Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #SummerofZombie

Summer of Zombie 2015

“What’s So Scary about Zombies Anymore?”

by Jay Wilburn

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I was on a zombie panel at Mid South Con in Memphis this past March 2015. It was mildly attended as zombie panels tend to be at broad fandom conventions. We had a discussion afterward whether or not zombie panels are becoming part of the white noise of the zombie subgenre. During the panel, questions from the audience steered into the realm of what ideas work in zombie stories and what notions pushed them, the audience members and readers, out of the story. Some of the complaints seemed to be specific to the individuals in some ways and those are hard to address in writing a story for every man. The discussion drifted into what actually makes a zombie scary anymore and I contended then and still do now that zombies don’t necessarily have to be scary for the zombie story to work as a horror story or as a piece of literature apart from horror specifically.

Horror as a genre broadly deals with negative emotions. It has greater potential for emotional extremes by having deeper, darker lows that can bring out higher victories within the story and even potentially for happy endings. Zombie stories seen as horror are allowed to use all of these emotional options. Fear is a big one. Fear can be terror and revulsion, but it can also fear of letting the family down or fear of failure. Horror can also include anger or despair. These explorations of the negative don’t require moments of terror at the appearance of the zombies.

Zombie stories are also survivalist dystopian apocalyptic tales. It is a subgenre that may well be a side genre away from horror. Apocalyptic stories are as likely to be categorized as sci fi as they are horror. This emancipates the zombies to be literary in their structure. I’m making this argument to jockey for a Nobel Prize for my zombie literary achievements, of course.

Zombie stories and writers are served by being able to work in the colors of fear though. It is a layer that should not be abandoned entirely if for no other reason than to realistically portray the fear that would be felt by the characters within the context of the story.

One important tool for this fear in story is realism. This brings up some of the points of criticism broached by the audience members in Memphis. Some of them did not like the idea that everyone carried the virus and everyone turns upon death. They did not find that realistic. There are ways to explain that vested in science that could work for a story, but sometimes it is realistic that you wouldn’t know. The unknown inspires fear. I know some zombie authors that spell out the science and process of their virus in extensive detail. Others take the path that the every man in his living room would be unlikely to stumble across the lab with all the answers as he fled the undead. Both approaches can be written well. Both could be written badly.

The small strokes in describing zombies and violence can be the difference between invoking fear, humor, or boredom. Shambling isn’t a scary word anymore to zombie fans. If we actually saw a reanimated corpse shambling toward us, we’d pee our pants, but that word as an adequate describer is worn out. You have to go more specific and new in the word choice. Look into the shadows and the small motions of the shambling body to find the describer that paints the picture and reinvokes the fear that would really be there. Don’t create a new overused word. I try to have flesh slough off the bone no more than one time per piece – if even that often. One spot of decay described in painful detail on an individual, stalking body or the movement of a shoulder described just oddly enough can be all that is needed to create the unease needed.

Realism changes a little with time. Sometimes it is used just to keep the reader in the story. Zombie fans are becoming more sophisticated in their preper knowledge. Don’t leave the power on too long nor keep the toilets flushing after the utilities go out. Don’t let cars start too easily too long into the apocalypse. Don’t have everyone go Mad Max wearing tire armor and worshipping the Moon two weeks into the apocalypse, but don’t leave the grass mowed too long either. Don’t have your lone character who was an accountant building a super fortress single handed. All of these things push the readers out and they are lazy story telling and world building. It tells the reader that the author didn’t take the time to think out the details.

The times have changed in terms of the zombie’s place in popular culture. If we were writing a story in the 1990’s or even early 2000’s, you had to have a scene where the characters figure out what is going on and how the zombies die. There was a transition where zombie stories seemed to be set in a universe where zombie movies didn’t exist. The current era would not seem to realistically support characters that have no idea what a zombie is. This provides new challenges for stories to shock the readers and shock the characters that had to have seen a zombie movie by now.

When Dan Aykroyd wrote the first treatment of Ghostbusters, he had the teams fighting ghosts around space in the future. The key change was setting the story in New York in the present day. In the story we know, the ghosts are interesting against the backdrop of the known. In space in the future, the ghosts would be no different than alien monsters in any other movie. The choice of context and stripping out the extra distracting elements makes the difference in the mood of the story and the anchor point of the audience following the story.

Zombies can reflect a wide range of purposes and emotions in readers and for characters in the story. The awareness of the zombies’ descriptions and actions within the context of each other, proximity, setting, and other surrounding details can orchestrate that mood. Hearing, smelling, feeling, or tasting them in some way may be more powerful than seeing them, if those details are used at the right times in the right ways. A zombie not moving can be unnerving, if shown in the right way. Zombies in the daylight can be scary, if portrayed properly. If the tools that make them scary at night are used in a clumsy way in the daylight, it can be disappointing.

The audience of zombie fans is expanding out of horror and out of normal genre circles. Not all of these new fans are automatically readers, necessarily genre readers, or natural zombie readers. There is a challenge to convince them to pick up the books. The same challenge still exists to serve those that do pick up a story whether they are long-term fans or new to the written zombie story

Zombie fans are a partially known factor and many of the long-term or hardcore fans know the storytellers well. Many of them know the tricks and are no longer impressed. When a person has a stance and you want to knock them over, you have pick the angle that pushes against their weakness or surprises them. This can be taking a story in a direction other than fear or finding a way to deliver fear in an unexpected way. Zombie fans deserve great stories delivered in a great way. They have waited long enough.

Check out the first book in the Dead Song dodecology and the soundtrack The Sound May Suffer for the story told through words, pictures, and music. This is my attempt to push in a different direction.

Check out The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals

http://jaywilburn.com/cover-reveal-dead-song-legend-book-1-january-from-milwaukee-to-muscle-shoals/

Check out the five song sound track in The Sound May Suffer … Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January

http://jaywilburn.com/cover-reveal-ep-soundtrack-the-sound-may-suffer-songs-from-the-dead-song-legend-book-1/

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Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He was a teacher for sixteen years before leaving to become a full-time writer. He writes in many genre. His Dead Song series book 1 is available now along with the five song soundtrack The Sound May Suffer.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Saul Tanpepper #SummerofZombie

Rock the Rot: Demystifying Decay in the Undead

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With a fondness that the uninitiated have difficulty fathoming, we fans of the undead often find ourselves referring to the zombie scourge as rotters. But the use of such an epithet belies a systemic lapse by contributors to the literature: our rotters don’t rot. At least, not in ways that adhere to the natural processes of decay.

Putting aside arguments of suspension of disbelief (after all, we’re talking reanimation here!), it’s understandable that writers in the genre generally eschew the technical minutiae of decay in their stories, opting instead to focus on the dramatic details that move a plot along. What fun would it be if we forced our zombies to conform strictly to the laws governing decomposition? A walker that stiffens up with rigor after a few hours, or simply falls apart within a few days because its tissues have turned to goo, is no longer going to be able to chase you. That doesn’t make for a very frightening scenario. Or an entertaining one for that matter, depending of course on your point of view.

But the judicious insertion of a few choice gory (and technically correct) morsels can add a lot to an otherwise shambling tale. Factual details can lend a sense of realism. They can enhance the reader’s guttural sensitivity to scenes, greatly heightening terror and disgust. Most importantly, a little inventive description can help excuse zombies from the rules of rot, even if the rest of us are destined to become dust.

Taphonomists (people who study the decomposition of organisms) and forensic pathologists describe five general stages in human decomposition:

  1. Initial Decay (also amusingly referred to as “Fresh”)
  2. Bloat
  3. Purge
  4. Advanced Decay
  5. Dry (or Remains)

Initial Decay (0-2 days post mortem)

  • Autolysis – “Self-eating.” Aerobic (oxygen-dependent) respiration and energy production cease, resulting in a loss of cellular homeostasis and integrity. Carbon dioxide accumulates, raising tissue pH and triggering the release of catabolic (digestive) enzymes from cellular storage structures (lysosomes). The cells are literally digested from the inside out. Destruction of the membrane releases cytoplasmic constituents into the spaces between cells, essentially turning tissues into vichyssoise.
  • Algor mortis – Body temperature begins to drop almost immediately following death.
  • Livor mortis – Also called lividity. Blood pools under force of gravity to lower portions of the body.
  • Rigor mortis – Occurring 2-6 hours post mortem, the stiffness (rigor) is caused by the leakage of calcium ions into muscle tissues, thus preventing the relaxation of contractile proteins. The state peaks roughly 12 hours post mortem and dissipates until putrefaction begins (roughly 2-3 days after death).
  • Putrefaction – No longer held in check by the body’s natural defense mechanisms, bacteria (mostly from the stomach and intestines) begin to proliferate. They spread to all parts of the body primarily via the lymphatic and vascular systems. Fungi also begin to flourish.

Bloat (2 days post mortem)

  • Bloating – Anaerobic bacteria (not requiring oxygen) produce various gaseous byproducts (hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen). A body in “full bloat” can be swollen to twice its original size. Abdominal distension usually occurs first, as this is the site of initial putrefaction.
  • Frothing – Tissue liquefaction and the buildup of pressure can force the escape of fluids from various orifices (mouth, eyes, nose, anus).
  • Marbling – Compounds produced during putrefaction interact with blood components and discolor the skin (green, blue, red, black, yellow), yielding vividly colored, grossly distended corpses.
  • Blistering – Accumulation of gasses and fluids, as well as pockets of bacterial growth, can cause bubbles to form under the skin.
  • Infestation – Bloating triggers the arrival of flies (typically blow flies and flesh flies), which lay their eggs in any available opening, especially the orifices of the face, but also in wounds, if present. Maggots hatch a day later, producing a thick crawling swarm. The face is often consumed the fastest, as it is where most of the eggs are laid. Subdermal masses of larvae can cause skin slippage and detachment of hair, as well as skin rupturing.

Purge (3 days post mortem)

  • Leakage – The nitrogen-rich soup of liquefied tissue and waste leaks from the body through all orifices and ruptures.
  • Shrinkage – The release reverses the bloating, leading to a rapid loss in mass. The process is aided by maggots migrating away to pupate.

Advanced Decay (2-3 weeks post mortem)

  • Mummification – Sunlight and heat eliminate liquid, causing desiccation, which slows microbial decay. Due to the steady reduction in mass due to leakage and other factors, putrefaction slows. At lower temperatures and in the shade, decay can continue for extended periods of time, allowing environmental bacteria and fungi to invade the body. Many of these are brought by flies and beetles. Some bacteria release chemicals that attract certain types of insects whose saliva contains chemicals that kill off competing bacteria.

Dry/Remains (6 months to a year post mortem)

  • Skeletonization – One of the last stages of decay, skeletonization is characterized by the complete loss of all soft tissues, leaving only skin, hair or fur, bones and teeth, and cartilage. The process can be accelerated where scavenging occurs. In some cases, carrion eaters can remove soft tissues within hours or days, bypassing certain steps in the decay process.

 

The Decomp-Defying Corpse

As might be gleaned from the above, the two most important factors determining the rate of decay are heat and humidity, as they will impact all other processes, whether chemical, microbial, or physical. But in order to delay, or even to arrest, decomposition, the body must be made resistant to the agents which mediate biochemical and physical breakdown. The writer who addresses this in some way pays an immense compliment to the intelligence of the reader.

There are three factors which can be useful to consider when designing a rotter that resists rotting:

  • Freezing (cryonics)
  • Desiccation (mummification)
  • Chemical preservation (embalming, plastination).

All slow the biological and chemical processes and render the tissues inhospitable to microbes.

In my cyberpunk series, GAMELAND, for example, I chose to make my zombies resistant to decay through tissue plastination. You may be familiar with the process as it is used by the traveling exhibition show Body Worlds in their display of preserved human bodies. Invented by Gunther von Hagens in 1977, plastination replaces water and lipid tissues with synthetic polymers. What distinguishes plastination in my series is that it is naturally mediated by biological events resulting from infection. Plastination explains both how my rotters can remain intact a decade after death, as well as retain full mobility. It’s also why my zombies are described as smelling like burnt plastic, with the added benefit that the “synthetic” stench discourages scavengers from feeding on them.

So, now that you know more about decomposition than you ever wished you did, you can immerse yourself in your next rotter book with a little more assurance that your favorite monster will stick around to terrify you for years to come.

 

Some additional decomp-related terms I find interesting:

  • Necrobiom – the unique and often remarkably complex ecosystem which forms as a result of the presence of a corpse (dead person) or carcass (dead animal), including insects, the mice which prey on them, and the predators which in turn feed on the mice (snakes and other larger animals).
  • Grave wax or adipocere – The formation of a crumbly white, waxy substance around fatty parts of the body, such as the cheeks, breasts, abdomen, and buttocks, caused by the reaction of fats with water and hydrogen in the presence of bacterial enzymes (saponification, which is the process by which soap is formed). The substance is resistant to bacteria and can help protect a corpse, further slowing decomposition. The appearance of grave wax begins within a month of death and can persist for years and decades.

Finally, if you’d like to check out a short video about the Freeman Ranch body farm where the processes of decomposition are studied, click through here. It’s wonderfully gory.

 

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: PM Barnes #SummerofZombie

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What makes us love zombies?  Maybe love is too strong a word, but what makes them interesting to us?  Why do we continue to patron movies, watch TV shows and read books with the theme of the undead?

I think the answer to this question is simpler and may be more sinister than people think.  Zombies as opposed to other horror subjects like monsters, aliens or out of control animals, are us.  Whether it is people who are reanimated due to toxic waste or hordes that are transformed by a virus that produces blinding rage, they are human beings.

The fact that they are human makes it closer to home. It becomes a possibility, something to think about. Something we can’t distance ourselves from.  Even more than that, the fear of them becomes the idea that somewhere lurking inside of us is the capacity to be that way. We recognize their plight as being one that we can relate to, even if we don’t want to admit to it.  Zombies and their relentless, blind need to consume, gets to the base of so many of our fears and insecurities about ourselves and the rest of the people around us. It forces us to ask questions like, what makes us different?

While we have cognitive thought ( although, some zombies do as well, like in my book Zombie Seed or Bub in Romero’s “Day of the Dead”), breathe and most of us don’t eat human flesh, we also have to admit that we are social creatures and often trudge around somewhat mindlessly, following behind one another in an endless grab for resources.

The fear that so much of what we do is not actually an independent process built on rational thought, but rather something that is being controlled by programming at the baseline of the human animal, is a real thing.  We already know through psychological studies that much of what we do and how we behave is largely tied to instinct and imprints that are buried in our subconscious.  We hate that.  The idea of not being in immediate control of ourselves scares us and intrigues us at our core. It is the crux of books and movies from other genres as well, like Fifty Shades, subjects on mind control and cults. We don’t like to think that somewhere in those murky depths, we are hiding all manner of unspeakable acts.

There is a constant attempt to separate ourselves from the darkness of what it means to be human.  When people in our society commit heinous acts or crimes, we often refer to them as monsters in an effort to remove ourselves from those things and set ourselves apart.  In truth, all humans have the same capacity for good & evil.  It was Golda Meir who said “…nothing human is alien to me.” Each of us has the means to be incredible contributors and forces of “good” and each of us has the same potential for creating real life horror. This knowledge is what forces us to condemn those heinous acts. In a way, by condemning those acts, we are attempting to distance ourselves from those traits within us.  At the same time, we can’t help but be drawn to those horrible things that are on the extreme edges of our experience.  We are moved to spectate and chastise those that do the bad.

It’s hard to admit, but on some level, we are comforted just to know the beast is there…in case we ever need it.  And of course, the beast has its purpose, just like all the other components of the human condition.

We are naturally drawn to zombies because they are that beast incarnate and the embodiment of what we all fear about ourselves. They are the anarchy that we are trying to hold at bay. That is why we can’t help but read the Zombie Seed’s or watch the TWD’s and Dawn of the Dead’s. We wait, balancing intently on the edges of our seats, breath held, trying to see a glimpse of our inner evil, shuffling around on the streets.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: John Palisano #SummerofZombie

WHERE YOU COME FROM

Settings in Zombie fiction

 

By John Palisano

PART TWO

How can a city be a character? Isn’t it just a series of roads? Buildings? A created architecture? Yes. And no.

Anyone with a pulse who has visited New Orleans can feel the presence of something else in the air. It’s as though there is some other mysterious quotient oozing its way through every brick and iron gate. The city possesses you. It’s not just one thing. It’s difficult to pinpoint. Writers have spent novels on trying to capture what it feels like. When they do, it’s magic. Would Interview with the Vampire be the same anywhere else? Absolutely not. Louisiana definied so much of what made that book unique and unforgettable. As we’ve seen in subsequent installments in Anne Rice’s vampire stories, placing the characters in different locations can radically change the tone and feel of a story, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for much worse.

How does an author truly capture the essence of their location? Simply placing a story in a town of city, like Chicago, for instance, is hardly enough. The city needs to be integral. If the story can be transposed, the location is not a character. We’ve seen several infamous examples lately of classic books and stories transcribed into film where a location was changed from London to Los Angeles, or Los Angeles to New York…with the end result being generic and uninspired. They failed to understand how integral the original story was to where it was told.

Think of it this way: if you’ve ever had the experience of being told a scary story out in the woods, or on a dark beach, and elements from those places are used, then you know how effective they can be. Now think about hearing that same story while sitting on your couch at a party with many friends. It’d likely not be scary at all.

So that’s what the best uses of location can do: transport us to that place, and make us really feel danger and fear, and that anything might happen next, because there’s lots of places for the undead to hide, and there’s only a few safe places left. Where will you go? You, or the characters in the story, will go to the places you know best. You’ll go where you came from.

The End.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Jessica Robinson #SummerofZombie

Zombies vs. Other Monsters

By Jessica Robinson

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Recently, I was surfing the channels looking for something to watch, and I noticed that Tremors (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100814/?ref_=ttloc_loc_tt) was on.  I haven’t seen this movie in years, so I decided to watch it.  It’s still one of my faves.

One of the things I really like about the film is that the location they are in looks a whole lot like Wyoming.  It was filmed in California, but the desert with the mountains is the same terrain we have around here.  As kids, we used to run into the desert by my parents’ house and play Tremors.  We had so much fun!

The other thing that struck me as I was watching the film was how isolated the characters are.  The town they live in is tiny and far away from others.  There are only a few of them that the underground creatures can target.

And that made me think about other horror movies.  The vast majority of them take place in secluded locations and affect a relatively small group of people.  Zombie films are really the only ones that take place on a global scale.

Seriously, think about it.  In Friday the 13th (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080761/?ref_=nv_sr_2), the vast majority of the deaths occur at Camp Crystal Lake, and the teens have to venture there to die.  Jason and Mrs. Voorhees don’t often leave the area.  In the one film when Jason does, Part 8 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097388/?ref_=nv_sr_4), it’s not like he goes after everyone in New York.  If they get in his way, he takes them down, but his focus is still on the teens who came through his home.

In A Nightmare on Elm Street (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087800/?ref_=nv_sr_1), the murders take place in a slightly larger town, but it still only affects a small percentage of the population.  If Freddy can interject himself into the dreams of the teens, surely he can invade the dreams of anyone he wants anywhere in the world.  But he doesn’t.

Same goes with Halloween (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/?ref_=nv_sr_1).

And what about vampire films?  These creatures live eternally and travel the world, but they keep their feeding to a small area.  I’m sure if they really wanted to they could take out a vast majority of the population—they have super human strength and, in some cases, magic powers—but they don’t.  They usually try to stay hidden.  Which, honestly, isn’t a bad plan since they could easily be overpowered by an angry mob and killed.

Zombies are the only monsters that completely wipe out the vast majority of the human race.  For a zombie film to be truly scary, it has to take place in a highly populated area and it has to wipe out the vast majority of the population.  There has to be lots and lots of people around who could become potential victims.  There’s no tension otherwise.

As I was watching Tremors, I tried to imagine what it would be like if the creature was a zombie instead of an underground worm.  And it just wasn’t the same.  First of all, if it’s a traditional Romero zombie, it’s going to be super slow moving.  The characters would be able to see it coming from a long way away and take care of it with a sniper rifle.  Boom.  End of story.

Even if there happened to be more than one zombie, the terrain isn’t exactly zombie friendly.  It would get tangled in a bush or caught in a barbed wire fence or trip over a rock or fall into a ditch, then they could kill it when they wanted.  End of story.

Even if it was a fast zombie, there would be too many obstacles that it needed to get around.  It just wouldn’t work the same.

I have to say, though, that I think it would be fascinating to see if someone could make it work.  I mean, Dead Snow (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1278340/?ref_=nv_sr_2) happened in a remote location with a small group of victims, and that was a damn fine movie.  I think it can be done, but it would be a challenge.

What do you think?  Can you think of other zombie films that happened in a remote location and were good?

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: J.E. Gurley #SummerofZombie

* Caution, Zombies May Vary

What is your favorite zombie, fast or slow? 

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First, we must define the term zombie. A Zombie is a person who has lost sense of self-awareness and identity and cares only for the destruction of any live human being. Their condition is usually contagious. There are many types of zombies: Crawlers – legless; Shamblers or Walkers – slow movers; and Runners – very fast, sometimes endowed with superhuman strength.

Slow zombies have been with us since the days of black and white movies – Zombies of Mora Tau, Voodoo Island, Zombie Island, I Walked with a Zombie, and White Zombie – but they were mostly products of Voodoo rites or Nazi manipulation. George Romero popularized slow zombies in Night of the Living Dead. His zombies inexplicably craved human brains. Their bite was fatal and death reanimated the corpse, but unless cornered, they were easily avoided.

Fast zombies add a thrill to an otherwise drab genre, creating a sense of imminent danger. Robert Kirkman introduced various types of zombies in his Walking Dead series. Max Brooks’ World War Z one-upped Kirkman with his fast superhuman zombies. Their bite transformed the victim into a zombie in 12 seconds. They felt no pain, cooperated to a degree most living people don’t, and attacked indiscriminately. Movies such as REC, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, Left for Dead, and Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead furthered the popularity of fast zombies.

The source of zombie infection is as varied as zombies themselves. In Night of the Living Dead, the source of the plague was not explained. In the spinoffs, it became the result of mishandled military chemical waste. Jonathan Maberry’s exciting YA Rot and Ruin series offered no explanation for the plague, focusing instead of the plight of the survivors in its aftermath. His zombies were slow, mindless creatures avoided through the production of Cadaverine, a substance made from the ground up flesh of zombies, which served as a masking agent to protect the living from the dead. In Resident Evil, the cause of infection was a manmade T-virus. In  28 days, it was the Rage virus. In the popular Call of Duty game, Nazi zombies were created by radiation. In Dead Space, the source was an alien relic that mutated the victims into mindless killing creatures with slashing growths for arms.

My zombie novel, Cordyceps Rising, offered the Cordyceps Unilateralis mushroom as the root cause of infection, creating zombies that slowly changed, becoming more deadly as their infection progressed until they burst from within, spreading the fungus on the wind. In Ice Station Zombie and Chill Factor, technology played an important factor when a failed tissue regeneration experiment using microscopic nanites swept the planet. In my Judgment Day series,  a mutated avian flu virus changed the infected into mindless creatures that slowly mutate in a separate species of primitive humans who rapidly become more intelligent and cunning. Blood from the immune was made into Blue Juice, a temporary vaccine. In Jake’s Law, my latest novel, a frozen parasite from the tundra spreads, infecting peoples’ minds and turning them into blood thirsty creatures that grow weak if they do not feed.

Not all zombies are slow, fast, or mindless creatures. In Autumn, the dead reanimate and slowly reacquire some of their human instincts and intelligence. In the YA zombie love story, Warm Bodies, some zombies become Boneys, skeletal, fast, and deadly. Others retain some sense of cooperation. The protagonist, spurred by the memories and emotions of his victims’ consumed brains, falls in love with a beautiful live girl, slowly reacquiring intelligence and the ability to speak.

Zombie fiction has rapidly become a growing literary and film niche spawning new concepts, new authors, and new post-apocalyptic worlds. Zombie aficionados range from pre-teens to baby boomers. Zombies have evolved from slow, mindless slaves to fast, deadly creatures, and are now morphing into creatures capable of human emotions, regret, and even love. Like vampires, zombies have survived numerous predictions of becoming a passing fad. Zombies, fast, slow, or indifferent, have earned their place in respectable literature. #SummerofZombie.

JEGurley Amazon Author Central page: http://www.amazon.com/JE-Gurley/e/B007TKXRBI

Website: http://www.jamesgurley.com

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!