All authors have someone that they hold out there, up into the light like a beacon of inspiration. Placed just so, providing the beat that makes up the cadence in their head that pushes them forward into literary greatness. For me that person is Mark Clodi.
I very rarely fangirl and as someone who reads a shit ton of books, there are very few that I go back and re-read and even fewer authors who I hang with for more than one tale. He is the exception. I can often be quoted saying that The Zombie Chronicles can be thanked for inspiring me to create a different kind of zombie. Those books were my first glimpse at the incredible change in dynamic that takes place when you make the undead more than just scenery or speed bumps of flesh with gaping mouths. Mark Clodi taught me that with a little bit of imagination, the undead could be so much more.
Making zombies that think and reason, plot and plan, uplifts the genre out of the box of just horror and turns it into a carefully crafted dramatic battle in the same vein as other classics. Allowing zombies to have dimension means that every run-in becomes a clash of wits, not just a narrated bloodbath for survival. Making the undead more complex, gives the story more meat and value. Which brings a higher emotional investment from the reader and allows you to tell a much more intricate tale.
At some point, all horror writers want to tell a story that transcends the genre and becomes more than just a platform to scare the shit out of people. In my opinion, those of us writing zombie fiction have a great opportunity to do just that. We have the ability to tap into people’s fear of anarchy, over-consumption and the fear of ourselves. The more diverse the zombies we create and the more socially relevant the catalyst to our apocalypses are, the more likely it is that our work will rise out of the category of just entertainment and into thought-provoking, conversation starting material.
I remember witnessing one of those wonderful bar conversations that can only be held by the drunk and very opinionated. Some inebriated, clearly intelligent man was speaking on the current state of politics in the US. A guy in a suit at the end of the bar took offense to something the drunken man said and decided to throw his two cents in. I watched from the sidelines as the suit wearing man began to recite rhetoric like he was reading a teleprompter on a well watched news outlet. The drunken man let him finish speaking, all the while taking heavy pulls from his drink. When the suit finally quieted, the drunk spun toward him on his stool and said “If you don’t have anything new to say, then don’t bother speaking.” It stuck with me and has influenced my life and my work.
It is my opinion that as writers we have an obligation as artists to continue the conversation, not just regurgitate the same swill over and over again to sell books. Which brings me back full circle to Mark Clodi.
I’ve been his Facebook friend for well over a year now and I have never seen a book promo post from him…not one. I probably talk more about his work than he does. Yet he is brilliant, plain and simple. And his unique vision on what zombies can be, is what sparked my desire to join the conversation. He made me feel like we can do more, like we should do more and it strengthens my resolve when I see my fellow indie authors out here trying new things, paving the way for a change in how we look at the undead.
I don’t want to publish great zombie books, I want to publish great books and that means producing more profound work that connects with people on higher levels than just acute fear. In other words, I want to be like Mark.
I can only hope there is a new author out there somewhere reading my work and having parts of their brain previously unused, exploding into life. That readers finish Zombie Seed, covered in sweat and breathing like they just got biblical with the hottie from the coffee shop, panting and coughing because they literally are trying to digest what I just inoculated them with.
WE BE WRITERS FOR FUCKSAKE! We should care more about our voice than prestige or turning over what people want. We should be stepping into the small speck of light that being published provides and saying something. We have an opportunity to “take it there,” and spur social consciousness. I sincerely hope that we all take that to heart.
If we’re not trying to ignite a flame in each other or in our readers, then to paraphrase a crazy drunk sage, we should sit the fuck down and not bother speaking.
Side Note: Mark Clodi just released book #5 in The Zombie Chronicles…get your hands on it.
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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!