Zombies. I love ‘em, point of fact. I guess that is all well and good, but I think I need to explain why. After all, they are not everyone’s cup of Darjeeling. As I have found when discussing the genre at conventions, the genre produces the marmite effect amongst the horror community. Some suggest that the genre is literally dead, one idea rehashed time and time again to serve the masses of zombie fans that exists the world over.
It certainly is a prime marketplace at the moment, the hunger of fans appears as insatiable as the undead themselves. Zombies are now mainstream, included in car advertisements and kid’s cartoons. We have to admit it, zombies sell. There are many indie writers jumping upon an already burgeoning band-wagon. Some results are genuinely absorbing, astonishingly good reads. Others are, well, let’s just say, zombie literature, like the movies, has a variety of standards.
I need to be clear that I have written in other genres and these books have not proven as successful in terms of sales as Necropolis Rising, my zombie novel released through Dark Continents Publishing in early 2011. I have to say that the success of this book was not as readily apparent as my need to write it. I had always wanted to write a zombie novel but made the decision to put things on hold until I had a premise that would not piggy-back existing literature and would bring something fresh to the table. Once I was happy with the plot-line the rest sort of fell into place. This was where I discovered being a fan, not an exploiter of the genre, came to the fore. You see, writing the book was easier because I was such a fan. I was aware of the lore and the interplay needed to make the story work for many of those hardcore zombie zealots, as well as draw in traditional horror fans who usually gave the genre a wide berth. Overall this has worked well (see the enthusiasm for the piece on www.zombiefiend.com) and is certainly informing the sequel, due out early 2013.
As a fan it has also been useful to have knowledge of those elements within the traditional approach to zombie literature that I needed to avoid in order to make the premise of the book fresh. Out went the post-apocalyptic setting. Whilst I have visited this in stories such as Ascension? (Hersham Horror Books) and Daddy Dearest (Wild Wolf Publishing), the concept of an apocalyptic setting for the book left me uncomfortable, the discussions of countless forums returning in strength.
But as any zombie fan knows, the real essence of the genre lies in the human dynamics throughout a story. Now, before a multitude of authors jump up and down and shout out about how this is important to any storyline, I argue here that no other horror genre has such a commensurate focus on the effects on the human condition. What I mean is: zombie fiction is totally and utterly about people. No monsters rising from the deep, no ethereal entities haunting folk to the point of madness. None of these things. just people, those who were and those who are, and how they have to survive. Any elements of horror rests in how they engage in the latter. Zombies in their need to feed, survivors and how they maintain any semblance of humanity.
And what constitutes humanity in a world that no longer functions? People will always matter.
Such nuances can meld into any zombie storyline - post apocalyptic or not - and it this, I would suggest, that has contributed to Necropolis Rising’s overall success as a project. This is why I love this genre above all others and why I will always come back to it, irrespective of the marketplace or where my muse takes me in the years to come.
Until then, I shall accompany Armand Rosamilia, Ian Woodhead, Todd Brown, Mark Tufo and John O’Brien, my fellow Summer of Zombie cohorts, and try to spread our passion for all things zombie throughout June and July 2012.
All that remains is to say a big thank you to Shaun for allowing me to stop by and witter on. Read his stuff, he’s great!