CHECKING IN WITH ZOMBIES
Posted on October 14, 2011
Okay, I have to admit to being a huge zombie fan. I read a ton of zombie books, follow THE WALKING DEAD in comic form and on TV and especially love all the YA zombie books that are starting to show up. It's not the gore and body parts that captivate me. I actually have a pretty low tolerance for that. It's the on-the-run vibe, the intense character moments, and the big question of what next that I find so appealing about zombie fiction.
Since I wanted to do a project that would have a very dark edge to it, I found myself drawn to trying my hand at a zombie book. The title came to me: TURNCOATS. With the title, the central conceit played out in my mind immediately. A living teenage boy, Nathan, is visited by his sister's best friend, Trina, days before the true zombies show up. The hitch, Trina has been dead for over a week herself. She warns Nathan of the impending apocalypse and the two of them soon see the world around them descend into chaos. Trina has visions and nightmares that tell her Nathan is the key to ending the evil invasion that is spreading with every bite.
The two, along with a small group of friends and family set out in the changed world to be greeted with mistrust from both the living and the dead. Nathan is branded a traitor for being with a zombie and Trina is shunned by the ravenous creatures that grow in numbers with every day.
The first book, OVERRUN, is about set-up and action with heaping helpings of swell character moments. It's been the most rewarding book to write, and I can't wait to see it unleashed on the world.
I found writing such a full-throttle story held many attractions. It got me writing faster because of the intensity of the action. That really pushed me to reach the end of a chapter whenever I sat down to write.
I found inspiration from my own experiences. When Nathan flees the grocery store with his mom in the back of a watermelon truck, that came from my teen years working as a produce clerk and unloading umpteen watermelons from the back of a straw-laden truck bed. Of course, I never used the melons to fend off a throng of zombies. Either way, its back-breaking work.
The kudzu sequence came to me after my children pointed out a massive mound of kudzu piggybacked on a tree making it look like a stooped green gorilla. I then began to wonder if kudzu could be a possible hiding place from zombies. Adding that element, keenly placed the setting in the South. North Carolina to be exact.
TURNCOATS is a book that is the most alive of any of my creations. Sort of fitting since it's all about dead folk. I plan on doing edits in the next two months and start out the new year pitching it to agents.
As you can see from the counter, I made my 65,000 word goal today. Well, the story still has a few more pages. Probably about 5-7,000 more. I'm hoping to finish it next week.
Now, I have to go proof the last three chapters. If you need me, I'll be knee-deep in the thesaurus looking for fitting replacements for dismembered and medulla oblongata.