My new zombie short story is finally out! [Amazon | B&N | BAM | kobo] It’s set right when the apocalypse hits and is about a group of teens who have to find refuge and survive.
This is a story several years in the making. I’ve mentioned it before, but I spent most of my life avoiding scary movies and it wasn’t until I was a second year law student and had just started dating my now-husband, JP, that I saw my first zombie movie (I still have no idea how he talked me into it!). The movie was the Dawn of the Dead remake and it pretty much sparked my obsession with zombies.
But even then, that obsession was more of a joke between JP and me. More than anything, it was a really fun thought experiment in world-building: how would you survive? Where would you go? What would happen to the world? The release of Max Brooks’s Zombie Survival Guide only helped to feed my interest, which was also sustained by a diet of any zombie book, movie, or graphic novel I could find.
One of my favorite things to do is to make up stories when I’m on the edge of sleep — for as long as I can remember, this is how I’ve put myself to bed at night. Often, after Dawn of the Dead, the stories I’d make up would be about surviving the zombie apocalypse. When I lived in Durham, NC, I thought about how I’d fortify the apartment and so naturally, when I moved to Charlotte after law school I had similar thoughts about the new apartment.
And that’s the inspiration for What Once We Feared: trying to survive the zombie apocalypse in that apartment. How to fortify it, how to stock up provisions, how to keep safe, etc.
I loved writing the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy because I enjoyed figuring out what our world would look like hundreds of years after the zombie apocalypse. What happens when the zombies become an every day part of life? But at the same time, I’ve always loved reading about survival during and after a disaster itself — how characters cope when every aspect of their normal lives is shattered.
So I wanted to write a story that took place during that time — from the first signs of the zombie outbreak. One of the aspects of the Dawn of the Dead remake I love so much is the immediacy of survival that leads to the relief of safety that then turns into the realization of what it will take to survive long term. What makes something like a zombie apocalypse so terrifying is that you’re forced to make quick decisions and then you have to live with those decisions. For example, you can live a long time in a mall with a horde of zombies outside, but you can’t live there forever. What looks like a brilliant decision at the time may end up being a terrible decision long term.
That’s what I wanted to write about in What Once We Feared: the decisions we make — that we’re forced to make — under extreme pressure and the fallout of those decisions. But also, I just really love zombies and I wanted to write about running away from them, fighting them off, and getting to safety. Those are always some of my favorite parts of any zombie story :)
So yeah — What Once We Feared: the zombie apocalypse, a group of friends, and an apartment complex. Who will survive?