Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing about ZOMBIES--in a way...ZOM ALIVE:2110

Recently I wrote a long novella about "Zoms." The title deliberately didn't call them "zombies" and in the story they aren't called that. In fact, one of the featured characters is a Zom and tells the reader he is not zombie, don't call him one.

The idea came to me when I saw yet another shambling, mindless zombie stagger across my TV screen in some movie or other. Entertainment is rife with zombies at the moment. Zombie TV series, Zombie movies, and Zombie books. Although I have read one zombie novel that I enjoyed, DEADHEADS:EVOLUTION by Franklin E. Wales, for the most part I do not read books about zombies and I don't watch TV shows or movies about them. Why? Because they make absolutely no sense to me. They're DEAD, but animated? Really? They eat human brains, why? In my reality dead is dead. Dead is not going to rise up and walk again and it certainly isn't going to eat anything, human or not. Also, how interesting is a creature that has no thoughts beyond hunger? And the survivors who flee from zombies? How interesting are people who run from dead shambling humans who can't even speak? Ooooo, so scary.

You might say well, what about vampires and werewolves and ghosts and other monsters? I can go for those on occasion. I can find a way to suspend my disbelief if the writer is a good enough storyteller. I've even written an entire trilogy of novels that was published by DAW Books about vampires and I tried to make them as believable and as human as possible.

I simply cannot contend with a creature we call a zombie that is dead, has no thought processes, and moves around only to snack on human flesh. Logic doesn't allow me to accept such a creature.

Therefore, I thought about what kind of creature I could believe in and it was a human being who has been infected by a virus let out accidentally from a laboratory. A human that was "zombie-like" in that the person no longer had control over his own mind when he felt anger and rage. A person ruled by his lizard brain, his primitive brain, the one that has no concept of empathy or control over action. That's how I began writing ZOM ALIVE: 2110. I decided it was time, in the annals of zombie literature, to bring the zombie under the rules of logic and give him back his humanity.

There are trends in literature and in national media that come along and right now it appears to be zombies. There's the Zombie Apocalypse (whatever that could be), there's zombie calendars, zombie bumper stickers, zombie T-shirts. I don't know about you, but I'm zombied to the hilt these days and hoping some other imaginative creature will come along in horror to read about finally. One that makes some sense.

I'm not saying your love of zombie fiction and film isn't your own business or that you are less than worthy for liking it. I'm just stating a fact from my own personal opinion--not trying to make the whole nation who loves zombies come raining down on my head! I understand the world today is in flux and there's a great deal of tension and worry. Anything creative that lessens that anxiety can only be good for us. It's just that zombies don't do it for me. Give me a haunting ghost, a revenge-filled revenant spirit, a skulking werewolf, a Frankenstein, a gargoyle or goblin. Give me a Hobbit. But please, don't ask me to read about the usual zombie, or ask me to watch another zombie movie, or tell me about the latest doings on The Walking Dead because, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Having said that, if you're in the mood for something different in the zombie genre, if like me you have trouble suspending your disbelief for the shambling dead, give my novella ZOM ALIVE: 2110 a little try.

Happy reading!