There is another yardstick in which to measure the rise of the zombie’s star: book stores. Where, once, the bookshelves were practically bare, there is now a plethora of zombie fiction to choose from. One telling sign of its growth is that a multitude of women writers are venturing into the once male-dominant turf with some very smart, character-driven stories.
More does not necessarily mean better and there is a negative aspect of this newfound resurgence in all things zombie. There is certainly a great deal more chaff to sift through. The degree of formulaic storylines and one-dimensional characters taking place in zombie fiction prove the “more is not better” thesis. While many zombie-fiction writers fall into the ‘easily forgotten’ category, there is a handful who are ‘must reads’: Rhiannon Frater, Max Brooks, S.G. Browne, Kim Paffenroth, and Robert Kirkman. Of that group, half of them (Brooks, Browne, and Kirkman) have screenplay deals. Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series of graphic novels is a smash hit for A&E. Brad Pitt purchased the rights to Max Brook’s World War Z and Browne just signed the movie rights away for Breathers: A Zombie’s lament.
Currently there are a few publishers who deal heavily in zombie fiction: Permuted Press, Books of the Dead (via James Roy Daley) and my own (excuse the shameless plug), MayDecember Publications are among some of the more prolific. These three houses each publish between eight to a dozen titles a year consisting of a mixture of full length novels and anthologies. All three have no qualms about taking a chance on a previously unpublished author. It would seem that the ‘zombie infection’ has not only spread, but is thriving in the literary world.