Friday, May 30, 2008

The beginning part 2... from loving zombies to writing zombies

In my recent post I talked about how I became fascinated with zombies. This post is about how that transitioned into me writing a book with zombies :)

Now, don't think I'm this complete nut-case. It was mostly just a fun thing to talk about every now and again. When we were moving into our new apartment we'd joke of it's capability to withstand the zombie apocalypse. Really, it's not just the zombie apocalypse I find interesting, but any kind of apocalypse and survival.

So when How I Live Now and Life as we Knew It came out and I read them back to back in the fall of 2007, I was in heaven. Two YA books touching on the subject I loved: how to survive the unexpected. And I wanted more. But I couldn't find other books like this.

About that time, I was in transition. I'd gotten a form rejection on a chick-lit YA partial that I thought had a real chance, but the book wasn't finished. I'd just started taking a YA writing class and the heroine of the book I was writing for that sounded too much like my other chick lit YA heroine. I had to clear my mind of her and so I needed a new character -- someone decidedly NOT chick lit. JP suggested I write what I love and I joked "what, the zombie apocalypse?"

It was the end of October, and for Halloween JP and his brother were each writing a zombie flash piece. JP and I were at lunch when he asked me what I thought about a forest full of zombies, right after the apocalypse, and the Forest of Hands and Teeth became so clear to me. JP had a totally different vision than I did -- there were roads and cars in his world and the people lived on the edge of the Forest. But my world was set much later, generations later, in a village set in the middle of the Forest completely cut off from everything. It was so long after the Return (the zombie apocalypse) that memories and history and knowledge had faded.

Still, for a while, it was just a mental exercise. On our walks we'd talk about how such a world would work and I'm not sure JP was convinced of my ideas :) I started NaNo with the second Chick Lit YA and was making progress.

Then, strange as it sounds, one day at work I read an article on CNN about tuna. Now to understand what happens next you have to know something about me... as a kid, I always wondered what would change during my lifetime that I would say to my kids "I remember life before X." Like "I remember life before men walked on the moon." Or "I remember life before color TV." So anyway, I read this article on CNN about tuna and how in a few decades they could be totally fished out. That at some point, the populations will decline rapidly and become protected.

I thought of the cans of tuna on my shelves, how cheap and easy it is to get now. And I thought about telling my kids, way in the future when tuna was rare and rarely eaten, that once upon a time it was cheap and easy. This would be my "I remember life before..." story.

I shrugged away the thought and went back to work. That night, as I was walking to the parking garage, that thought must have still been tumbling through my head because a first line popped into my head: "My mother used to tell me about the ocean."

I remember repeating the line in my head and then I had another line. And something made me whip out my blackberry and email them to myself. When I got home, I should have started working on my NaNo project. But instead I opened the email and pasted the lines into a new document. And then I took off.

When JP came home from work I had over 2k words written. In two weeks I had 20k words. This was the book I wanted to read, and the book I wanted to write, and I loved nothing more than reading it to JP every night when he got home. Regardless of anything else -- its marketability, its saleability, etc. -- this was OUR book, the book I was writing for both of us.

It's always funny to me how life can work out sometimes. Somehow JP talked me into going to see that first zombie movie and that's what started it all. Thanks JP :)


JKB said...

See, now this is exactly why I would read a zombie book. I like that background and stuff, and how you came to it. Normally zombies aren't my thing at all, but this sounds good to read.

So keep the info coming. :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Awesome story, Carrie. Now I really can't wait to read the book.

Patrick Alan said...

I remember life before blogs