I’m dedicating this month on my blog to zombies to celebrate the release of my book Waste Not. Thus, I was super pleased when Becca Andre offered to do a guest blog here today. I “met” Becca on Twitter through Beth Cato (who will have a guest post or two here next week :)) and have always found her to be friendly, professional and well-spoken. So I won’t hold it against her that she’s blogging about why she doesn’t like zombies 😉
Also, the fabulous book covers you see scattered throughout this post are Becca’s but I’m the one who decided to use them to decorate the text here, because I think they are gorgeous 🙂
Something Nasty This Way Stumbles
by Becca Andre
Zombies. It seems they’re everywhere. I run across them in the books I read, the movies I watch, and the games I play. But I don’t understand this obsession with the undead. I find nothing appealing about these rotting husks of humanity. I put them in my own stories because they disturb me. That’s what authors are supposed to do, right? Dig deep, mine your fear. Well, dead things creep me out. Dead things that can get up and move around? Now that’s shudder-worthy!
I’ve always been drawn to creepy things. There’s just something about being afraid that makes me feel alive. I love haunted houses, nighttime walks in the forest, and cemeteries. While on vacation, I seek out hotels that are reported to be haunted, and once my family and I accidentally got locked in a cemetery after dark. (The family freaked on that one, but we were in a rental car, 800 miles from home. Even so, I thought it was cool.)
But back to the reason I’m here. Zombies. To me, the true power of the zombie is the infection story. Losing a loved one is hard. Having said loved one get up and need to be killed all over again, that’s the stuff of nightmares. The horror compounds when everyone you know becomes witless, brain-slurping monsters that chase down anyone who still has a few firing brain cells. (Zombies never seem interested in chomping on each other or the wildlife.) The zombie infection story is rife with conflict and emotion, but to me, the zombie in and of itself is just, well, gross.
I guess gross is the point when it comes to zombies. You are literally staring death in the face, witnessing the decay and the loss of humanity. The outward human resemblance is just a sad reminder of the person it once was. A twisted memory.
I think death fascinates and horrifies us in equal measure. I suspect that’s where my interest in ghost stories and cemeteries comes from. Which might explain why death and immortality are major themes in my current series. And you can’t explore death in a work of fantasy without zombies. (I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.)
In my fictional world, necromancers rather than infection animate the dead. Zombies make decent minions if you have the power to control them. They have superhuman strength, they run in packs, and they’re expendable. The problem is, that like a group of hyperactive preschoolers, zombies require constant supervision. You won’t be sending them off to complete missions on their own. Bank robbery? Nope. They’d eat the teller long before she could sack up the cash. But if you’re looking to strike terror in your victim, a pack of mindless flesh-eaters are sure to do the trick.
Zombies aren’t the only undead in my world. You’ll also stumble across the zombie’s twisted cousin, the lich. An animated corpse with his intellect attached makes a far more formidable opponent. If the lich is an undead necromancer who can in turn make the protagonist into a lich, that’s even better. Spending eternity bound to your rotting corpse would not be a pleasant way to go—or stay.
So no, I’m not a zombie enthusiast per se, but I do enjoy exploring the themes they represent. They also work great in black comedy (Zombieland, anyone?) and video games (I’m strangely obsessed with zombie-themed video games). But the zombie’s true horror is the mortality they force us to face.
Becca Andre is author of The Final Formula Series. It’s a story about a smart-mouthed alchemist who may or may not have found a potion that grants eternal life. In a modern world where magic has only recently returned, she must rely on her wits and a talent with explosives to discover the truth about a past she doesn’t remember. (The occasional zombie that stumbles into her path just makes things more interesting.)