October 17th, 2012

It’s Not Really About Zombies

I have a confession to make, which is that my latest book, Zombie Candy, released in May 2012, isn’t really about zombies. You probably know by now that it was meant as a satire of the whole zombie craze in fiction and movies.

Larry Roach is a guy who works hard, flying around the country once or twice a week for his company. When he kicks back on Sundays, he likes to put a zombie movie in the DVD player. On the one hand, there’s a simple explanation: Larry is following in the footsteps of his father, who liked to retreat into his man cave and watch Godzilla movies.

On the other hand, why is “Dawn of the Dead” or a “Resident Evil” more fun than spending time with your gorgeous 30-year-old wife of six years, who also happens to be a gifted gourmet cook? Your wife wants to make love, and you would rather watch blood splattering the camera lens, and a small band of warriors decimating legions of zombies with unusual weapons? As I wrote Zombie Candy, I explored this question, and I discovered the answer is complicated.

Partly it’s about running away from our problems. In one way or another we’re all guilty of it. Lose yourself in a good movie, you can ignore real life for a while. That’s what Larry does. It’s a little less obvious than substance abuse. Without realizing it, Larry becomes a kind of zombie himself, ignoring his own relationship problems.

A lot of people have asked me why I wanted to write a zombie story, as if it was something unworthy. But these books and movies are fine entertainment, and they depict a world no different from what science fiction has given us for decades.

I think it’s okay to escape through books and movies. Our daily consumption of stories through TV, the internet, movies and books, not to mention the stories that we tell each other in conversation, proves that we hunger for escape, any escape. Just don’t try to replace the real world entirely, the way Larry Roach does in Zombie Candy. If you have problems, try to fix them instead of running away from them.

How many stories do you consume each day including TV (count each show), movies and books?