My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:
WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES
Zombie tales—be it in fiction, television, movies, even video games—has been hot for quite a while, and yet for all the fans of zombie stories, there is an equally vocal contingent of people who decry them. They say that zombie tales oversaturate the market and are actually killing horror. While I understand that certain types of stories aren’t for everyone, I am firmly in the camp of those that love a good zombie tale.
And the more traditional the better! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when a storyteller employs a fresh and unexpected take on something familiar to the audience, but for me there’s something about the traditional, mindless zombie that just really appeals. I think there are several reasons for this.
First, other traditional horror monsters like vampires and even werewolves often have personality and a tortured quality that make them the focus of the story. That can be quite enjoyable (I’m a fan of all the classic monsters), but with the zombie being such a blank slate, it opens up the story to focus more on the protagonists, the human drama that comes from trying to survive something that cannot be reasoned with, that is driven purely by an instinct to kill. A lack of deeper motivation makes the zombie somehow more frightening.
As an extension of this point, the traditional zombie can often be used as a mere framework for telling very human stories. You get a band of disparate survivors together (trapped in a farmhouse or a mall or a bunker, or in the case of some of my work a gay club or a college dorm building), and then you can start to study group dynamics, personality conflicts, power struggles, bigotry, mental instability. This type of story paves the way for creating a microcosm of society in which you can deal with a lot of serious issues in an exciting and entertaining fashion.
What the late George Romero showed so powerfully in his own films was that zombie stories are perfect vehicles for social commentary that doesn’t become overly preachy. I can respect that, a story that engages as well as provokes thought and discussion.
>P> All of these things were in my mind when I sat down to write ASYLUM, my first real piece of zombie fiction. I went with a very traditional type of mindless zombie, and a familiar setup, having a group of characters trapped inside a gay club while the undead tried to force their way in. I used this as a springboard for a story about prejudice and self-loathing and insecurity and addiction, all wrapped up in what I think turned out to be a very entertaining piece of fiction. I was able to continue this in “Lunatics Running the Asylum,” a short story that picks up where the novella leaves off which is included in the new edition from Apex Publications.
I realize that just by nature of being a classic zombie tale, there are certain people out there that won’t even give ASYLUM a try, but as a writer I have to be true to my vision, my passions. I love zombie stories, and I’m happy to put my own stamp on the subgenre.
Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.