The Author – Behind the Scenes

So I’ve recently had a flash fiction go up on the Books of the Dead Press blog. I wanted to share some stories behind that one. Because I’m a writer and I like spinning yarns.

First, you can check out my story here. This blog post will contain spoilers, so go read it. It’ll only take a moment. Then come on back for some exciting(?) info on how that story came to be. While you are there, feel free to check out stories by some of the other Bunnies of the Apocalypse.(I posted to chapter 1, so you can all start from the beginning!) They are Hands, Lester’s Interdimensional Midnight Outcall, Devine Retribution, The Teeth Police and The “V Syndrome” Vaccine. With probably many more to come!

Okay, now that you’re back, let us talk about The Author.

It all stemmed from this one song.

This is not only my favourite Supertramp song, but is also one of my favourites of ANY songs. Roger Hodgson’s haunting vocals in this really just put me in a zone of melancholy, which for some reason is a place I like to be. Very dream like. So I used my inspiration from the song to create a story where everything crumbles for the protagonist, but that’s okay because we’re all going to just drift away in the end. I made that protagonist a zombie.

I always wanted to do a twist on the zombie genre. I really dig the movie Fido in that it brought a cheeky humanity to the “beasts”. Although having them as pets isn’t really humanity, but close enough. I also liked the slow evolution that George Romero takes on his zombies. In Day of the Dead he showed that they retained some basic functions and Land of the Dead showed that they and increase the amount of those functions. To me, nothing would be more terrifying than if zombies started knowing what they were doing.

From that I set out to figure out how to make my zombie better than the rest. What would make the shortest path for him gain back his humanity? Which is what happens in the middle, right before his brains are blown out. He was human again. Which is cruel of me to do to my protagonist, but revel in the fact that his killer gets his dues. Bitter sweet. Robert D. Michaels may not be the first of his kind, people!

The process went a lot like this. Rob didn’t die from a bite, he died from a cardiac arrest in his sleep with no trauma to his psyche. People who die through bites go through fevers, and mental anguish that leaves their brains addled and virtually destroyed. Rob’s brain was pretty much intact.

Rob was very right brained. I wanted to make him do something for a living that would let him look at his feelings, more than logistics. I feel that this might make him stronger mentally and give him the chance at returning to his humanity. I tried artist first, but it seemed sort of hokey. So I made him an author, that way I could give him a paperback book to doodle in to make that connection.

Finally, Rob only died just before the virus, curse or whatever spread through the air. The soil on his grave was still fresh. I know it’s rare for a tombstone to be on a grave that quickly, but I figured the guy was famous and his wife made connections so that his burial could be absolutely perfect.

It’s funny that my explanation about things in this story is bigger than the story itself, but that’s what makes the world of the story that much richer. Also this story was originally bigger than 400 words. It started as a short film idea, but getting that many zombies for a 5 minute short would be either crazy expensive, or crazy cheap looking. So I entertained the idea of animating it(still entertaining, let’s me get all the cool shots I want to get) but I don’t have all the talent needed to pull this off on my own. Another downgrade brought to to being a short story, maybe 11-12 pages. Writing has the lowest barrier to entry for story telling since all you need is words and eyes. Which explains why I do want to take up writing as a hobby.

I never got around to writing it out, but when I saw people posting their flash fictions, I figured I’d give this a shot. I liked this micro format. I’ve written a couple of more of these flash fictions and there is a special art to telling a story in a confined space. Also the idea of choosing which elements live and which get the axe, just to remove 300 words from a story, really excited me. I’m an extremely liberal cutter. Getting to tweak stuff to hide obvious gaps is always a delight.

Well, it does appear that I seem to be rambling, so I’ll close with this. I had a kick ass opening scene where I was showing zombies doing dumb, fun zombie stuff. Zombies at an intersection, all attracted to beeping of the crosswalks used to aid the seeing impaired. Just forever shambling counter clockwise. And another gag with a line of zombies at the supermarket while a zombie grocer just endlessly scans the same item over and over again. One of the guys in the lineup is strapped for time so he lifts up his severed left arm, using his right arm, to check the watch.

Fun stuff like that. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this little insight as much I do sharing it.

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