Just like the undead characters in her first book, Laura Hansen is back with a new novel and a new philanthropic endeavor for local schools.
Hansen, who in 2012 penned “Cruise of the Undead,” a zombie adventure story, has written a second young adult thriller, “Avalanche of the Undead,” now available on Amazon, the Bookworm in Omaha and Baker's supermarkets throughout the Omaha area.
As with the first book, Hansen is donating 10 percent of what she realizes on the sales of the second novel to the Bellevue and Omaha public schools. She's also donating copies of the books to schools and local libraries.
“It's a fun thing for me,” said Hansen, who lives in Bellevue and is a cancer biologist and professor at Creighton University. “The books are very well-received among young adults, but they also have an appeal for older readers. On top of it, being able to give back to the community where my family lives, where my sons go to school, is a wonderful opportunity.”
As with her first book, Hansen's second novel revolves around the doings of two brothers, Charlie and Jack, who are modeled on and even named after Hansen's own sons, Charlie, 16, and Jack, 13. Other characters from around the community have also found their way into Hansen's narratives.
In “Avalanche of the Undead,” Charlie and Jack embark on a new adventure after their Christmas cruise in the first novel. This time, the setting is the slopes of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, where the brothers must navigate the elements and the zombie-infested slopes to help their friends and rescue their parents.
“I wrote the book my boys wanted to read,” Hansen said of her approach to literature. “I have teenagers who had a passion for reading and the way it all started, it's kind of an accidental thing.”
The books began as a bedtime exercise where the family would take turns writing up parts of a story and then sharing them. Ultimately, divergent ideas led to different stories and Hansen began writing a paragraph a night to share with her sons. The novel grew from there.
“It's a family project that turned into a novel,” she said.
With a preponderance of material in the zombie/vampire/werewolf genre, Hansen's books are also meant to be age-appropriate and family-friendly.
“These are books a middle-school teacher or sixth-grade teacher would be happy to have in the classroom,” she said.
As a biologist, Hansen said she appreciates the science in the possibility of zombies, but defers to the burgeoning authority on the undead in her house.
“The zombie expert in my house is Charlie,” she said. “I'll be working in one direction and run it by him and he'll say, 'No, Mom, this is how it works.'”
To date, through sales and donations of the first book, Hansen has given more than $1,400 back to schools including the funding of a $500 scholarship given by BPS to a graduating senior. Money and books have also gone to OPS.
She also has donated books to the Papillion-La Vista School District, Millard Public Schools and to school districts in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Alabama.
And with the help of Baker's, Hansen has sold about 750 copies of “Cruise of the Undead” and already about 400 copies of “Avalanche of the Undead.”
Hansen said she'd like to up the sales with her second book to the 1,000 mark.
“Baker's has been really kind and generous in their support,” she said. “That's the one thing you need in publishing, is someone who will help you and sell the book. If we can get the sales of 'Avalanche' up to 1,000 books, that gives us a chance to help that much more.”