As part of my ongoing celebration of the re-release of apoc-shocker, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, I’m inviting a number of fellow zombie horror hacks over to blog at my site, while I blog at theirs. First up is Simon Bestwick, author of TIDE OF SOULS (Abaddon Books) and ANGELS OF THE SILENCES. (Pendragon Press). And remember, check out Simon’s blog, where I’ll be guest-blogging simultaneously. Enjoy!
SIMON: I love zombies because they’re a new monster who feels old.
ONE OF THE VOICES IN SIMON’S HEAD: Cobblers! Zombies are old. Haiti! Voodoo!
S: The zombis of Haitian myth weren’t rotting corpses. And they didn’t eat human flesh.
OOTVISH: They didn’t?
S: Nope. There were horror films about them- I Walked With A Zombie, White Zombie- but the zombies in those are mindless slaves of the real monster- the sorcerer who controls them.
S: If you’re looking for the kind of zombies you’re talking about, you’ve got to scroll all the way to 1968 (?) and Night Of The Living Dead. And they nearly weren’t called zombies in that. George Romero wanted to call them ghouls.
OOTVISH: OK. They’re new. So?
S: So, to anyone who’s even heard of horror, zombies are right up there with the vampires and werewolves. Who’ve been around for, like, thousands of years.
OOTVISH: Well whoop de do. What’s so clever about that?
S: You try creating a brand new monster.
OOTVISH: They used to do it on Dr Who every bloody week.
S: Yes, and how many of them do people remember? The Daleks, the Cybermen… the ones who hit a nerve. They don’t just look scary… they mean something scary. The Daleks are fascism, racism taken to the max. The Cybermen? Technology run amok. Things that scare us deep down.
OOTVISH: And zombies?
S: Fear of the mindless mass. Fear that death’s the end of everything, the end of who you are. Fear of any number of horrible diseases that destroy your body and your mind.
OOTVISH: Make your mind up!
S: That’s the point. That’s why zombies’ve lasted so long. You can use them to mean nearly anything.
OOTVISH: Pretentious bollocks. You’re just trying sound intellectual now.
S: Well, I’m just speaking for myself, but when I wrote my zombie novel-
OOTVISH: Tide Of Souls?
OOTVISH: Published by Abaddon Books and very reasonably priced?
OOTVISH: That got a four-star review in the Daily Telegraph?
S: That’s the one. It only came together and worked as a novel when I’d cracked what the zombies actually meant.
OOTVISH: Which was…?
S: Death. All the characters have to face something relentless that just keeps coming till their resources to fight it run out. And then they’ll suffer and their existence will end, alone and in pain. We all have to face that.
OOTVISH: So Tide Of Souls is in fact a profound meditation on mortality?
S: Pretty much.
OOTVISH: And the fact that it’s also full of multiple attacks by hordes of flesh-eating monsters, a bunch of hard-arsed soldiers, gorgeous women who kick ass, huge explosions and big fucking guns?
S: Is because I like that shit.
OOTVISH: So what’s your latest book?
S: A novella from Pendragon Press called Angels Of The Silences. It’s about two teenage girls called Emily and Biff who are best mates and who try to protect their friends…
OOTVISH: From zombies?
S: No, other people.
S: …did I mention that they’ve both been dead for nine months and have come back from the grave..?
OOTVISH: I’ll take two.
S: Three quid each.
Visit Simon Bestwick at his blog. TIDE OF SOULS is available now from all good book stores.