by Jay Wilburn
Eric A Shelman is a powerhouse in zombie fiction and is well established across the spectrum of horror and storytelling. Shelman recently completed his nine volume Dead Hunger series with an exciting and satisfying conclusion. His Scabs series is going strong and fans are responding. Now, Shelman embarks on a new zombie series which strives to answer questions about the beginning of his unique take on the zombie apocalypse. This is Emma’s Rose Book 1: The Cave.
I was curious about the reaction from fans to Shelman ending his signature Dead Hunger series. He said some people were very upset and dreading the end of the series. Others felt, as Shelman did, that it was time to close out the story. To be honest, he explains, around book four, he began wondering which new ways to take the story. That’s when he took a chance sending Dave Gammon to California with Nelson in book #5, leaving his main characters behind for almost the entire novel. A risky choice for sure, but I personally think it worked. Then, book six came along with a huge storm, a new medical emergency, and a pregnancy driving the story. After that, a freak named Maestro showed up and Shelman says he found pretty clear paths forward. He had to write a Nelson story too, so that completed book #8, which was one of Shelman’s absolute favorites. I tend to agree that was a good story. Then came what he knew was to be the last in the series – Book number IX. Yes, he wanted to end it on Roman number X, but it just wasn’t in the cards, he decided. In his mind, the series was over. Lots of people were disappointed, but he says he has no regrets. It felt like the right time to move on.
As I discussed Emma’s Rose with Shelman, he said he knew he wanted to venture into a new zombie series, so with that in his head, it was just the normal process of trying to come up with a unique idea that would launch his apocalypse. To him, the cause of the outbreak is such a major part of the story that it really needs to be figured out before striking that first key. Then, if the zombies are to have any “special” idiosyncrasies directly related to that cause, he could develop them. The zombies in Emma’s Rose definitely have unique attributes. That said, he admits he really didn’t know what began the Dead Hunger apocalypse and he didn’t even begin formulating an idea until the second book, which was Gem Cardoza’s story. That series is an amazing adventure and I love what he did with Cardoza’s story in particular. Shelman says in that book, new discoveries that even surprised him ended up explaining the apocalypse more (along with the help of genius Hemp Chatsworth).
I dug into process and storytelling with him a little and Shelman says he thinks the biggest stumbling block any writer faces is originality and not fall into formulaic writing. As a Stephen King and Dean Koontz reader, Shelman admires the myriad of different stories they’re able to craft, delving into what really scares people in so many ways. And yes, he says he knows there are formulas used by both (more obvious in Koontz’s work), but great characters and an exciting story can take advantage of the formula and not be burdened by it. Shelman would like to be that kind of author: the guy whose work you’ll read no matter what it is, because you know it will be different from the last release, and you know it will be amazing. He thinks all authors strive for that, but it takes consistency, imagination, and hard work. Years of it, Shelman says, and he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. He promises to keep his eyes peeled for the next strange thing that captures his attention and makes him think, “What if …” He loves those moments. They usually end up being his next book.
I hope I have made the case for Eric A Shelman. Check out Emma’s Rose: The Cave now. If you want to know more, follow any of the links above or check out this case for Eric A Shelman from the last Summer of Zombie tour.