My Love Affair With ZombiesByThe shambling undead did not enter my life until I was around eleven years old. The popular monsters of my childhood were Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. I wasn’t even aware of zombies until one afternoon when I happened to catch Night of the Living Dead on television. My brothers and I weren’t supposed to watch horror movies, but we turned the sound down low and huddled close to our old TV hoping our parents wouldn’t notice what we were watching. I had never seen anything as horrific as the zombies slowly and methodically beating their fists against the farmhouse windows, anxious to eat the humans within. I was absolutely traumatized and vowed never to watch another zombie movie again. The mere idea of zombies was so terrifying I had trouble sleeping for many nights afterward.One Sunday afternoon when I was a teenager, I walked into the living room when Day of the Dead was on HBO. The notorious disemboweling scene with the nefarious Captain Rhodes was taking place and I ran to the bathroom and threw up. Once again, I vowed I would never watch another zombie flick.Strange what we’ll do for love. Years later, in my twenties, one of my former boyfriends talked me into watching Night of the Living Dead again. At this point I was a big fan of Hammer films and other horror movies, but could not bring myself to watch anything related to zombies. He dared me to watch it with him, and I did not want to be seen as a wimp. So I sat down on the couch and watched the movie that is now my favorite zombie film. Somehow, my fear of zombies was transformed into fascination.It was difficult to find George A Romero’s films on dvd, but I finally tracked down the trilogy. My new boyfriend (the man I would marry) and I had a marathon of the old movies before going to see the new version of Dawn of the Dead in the theaters.I have to say the remake completely solidified my love of all things zombies and I was forever hooked.But even though I was a fan of the genre, I never dreamed I would end up writing my own zombie epic. The monsters of my childhood nightmares were vampires. I tend to write about what I fear, so I honestly believed my success would come first from my vampire stories. I was very surprised when a short story I wrote on a whim became the beginning of a three book trilogy that I wrote online between 2005 to 2007.For those two years I lived with zombies shambling (or running) through my nightmares. Their presence was a constant in my dreams. I became acutely aware of my surroundings as I went about my daily life, the fear of my characters infecting me during daylight hours. I would enter a building and instantly plan my escape. Every day I would write a bit more of my zombie story, creating a taunt tale of Texans surviving the zombocalypse. Though the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy is a character driven action adventure tale, the zombies definitely had their moments. I had fun creating new ways to kill them or to make them dangerous.At first I tried to stick with the Romero rules of zombiedom, but quickly realized that this was my tale to tell. Since Texas has a gun culture, I knew that for Texas to fall the zombies had to be fast. Yet, I still loved Romero’s shambling zombies, so I found a way to slow mine down. I spent far too many hours thinking about how much trauma the body of a zombie would go through every day. Since they aren’t intelligent and can’t feel pain, they would inflict massive damage on themselves very quickly. Also, the elements would take their toll. Slowly, I created my own zombie mythos.In 2008 I started to self-publish my zombie story in three complete volumes to appease the fans of the online story. I never dreamed it would have such brisk sales or end up garnering accolades from fans, other writers, and review sites. The series won the 2008 and 2009 Dead Letter Award for THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE and was optioned for a possible TV show. In 2010, my literary agent sold the trilogy to the genre publishing powerhouse Tor. With the guidance of my editor Melissa Singer I was able to return to the world I loved so much and revise it into a leaner, meaner, and better version. I consider the Tor versions to be the ultimate versions of the series. I am incredibly proud of them.As I have moved on to other projects, I am often asked when I will return to the world of the zombies. I am done revising AS THE WORLD DIES for Tor, but I have plans to publish two follow-up short story collections to my self-published AS THE WORLD DIES UNTOLD TALES VOLUME 1 this year. The short stories highlight minor characters and their side adventures in the deadlands. I am also currently working on a futuristic zombie tale that has a whole new kind of zombie to fear.Though I will go on to write about other monsters and other horrific scenarios, the shambling undead will always have their place in my nightmares and my heart.
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other books: the vampire novels PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES and THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. The first two books in her zombie trilogy, THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, are available now in bookstores.
Website: rhiannonfrater.com & astheworlddies.com