Zombies Believe In You
by Jay Wilburn
Publication date: July 7th 2014
by Hazardous Press
Illustrator: Luke Spooner
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Zombies Believe In You is a collection of original, never before published, zombie novellas written by Jay Wilburn and published by Hazardous Press. Each story takes the zombies to new realms including the distant future of the apocalypse, the realms of legends, and worlds of fantasy and romance. Two stories tell the same events from two different perspectives creating very different meaning to the same events and timeframe. Jay Wilburn offers an ambitious, new take on the world of zombies in each of these tales. Enjoy the offerings in Zombies Believe In You.
When Zombies Get Emotional
by Jay Wilburn
With a few marked exceptions, zombies are emotionally stunted. It is their mysterious emptiness the separates them as a monster. Vampires are written best when they are filled with a greater intensity of the range of human emotions – more passionate, more angry, more sad, etc. Were-creatures and shapeshifters have a pallet of emotions dealing with control and polar extremes of emotion between forms. The zombie is the empty shell unless an author decides to take a notable turn from the template. By contrast, the best zombie stories find a way to tap and express emotion among the characters and reflected off the seeming emptiness of the monsters.
The zombie is a blank pallet. Their imitations of the motions and appearance of life serve to illustrate the dark implications of the elements life. The things we do out of habit and tradition are mocked by the habitual muscle memory of the zombies. The institutions that rot and decay our lives and society become the feeding grounds of the zombies and they expose the darkness hidden underneath with meaningful social and cultural commentary.
The zombies serve story and character in a similar way. The conflicts, baggage, and secrets of the characters can all be shown in analogy, metaphor, and tableau with the zombies. Broken relationships and evil intent are all exposed and laid bare through the cold acts and hunger of the zombie horde.
Anything that pursues or holds the characters can be illustrated by the zombies. Zombie stories can address addiction, sexual identity, religion, aging, love, family, forgiveness, catharsis, guilt, and any other topic of human interest. The limit is defined by the imagination of the author and his or her ability to communicate that emotion and meaning to the reader.
To a more important level, the author must use the zombies to define the emotion. The action scenes of zombies chasing the humans, flushing out the characters, and threatening their safety need to be about character and story. It is logical that characters would come together to help each other survive; that is the reasonable choice in such a moment. But story is served when the less perfect and more realistic response is explored. People can come together, but conflicts can be brought to the surface at the same time. Insecurities and flaws can be exposed in moments of terror. Breakdowns in courage and relationships can add to the action. Secrets can be revealed in creative ways as the specter of death overtakes them. It can build the story as characters die and can add layers if they live to deal with those moments and face those choices and slips of truth.
If a zombie story has potential to expose the deepest, darkest, and rawest parts of being human, the author of zombie stories has a duty to do so for the reader. At the World Horror Convention in New Orleans in June of 2013, Joe McKinney gave a reading later the convention schedule. He was still debating what to read leading up to his evening reading. At the last moment, he approached the Dark Moon Books table in the vendors room and asked to borrow a copy of a particular book for the reading. He had a new story included in the special edition hardback of Best of Dark Moon Digest. I was familiar with his story because my story “The Interrogation of John Walker” was included in the edition and I had read McKinney’s story “Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens” as a result. The story was written as a tribute to a friend of Joe’s who had passed away. The friend’s wife requested the zombie story for her husband’s funeral and then they did not end up using it. As the wife in the story seeks to fulfill a last request, Joe uses the story to define the body and character of the man while alive compared to death. There was not a dry eye in the reading including the author himself. People came to buy multiple copies of the edition the next morning.
Why shouldn’t a zombie story bring readers to tears? It is about more than just coming up with a creative gimmick for the zombies. If the story deals with life, death, loss, and testing the human spirit, it should be written to a level that moves the reader to an emotional reaction. Give them something bigger to feel and something greater to root for than the zombies themselves.
~About the Author~
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in coastal South Carolina. He left teaching after sixten years to care for his sons and to pursue full-time writing. His novels include Loose Ends and Time Eaters. His collections are Zombies Believe in You, The Dragonfly And The Siren, and the forthcoming The Rip And The Rhythm. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.
Jay’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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