“Highway To Hell” Revisited – Naughty Language Ahead

highway

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?

Armand

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7 thoughts on ““Highway To Hell” Revisited – Naughty Language Ahead

  1. I didn’t think zombie rapes a particularly viable idea, or that they were necessary or helped the story in any way. I think the story would probably be better without that particular aspect.

    The idea sort of rattled my SOD.

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  2. Zombies are reduced to their baser instincts, which can include sex, so it’s possible they would do that. On the other hand toning it down would probably get more people to read it.
    Another author had this issue about the sex scenes in her book and asked whether she should try two editions, the consensus was yes, so the more….liberal(?) Could still get what they wanted to read, while not scaring away other readers.

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  3. I’m not a fan of censorship. Your style and thoughts are yours, stay true to that. People will like it or not. Personally, I’d go for something in between both openings. The first has the shock factor and the second one is cliche and kinda boring. Just saying… I’d rather shock factor than ‘been done’ boring. I’m not going to spend money to read something that doesn’t hook me. Though I could deal without the anal fisting, I’d read that because I already know the book isn’t going to be like any others I’ve read.

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    • I’ve actually just reread the book and didn’t find it too graphic at all. I suppose it does depend on a person’s sensibilities, but it is horror at the end of the day, so being horrified is par for the course.

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  4. Remember the old anthology 50 Shades Of Decay? You were in it along with me. It was great! Readers like different things. Write what you want to write. I write pretty much everything. While most of my books have tamer elements, some do not. I am presently writing a particularly nasty bugger with another author where we take the gloves off. Nothing is sacred. It’s fun. You have plenty of variety for your fans to choose from. Simply let readers know up front what they are about to read. Easy-peasy. Shock me! I dare you.

    Blaze

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