No one was more surprised than I was when I ended up writing a zombie story, even though I never much liked zombie stories.
The mantra is usually write what you know, or at least, write the kind of story you like to read.
My main objection was that as antagonists go, zombies are kind of, well–boring. They don’t think or feel. Their only motivation is a desire to eat brains. It’s not even a conscious desire.
I guess I preferred antagonists who had slightly more complex motivations.
I was thoroughly surprised when I read Max Brooks‘ World War Z and loved it. But I think that’s because the global disaster in the book could have been just about anything, it didn’t have to be zombies.
So how did I end up writing a zombie story?
I had just begun writing a fractured fairy tale that I had been thinking about for a long time. Very early on, I felt that something was missing.
I was pondering this problem when I saw the announcement for a special call from Entangled Publishing for zombie fairy tales.
I rarely have those “light bulb over the head” moments, but this is one time when it really happened to me. Ah, I thought–that’s what the story is missing–zombies. I immediately knew how I could fit them in.
I thought since zombies weren’t my thing, I would have a hard time writing it, but the truth is, I can’t recall a time when I had more fun writing a story. I ended up loving zombies by the time I was done.
The story was ultimately rejected by Entangled, but even if I never sell it, I learned a valuable lesson–that writing something completely out of your comfort zone can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
There are other genres and types of stories I’ve been afraid to tackle because they are out of my comfort zone. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up writing that sci-fi epic, after all. I may even thrown some zombies in.