A few months ago I was reading a post on Ned’s Blog, one of my favorite places for intelligent, thought provoking commentary. Oh, and humor, I like it for the humor as well. My review for a book that doesn’t actually exist was posted on March 21st. That’s the same day I invented the flux capacitor, and also the same day I had a conversation with a friend regarding topics for me to write a book about. My friend suggested a psychological approach to explaining the trendy fascination with zombies. I’m pretty sure that has been done. But it started me thinking about the popularity of Twilight and wondering if the same story could be told with zombies instead of vampires. The next day I read Ned’s post and I knew what I had to do.
It started with a comment on Ned’s post, to test the waters of the internet with my idea. If a zombie approach to Twilight would be successful then I would know by the response I received from one other adult male who had just written a spoof book review on the subject. The response was positive so I started writing. Initially I expected it would only take me a week to write a full parody of Twilight with zombies instead of vampires, but that was way too optimistic.
I love to write, but my usual style is observational commentary, or school assignments. I haven’t written short stories since middle school, maybe a few in high school. Until I set out to write Twilight with zombies the longest piece of fiction I’d ever written ended up at 9,000 words. That’s about a tenth of a decent length novel. I was a little too optimistic about my one week book writing. Although I didn’t finish the book in a week, I am still writing it. I never created an outline. I never made a list of characters (until into the third chapter when I forgot some of the characters I had created). My initial plan was to parody Twilight, but instead I wound up writing a story with a similar plot, and some parodied elements. What I’m trying to say is, I never worked out a plot.
That’s how I write. I just sit down and go. The story writes itself (if only that were really true). I’m eleven chapters into the story now and it certainly isn’t turning out how I had originally conceived it to be in the vague way I originally conceived it. I’m happy with it. I hope other people will be happy with it as well. It isn’t a serious book, but it tells a serious story.
Twilight ripped off Joss Whedon’s vampire universe from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel was the brooding immortal who, having had his soul returned to him by Gypsy curse, was fighting evil and falling in love with teenage girls. Watch the early seasons of Buffy and tell me Edward wasn’t just a rip off of Angel. Angel drinks pigs blood instead of human blood! Anyway, between Whedon and Twilight and probably other writers whose works I’m not familiar with, vampires lost their scary monster status and became the hero. So I ask, why not zombies, too?
Everywhere we look zombies are slowly trudging along after one thing: your brain. I suppose in some of the newer representations the zombies are faster and more cunning than the original zombie manifestations, but they are still bloodthirsty and corpse-like. Why can’t zombies walk among us like the vampires in Twilight? Why can’t zombies look like people, be dead and reanimated, and eat cow brains instead of human brains? Why can’t a family of zombies settle in rural Texas, operate a cattle ranch and slaughter house, battle the CDC who is trying to contain the zombie-causing virus, and have a teenage daughter that develops a mutual romantic interest in a boy from school? These are important questions for our day, especially with so much interest in zombies for entertainment.
My book will answer these questions, primarily the last one which sort of explains my story line. For now I’m calling the book Dimwit, see the early cover concept at right for how I came to it. I’m not married to the title though, and I think I’d like to come up with something different. I might add the title of this post as a subtitle to the book. I’m not sure yet.
I would like to complete the story within the next month and then work on revising it and editing. I don’t expect my story to become as popular as Twilight, primarily because I’m not a fiction writer. What I do expect is for half a dozen people to read my story and think about the media injustice towards zombies, how they are always cast in the monster light, even in this day and age when vampires have become the heroes. Zombies can be heroes, too.