It’s November and that means it’s NANOWRIMO. To celebrate my first Nanowrimo novel, Zero Repeat Forever being on the way to publication by Simon & Schuster I’m featuring many published or soon-to-be-published Nanowrimo novels over the month of November, as well as some old posts I wrote during my first Nanowrirmo in 2011.
With the first one…well. I’ve never been a fan of any kind of horror. I don’t like being made to jump or to be scared. Forget rollercoaster rides or an Aliens films marathon. *shudders*
And pretty high on the list of things from horror that I don’t like are zombies. I mean, what is there to like about zombies?! Aside from the smell, the lack of lively conversation and their attempts to split open your skull and eat your brains, what possible attraction is there other than wanting to be scared out of your skin? And the last is why I’d never watch or read them, let alone write them.
Until I saw a conversation on Twitter between two of my friends (my freelance editor/cover designer Danielle Fine and YA paranormal author Karen Y Bynum). They were raving on about a book called Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, then Karen mentioned the film. It got me curious, and by strange coincidence I happened to see the trailer on TV.
It didn’t look as gory or horrifying as some zombie films, more cute and funny (though be warned, it does have its gory moments). I got hooked. I straight out bought the DVD (very unlike me) and watched it, and completely fell in love with it. The horror elements were just about within my tolerance levels, but it was such a cute, heart-warming romance (yes, a romance with zombies. Yes, I didn’t think that was possible without being yucky, but it is) that I adored it. Think Romeo and Juliet, except he’s already dead and they both get the happily ever after at the end. I’ve also read both books, and they are two of my most favourite stories ever.
But when muse suggested I write my own zombie story, I freaked out. Nope. I don’t write zombies. I don’t write horror. I’d only just written my first ever attempt at a paranormal romance, and that had been a warlock with a brownie housekeeper. There was no way I could or should write a zombie story, and especially one that didn’t seem to follow the usual zombie apocalypse shoot ’em up type of story that was the most popular.
Unfortunately muse didn’t agree, and while I resisted fighting the story, it meant I couldn’t focus on or write anything else. I gave in and did Restless In Peaceville as my NaNoWriMo project in 2013, planning to get it all down and out of my head, then shove it in a virtual drawer never to be seen again. Until I happened to see a NaNoWriMo critique session offered by a publisher I’d been following for a while–Breathless Press. It seemed too serendipitous to pass up. At least if they didn’t like it, I knew I’d be fully justified in condemning the story to the Files of No Return.
Instead, I got a Fast-track through the submission process. They wanted to see the story on completion! I spent another four months polishing my zombies to within an inch of their…unlife, and submitted it to the publisher. They offered me a contract straight away, and Restless In Peaceville released in August 2014. Sadly my publisher was forced to close less than a year later, but their belief in me and my weird, adorable zombie story gave me the confidence to re-release it myself, now with a glossy new cover from Danielle Fine.
So I’ve learned I can never say never about what I might write. And I learned that, even though I thought she was crazy, my muse knew what she was doing even when I didn’t. I’m so proud of myself for completing this story–the hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever written. I just hope everyone enjoys reading it too.
Here’s a blurb for Restless in Peaceville:
Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…
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.