Monday, 16 May 2011

“Bloouuurrgghhhhahh!” (That’s Zombie for “I want to eat your eyes!”) - Steve Feasey's Zombie Dawn Guest Post

One of the things that strikes me when I do school events and talk about classic horror creatures is just how popular zombies are. It surprises me because on face value there isn’t much about them to suggest what’s so appealing. They don’t have the charm and allure of their undead brethren, the vampires, but nevertheless, every student seems to have an opinion on them, and all have a favourite film, book or game featuring them. It’s a good job too because with the final book in the series, Changeling: Zombie Dawn, featuring the shuffling undead in a big way, I knew I would have to explore what the appeal was, and what I was going to do about my own particular take on them.

Zombies are problematical for a writer if you’re not embarking on a ‘world domination and mankind’s last stand against the undead’ type of book. And the reason that they’re a problem is that they proliferate so damn fast! It takes very few zombies very little time to multiply into a vast army of rotting, shuffling, brain-eating creeps. As Caliban says in the book: “They infect others around them and spread like a virus.” And that’s the problem. Once a zombie outbreak occurs, it quickly becomes a pandemic.

One of my favourite zombie books is Max Brooks’s World War Z. It’s a great take on the tried and tested zombie apocalypse theme, and is in my opinion one of the best books written on the topic. Max very quickly has the zombie outbreak infesting numerous countries, and within the blink of an eye the human population is on the verge of annihilation. It’s gory and funny and brilliantly imagined, and if you haven’t read it yet I recommend you do so. But I didn’t want a zombie plague that would quickly turn into a worldwide disaster; I wanted a suppressed outbreak that would be devastating, but manageable. So I came up with the idea for the containment dome that traps both humans and zombies alike, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew how terrifying that would be for those stuck inside. 

The other great thing about zombies is the ‘method of dispatch’ which has to be employed by anyone facing them down. And it would seem that the more gruesome the act of ruination, the better. Classic zombie theory (if there isn’t such a thing, there should be) would suggest that removing the head or destroying the brain are de rigueur when it comes to seeing off these pesky revenants, and that lends itself to some great (and often very funny) action sequences involving a wide variety of weapons. 

Before writing ZD I really got into The Walking Dead graphic novels by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, and I was really excited to find out that it was going to be made into a TV series. The books are amazing and, like World War Z, are ‘must reads’ for zombiephiles. Graphic novels can be an expensive hobby, so if you can’t afford the 80+ issues that the series is currently running to, ask your library for them. 

So there you have it: my take on zombies and the walking dead. Long may they shuffle and moan and groan because most of us can’t seem to get enough of them.


Huge thanks to Steve Feasey for taking the time to write this great zombie post for The Book Zone. The Changeling books have been one of my favourite series of the past few years and a review of Zombie Dawn will appear on The Book Zone in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. I still do not understand the allure of zombies, but thank you for the cogent explanation. Now, we just need to get the Zombie Dawn books to be available in the US! My students would love them.