Guest post by Elizabeth Massie, author of Desper Hollow
Zombie fiction offers all sorts of variations on the living/walking dead mythos. Most of these novels or short stories are apocalyptic, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it epics, featuring scores of shambling, ambling rot-bods coming after one community or other filled with terrified but fighting-the-good-fight, still semi-normal human beings. As we all know, zombies are not only dangerous because they eat living flesh right off the bones of their victims, but if they bite you, you will likely become one, too. Very few things are as terrifying as a large mob of raggedy, jaw-snapping, drooling, brainless, hungry once-humans heading your way through the forest or down the road, or over the field. And stink? Whew!
So, I thought, Hmmm. (Yeah, I actually thought, Hmmm.) Then I thought, I want to write a zombie novel. Zombies are fun, right? I mean, sure, I basically know what they can and can’t do. Maybe I can find a somewhat different take on the living dead.
Now, I live in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia. Beautiful territory. To the east are the Blue Ridge Mountains. And to the west are the famous and often infamous Appalachian Mountains. I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains, driving around, hiking, geocaching. There are some fairly populated areas. There are small towns. There are tiny communities. And there are far flung individuals who live apart from almost everyone else.
And so, instead of creating a vast palate for my story, I brought it down. I shrunk the setting to the vicinity of Beaver Dam and Desper Hollow. I limited the number of human characters. I came up with a story that features no more than five zombies at a time. Oh, the zombies are as dangerous as any in a huge mob. They eat flesh and brains. But five are more than enough for my mountain folks to deal with.
It was all Granny Mustard’s fault, of course. She was the one who wanted to create an “immortality moonshine” that, rather than making animals and people live forever, created zombies. And once Granny met her brutal end, Granny’s socially-inept granddaughter, Jenkie, decided to create her own zombies, keep them in the back of her Desper Hollow trailer, and invite people from Hollywood to come see them, film them, and make her famous. Several folks from Beaver Dam thought that wasn’t such a good idea, however. They decided they had to get involved. To their own peril, naturally. I mean, we’re talking zombies here.
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