by Thomas Malafarina
When I started writing my first zombie book originally titled, Dead Kill: The Ridge Of Death, no one was more surprised than I was to discover that there were more Dead Kill books inside me just waiting to come out. So I changed the title to Dead Kill Book 1: The Ridge Of Death. This blog focuses on my second book in the series, Dead Kill, Book 2, The Ridge Of Change released in April 2016 and the question of whether or not more zombie stories are necessary.
I know there are people out there who have been zombie-fied to death so to speak, between the scores of novels, short stories, movies and television programs focused on the genre. As the title of this blog suggests, I can just imagine someone surfing into the Summer of Zombie tour and shouting “No! Please no more!”
To such naysayers I reply, “We of a creative ilk are just starting to scratch the surface of what potential lies in this fascinating aspect of horror fiction.” I can assure you that although the creatures are undead, the genre itself is alive and well and there are still so many more avenues of zombie fiction to explore that it boggles the creative mind.
There was actually a time in my writing career when I swore I would never write a zombie story. Then I had a few ideas which were different than any of those I was seeing at the time. So in 2010 I penned a zombie short story called, Bright Of The Living Dead. It was a bit of a twist on what was thought of as a typical zombie story. I can’t tell you more than that without spoilers. Soon I wrote another story called Happy Valentine’s Day, again with a bit of a surprise ending. Then in 2011 I had an idea for a humorously warped tale of an aged stand-up comedian who was oblivious to the world around him titled, Call Him Maury. Shortly thereafter, another story with a turn poured out of me and Dinner With Andy And Meg.
Then things got a bit sicker and degenerated. In a moment, which could only be described as perverse, I came up with a story called, A Love Best Served Cold. You can just imagine where that one went. Sheesh! And last but not least in 2013 I came up with the adventurous Even The Great Will Fall. That story explored the idea of surviving in an impossible apocalyptic zombie situation using only those items immediately available as weapons.
In every one of these short stories I strove to do something original and I like to think I was successful. In fact, that was the only reason I wrote them. I wanted to do something original, as all good writers should.
Then a really unbelievable idea came to me. I actually started to feel I might be ready to tackle a whole zombie-based novel. I couldn’t even believe I was considering it. So I gave the idea a lot of thought. I asked myself thousands of questions. I looked at the world today and realized zombies destroying some of the world such as underdeveloped, third-world countries might be possible, but I seriously doubted that with the technology and the number of armed citizens we have in the US we could possibly be overrun by a bunch of shambling, walking corpses; no matter how many of them there might be. If you think about it, one single state in the US has more firearms and ammunition per capita than the armed forces of many countries.
I chose to venture into what I believe is new and possibly risky territory from a literary standpoint. I knew zombie fans loved to see the world destroyed and civilization thrust into chaos. But I decided to not travel down that road. I decided to write a story where about 60% of the world’s population was wiped out. But in developed well-armed countries such as ours the casualty count was much less. The first book took place in 2053, in the United States, ten years after the initial outbreak. Here zombies still existed and although deadly, they were much less of a threat and more of a nuisance. (Think in terms of a deer wandering out onto the highway; but in this case if would be a dear that wants to eat you alive).
Newly reformed governments put bounties on the creatures and each citizen is rewarded $100 per zombie. This act of putting down the creatures became known as a Dead Kill. (Killing something already dead). This brought the population of undead down dramatically and for a few years provided a good way for many people to earn a decent living. There are new strict government regulations for dealing with the dead and dying since the virus lives in every human and is only activated at time of death.
Citizens live in protected fortified cities which are constantly expanding and taking back more land all the time. They travel well-armed from city to city passing through what are called the “outlands”, which are populated by not only remaining zombies but by bands of wild and savage motor cycle riding renegades, who are often more dangerous than the zombies themselves.
Dead Kill Book 2: The Ridge of Change explores yet another untouched avenue of zombie fiction. Since the premise of my series lies in the Z43 virus (Zombie Virus of 2043), I decided to explore the possibility of the virus changing and mutating. With the decimation of most of the undead, the Z43 virus finds itself in need of hosts to survive. And as we know, viruses do mutate. Dead Kill Book 2: The Ridge of Change explores that possibility and the horrors which follow. Imagine the virus activating before the death of its host and causing unspeakable mutations of the hosts physical and mental state.
This is both a thriller and a gory zombie novel; the second in a series, featuring many of the characters from the first novel including our reluctant hero, Jackson Ridge. I make no apologies for writing another zombie novel. I love the genre. It’s not all I do by any means, but it gets a good deal of my attention. For the record, I’m currently working on the third book in the series to be entitled, Dead Kill Book 3: The Ridge Of War. You can only imagine down what bizarre road that will lead me. It might wrap up the trilogy or I might write another. Time will tell.
So as for the question about is another zombie book necessary, the answer is a resounding yes. Just as there are always new and creative ways to write zombie stories as there are vampire, werewolf, ghost and other such horror stories. There are so many different things to explore in this single genre that writers such as me will be busy for many years to come.
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com