Tuesday, October 8, 2013

30 Days of Halloween - Day 7: So, Zombies...

A little over a year ago, I was feeling cynical about our culture's zombie craze and I thought:  Pssht!  I'll write a zombie novel.  That'll show 'em.

Besides being a fairly absurd response to the craze on my part (add more zombie lore to the over-saturation, be part of the trend in order to buck it - yeah, that makes sense, Dan), it was also rash.  I quickly realised I was in no way ready to actually take on the writing of a novel, zombie or otherwise.  (I've since then gotten half a dozen finished short stories under my belt, and another half-dozen or so a brewin'--and I've even got down thousands of words worth of 'notes' about the zombie novel.  But I'm still working up the nerve to really write the thing.)

But I did learn this:  I like zombies.  Well, some zombies at least.  See, I was actually never all that into them. I loved classic monsters like werewolves and vampires long before they became de-fanged mega-pop confetti-fodder and I still do--even though I'm sick of them right now.  But zombies were just never my thing. But I did some moderate research for my proposed zombie novel.  I started with George A. Romero's classic 'zombie trilogy':  Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985).  I've seen a good handful more zombie films and have now read a few zombie novels, including a 'literary zombie novel' (Colson Whitehead's Zone One).  But nothing has impressed me as much as Romero's seminal films.  The middle film is by far my favourite with its now iconic setting of a few survivors hiding out in a shopping mall infested with thousands of zombie shoppers.  The imagery of gory, somnambulant consumers shambling perpetually through the only motions they know--it may almost sound like a cliche at this point, but it's still surprisingly powerful in the film.

The idea of my novel so far (titled Zomb Bombadil's Apokalypsis: A Phantasmagoria) is to have it told from the perspective of a zombie who 'woke up' one day--that is, in desperation he ate off his own hand and by that means recovered a ton of memories from the person he used to be.  A small group of these 'recovered zombies' start to band together.  It's a totally bonkers world they live in now - it's not just infested with zombies.  Time and space and reality are behaving very, very strangely and unpredictably, and there are many more monsters abroad than just old-fashioned zombies.  It becomes a journey of self rediscovery and trans-continental exploration.  Its themes are false resurrection and false apocalypse vs. real resurrection and real apocalypse.

Anyway, it's probably not needed, but it's an interesting experiment for me as an artist and 'monster theorist'. I at least gained more respect for a unique modern monster through giving it a go.