Psst. Hey you! You, over there! C’mere!
I’m about to let you in on a little secret. It’s something I’ve been pondering for a while – a theory, if you will. One without proof, without quantifiable evidence. But I think it’s a sound one.
It’s this….and this is hard for a zombie fiction writer to say…but I think it’s true….
Zombies? You know, those lumbering, brain-sucking, undead creatures? They make the worst bad guys ever!
Here’s the thing. A good bad guy (antagonist, if we’re being intellectuals right now) is layered. Complex. A good bad guy – a really, truly well-written bad guy – is complex. He may not know he’s a bad guy, in fact. He (or she…I’m an equal opportunity writer, after all) may think he’s trying to do good. But his methods are often bad. Sketchy. Brutal, even.
A well-written bad guy makes you wonder…what would I do if placed in a similar situation. Or he makes you wonder if you’d be duped by him.
Whenever I think of bad guys, I picture Hannibal Lecter (and yes, I do picture Anthony Hopkins playing him because really, how can you separate the two??). I picture him in the prison room with the plexi-glass wall. I picture him trying to “help” Starling solve the Buffalo Bill crimes, all while trying to set himself free.
He’s the interesting bad guy in The Silence of the Lambs. Not Buffalo Bill. Lecter is cold and calculating, and a sociopath. He’s complicated. He’s tricky. He’s terrifying, because he can hide his bad guy tendencies, and if you met him on the street, you’d have no idea he’s really a cold-blooded killer. Right?
A zombie…is none of those things.
A zombie can’t think. He can’t feel. He can’t plan or trick or hide.
He’s just a feeding machine.
That’s why the best parts of zombie literature/film involve the interactions between the survivors. The people. The choices they have to make in order to see one more sunrise, one more sunset.
That’s what I tried to focus on as I wrote the three books in my Undead America trilogy. The people. In Undead America, the zombies, while always a threat, take a back seat to the threat of the survivors themselves.
Think about it. When you’re pushed to the limits of civilization’s collapse, and you’re facing starvation and the fear of death every single day…what would you do to survive? What choices would you make?
Would you run? Would you hide?
Would you kill other people, in order to avoid dying yourself?
These are the questions that interest me. These are the questions I tried to answer with these stories.
In Undead America, there are zombies, sure. But the true danger, the real threat to civilization as we know it, comes from the people who survive.
So. What would you do, if you lived in Undead America?
Millions died when the zombie plague swept the country. For the survivors, the journey has just begun. Jenna, Sam, and Lola are still alive. Jenna avoids human contact, traveling East Coast backroads with her boyfriend, a dog named Chicken, and a Louisville Slugger. Sam escapes to the mountains, where he's conscripted into a zombie-slaying militia sent on nightly raids to kill the undead...and innocent civilians. Lola's imprisoned in the "safety" of a zombie-free New Orleans hotel, but life grows more dangerous when her brother gets bitten by a zombie.
Jenna arrives in the French Quarter, lured by the false promises of New Orleans' drunken leader. There, she's ripped away from her boyfriend, drugged, and dumped in a death camp after refusing Franklin's sexual advances. Jenna and Lola's lives collide there, where the dead live and the dying are victims of gruesome medical experiments. Escape isn't easy: release the genetically-enhanced zombies from the lab to create a diversion, slip away, and don't get eaten. When Sam arrives, will he join the right side of the battle?
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Genre – NA-Horror, Sci-fi
Rating – PG-13
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