Welcoming back, zombie author David Monette, here with his thoughts on a very Halloween topic, zombies.
Why are Zombies so Darn Popular?
By David Monette
Good question. Why are they so popular? You would think that as a guy who has invested the time into writing a trilogy based on zombies, I would have a response waiting to fall from the tip of my tongue. The truth is; I kind of didn’t when I started putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be). But as time went on, I was asked this question more and more and I’ve finally been dragged, kicking and screaming, into thinking it over. So here it is. It should be interesting… or at least moderately amusing.
To start with, I think there are two things involved in the modern concept of zombies that makes them so popular in our society. The first is the idea of zombies themselves, and the ancient human motivator that these monsters have always embodied since someone first dreamed them up: our fear of the unknown- which in this case, boils down to our fear of death. This fear is the driving force behind so many things in our lives that we hardly recognize its existence until we actually sit down, take stock, and be brutally honest about our motivations for doing the things we do. In the case of zombies, though, it’s pretty easy to see. They’re dead, they’ve been somehow brought back to some sort of pseudo-life, and they shamble around trying to kill living people. They’ve got everything needed to scare the crap out of us: Death– oh no! Corpses– Gross! And death- oh no! Trying to kill me– Run away! Death- oh no!
Death, death, death.
All of this “death” stuff is very scary for us human creatures who are so instinctively concerned with life and living. The idea, the fear titillates us. And we love to be titillated.
The second element to the popularity of zombies comes in the form of our fascination with the apocalypse that generally accompanies their presence. Now, let’s be fair, this fascination with the apocalypse has always been present in human societies to some degree (think Ragnarok in Norse mythology, the floods in Greek, Christian, Sumerian, etc… myth stories). Our modern experience with it is therefore nothing special, but where does it come from? Well, the answer to that is based on- you guessed it- our fear of death! All of these stories, from floods to earthquakes, to a bunch of giants coming down to smash us into bloody pulps, are ways for us to categorize, make predictable, the idea of death, of our mortality, so that we’ll feel better about the whole scary business of not having coffee or beer anymore.
Now, if you take zombies (Death– oh no!) and the apocalypse (Death in large numbers– oh no!) and combine them, why, you get a perfect storm of fear and anxiety. But never fear. These are stories. And we are all living a story, the story of our lives. In that story, we all have a main character, the person who looks back at us in the mirror. And the main character in stories usually survives any crazy scenario nature or bad screenwriters can throw at them. So, that person in the mirror will survive! Right? That one person is the hero, they’ll be the one to live while everyone else gets swarmed by- insert your apocalyptic event. That’s how we picture it, isn’t it? And there’s nothing wrong with that. It helps us get through the day and gives us something to think about while we’re on the bus to work, or while we’re at work snapping circuits together or flipping burgers or… whatever. So go ahead zombie apocalypse, give it your worst. I’m not afraid.
The battle for Washington DC is behind them, and the last remnants of the human race have fled from their undead enemies to a remote Caribbean island where they try to salvage what is left of humanity. But even here, the zombies have come. Led by the architect of the holocaust, an invading army wreaks havoc trying to acquire the one thing that can stop them, and the one thing a small contingent of soldiers knows they must never get.
Join with Sasha, Terrance, Virgil, and the little girl, Max, in an all or nothing gamble as they fight down the road to either salvation or horrible defeat in the thrilling conclusion of this series.
As the day slipped away far off to the west, the darkness of the jungle became a living thing. Knit together by the slow creep of lengthening shadows, it grew by degrees into a massive being, shapeless and black. For nourishment it ate the weak or the unlucky. In return it exhaled moist heat and a cavalcade of sound, the sound of thousands of separate voices, large and small, all coming together to meet the ear in a constant sheet of noise. Those who were responsible for the making of this chaotic ballad were invisible to the naked eye of man. This was so not just because of the darkness, but because most of the performers—the frogs, birds, and insects—were hidden within the surrounding vegetation, frightened of being killed by their neighbors, either eaten, or as was the case with the troop of humans quietly slipping along a trail, flattened under a boot.
For one of the six members of this troop of humans, such an act would have been celebrated with a certain degree of relish. Terrance hated the sound of the jungle at night. There were not many things in his life that he gave away for free, but in his hatred he was quite generous. He hated the bleats, the croaks and hoots, and he hated the creatures that made the noise. He hated the darkness and the fact that he had to wear a pair of thermal goggles to plumb its depths. He hated the heat, and the plants, and the bugs. He hated the head-to-toe leather suit he wore… and most of all he hated the reason he had to wear the suit, the reason he was out in the jungle at night in the first place. He hated the zombies. Or more accurately, he feared the zombies and he hated them for that fear.
His terror of these beasts was not unfounded. Since the first day of the apocalypse when a host of diabolical necromancers eradicated most of the human population on earth and then raised the dead as zombies, the resulting creatures could, with a single bite, turn any living person into one of them. Terrance had seen it done before. It was not pretty. The resilient leather he wore formed a fairly reliable barrier between a bite and death, so day or night, no matter how hot it was, whenever he or anyone else left the barricades surrounding the city of St George’s on a patrol, they wore the protective clothing. The safety it provided far outweighed the bladders of water they needed to carry or the periodic “cool downs” they had to perform while nestled in the boughs of a tree.
Either way, Terrance hated it all.
In fact, he was so busy nursing his various hatreds that he barely noticed when Danger, the woman on point, suddenly raised her fist head-high and froze.
The fire team immediately came to a stop.
Terrance’s finger slipped from outside the trigger guard of his MP5SD sub-machinegun to curl around the curve of the trigger. The contact made him feel safer, more in control.
Around the task force the sound of the jungle withered and slowly died.
The point person opened her fist, laid the flat palm parallel to the ground, and took a knee.
Seeing this, Lieutenant Burgis, the officer in command, looked back and motioned those behind to follow suit.
They crouched and in the dark waited.
There was something out there.
About the Author:
David Monette was born and raised in the cold rural hinterlands of upstate New York. As a typical kid in a typical community, life for him was pretty… typical. He liked to draw creatures and contraptions but as the second born of four sons, such ability was merely a convenient way of standing out from the crowd. As he inexpertly stumbled through high school, his talent for capturing the images in his head onto paper was noticed and encouraged by both teachers and family members.
Without any other idea of what to do with himself after graduation, besides a vague idea of doing something art oriented, he decided to attend Mohawk Valley Community College where he received his associate’s degree in Advertising Design and Production. Acting on excellent advice from his teachers at this institution, he went on to Syracuse University where he learned a great deal about art and eventually wound up with a bachelor’s degree in Illustration.
With a disturbingly large amount of student debt and a decent portfolio, he learned what it was to be a starving artist. Namely, he found that artists don’t starve; they simply pick up an endless series of part time work to pay the rent while continuing to plug away at their true passion. This was essentially what he did until he received his first illustration job and from that point on, he didn’t look back. As an illustrator, his highly detailed fantasy and science fiction work has appeared in many books, magazines, board games, and collectible card games for such varied publishers as Dell Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, and Atlas Games. Initially, he had completed these diverse projects utilizing oil and acrylic paints as well as pen and inks.
As digital technology continued to improve, however, he decided it was time to tackle the arduous task of mastering the computer and eventually figured out a way to adapt his style to a digital format. With this knowledge and experience, he went back to school and received his master’s degree in Illustration from the University of Hartford. While there, his instructors reviewed his written work and had strongly suggested that he combine his writing ability with his talent as an illustrator to chart his own path.
And hence, an author was born.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/davidmonetteauthor
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7334521.David_Monette
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/David-Monette/e/B00FMX73DM
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Thanks for your interesting insights into the topic of the popularity of zombies, David. Good Luck with The Eternal Undead! And, happy Halloween!