Before you read this post lemme tell ya… there is some horribly graphic language ahead. NC-17 shit going on, so be warned… if graphically bad sexual and violent situations scare you, please read something else. I won’t judge you. Even my wife refuses to read Highway To Hell.
Highway To Hell was the first zombie novella I wrote after having done a few flash fiction pieces for a now-defunct anthology. I wrote it to see if I could write something extreme, which was what the submission called for by Comet Press when I answered the call… something like that.
The story is graphic in spots. Really graphic. Even though it technically kicks off the Dying Days series, I often shied away from promoting it without a bunch of warnings.
Sure, the idea behind the Dying Days story is that these zombies don’t want to just bite you, they want to sexually violate you… but I never got into really graphic scenes with it and (as readers of the series know) the zombies themselves evolve and get away from this. I did that on purpose, knowing the shock of it would wear thin after awhile. I wanted to try something different.
I am just about finished with the sequel, Hell’s Bells: Highway To Hell 2 after all these years. The first book was released in September 2010. About five years ago, which blows my mind. I’d like to think my writing has improved and so have my ideas. I think the combination of the submission call for an extreme zombie story and my own insecurities about my writing led to some of the more graphic scenes, especially the opening line. It hooked you and sold a lot of books… but did it help me long-term?
Here it is… if you haven’t read Highway To Hell already, be warned…
Randy watched, repulsed as the two male zombies took turns dead-fisting the barely-alive girl anally.
Yeah, I know… pretty bad. I actually had a dream last night I rewrote the opening line as well as a few other very graphic parts, and now I’m wondering if it would be a bad thing?
The sequel is much more in line with my style now. It is more about the characters and less about the shock. I don’t mention the sexually violating aspect at all, even though the story takes place during the beginnings of the zombie apocalypse.
What do you think? I need honest feedback here. As an example, I could easily change it to:
Randy watched, repulsed as the two male zombies attacked the barely-alive girl.
Something along those lines. Still conveys some horror, right?
OK, tell me what you think and lemme have it… should I rewrite the more sexually explicit parts of the novella, self-censoring my work, to better fit in with my long-term goals and what readers have come to expect from me now?