Summer of Zombie 2015
by Jay Wilburn
I kind of wish I had saved this article title for a story. That’s a million dollar idea. We try to be fancy about it, but ultimately zombie stories eventually come down to hiding or escaping. The roadtrip story is a common variation on the escape. You are leaving somewhere and going somewhere. Maybe that somewhere is just the hell out of here – the bug out. In a lot of zombie stories, it is that idea of a safe place that might be somewhere I heard about or somewhere I was before that I’m guessing might work. Many a zombie roadtrip has ended in disaster when the promised land turned out to be a zombie infested ruin. I drove across four states to a military bunker and all I got was bitten and this tee shirt. There is something natural about that zombie roadtrip though.
I remember a while back that Permuted Press put out an explanation to their guidelines when they opened for novel submissions. I paraphrase, but they basically said that they were still interested in seeing zombie stories although they were more interested in new takes on the apocalypse. They specifically mentioned that if one were going to send them a zombie story to make it something besides the old roadtrip. I became more conscious of the number of zombie roadtrip stories out there.
My first novel, Loose Ends, is a roadtrip story. The characters’ lives have fallen apart around them and they don’t know how to rebuild. They go out looking for another option. In that story, their pasts turn out to be waiting for them in the ruins even after all these years of the zombie apocalypse.
Brian Keene’s The Rising is a roadtrip. A father is trying to get across multiple states to try to save his son. One snippet of a phone call is enough to tell him that his son needs him and we are off.
Jack Wallen is cowriting a fascinating story where a couple separated by a great distance crosses the landscape separately on their individual journeys to find each other.
Even in series that often park the characters on a hiding spot for an extended period of the novels, the characters will take on a journey at some parts of the series.
The roadtrip forces characters to prepare, pick a mode of transportation, and improvise. They have to rely on and deal with their travel partners. They have to access new people and new situations. They take the readers on a tour of the world as it has become as the writer creates it.
In my new series Dead Song, the characters are music collectors and will crisscross apocalyptic America recording the music of the survivors. Each of the twelve novels will be named for a month of the year, but also will include the starting and ending points of each journey. Book 1 starts in Milwaukee and ends in Muscle Shoals.
Each of these places has a history and a personality. As zombie writers, we impose a new history over those places in the story and the landscape in between. The journey is meant to test the characters in their own growth within the story. The roadtrip is a way to move the characters beyond what they know and force them to react to new circumstances, threats, and challenges.
It may need some refreshing and some new takes on the theme, but I still love a good roadtrip story – zombie or otherwise.
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.
Check out The Dead Song Legend Dodecology 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 –
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!