One of the things that I hear from time to time is that “zombies are history” or “The market is over-saturated”. Five words: What a load of crap. People have been saying that about vampires for over a decade…guess what? Twilight blew away box offices despite all the people who openly grouse about it.
I have a different take; I think BAD zombie offerings are what are on the endangered species list. With so much out there, the readers can now be more selective. The days of just being glad you could find a zombie book on the market have been replaced by a wide variety and some very creative takes on the classic ideas.
I think most of the people banging the drum on the undead hordes are the people who either A) were never along for the ride to begin with; or B) can’t help but share the sour grapes in the bowl at their desk. One thing there has never been a shortage of is negative spewing, armchair quarterbacks.
As I write this, The Walking Dead is one of the most watched cable programs in history; the Amazon Top 100 Horror Writers list is like a zombie author minefield. And not too long ago, my friend John O’Brien was entrenched for several days at number three behind King and Koontz. I don’t care who you are, that is a horror writer’s dream to be sitting at that table.
So, I return to my premise that it is not the zombie that is old news, it is the abundance of mediocrity that has suffered a bullet to the brain. Not that they are gone, but I think that cream has risen to the top. That is a good thing. It makes it easier for those seeking to carve their own niche to find some quality examples because, let’s face it, that was a real hit-and-miss exercise just a year ago.
As a writer, I enjoy picking up a good zombie book and seeing where a talented author will take me. This past few months, I have had the pleasure of reading offerings by Claire C. Riley, Shana Festa, and the forerunner to snag my unimpressive but sincere award for “BEST READ OF THE YEAR”, Rhonda Hopkins; seriously if you have not yet read SURVIVAL, then you are truly missing something special. As a person who has watched the original Dawn of the Dead over a hundred times (not an exaggeration), I love zombies. A good book blows away a movie any day, and as recently as 2005, that was not easy to do by any stretch of the imagination. David Wellington’s Monster Island was one of the rare gems. Other than that, the offerings were sparse and difficult to find. At one point, I had every single title that Amazon had to offer in the “zombie fiction” search.
It is easy to forget that e-readers were still being resisted and the self-pub scene was comparable to FM radio in the early seventies. For those of you old enough to understand that reference, I think it might still come as a bit of a shock when you take in the landscape that unfurls before us.
So, let people continue to scream about how the sky is falling on the zombie genre. Those acorns that are falling are growing into mighty oaks.