- Warm Bodies. I can totally and completely blame this for starting me off on zombies. I’ve never been a fan of horror, and if I had to name my top fear in horror it would be zombies. Oh, okay, I admit it – number one would be the Alien. But zombies come a too-close-for-comfort second! Or did.Thanks to the cuteness and humour of the Warm Bodies film (and the beautifully lyrical writing in the book by Isaac Marion), I became a convert. I won’t be watching World War Z or Night of the Living Dead any time, but a Warm Bodies sequel or something along similar lines will definitely get me watching.
- Sir Terry Pratchett. When I said I hated zombies, I meant the classic horror film, Hollywood variety. Anyone who has read any of the Nightwatch books by Terry Pratchett will be familiar with the somewhat tragic figure of zombie Reg Shoe. Or maybe you know Baron Samedi from Witches Abroad or the recently deceased wizard WindlePoons from Reaperman. And you’ll know that these aren’t the moaning, lurching brain-eaters more familiar on the big screens. These are more the original form of zombies – rather sad figures dragged back from death either because of something left undone in their former life, summoned back to seek revenge, or simply left behind when Death hung up his scythe and retired. Or maybe you know the zombies in Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. These are more the type of zombies that I love. Still mostly the people they were in life, but unable to rest, often not by their own choice. It was researching this old mythology that set me writing the kind of zombie story that probably isn’t so well known to zombie devotees.
- Music. This is always a big influence in everything I write. It can affect the feel or tone of a story, or lyrics can inspire a title or story idea. For Restless In Peaceville, I had a couple of tracks from Warm Bodies, but mostly a lot of Linkin Park, plus an album by Dead By Sunrise, a band fronted by Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington.
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The Little Things Give You Away was one of my favourite LP tracks, and one that would have fitted right in on Warm Bodies!
- Louisiana. Just after seeing Warm Bodies, and comparing the Hollywood zombies to those I’d met in other books, I got curious about the whole mythology and started out reading it up on Wikipedia. Then I got into a discussion on Facebook about it, and someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo. I was hooked! Not only did it lead me off into yet more interesting research, but it gave me the perfect setting for my story (even though I knew nothing about it and have never been there). Fortunately for me I have several friends who live in or near there, or were born and brought up there. Together with my research, their feedback helped me shape a location that otherwise I could only visit via the internet and Google maps. And now, thanks to my husband’s interest in books set in Louisiana, we’re actually in the process of planning a holiday there!
- Curiosity. Well, if I hadn’t been curious about why I’d encountered such different kinds of zombies, I wouldn’t have gone looking for the answers and got so completely enthralled by the whole concept. The research was a ton of fun, and although this was the hardest book I’ve ever written, it’s also the one I’m most proud of. I learned so many new things and found out what I can write if I challenge myself.
So, have any of these things inspired you to write something outside of your comfort zone?
I’d love to hear from you.
Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…
But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?
And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.