I want to tell you the story of how I fell in love with zombies. Some of you might have heard the initial experience through interviews or such, but there are a few other details that might amuse you.
When I was around twelve, thirteen some months away, I started volunteering at the library just down the street from my house. I’d always loved the library. It was a solace. Quiet, full of potential inspiration and cool things. A few years later it became overrun with teenagers who used it as a hang out and probably never touched a book in their time there, but that’s another rant for another day.
I used to do a thing called “the router” where I’d be given a list of books that needed to be pulled to send to other libraries in the district. When you’re doing this you’re allowed to put any books you want on the cart for yourself to check out at the end of the day. My stack was huge already, but as I was pulling DVDs and videos I saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead ’68. At this point I’d never seen any zombie movie or had any interest in them.
Later that week I popped the tape into the VHS player (yeah, we had one!) and sat on the floor watching it with rapt attention. Having been so absorbed by the film, I cried at the end when you-know-who dies and left with a newfound love for the undead. I tried talking to a few people about zombies but no one seemed to be interested.
Flash forward about a year or two. I’m at Borders with my friend and she picks up a book. At this point I’ve seen as many zombie flicks as I have access to and have been reading Z books from the library, but they’re hard to come by. The book is called “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks. I barely have any money, but I’ll be damned if I don’t buy it.
I read it non-stop. I analyze each family member’s home using the theories Brooks discusses in his book and try to get everyone on the same page for our survival plan. All I can talk about is how to properly fortify this or that, how certain situations would play out, what we would do if a zombie broke into the house right that very second!
My family was sick of hearing about it. I was obsessed. They were actually disturbed by the whole thing. One night the power went out. I immediately thought—wished—it was zombies. I grabbed the baseball bat next to my bed and went outside. My aunt and uncle looked at me and I said, “This is my time,” with sleep-glazed eyes and a fanatic edge in my voice. It wasn’t zombies, unfortunately, but this incident started my love for gathering survival gear and weapons.
By the time I was 15 and had read a slew of zombie books I was at the zenith of my obsession. Zombies were the best. Face value, they were gross, cool, and scary. Conceptually they represented social issues and deep commentary on human nature.
But what do I do with my love and enthusiasm? Well, as you could guess, I started writing. I was sitting in my room reading Day By Day Armageddon, eyes beginning to strain as dusk settled and the room was washed in bluish light, when I saw the image of Cyrus in my head. As much as I enjoyed zombie novels, the main characters always seemed similar to me. I wanted someone who was a badass, quirky, and not afraid. Someone who would handle the apocalypse differently.
At first I wrote short vignettes of scenes that I posted on deviantART as a series, but mostly I was writinf for myself because I loved how Cyrus was turning out. I’d force my aunt or uncle to sit and listen to me read it out loud because, of course, I was really proud of what I was doing. After reading a segment I’d turn and say, “Pretty amazing right?” or “Isn’t that disturbing?”
The more I got into it the more I wanted to write seriously and make the thing into a novel. I wrote with conviction every day, thought about zombies and Cyrus nonstop, and, well, here I am today!