Have you heard me talking about zombies and whatnot? I’ve hinted about them, but I’ve not explained exactly why I’m thinking about them so much. First off, where I come from, they aren’t called zombies. I can’t tell you what they’re called yet, because it’s a state secret and I don’t want the feds coming down on me like they did on the poor schmucks over at Wikileaks. Suffice it to say, the folks on this side think the term zombie is pretty silly when confronted with the real thing.
So, that’s the revelation. I’m writing a zombie book. Why? I’ll tell you why: people luv em’. Can’t get enough of the undead. All those movies, that TV show I railed about because of its plot holes, zombie parades, Thriller parties–everywhere you go, people are thinking about the zombie apocalypse. Well, the apocalypse isn’t what you think it’s going to be. The movies have steered you wrong.
The long and the short of it is this: I decided, after a long internal debate, that I wanted to write something that people might actually want to read. My first novel manuscript, called Body of Water, which is safely tucked away where no one will ever see it, was a dark and strange experiment to tell a story of an abduction through a communal voice. Who wants that? No one.
My second manuscript, Ghost Light, explored similar themes–missing people–but was slow paced and only had arson, infidelity, lies, a dark and haunted (but relatively passive) main character, and a shadowy old sea port town in which the characters played out their grief and tried to cope with those who had disappeared. No car chases or pirates. Who wants to read that? No one.
My third manuscript, The Aurora Project, was completely different. I was tired of the darkness and was thinking much of water–Tsunami amounts of water, Noah amounts–so I destroyed the world in the first few pages and then set humanity on a six-thousand year path of renaissance. It’s told in four parts, each separated by about two thousand years or two hundred generations. I like this one. Lots of mythic stuff. Adam and Eve. Migrations. Fires. Mysterious caves. Mysterious people in cloaks who speak a strange language. An invisible, interior sun! Who wants to read that (besides me, I suppose, because I kept writing it because the whole idea jazzed me)? No one, apparently.
I still have hopes for manuscripts two and three. Maybe some smaller, independent press will take a liking to them. Or maybe they aren’t weird enough for the small presses, and too weird for the large presses. I don’t know. Round all of this up with about three dozen short stories (I’m only counting the decent ones here, the flawed or failed ones…that’s a whole other abacus of counting) and you’ll have a pretty good picture of my literary life. Who wants to read short stories in America? A small cadre of people, sure. But mostly, no one. What’s a guy like me to do?
Answer? Zombies. Part of me feels like I’ve given up and am attempting to go commerical, but the other part is really thinking of this as a challenge. I’ve never had a plot driven project. Most of the books I admire are not necessarily rooted in plot–although some have magnificent plots, they just don’t seem like the first things the author thought of. But people want a good tale. They want to turn the pages. And that’s what I’m attempting to do with this manuscript. I’m plotting and writing a loose sketch on 3×5 cards. I’m now figuring out the big middle section. As it turns out, there’s ways a man might profit on the zombie apocalypse. Who knew? Anyway, that’s the new project. Trying to write something people might want to read.
Once I started thinking this way, I thought perhaps I might write other books that people might want to read. So, there’s also a Faerie story in the on-deck circle based on a Faerie family that Grace and I used to imagine together when we were camping. Think you know Faeries? Wrong. Not at all what you think they are.
Plus, there’s a story of some haunted photographs brewing too. All of this and more.
But first, Zombies. But don’t call ’em zombies. That just ain’t right.