Posts Tagged zombies
Just made it in from a whirlwind week in NYC at Thrillerfest. I am so tired I want to DIE, yet my stupid biological clock still has me up at dawn despite how exhausted I am. Of all places, though, NYC seems to be the favorite place for moviemakers to destroy or infect. That and LA. Though I will mention the aliens never land in Texas.
Probably because the movie would be 15 minutes long :D.
One of my close friends, Piper Bayard, wrote a fabulous book, Firelands which deals with a post-apocalyptic world where religious fanatics now rule a world in ruin and use food to control the masses. In the spirit of her book, I wanted to discuss the apocalypse. That and I just spent a week in NYC walking through “mystery puddles”…which makes me wonder….
Why is the zombie apocalypse so fascinating to us?
Never Underestimate Zombies
One of the wonderful parts about being a writer is we are really well educated…too well educated. Any writer worth his or her salt reads…a lot. I recall (back in college) reading The Hot Zone, which is an absolutely terrifying book. Terrifying in its premise, sure. But also terrifying because it is based off real events.
For those who don’t know, Ebola actually made it to the United States in a shipment of infected monkeys back in the early 90s.
Ebola happens to be one of the most frightening diseases I’ve ever read about. Ebola Zaire, the most virulent of all the strains, essentially liquifies a victim within less than 12 days. The mass destruction it does to the body is the stuff of nightmares.
The virus does a number of nasty deeds to the body, but namely it attacks all the connective tissue from the inside out causing catastrophic internal hemmorhaging. This means the organs (including the brain) essentially turn to pudding because there is nothing left to hold everything together.
As a response, the body throws out all its clotting agents trying to keep the infected person alive…until it runs out of clotting agent and then the person just begins to bleed…from EVERYWHERE. Blood teeming with active virus begins to pour from the nose and mouth and eyes until the victim is rendered a puddle of infected blood, bone and tissue.
Um, cleanup on Aisle Five?
This is how the virus spreads—via blood contamination. The victim is literally dead before they die, their face sliding off the bones because nothing is left to maintain/support the facial architecture.
What makes Ebola especially horrific is that it’s only a few peptides and mutations from being something airborne. If something like Ebola spread like the flu? We’re toast. This is what The Hot Zone addresses. A version of Ebola (similar to Zaire in burn rate) really made it to the US…and it spread through the air like a cold.
I won’t say any more because this is a really fabulous book, but part of why it was so scary is IT FREAKING HAPPENED.
Ebola happens all the time in Africa and how do they deal with it? I call it the Three B’s—bleach, bury and burn. When a village has an outbreak, the authorities will cut down trees to block any roads leading to the village…and wait for everyone to die. Ebola Zaire has roughly a 99% kill rate. Almost no one ever survives. Authorities wait for everyone to be dead then torch the place.
The Scary Part About Viruses
Viruses are a lot like politicians and Kardashians. They are parasitic and they will adapt as much as needed to survive. If they burn through a species, they’ll change to be able to burn through another. If contamination via blood isn’t working? A virus is fully capable of changing tactics, like marrying Kanye West and naming it’s kid something seriously stupid like North West.
Sorry, forgot we were discussing Ebola.
As populations get larger in countries like Africa, China and South America (ideal virus petri dishes because of climate and population density) we are invading areas of rain forest no human has ever set foot in. A virus might be inert or less virulent because local wildlife has developed immunity over time, and then? Virus spots the equivalent of a Twinkie on two legs (people). NEW JUNK FOOD!
Viruses have no long-term planning capabilities. They suck at having an IRA or even going to college. They just want to consume no matter the expense to the host, much like deadbeat in-laws.
But Isn’t This Why the Zombie Fascination is So Strong?
I love vampires, wizards, werewolves and the like, but zombies hold a unique fascination. Why? Because I think deep in our collective subconscious, we realize this is something that could happen…which is why you need a plan (but that is totally another blog).
I was one of the
fortunate first people to get Swine Flu. Hey, I’m an early adopter. What can I say? I contracted Swine Flu a year before we had a pseudo-pandemic. I had 105 fever for almost 12 days, and not only did I want to die? I wanted to die, be cremated, then have someone shoot my ashes it was so bad.
We live in a scary world. Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, and the Kardashians.
Come on! The Kardashians already have a reality show and have invaded QVC. If they manage to marry and breed faster? We could be looking at a world filled with mindless people wearing too much lip gloss and trashy shoes and being permitted to name their own children *shivers*. If a Kardashian meets up with Ebola? They could spread through sneezes and unwashed hands. Next thing we know, we are filled with botox, unable to move our foreheads or articulate an intelligent thought.
Sounds like zombies to me.
What are your thoughts? Most of us aren’t afraid of a vampire invasion, but zombies? A lot of us still get that niggling, “What if?” Why do you think we do that? Is it because we think it might happen? Is it because we’ve spent too much time watching The Bachelor or Toddlers and Tiaras?
I know you guys are geeks and have thought this through, so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.
At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
Got home from Thrillerfest early this morning…as in about 1:00 this morning. Made it to bed slightly before 2:00 a.m. and then The Spawn was up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30. So you might have guessed that I feel like I have been hit by a truck. But, I haven’t blogged since last Monday so I figured I’d pop in and say hello before you started holding candlelight vigils and checking milk cartons to find me.
Oh, and forget the milk cartons. I’ve left instructions that if I ever go missing to put my picture on wine bottles so my friends would actually know I am missing.
I guess the good news is that there was no Zombie Apocalypse while I was away in NYC. I would be lying if I said wasn’t at least a little disappointed. But I am going to L.A. (Anaheim) next week, so I will still make sure to pack my 5 TSA-Friendly Weapons for the Zombie Apocalypse, because we all know that pandemics that turn living humans into the walking dead never happen when you need them to. Like when you have been screwing off instead of writing and really need more time to make your deadline or when you have to clean out the refrigerator.
Though my refrigerator, from the looks of things, could unleash the zombie pandemic so I think its best I leave that be for now until I can call the CDC and ask about proper liquid lettuce disposal. But the CDC doesn’t believe in zombies, and they don’t
return accept my calls…so I’ll let Shawn clean it.
New York was SUPER AMAZING. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE New York City. Some of you may not know this, but my dad was a Texan and my mom is from New York, so I’ve spent much of my life very verklempt, y’all. It took all of an hour before I felt right at home. NYC is an extrovert’s DREAM. Beautiful buildings, lots to see, great energy, fabulous food…but a tad expensive.
Anyway, Thrillerfest was fabulous. My panel went really well, and is feels like a real victory for WANA. I think the future is bright for writers and it can be for publishing as well. They just need to change their approach and update their business model, but we will talk more about that later in the week when I’m no longer hallucinating from sleep-deprivation.
The pink bunnies aren’t REAL?
I was blessed to meet some of my author heroes:
Yes, I am a total groupie and got as many pictures with famous people as possible. In fact, my friend James Scott Bell said I reminded him of Forrest Gump because every time he saw me I was standing next to some famous person. I still haven’t decided whether I should be insulted or flattered.
I was super sad to leave NYC and I really hope I get an opportunity to return there soon. It was so wonderful getting to meet with my WANA peeps and to make new ones. Publishing is going through a lot of growing pains, but it was a real blessing to be able to show them the WANA way, that we are not alone, that the future can be truly wonderful if we all work together. We can’t use tools of yesterday to carve out tomorrow. It’s like Forrest said, Stupid is as stupid does.
Hmmm, maybe Jim was on to something comparing me to Gump :D.
Well, off to try and rest. I am dreading the refrigerator and we have no food in the house that isn’t a possible source of Ebola. Also have a 55 pound suitcase that needs unpacking and somehow I made it to this point in my life and STILL do not have servants. Not like that would matter. I’d be getting the maid a drink while she got off her feet and I “helped.” I am pathetic, and tired, and needing chocolate. I ate pancetta with polenta for breakfast because it was the only thing in the house still edible. The fact that everything started with P and sounded all fancy Italian was just a happy accident.
So what are your thoughts? Have you been to NYC and loved it? What did you see or do? What would you recommend if I return? What are your thoughts on famous people? Have you met any? Were they awesome or snotty? Are you a groupie too? Did you just HAVE to get your picture taken with them? Who is the most famous person you know? When you go on trips, do you hate returning to your fridge? Unpacking? What is the best and worst part of traveling in your opinion?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
***Changing the contest.
It is a lot of work to pick the winners each week. Not that you guys aren’t totally worth it, but with the launch of WANA International and WANATribe I need to streamline. So I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners will now have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
Happy Halloween! Today, I have a special treat for you guys. We have been talking about structure for the past few weeks and one of the greatest resources available to writers is James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. But, we can talk more about structure tomorrow. Few holidays offer such a rare opportunity to rufie & coerce….um, interview successful writers like Jim. Who needs a legitimate appointment for an interview when you have Snickers loaded with Rohypnol?
They fall for it every time!
For those who don’t know, not only is Jim an awesome writing teacher, he is also a very successful fiction author, and, before he was a writer, he was a lawyer. Thus, he brings a unique perspective to the fiction table through the P.O.V. of *drum roll* …a zombie. Now you guys understand why Jim was perfect to
kidnap interview for Halloween.
Me: Jim, you awake?
Jim: Ow. My head…
Me: I have Red Bull and some aspirin…if you cooperate.
Jim: Am I in a van? I AM. Wait…this is the same van that abducted Jim Rollins isn’t it?
Me: Hey, I can’t help it you guys keep talking to strangers with candy.
Jim: Fair enough. You could just ASK for interviews, you know.
Me: But then what would I use this van for?
Jim: Good point.
Me: Okay, I want to talk about your new book PAY ME IN FLESH. Aside from having to eat brains and human flesh, what makes Mallory Caine different from herself after zombification?
Jim: Other than those minor matters, she doesn’t have a soul. She doesn’t feel at home in the world. She feels that forces outside her are trying to control her, and if she doesn’t reclaim her soul before some zombie killer gets her, she fears she will spend eternity in hell. The stakes, in other words, are kind of high.
Me: Wow. Great answer. You are very coherent for someone who’s been drugged and duct-taped to a bench seat.
Jim: Law school training *shrugs*
Me: What are your “world rules” for this series and how do they differ from standard zombie rules? For example, what is the explanation for the zombies retaining their mental faculties?
Jim: One nice thing about paranormal “rules” is that you can make them up as long as you’re consistent. I mean, zombies were not flesh eaters until George Romero. Before that they were simply mindless and controlled. I combined all of that, but with the proviso that a zombie with a strong enough will can resist being controlled. Mallory is strong-willed, for sure. She is fierce and intelligent and witty. But there’s something else going on, too. A greater scheme of things she is only slightly aware of….
….Can I get something to drink? I feel like I have a sock in my mouth.
Me: Oh, yes, well you did have a sock in your mouth. Sorry I picked the fuzzy pair. You can have something to drink…after the interview.
Jim: Fine. You see, Lucifer has decided to set up war headquarters in Los Angeles. Which means: stuff happens. She’s caught in the middle, caught between worlds—the world of the living and the dead, and the world of demons and angels and talking owls and ancient gods coming to LA for a confab.
Do you have a thing for kidnapping authors named “Jim?”
Me: Maybe. Back to my questions. How high (or low) is the rate of decay? Will Ms. Caine begin to lose body parts throughout the series?
Jim: Mallory has to take care of her skin, because it is subject to drying and falling off. She has to put special cream all over herself each day, and ingest shark cartilage. Her jaw will sometimes become loose and she has to knock it back in place. When she is knifed or shot, it leaves a mark. Eventually she could look like a dart board if she’s not careful.
Me: Are zombies able to reproduce? Will Ms. Caine have an affair that results in a zombie baby?
Jim: One of the poignant subtexts is Mallory’s desire to have children and be married, but now, in her present condition, she can’t be either. When she gets close to a man she’s attracted to, she can’t help but think what his brain might taste like. It makes her sad and angry at the same time. Is there a chance she can ever get out of this condition? She keeps hoping, but hope is beginning to run thin unless she can find out who is behind her condition.
Me: Fantasy readers are notoriously picky and clannish. What are you offering to entice them over to your “camp”?
Jim: Something different. It’s good to stretch the genre a little bit. This has never been done before: a zombie legal thriller series with a first-person voice and hard boiled attitude. It really lets me combine a bunch of things I love into one narrative.
Also, these are not throw away stories in the legal department. Real questions about law as it would apply to paranormal beings is a great field for exploration.
For example, in PAY ME IN FLESH Mallory defends a vampire hooker accused of murder. A few questions arise: if they county locks her up, is she entitled to blood as a civil right? If she can’t come out in the daytime, doesn’t that mean the trial has to be held at night?
And so on. And when we get into a courtroom, I bring my trial experience to the pages. How would the questioning of a vampire? What expert witnesses would be brought in? How would a judge rule on points of evidence law?
Me: As a former attorney, how much of this is a reaction to the way people tend to treat lawyers in general?
Jim: I haven’t really thought of it in those terms. I did like the original spark: some people think there’s really no difference between lawyers and zombies! And I just felt a zombie was entitled to be a sympathetic lead character for change.
Me: In a comment on a recent interview, you mentioned J.J. Abrams, the director. Why was his the name that popped into your mind then as opposed to, say, Jerry Bruckheimer or even Joss Whedon?
Jim: That was in response to someone who said, “I think Zombie Lawyer in LA is one of the best high concept premises ever. I can already see the movies: Sandra Bullock as the lawyer, Scarlett Johansson as the vampire hooker and George Cloony as the Deputy DA.”
I said, “From your keyboard to J. J. Abrams’ ears.” Why Abrams? His record speaks for itself. He’s an outside-the-box guy.
Me: All the best fiction, be it written or film, teaches. What lesson do you want to teach with Mallory Caine as the instructor?
Jim: I actually don’t want to state the theme here. It is being developed all through the series. It will be much more satisfying for readers to get to it themselves.
But as for Mallory the character, her dedication to bringing justice to her clients is her passion. That’s what made the early Perry Mason books so popular. Mason was a fighter. So is Mallory Caine.
Me: Shaun of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead, and why?
Jim: Shaun, for sure. I like funny.
Me: For me to let you go, I need you to answer one key question.
Jim: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Me: No, that was for the “Other Jim.”
Jim: Hmmm, and I’d been studying up on that just in case.
Me: Forget the swallows. If the answer is “42″ then what is the question?
Jim: Life, the universe and everything, of course.
Me: I recommend tucking your body into a ball. The landing is easier.
Jim: Wha–? *door opens*
Me: NICE landing!
All right, I hope everyone enjoyed my
interrogation interview with nationally best-selling author and awesome writing teacher James Scott Bell. Just so you know, no actual authors have been harmed during these abductions interviews. Oh, sure maybe there was a tad bit of psychological trauma, but just think of it this way. If they write what they know, their writing can only improve after such an experience. So think of this less as a “hostage situation” and more like…research.
Tomorrow we will resume talking about structure, and, if Jim forgives me for the whole “I drugged you then abducted you in a scary panel van” we might have him back to talk about writing and craft. I feel good about him returning, since everyone knows that writers are total masochists.
Do you guys have any questions for Jim? I can pass them on at my parole hearing. Any other authors you would like me to
abduct interview? No, I will not abduct Bob Mayer. Research demonstrates that Green Berets only fall for the Free Candy thing 50% of the time. Too risky.
I do want to hear from you guys!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of November, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of October I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
I will announce the winners for last week and last month tomorrow.
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left.