else. Dead in Bed is sort of a suspense thriller, yes, but then again it isn’t really at all like any other suspense thrillers out there. I actually started plotting Dead in Bed with the idea of writing a contemporary neo-western, complete with twenty-first century lawmen and gunslinger outlaws and a shootout at the town center, all within a ZA universe. But then significant sci-fi elements kept cropping up that have nothing to do with the western or zombie genres at all. And though the book’s definitely in a zombie apocalypse vein, the “zombies” aren’t really any kind of zombies you’ve ever heard of. They’re really, really different. They’re almost unrecognizable as zombies, in fact. On top of this, I also really wanted to make the book feel like a romance novel in the beginning, with a female protagonist crushing on a cliché of a hot guy. But I only wanted to do this because I’m so annoyed by most female protagonists in romance novels, even the so-called “strong” female protagonists who pretty much still just subjugate themselves to their swoony need to get some dude. I really wanted to blow up the expectations of a romance novel and write about a female character who, by the end, becomes confident and self-sufficient without the validation of some cute guy’s attentions.
Having said all that, I have to add that there’s still a lot in store for Ashley’s relationships in the next and final installment, which I hope also defies categorization, but this time in a new and different way.
2. If you could choose any TV show to promote your book on, which would you choose?
Probably the O’Reilly Factor. Why? Because it would be incredibly awesome if my dad finally found out about my writing by tuning in for his Fox News fix one night only to find me on the screen getting lectured by Bill O’Reilly about contributing to the deprivation of contemporary pop culture. Then, before my dad could recover from his shock, he would see his daughter telling the host exactly where he could shove his wagging finger.
3. Where did your idea of zombies come from? It's NOTHING like I've read before.
So, you really wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m secretly kind of a science nerd.
A little while ago I learned about psychoactive parasites. It started when my aunt found out that she’d gotten toxoplasmosis from her cat. (One third of all people are infected with toxoplasmosis, so there’s a decent chance you have it too.) The only place toxoplasmosis parasites can successfully reproduce is inside cat intestines. I know. Gross. But the absolutely crazy thing about this parasite is how it gets inside cats: it infects mice. Once the toxoplasmosis parasite has fully infested a mouse’s body, it somehow re-programs the part of the mouse’s brain that controls sexual impulses. Suddenly the mouse is no longer sexually attracted to other mice, but, instead, it’s sexually attracted to cats! Whenever the mouse gets a whiff of cat urine, it just can’t help itself. Instead of running away from the cat like it would normally do, it runs straight toward the cat to get a little feline lovin’. What happens next, of course, is that the cat promptly eats the mouse. And the toxoplasmosis parasite wins, happily reproducing inside the cat’s intestines.
That kind of blew my mind. It turns out that there are all kinds of psychoactive parasites out there. But what really struck me was how the toxoplasmosis parasite just tweaks a sexual impulse that’s already present in a mouse. A mouse’s genes have already programmed its brain to make it want to have sex with other mice. And the sole reason for the mouse’s sex drive is to allow its genes to reproduce themselves, as baby mice. Psychoactive parasites aren’t that much different from genes. Both use the mouse as a sex puppet in order to reproduce themselves.
And what’s kind of crazy and scary is that we, humans, aren’t really any different from mice.
No matter how much it feels like we’re deeply in love with someone and want desperately to have sex with that person, on some level we’re feeling all of those emotions because our genes have programmed our brain to make us want to reproduce. We’re all like zombies, in that respect. But instead of being programmed to mindlessly crave brains, we’re programmed to crave sex! Even when our experiences of love, or attraction, feel so real, we’re really just programmed unconsciously to feel that way so our parasitic genes can go on existing after we die.
Thank God for birth control. At least now our genes only win when we want them to. ;)
I also wanted to write about zombie-like beings for another reason that has to do with my own medical condition. But I’m going to save that explanation for the next Real Love installment.
4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I honestly don’t know that I’m in a position to give any advice to aspiring authors, because I’m still basically an aspiring author myself. I’m still trying to figure a lot of things out. I have tons to learn.
But something I think I’ve learned so far is that really good authors write for readers much more than they write for themselves. As a writer, you’re creating a whole world for somebody else, and you have to make readers feel at home in that world, not lost or confused. I think a lot of aspiring writers make the mistake of writing a story that makes total sense in their own head, but because they don’t reach out to readers, readers get left without a good guide through the story, and they end up disoriented and bored.
Bad writing is a lot like masturbation. It may be great for the person doing it, but it doesn’t do much for anyone else. Good writing, on the other hand, is a lot like giving someone else a mind-blowing org— ...well, you get the picture.
5. You have to spend a week on a deserted island with one of your characters from Dead in Bed. Which do you choose? Why?
I have to kind of cheat and say “Kyle.” He’s not exactly a character in the Dead in Bed universe, but he’s technically in the book, so why not? If I had to be deserted on an island with anyone, it would be him. He’s kind of amazing. Things aren’t always perfect between us, of course—sometimes far from perfect—but he’s really become something like a boyfriend and a best friend all wrapped up as one person, and it’s hard to imagine getting by without him. He’d probably figure out how to open coconuts before me, which would annoy me because I’m competitive, then we’d probably fight about how to get a fire going, and once we finally did we’d probably just sit and talk and talk about whatever crazy shit comes into our heads like we always do anyway until the sun set, then realize we’d forgotten to hunt for dinner. Maybe it would be kind of nice to be deserted on an island with him, in fact.
I do have to say that a close second would be the character Ashley, only because she’s based loosely on my aunt. My aunt is also amazing in her own way, and really, really brave. Even if she’s never actually been in a gun fight with a paramilitary militia, the things she’s actually done in real life are even braver. I love her and miss her.
6. You can only read one book (that isn't one of yours) for the rest of your life. Which is it?
As of this moment, I’d probably have to go with Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Murakami was the first writer to force me to see that we’re all just a bunch of beings inexplicably floating around the universe together, just as innocent as we are corrupted, and that all we have is each other, and that that’s okay.
7. You can have one super power. Which is it gonna be?
Immortality. Without a doubt. Does that count as a super power? I guess it probably doesn’t, but that’s still definitely my answer. Death just sucks, and sometimes life can be really short. Even when life’s hard, it’s actually kind of great. Or at least there can be some pretty great parts, despite all the shitty parts between. It’ll really suck when I’m dead. If I ever had the chance to avoid dying somehow, I’d take it in a heartbeat.
8. Lastly, what's up next for you? Any projects we should be looking out for?
The sequel to Dead in Bed is on its way. It will be the second and final installment in the two-part Real Love series, probably called “Life in Love,” but don’t hold me to that. It’s a working title. The author’s note sections will continue to be more extensive in the next installment, and the relationship between my own life, or “Bailey’s” life, and the fictional story will become clearer, and more significant. I wrote the last book in a six-week haze of coffee, Adderall, the occasional cigarette (all of which I had to sneak past my dad), and practically no rest at all. This time around I’m going to allow myself a little more time and a little more sleep. But I hope it will be finished soon.
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Chocolate or vanilla?
Both. mixed together into a pale brown goo. Delicious. Seriously. Try it.
Movies or TV shows?
Both, of course. Another Earth is a really incredible indie sci-fi film. The actress Brit Marling is so cool in it, and she even co-wrote the script. I just watched A Clockwork Orange with Kyle; it is terrifying and amazing. (He’s really good at picking crazy good older movies.) As for TV, we also just watched Rectify, which is sooo weird and good—it’s about this very odd but sweetly sympathetic guy who gets off death row, and you never really know if he committed the murder he was convicted for. And then there’s Breaking Bad. Of course. But, oh my God. Anything I’ve learned about writing a gripping story so far comes from watching and re-watching the first two episodes of that show. Seriously brilliant entertainment.
Spring or Fall?
Winter. (I know. I’m weird.)
Crushed ice or cubed ice?
Noise or silence?
Silence on the outside, with a raging din inside my head.
Ever since I learned about this stupid medical condition I came down with, I've been stuck at home without much else to do. And I really love writing. It's an escape, and it makes me feel better about things. I'll keep publishing new parts of the Real Love series until it ends—or until my dad finds out what I've been writing. (If he ever sees any of this, he'll kill me.)