The Colony Saga
i.e., Let’s Talk Zombies
Okay, short bit about me (so’s y’all know I’ve got street cred, yo): I’m an indie author. I write spec-fic: sci-fi, fantasy, horror.
I’m a produced screenwriter (two horror movies), member of the Horror Writers of America, and have been one of Amazon’s Most Popular Horror Writers for most of the last year. I’ve written about ghosts, vampires, serial killers, demons, devils. If it goes bump in the night, I’m interested. But one thing I’ve never done is a multi-volume work.
Until now. And it’s a zombie story.
Usually when I write, I can tell pretty much how long the book’s going to end up being. But when I started writing The Colony Saga, I discovered to my chagrin that the first two plot points took over two hundred pages to cover. And that was because I was trying to do something a bit different with my zombies.
In most zombie stories, the zombies are essentially interchangeable with a force of nature. They are an earthquake, or a series of twisters, or a tsunami. They are there to be dealt with as an additional problem in between the “real” story issues: a marriage on the rocks, a group of plucky survivors who have to deal with the power mad/rapey governor/priest/ex-biker/whatever who lives nearby and wants what they have. The real questions aren’t about the zombies (“Where did they come from?” “How do we get rid of them?”), they are about the people. So the zombies become a stumbling block in service of the author.
Concerned Husband: Honey, let’s sit down and talk about our marital problems.
Spunky Wife: You just haven’t understood me since we lost little Timmy.
Concerned Husband: But I’m here now. Let’s figure it out.
Spunky Wife: Okay, let’s –
Zombie Horde: Rowrrrr!
Concerned Husband: Oops! Gotta get outta here!
Spunky Wife: I know! We’ll figure out our marriage after this brief survival episode!
Zombie Horde: ROWRRRR!
(three weeks later)
Spunky Wife: Good thing we found that abandoned military installation and weapons cache!
Concerned Husband: I know! Should we talk about our marriage now?
Zombie Horde: Rowrrr!
Spunky Wife: Headshots rule!
I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create a world where zombies are THE ONLY problem. Where you don’t have time to really get into a bitch-slap fight with your neighbor, because time is all too precious. If you argue, you die. That’s it. But that meant I had to create a whole different kind of zombie. A kind of zombie immune to typical “zombie killing” methods. Headshots won’t work. Setting ‘em on fire isn’t an option.
And the zombies had to have a reason. Most zombie stories are, again, about a natural event. Even the viral zombies that are so in vogue now are at heart a natural event, in the sense that nature has fought back against humanity overstepping its bounds. So the zombies become a sort of modern wrath of God. A crucible to burn away the impure – morality plays on a massive scale. But never really explained beyond that.
I wanted zombies with purpose. I wanted them so scary that there literally appears to be no way to stop them. I wanted survivors who were at their cores good people, willing to put aside differences in order to try to save not just themselves, but the human race.
And I wanted to do the one thing that no zombie story has ever really done, to fully address the most horrific aspect of zombies.
As to what that is… well, I gotta keep some secrets in reserve. But there are things worse than dying. Worse than not staying dead.
Zombies are a lot of fun to read, and a lot of fun to write. Whether I’ve accomplished my mission of creating a completely new kind of zombie is something that I can’t answer – I’ll have to leave that to my readers. But it’s taught me a lot about horror, about the nature of community, and about the things that are truly worth fearing.
The Colony: Genesis (The Colony, Vol. 1):
The Colony: Renegades (The Colony, Vol. 2)
Michaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His bestsellers include Strangers, Darkbound, Apparition, The Haunted, The Loon, and the YA fantasy series The Billy Saga (beginning with Billy: Messenger of Powers). He hopes someday to develop superpowers, and maybe get a cool robot arm. Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that's a low bar to set), and much MUCH cooler than he is (also a low bar). Michaelbrent also has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings and can be followed on Twitter through his username @mbcollings. Follow him for awesome news, updates, and advance notice of sales. You will also be kept safe when the Glorious Revolution begins!