Ivan Turner's Blog: Scraps
May 17, 2012
Maybe I shouldn't be admitting this publicly, but I don't really consider myself a zombie fanatic. All right, I have a fascination with the undead but that's largely come from role playing and fantasy rather than horror. A friend of mine introduced me to Night of the Living Dead when I was college and I thought it was amazing. Then we watched Dawn of the Dead and I didn't like it very much.
My problem with Dawn of the Dead was the way in which I approached the movie. I wasn't interested in a fun movie where there were zombies and fights and bad bikers (I don't remember much because I only saw it the once). I couldn't understand why these characters were clinging to what seemed a very finite solution to a very endless problem.
I think this was a major influence on me when I started writing Zombies! Apocalyptic fiction deals with the end of the world. To some people I think that's appealing (throw off the shackles of society and all that). Apocalyptic zombie fiction, however, comes with a particular kind of despair. If you read it or watch it, you go in knowing that there is no happy ending. But from my perspective, the fact that there is no real attainable goal for the characters, invalidates their struggle. I would like to note here that the best of the zombie authors do circumvent this problem. The characters in the Walking Dead, for example, are always trying to find a safe place to build a new life.
Leading up to the spring and summer of 2010, I had been reading a lot of zombie fiction. Since I was enjoying it, I was getting inspired to write some. I had published Forty Leap and it had stagnated quickly so I thought that if I could do a monthly series, I might get a bit more exposure. As a result, I began to think of multiple characters and interweaving story lines that could be told in an episodic format. Electronic publishing made this possible whereas I would never have been able to sell it in print.
When I began outlining Zombies, I had every intention of leading up to an apocalypse. After all, everything I had read had been apocalyptic. I thought, "I can do the apocalypse." My biggest problem with apocalyptic zombie fiction is that it always begins after the main event. Even when the characterization is excellent, such as in the Walking Dead, you don't really get to know what the characters were like before the zombies. So I planned half a series of stories that took place before the apocalypse. That half a series turned into a whole series. By the time I'd gotten that far in my thinking, I'd all but given up on the apocalypse entirely.
The result has been my take on zombies. Fighting them is a whole lot different when you're fighting for more than just your life.