Friday, January 18, 2013

Get real...the ZA AIN'T gonna be pretty.

I will preface this by saying that, no, this is not directed at people who review my work. I fully expect to have my share of people who do not like my work. that is part of the business. If you start engaging in a war of words with every person who does not think gold drips from your fingers and every word is to be will NEVER get any writing done. Nope, this has to do with complaints I read, not just in my reviews, but the reviews of some of the writers I enjoy.

First off, I don't believe that I am alone here in thinking some rather undesirable types will come out of such an event and take advantage of the lawless chaos. I remember the first time I saw such a portrayal. It was the 70s disaster classic Earthquake. (Remember "Sensaround"?) That frizzy haired National Guardsman? The "reality" of an apocalypse scenario is that a lot of our first responders will be lost.

If you have watched or read anything in the zombie genre, chances are that you have come across a scene or two that made you uncomfortable. Terrible acts of violence. The funny thing is, people who read this can handle a person being ripped apart and eaten alive...but when it comes to the "person-to-person" attacks...some sort of line is drawn.

My DEAD series has a character named Garrett McCormick. When I set out to write the series, I wanted to create a villain that did not exist in a gray area. He needed to be evil. Plain and simple. Garrett fit that bill. The interesting thing is that, at no time, do I go into detail once he encounters Kirsten. Yet, some reviews blast the graphic nature of that part of my books. I actually take that sort of criticism as a compliment. That means that I painted a vivid enough picture that the reader's mind filled in the blanks.

The funny thing about that Garrett/Kirsten sequence is that what I really wanted to emphasize was the strength of Kirsten. Despite the horror, she remains strong-willed. Too often, I believe that female characters are shoved into a "damsel-in-distress" image that portrays women as weak. No, I am not here to debate gender issues...but I have encountered some women who have overcome great adversity and defied what "professionals" have deemed the outcome should be.

I believe that the "Steves" and "Kevins" of the apocalypse will be few and far between. That has brought a lot of criticism. Many say that I have a bleak view of humanity. No, I just have the "benefit" of being exposed to a part of society that many have not. And what's funny is that, even the mainstream entertainment business treads in that water. The show Revolution has its share of seedy types. The difference is that people who watch it do not tend to fill in the blanks as much as somebody reading. A reader is far more invested in a story than a watcher. They paint the picture in their minds and are not constrained by what they see.

The Zomblog series gets its share of fire from people who are bothered by the degree of violence, in particular, the experiences endured by Meredith before she meets up with Sam's group. Once again, my objective with her was to portray a woman who did not need to be saved. Not only that, but there is also the implication that she might be overcompensating from her experiences with denial and acting in such a way to prove to herself that she was not beaten by her captors. But that may be digging too deep. The reality is that I just wanted a female that was stronger than her environment.

Is it brutal? Sure, but so is the zombie apocalypse. In the absence of order, chaos is king. Don't believe me? Watch Schindler's List. History is very full of instances of man's ability to commit atrocities against man. Just watch the nightly news. Look what we do to each other when order is in place and law exists! Remove consequence and see what happens. Crusades...Inquisitions...Genocide.


  1. It's well and good to want the world to hug itself, but very unrealistic to think it will ever happen. I've seen some heinous shit go down in my lifetime. There isn't anything more evil than a human in survival mode.

  2. This is why I like books. I can fill in the blanks with whatever scenes I want. I have appreciated your books because they are real. No fluff or expected actions. I like the danger of not knowing what's next.

    As for Garrett, he is out there in the world. We hear about his kind on the news. In horror stories and sometimes close to home. The level of evil in the world runs deep. To be realistic I think you paint an appropriate picture. When civilization and law fall what will people really do? Garrett makes me squeemish but as you said you do not go into excruciating detail of her tortures, that is really up to the readers.

    I really love your books. And from what I've read in your blogs you are one of those "real" people. You have explained yourself without blame and did not hide from your life. A very honorable admission. personally I don't think I would have been able to do what you have done.

  3. I agree that Meredith's story and background was harsh, but like you say, it highlights an important part of human nature.

    I think people dislike the fact that you accurately capture the human psyche in the zomblog series. I have yet to read DEAD, but I would assume, from what I have read here, and from reviews, etc. that the same can be said. We like to distance ourselves from the truth, from reality. People don't complain because it is badly written - which it is most certainly not - but because it cuts close to the bone. The truth is a blunt object which when wielded correctly can cause a lot of trauma.

    I love the dark characters, and the bold statements you make Todd, so carry on my friend!

  4. fantastic comments.... I loved Meredith! and I cried for Kirsten, I so wanted her to better that bastard and have a happy ending... but reality bites, and HARD. I love reading about the Zompoc but I doubt if I would really like to live through it

  5. That's what I love about your books. It seems real it is not portrayed that life is not all about rainbows and unicorns.

  6. From nearly 20 years of investigations I can tell you that people like Garrett and worse exist. Fortunately, I can tell you that strong people and good people like Meredith and Steve exist as well. I think you've accurately portrayed both ends of the spectrum in your novels. That's probably why some people get upset. Many people don't like to think about the bad or the reality. Some have never ran into the seedier sides of life. I know when I shared stories about things I'd seen or dealt with I'd get reactions like "People don't really do that." more often than I would have thought. Believe me. People do. I know I've seen things I could never use in a novel without people saying it's "unrealistic". Yeah. I wish.