Zombies have come a long way from pure horror shuffling brain eating monsters. They now come in all shapes, sizes, and speeds. They also aren’t just for Halloween anymore either. You can have zombies anytime (like pizza on a bagel, right?). Just look at “The Walking Dead”, it’s been on for 9 seasons, yup, 9 of them. And someone told me they’ve got a movie coming out too?
I confess, I don’t know much. I’ve never really been able to do horror. Not the bloody horror, and not the phycological either. My imagination is too active. The dark basement can still make me go running up the stairs. And I’ve totally wrapped myself in my blankets so the monster under my bed can’t get me (we have a deal about that). And since that imagination of mine likes to create things, I write. Usually about less horrific things.
But our third anthology is zombies. And I struggled with the whole thing. I had a premise and a vague setting. I wanted zombie mermaids and I wanted it set in a New England fishing village. I drew inspiration from Ralph Cahoon, whose art you might recognize. To me, he’s a household name. My mom grew up not too far down the street from his home. It’s a museum now, filled with his artwork, and I’ve been there. Cape Cod, where I spent much of my youth, felt like the right setting.
It was the zombie part that got me.
As I mentioned, I’m not a fan. I’ve never seen an episode of “The walking Dead”. My husband was lucky to get me to watch “Shawn of the Dead”. I confess, I totally enjoyed that movie. He also tried to get me to watch “Zombieland”, and my cohorts a Corrugated Sky tell me I should too. Maybe to celebrate the release of our Cold As Death anthology I will. I promise I will try my best to get through the introduction, this time. Despite those failures, I decided to go for reading zombie stories. I cheated a little and used books that my kids were interested in. “Plants vs Zombies”, a graphic novel based on the Pop Cap game. “Last Kids on Earth”, a chapter book about kids finding themselves alone trying to rescue their crush, and hopefully contact their parents.
I tried so many different ways to start the story. I tried typing it in, I tried hand writing it, nothing seemed to work. I restarted something, like, five times trying to get a plot or outline, trying to not make it easily solvable. Cause what zombie apocalypse has a happy ending? It’s not expected of the genre. Finally, I had characters. Two mains, and a small supporting cast. I found a cause for the zombie outbreak but, plot still eluded me a bit.
Still floundering, I joined Corrugated Sky at Hallowread. That’s when I got my break through. Michelle Schad came back with amazing thoughts brought about by the mind mapping panel she’d attended. Inspired by her enthusiasm, we proceeded to mash out a bit more on the male lead. And that lead to what finally became Merbane. And I think, I think it turned out pretty well.
I think it also stands up against the other three stories you can read in “Cold as Death”. We’ve all got a different take on zombies. A little Sci-fi, a little noir, a touch of humor, and a bit of fantasy. Pick it up, check it out, and give a zombie some love this Valentine’s day!