If you follow me on social media, read this blog on a regular basis, or are signed up to my newsletter, or all of the above, you know that the third book in The Living Dead Boy series is now available seven years after the original was published.
That blows my mind a bit, especially because I conceived the original book as a standalone. The idea was born out of my nieces and nephews complaining about the lack of kids in the zombie genre. They wanted to read books about kids their age being heroes and fighting zombies.
It was originally written for Dr. Pus of the The Library of the Living Dead Podcast fame. He had a small press at the time, and I pitched the idea to him at the Horror Realm convention. Dr. Pus loved the idea. I wrote the book and it came out in it’s original form to tepid sales, but rave reviews.
I was very disappointed at first, but then I noticed something. The book wasn’t selling online, but it would at conventions. If I could pitch the book directly to adult readers, they’d pick it up. Kids automatically loved it.
“Why would you write a kiddie book?” I had someone ask me with derision.
“It’s not. It’s a zombie book about kids. People still die. Zombies still destroy civilization. We just see it from a kid point of view,” I answered. “Didn’t you like The Goonies and The Monster Squad as a kid?”
“So it’s like that?”
“It’s The Goonies meets Night of the Living Dead.”
The book sold.
When I wrote the first book, I wrote it for a younger generation of zombie fans, but I also wrote it for ALL zombies fans. When I was growing up, I enjoyed Stephen King’s It, The Goonies, Monster Squad, and The Lost Boys. How kids face monsters is totally different from adults. What a lot of recent films and books have forgotten is that children have a fearlessness that adults don’t have anymore. Kids often feel immortal in their youth. They also haven’t learned to make decisions like adults, and often are influenced by their peers to do crazy stuff. I remember some of the things I did as a kid, and don’t know how the hell I ever thought some of those stunts were a good idea. I tried to bring all those elements into the original book.
When the book’s rights returned to me in 2013, I decided to retool the front cover to give it another shot at finding its audience. The new cover did seem to draw in a bigger audience, and I sent it book reviewers that came back with glowing responses.
“I love zombie books and I read a ton of them, but not many of them succeeded in freaking me out quite as well as The Living Dead Boy.” – Unabridged Andra
One male reader told me that the book reminded him of what it was like to be a boy, and brought up good memories of his childhood friends. Others told met that though they were originally reluctant to read about a kids facing the apocalypse, once they read the book it became one of their favorites.
Eventually I decided to write two sequels in hopes of attracting readers with a longer story.
I was a bit reluctant because the world of The Living Dead Boy is very much like ours. It’s a straight out zombie story. I’ve been burned out on traditional zombies for a while, but I soon realized that writing about the zombie apocalypse from a kid’s viewpoint made the story fresh again. They face an entirely different dynamic from their adult counterparts.
Also, Josh is twelve, the WORST age. Basically twelve year olds are the worst to deal with because that’s the age where they’re starting to break away from their parents and their more easily influenced by peers. So, you have a twelve year old boy who is a huge zombie fan, he knows the lore, he believes that the adults will screw it up just like in zombie stories, and he’s frustrated that he’s dependent on the adults he doesn’t trust. Add in a ton of zombies, an older boy that is determined to knock Josh down from his leadership role among his friends, and the best laid plans going wrong, and you have a story where the odds are stacked against the kids.
One of the other aspects of the story I struggled with was just how much death, gore, and the usual violence should I include. Though I don’t go into the explicit detail that is in the As The World Dies series, it’s still all there. Adults and children die. Things go very wrong. People get hurt. And not everyone makes it to THE END.
“I wasn’t too sure you’d go there, but you killed off some of the kids,” a reader once said to me. “You’re so mean!”
This is true.
I had decided when I started writing the story that I wasn’t going to take any easy outs. That if the kids faced a dire situation, I wasn’t going to give them a magical exit. They were going to have to work at their survival.
Though this trilogy is now done, I’m not closing the door on Josh. If sales are solid, and the demand is there, I’d definitely come back to write about an older Josh and his friends. I could definitely see myself writing about Josh when he’s fifteen.
So if you loved As The World Dies, give this series a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.