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Aussie (Zombie) Author Month: Narrelle Harris

Over April I looked at a bunch of Aussie authors who write zombie fiction. Why? Well I do run Aussie Author Month myself, and while there are few Aussie names out there for zombies, they are damned good ones! Aussie Author Month also supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. While Aussie Author Month is over for this year, it is now Zombie Awareness Month! Start getting prepared today!

Lady of the dark beings and mysterious shadows, Narrelle Harris, is deep within the realms of the undead, and comes from the coffin today:

Why do zombies make good bad guys?
The threat of zombies is an en masse kind of threat, and one of the real horrors I think is not that you’ll be eaten alive, although that’s a very horrible concept, but that you’ll lose yourself and become part of the mass. You become part of the virus or the machine and then maybe harm those you love because you don’t know who you are any more. So as a bad guy, they kind of metaphorically stand for all those things in the world that can reduce us like that – not just disease, but mob mentality, the pressures of consumer society, even sometimes the willingness humans can have to willingly give up their autonomy for others to make choices for them.

Really, zombies are as rich in metaphor as vampires, but in the opposite direction. Becoming a vampire sets you apart; becoming a zombie absorbs your individuality in to the unthinking mass. They’re different ways of exploring humanity, but they’re both effective.
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What are the limits of a zombie before it becomes something not a zombie?
Like vampires, the concepts of what makes a zombie vary a lot, and have departed hugely from their origins. There’s a lot of scope for playing with the idea, too. Romero zombies are hugely removed from John Lindqvist’s tragic zombies in Handling the Undead.

I suppose for me, for a zombie to be a zombie they have to lose rational thought and be part of the mass hunger. That doesn’t mean they have to be mindless, or forget how to love. In fact, I think it’s an interesting story idea to explore how a zombie might reclaim their lost selves. It is, after all, something of the story of all of us, trying not to just be part of the consumption machine, or the societal machine. It’s so telling that at the beginning of Shaun of the Dead it takes people ages to realise the zombie apocalypse is upon them, because so many people are kind of spiritually or mentally zombified already, just by their lives.
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What is your favourite/most influential zombie text and why?
Felicity Dowker’s Bread and Circuses really opened my eyes up to the potential for zombie stories. I found it very moving. I love the first season of The Walking Dead too, because it really made you feel compassion for the (un)dead. It also is a great example of my theory that vampire stories reflect our aspirations outward, onto the vampire, while zombie stories are more like mirrors that make us reflect on our own humanity and who we, the survivors, are and want to be.
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Tell us about ‘The Truth About Brains’ and how you manipulate the zombie.
I decided to go back to the original idea of zombies being raised by magic, so it’s not a zombie apocalypse, it’s one dumb kid’s stupid choice to raise the dead with an incantation.  I thought, too, that what magic can do, magic can undo, because I wanted hope that Dylan could be saved, if only his sister Amy could find out how. Really she just wants to fix Dylan before their mum finds out, because she’s going to be in SO much trouble, otherwise, for letting her baby brother get zombified.

I’ve always got ulterior motives for the paranormal tropes I use, though. This time I wanted to explore a family dynamic in an unusual way. I was inspired originally by the mental image of an exasperated teenage girl being followed to the shops by her zombie brother. I have four brothers, two of them younger than me, and that image resonated with me. 😀 Don’t tell my brothers I said so.
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What are your plans for the zombie apocalypse?
My plans are to hide out in my fifth floor apartment in the CBD, maybe pooling resources with the others on my floor, to ride it out. My expectations are that I’ll either a) be overrun and eaten b) starve to death and my cat will have to eat me to survive or c) leap to my death from the window. None of those scenarios see me surviving. I’ve seen the zombie apocalypse films. I know my chances. Practically nil.

~

Narrelle has a number of books, vampires, witches, zombies and all the things we love (with some crime and non-fiction and more sprinkled in!)  and you can keep up with her at her website.

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The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan now up!

Remember the lovely Holly Kench interview? Her story is now up, free and awesome!

 

Here’s what she said about her story:

“The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan” is about two zombie enthusiasts who are excited by the thought of the apocalypse, and who believe that they are ready to deal with any zombies headed their way. They think they have a good plan, but when the apocalypse arrives, they discover that it’s not quite what they expected.

 

And this is why it was chosen by Nicole Murphy, head of In Fabula-Divinos:

Firstly, Holly’s story appealed because of the end. It’s got a twist that you won’t see coming. Second, it was a toss-up between her story and another and I decided that the first story I chose for In fabula-divinos needed to say something about me and the project. Holly was a woman, and Australian, and that got her over the line for this time.

Aussie (Zombie) Author Month: Martin Livings

Over the month I’ll be looking at a bunch of Aussie authors who write zombie fiction. Why? Well I do run Aussie Author Month myself, and while there are few Aussie names out there for zombies, they are damned good ones! Aussie Author Month also supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, so please help out if you can, whether by posting about it or donating.

Delving into the dark is Martin Livings – and further below, a free short offered by the man himself called Ewwsday!

Why do zombies make good bad guys?

I think its their relentlessness, and their near silence, it’s just unnerving. I’m a firm believer in the old-fashioned zombie, in general; the shamblers of “Night of the Living Dead”, not the sprinters of “Resident Evil”. I love the fact that one zombie is barely a menace, even two or three aren’t so bad, but its when they come at you en masse, there’s simply no way to stop them. I remember watching the footage of the Japanese tsunami last year, and having that same awful sinking feeling, seeing that wave of black water and burning debris moving across the landscape with a deceptive slowness, swallowing everything in its wake. Zombies have their true power in numbers, overwhelming everything in their path. And, of course, the fact that they’re US, each one of us they kill becomes one of them. It’s genuinely the enemy within.
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What are the limits of zombies?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, as I said before, but that’s just a personal preference, and not a solid one either. I still dig things like “28 Days Later” (yes yes, they’re not actually zombies, I know!) and the “Resident Evil” movies, even though their zombies disobey all the old-fashioned “rules”. Personally I feel that zombies can vary quite wildly in their abilities, depending on how they died and how they were treated after death. For example, if you could keep oxygen getting to the brain, I think a zombie could retain its cognitive abilities. In fact, that’s something I’m counting on in a book I’m working on as we speak!

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What is your favourite/most influential zombie text?

It’s weird that there is no real seminal zombie novel for us to work off, really. Zombies essentially have their roots in cinema, because it’s such a visual trope; it’s hard to evoke the same feeling of dread describing a zombie horde coming at you as you can by simply showing it. The movies that influenced me the most were the original Romero trilogy, “Night”, “Dawn” and “Day”, which I still go back to and watch on a regular basis. They hold up really well even today, and have influenced everyone creating in this field ever since. On the page, though, Felicity Dowker’s short story “Bread and Circuses” from Ticonderoga Books’ _Scary Kisses_ still sticks in my brain, an excellent and visceral examination of love and death and undead love.

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Tell us about your horror stories.

My first collection, _Living With the Dead_, will be out later this year, a twenty year retrospective. Bloody hell, have I really been doing this for twenty years??? Sadly, despite the title and the cover, there are no zombie stories in it. I’ve really only written one zombie story, and that was just for fun, called “Eeeewsday!”. It appears in my free eBook, _Ten Minutes to Dumbsday_, available from Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/70526), and also at the end of this interview! Bonus!

I am working on a series of zombie novels at the moment, though, which was sparked by the very silly idea of a zombie James Bond. Immediately I pictured the cover and title of the book (Nys: Posted above!), but quickly realised that (a) just doing a straight pastiche would be lazy and dull, and (b) the estate of Ian Fleming and the Broccolis would sue the pants off me if I ever tried it, so it’s become very much its own creature now, retitled _Sleeper Awake_ (listen to the Sarah Blasko song of the same name if you want to hear the title music of the movie in my head!) but that basic core still remains. The same way Mira Grant’s novels _Feed_ and _Deadline_ are zombie political thrillers, my book and the ones that follow it will hopefully still be a big action spy thriller with glamourous international locations, beautiful and deadly women, and many, many explosions. And zombies. Many, many zombies.

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What is your plan for the zombie apocalypse?

Develop a brain oxygenator, then kill myself with it attached. Might as well be on the winning side!

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Check out his website here.

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“Eeeewsday!”
(c) Martin Livings

I knew I shouldn’t have dropped acid last night. It was all trippy and good, sure, but it hasn’t really left my system yet. The walls of the train aren’t quite melting, as it rocks and sways from station to station, but there’s a rainbow tinge to everything. My eyes hurt. And my back.

What did I get up to last night? I don’t remember much beyond putting the little square of brightly coloured paper on my tongue. Did I go clubbing? I don’t know. It must have been something, I’m so sore. I feel like death.

Jesus, what day is it? I have to think hard to recall. Yesterday was Monday, Funday, Annie get your Gunday, so today is… of course. I’m on a train.

Choo-choosday.

Everyone’s staring at me. I must look a sight. I didn’t really pay much attention to getting dressed this morning, just threw on whatever I could find, the least rumpled business skirt and blouse on the floor, and ran a brush through my unruly hair. If my eyes are as red as they feel, I probably look like a vampire bat. A vampire bat who went out clubbing last night.

Some guy’s listening to a portable radio with an earpiece opposite me. I almost laugh, but i know that’d hurt too damn much. Who carries those anymore? Ipods, sure, but old transistor radios? That’s so twentieth century. He looks worried. Bad news? Or maybe it’s an Avril Lavigne song. Same effect, really.

What did I DO last night?

I guess I had some options. Clubbing would have been the most likely one. I’m not much into pubs at the best of times, and on acid they’re just beer-soaked dens of weirdness. I’d have to have made a choice.

Chooseday. Yeah, that sounds right.

I think I remember dancing. Stumbling out of the rear exit of some warehouse in the early hours of the morning. Then… what? Dancing some more? That sounds almost right, but not quite. No music to dance to.

No tunesday.

My stomach rumbles. I skipped breakfast this morning, didn’t really feel like it, but here, on this packed train full of sweaty people ignoring one another, I’m finally finding my appetite. Weird. Must be the acid. Or maybe I smoked some dope last night as well, and having a delayed attack of the munchies. I don’t know.

The guy listening to his radio is looking more worried by the second. His eyes dart around the train, frantic. Then they land on me, and stay there. They widen.

I smile back at him, even though it hurts. It doesn’t seem to comfort him. Man, what have I done to my back? I reach over my shoulder and massage the aching spot. I wish I was somewhere else. Maybe on a ship, drifting from tropical island to tropical island, picking up cheap jewelry and cheap men as I go.

Cruiseday.

The guy shrinks against his seat, away from me. The earpiece comes out of his radio, allowing the inbuilt speaker to start buzzing in its tinny voice.

“…the brain. I repeat, this is not a hoax. The recently deceased are returning to life and attacking the living. The only way to stop them is to remove the head or destroy the brain. They are very dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. If you encounter one of these creatures…”

I stop massaging my shoulder, bring my hand back in front of me. It’s covered in blood. Old blood, tacky and brown, and clear liquid as well. It smells bad, but somehow it doesn’t affect my growing appetite.

I remember now. I left the club through the rear exit, and was jumped by some homeless guy. He grabbed me like he was close dancing with me. We circled the alleyway a bit, kicked over some trash cans. And he bit my shoulder before I broke free and ran home.

Laughing all the way, off my face. Yahoosday.

I look at my hands, past the blood, at the pallid, greyish skin of my palms. Some of it is peeling away. Is that bone?

I look up, at the man opposite me, at the other commuters. They all look terrified. I don’t care. I’m hungry. I smile again.

Chewsday.

Aussie (Zombie) Author Month: Gary Kemble

Over the month I’ll be looking at a bunch of Aussie authors who write zombie fiction. Why? Well I do run Aussie Author Month myself, and while there are few Aussie names out there for zombies, they are damned good ones! Aussie Author Month also supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, so please help out if you can, whether by posting about it or donating.

Opening up his brain for us now is Gary Kemble!


Why do zombies make good bad guys?

I’m a fan of the zombie apocalypse scenario so I think strength in numbers. A zombie by itself isn’t such a threat but they usually travel in hordes which makes them more of a challenge.

I also like the fact that you can almost feel sorry for them. There’s that classic scene in the original Dawn of the Dead where the nun zombie has her wimple stuck in one of the doors, until Francine opens the door a crack and lets her lurch free.

But the funny thing about zombies is while you can empathise with them, you feel no compunction at all about seeing them blown away with shotguns, beheaded with machetes etc etc etc.

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What do zombies mean to you?

The science behind zombies is important to me so I like to see zombies obey rules that kinda make sense. I think if someone has just been zombified it’s fine for them to run, but a zombie that’s been dead a while shouldn’t get much over a fast lurch.

Similarly, I feel it’s ‘unrealistic’ for zombies to not rot over time.

Having said all that, playing Left 4 Dead is a blast even though the special infected (and the whole respawning thing when you die) make no sense at all.

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What is your favourite/most influential text on zombies?

I really enjoyed World War Z by Max Brooks. I loved the broad scale and getting to see how people from all over the world dealt with the zombie apocalypse.

In terms of movies, you can’t go past George Romero’s original Dead trilogy and I also enjoyed the 2004 Zack Snyder remake of Dawn of the Dead.

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Tell us about your latest/favourite of your own stories and what you do to the zombie mythology.

‘Dead Air’ (first published in Robert N Stephenson’s Zombies, reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2008) was a lot of fun to write. It’s about a zombie outbreak onboard a 747 en route from LA to Brisbane.

Strictly speaking, they’re more like the infected in 28 Days Later than Romero’s zombies, but let’s not quibble over details. 🙂

I threw in as many zombie references I could think of — I wanted it to be a homage to the sub-genre.

There is a sequel — ‘Deadweight’ — set on a ship in the Pacific. I’m hoping this will claw its way out of the grave some time over the next few months.

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What are your plans for the zombie apocalypse?

I’ve got a friend with some land out west of Brisbane. I think we could fortify it pretty well, grow some crops. I recommend bladed weapons over firearms, because you don’t have to worry about running out of ammo. 😉

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Check out his website here.