Today, the Zombie Survival Crew welcomes Pembroke Sinclair and a peek at her book, Life After the Undead. It’s a pleasure to have someone stop by who knows her zombies and isn’t afraid to express her views. Take it away Pembroke.
I was on a panel at a convention recently with Life After the Undead on display, and one of the guests from the audience asked about the book. He said, “Is that vampires?”
“No,” I responded. “Zombies.”
“Oh.” The man raised his eyebrows. “Are they sparkly zombies?”
I was taken aback and slightly shocked. I was the only female on the panel with five males, but why would he assume I would make my zombies sparkly? Was he trying to be funny? If so, I wasn’t amused. Just because I’m female and the book is YA doesn’t mean I can’t write blood and gore.
I snorted and said, “Absolutely not. They are regular, evil zombies.”
Later, the encounter got me thinking about how traditional “bad” guys have been redefined and altered for modern audiences. Obviously, the most apparent example here is the Twilight series. It changed our view of vampires. Other stories and movies have altered how we look at werewolves. But nothing has come out yet that redefined the zombie. Granted, shows like 28 Days Later and the sequels introduced a fast zombie, but I know many people who would argue that they aren’t actually zombies. Many people still believe that the Romero Zombie, or shambler, are the only true zombies.
I’m a purist. I believe that zombies are slow moving and rotting. They are dead humans that have returned to life to feed upon the living. They are absolutely not shiny, and they have no thoughts in their vacant minds except to eat. But having the same old story over and over can get a little boring, the convention can get stale, so I made a few changes to the traditional zombie. For one, I made them aware that if they stay in a humid environment for too long, they will deteriorate faster. Therefore, the zombies in Life After the Undead have migrated to more dry climates to survive. They still crave human flesh and can change the living into the undead through a bite, but they are just a little more aware of how quickly they are falling apart.
For me, it was important to stick to the accepted definitions of what constitutes a zombie. I remember watching Night of the Living Dead when I was 15 and not being scared but utterly creeped out by what I saw. I wanted to recreate that feeling for a new audience, but I didn’t want it to feel stale or like I was rewriting the same story, hence the small change. It’s good every now and then to change a traditional monster to make it appeal to a new audience. It perpetuates the myths and introduces them to a new generation. However, I’m pretty sure sparkly zombies will be a sign of the apocalypse.
The world has come to an end. It doesn’t go out with a bang, or even a whimper. It goes out in an orgy of blood and the dead rising from their graves to feast on living flesh. As democracy crumples and the world melts into anarchy, five families in the U.S. rise to protect the survivors.
The undead hate a humid environment, so they are migrating westward to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors are constructing a wall in North Platte to keep the zombie threat to the west, while tyranny rules among the humans to the east.
Capable but naïve Krista is 15 when the first attacks occur, and she loses her family and barely escapes with her life. She makes her way to the wall and begins a new life. But, as the undead threat grows and dictators brainwash those she cares about, Krista must fight not only to survive but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately those she loves.About the Author:
Pembroke Sinclair has had several short stories published. Her story, “Sohei,” was named one of the Best Stories of 2008 by The Cynic Online Magazine. She has novellas and a short story collection available from Musa Publishing and eTreasures Publishing. Her two novels, Coming from Nowhere (adult, sci fi) and Life After the Undead (YA, horror), are available from eTreasures Publishing, as well as Death to the Undead (YA, sequel to Life After the Undead), which is forthcoming. Life After the Undead was a Top Ten Finisher in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll in the YA category and the cover art category.
As Jessica Robinson, from March 2008 to January 2011, she wrote scientific articles for Western Farmer-Stockman. Her nonfiction book, Life Lessons from Slasher Films, is available from Scarecrow Publishing (an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield).
Jessica/Pembroke received her Master’s in English, and she is a freelance content editor for Musa Publishing, as well as a former content and line editor for eTreasures Publishing.
And now to help you get a little Halloween freak on, an excerpt from Life After the Undead:
I will never understand peoples’ fascination with the apocalypse. Why would you waste so much time and energy worrying about something you can’t change? Besides, most of the time, it never comes to fruition anyway. Remember Y2K? What a hullabaloo that was. People were so afraid computers were going to fail and throw society back into the Dark Ages that they were stockpiling supplies and moving into the wilderness so they could get away from technology. Why would they move to the wilderness? If technology was going to fail, wouldn’t they be just as safe in a city? I guess they were afraid when technology failed, everyone would go crazy and start killing each other. Either way, it didn’t happen. I wonder how those people felt afterward.
Then, there was the whole 2012 scare. This one was supposedly based on ancient prediction, so you know it was reliable. Are you kidding? Even the Mayans didn’t believe their own ancestors‟ “vision.” What happened was there had been a tablet that had the Mayan calendar carved into it. The end was broken and faded, so no one knew what it said. Our culture, being the pessimistic lot that we are, automatically assumed it was an end-of-the-world warning. But, again, nothing happened on December 21, 2012. Christmas came and went, and I think everyone, everywhere, even the skeptics, had a little something more to be thankful for. Life went on as usual, and all those doomsayers faded into obscurity.
The day the world did end was pretty nondescript. By that I mean there was no nuclear explosion or asteroid or monumental natural disaster. There weren’t even any horseman or plagues to announce the end was coming. The world ended fairly quietly. I couldn’t even give you a date because it happened at different times depending on where you were. It was never predicted, and I’m sure a scenario that no one even considered. Who really thinks the dead are going to rise from the grave and destroy the majority of the population? No one but Hollywood, and we all know those are just movies. But that is exactly what happened. Those of us that survived were left wide-eyed, mouth agape, trying to figure out what to do next.
There were a few who were able to pull their heads out and organize those left behind. They made sure the populace had food, shelter, and protection. They were saviors, the United States’ heroes. Life wouldn’t have gone on without them, and it was pretty difficult those first few years after the zompocalypse.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember what life was like before the rise of the undead. I was a teenager, though I hesitate to say normal. I wasn’t deformed or anything, but my classmates thought I was strange. I had a fascination with the dark, the macabre, but I wasn’t a Goth or Emo. I read books and magazines about serial killers. I didn’t idolize them or want to be like them—hell no—but I was fascinated with how evil and black a human’s soul could get.
I wanted to be a psychologist and work with the criminally insane, maybe figure out why they did what they did. Apparently, when you’re 15, your friends think you’re weird if you have desires to help someone other than yourself. While they were worried about becoming popular and getting the right boyfriend, I was trying to figure out how to make society better.
Of course, those dreams will never come true. Society doesn’t exist. Everything I once held dear is gone. I lost my parents to the horde, like a lot of kids. Unlike some of the others, mine weren’t taken by surprise or in some freak accident; they were taken because of their own stupidity. Some days I miss them a lot, but others I believe they got what they deserved. I might sound callous and uncaring, but what about them? Why would they abandon their 15 year old daughter? It used to keep me up at night, trying to find the answer to that question, but I’ve given up asking it. No reason wasting time on things that could’ve or should’ve been.
As I stare out the passenger side window of the semi, I’m reminded how bleak the future has become. The truck rolls down a once heavily traveled highway that has been reduced to a cracked trail. Gas stations and towns dotting the landscape have been abandoned and are crumpling into the weeds that are taking them over. There are a few areas that still resemble pre-zombie destruction, and these are the military outposts set up along the road, used for protection and refueling. I use the term “military” loosely because there is no formal military anymore. It’s a rag-tag group of men and women who were lucky enough to get guns. I chuckle to myself. It’s been two years since I was last out in the world, and a lot has changed since then. I still remember the day the zombies attacked. It’s as clear as if it happened yesterday.