Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to Keep Zombies Fresh

I like to use a walk-in freezer, myself.

Ha ha. I don't get to make zombie jokes very often because, well, I don't really have the zombie thing.

I confess. I don't get it.

I mean - yes, I watched Night of the Living Dead long ago on a hot summer afternoon that did nothing to dispel the dark creepiness of that movie. It scared me silly. And then it pissed me off that the one guy who manages to survive the night gets mistaken for a zombie in the morning and killed.

Really hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone. But hey, that movie is nearly as old as I am, so I think you've had time to see it.

Still, with all of you gleefully going on about the zombie apocalypse, double taps and so forth seeming to enjoy it SO much, I feel like the kid in the corner pointing at the shuffling creature and saying "dude, a toddler could outrun that thing."

No, no - I get why this is a bit of horror for the human mind. Part of our fear and dread of death. Revenants are the fulfillment of both our greatest hopes and deepest terrors. Everyone at some point longs to have someone dead come back to them - and yet we know we can't have that and shouldn't want it. The utter wrongness of that reversal feeds the nightmare of the revenant. It also plays on our knowledge that we, too, will someday die. Zombies are the monsters we become.

So, to actually address this week's topic - how do you write about zombies or revenants and keep it feeling new.

I've already scattered those breadcrumbs, I hope.

You do it like you do to avoid any cliché - by digging beneath the surface of it. Instead of taking the easy route, go beneath, to the charge of emotion that fuels the thing. The inevitability of death and the subsequent corruption of the body. The perversion of natural order to bring the dead back to life. The obsessive terror that this, too, could happen to you....

Happy Halloween everyone!

And if you need a palate-cleanser after all that talk of death and would like to taste the opposite side of the coin, I'm participating in a fun little sale of erotic books. Sister Word Whore Carolyn Crane is also playing. You can check it out here.


  1. LOL Then you must know that I am one of those obsessed with zombies. In fact, I just posted this awesome zombie movie made at CERN by PhD students to my FB page, but here it is for your enjoyment too. ;-)

    A book that digs beneath the surface of a cliche and turns it around is Justin Cronin's The Passage. It's about zombie-like vampires...before and after the apocalypse. Two of my favorite fictional characters, meshed together in an awesome read.

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Laurie! I haven't read The Passage, but it sounds like I should! I love it when a writer pulls that off.

  3. Zombies rule!!!
    Zombies are the ultimate story saviors. Get stuck while writing: throw in a zombie and things start happening!

  4. I'm not a huge fan of the whole zombie thing. Saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time last year - and yeah, the end was stupid. Still, though, I got totally wrapped up in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy (Feed, Deadline and Blackout). She does such an awesome job using a zombie apocalypse as a backdrop for her plot and characters. She digs beneath and sets things on their ear. And her writing is so... Well, I don't have the words. She makes me want to be a better writer. (Oh, and Mira Grant is the other name for urban fantasy writer Seanan McGuire - who inspires a whole other writerly crush with her books.)

    :end gush:

    1. Ooh - that sounds like a very cool series! I'd like something that doesn't just devolve immediately into total crash of civilization.