I recently attended a horror convention where I was on an author panel called “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.” Now, I was on several other author panels that weekend – how to write for YA, writing supernatural for YA, etc. – and there were a dozen or two people in each one. Not bad, but the zombie apocalypse panel? HUGE. I mean, standing room only, hanging out in the halls just to catch a word huge.
Probably 100 or more people crammed into one of those little hotel conference rooms. It was a great experience, sharing the panel with some bonafide zombie experts and a real live – sorry, living dead – zombie! But I couldn’t help feeling a *little* like an imposter.
I mean, these were hardcore zombie fans; some were even wearing makeup and all were out for blood, if you know what I mean. I couldn’t help but feel that if any of them actually got their hands on a copy of Zombies Don’t Cry, well, forget the zombies – they’d be tearing me limb from limb!
It made me think how far zombies had come from the day, two years earlier, when I’d consciously chosen to sit down and write a zombie story. Back then, of course, zombies weren’t the hottest ticket in town – it was vampires.
In fact, the whole reason I decided to write about zombies in the first place was because they were the literary underdogs at the time. Back then you pretty much had Stacey Jay, Amanda Ashby and the Generation Dead series; period. E. Van Lowe’s Never Slow Dance With a Zombie was brand new when I first sat down to write Zombies Don’t Cry. And now look at us. You literally can’t turn around these days without hitting a new zombie YA release.
Don’t get me wrong; I love it because you’re seeing all these new and exciting variations on the zombie themes, like the great things Jonathan Mayberry is doing with Rot & Ruin and exciting things happening like Warm Bodies being made into a movie.
But I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before the same folks who said “no more vampires” a few years ago are going to say “no more zombies”! So I have to ask… are zombies the new vampires?
It’s funny because if you have the word “zombies” in your title, all different kinds of people are going to read it. (You know, if you’re lucky and all that!) And some of them will be open and curious to read a new take on zombies, and others will want their hardcore zombie fix of blood and guts and BBBBRRRRAAAAIIIINNNNSSSS!!!!
Maybe that’s true of all genres, though. When I read a new vampire book, I’m generally looking for some twist on the genre, something unique and original, like Fat Vampire or The Reformed Vampire Support Group. But I’m sure there are many, many more folks who are looking for straight up love triangle, suck your neck, garlic and stake vampires as well.
But lots of folks, if you don’t write “their” type of zombie; look out – bad reviews a’ comin’. But I don’t think zombies are going anywhere soon. For one, there’s a lot of mythology and world-building left to do. Vampires have been around, it seems, forever. But zombies are fairly recent phenomenon and I think folks are enjoying the world building a lot – both writers and readers. And Hollywood seems downright obsessed with zombies, so that’s a good thing if they keep making good movies like Zombieland, and I have high hopes for World War Z.
Either way, I think I’m Team Zombie on this one. I can’t hate on vampires, though. I’ve got a few more vampire books in the pipeline, and I enjoyed writing them very, very much. It’s fun to work within the old lore and still try to do something new. But there’s something about zombies that keeps me coming back for more. I guess because, no matter how popular they’ve become, there’s still a lot of catching up to do if they want to be as popular, or even “cool,” as their vampire brothers and sisters.
So I guess, even though it may not seem like it at times, zombies are still the supernatural underdogs. And I’m always on the underdog’s side! How about you?
Yours in YA,
About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of several YA supernatural novels, including Zombies Don’t Cry, Ushers, Inc., Vamplayers, I Heart Zombie and Panty Raid @ Zombie High. Visit his blog, www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com, for news, reviews, cover leaks, writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!
Thanks from My Tower of Books to Rusty Fischer for the time and effort put into this post. Very interesting stuff :-D