The argument goes that all stories are about sex and death. I suppose zombie erotica fits the bill. I do have a deep rooted fear that I will end up being remembered for zombie erotica found in this and other markets. Wouldn’t it be something to write well enough about zombies and sex that this ends up being one’s legacy?
I’ve written a few stories that mix the undead and the erotic. My obsessive drive to be in every anthology I can be brought me around to this particular style and challenge.
I do try to approach the subject from a different angle than simply describing sex with zombies … not that there is anything wrong with that. Well, actually, I guess there is something really, really wrong with that. That is beyond taboo which may be an element that has been missing from horror for some time. The markets that understandably want to sell copies have begun creating a standard list of “what we don’t want” that many horror writers about have memorized. Animals, children, misogyny, racism, exposing a particular religious belief, gratuitous sex, gratuitous violence, etc. etc. These are the no-nos. There is always the caveat that these things can be touched, but must be key to the plot. The killer needs a good reason to string intestines from the ceiling like Christmas lights. The dirty sex needs to be an important metaphor. If the killer tortures someone besides a middle-aged, white male, the narrator needs to make it clear that this action is wrong. You know, because readers of horror have to have this explained to them so they don’t think the author or publisher condone such acts.
Extreme horror and Splatterpunk are becoming the ugly cousins of the gingerly step-children that are the various genre of horror. I don’t even know what zombie erotica is. I guess these are the dirty magazines under the ugly cousin’s mattress. My wife prays that no one that matters will run across these stories and associate them with her through me. I have written about giant, mutant tiger slugs trapping people in a sex shop, I have written Splatterpunk fairytales and epic adventures where characters are cut up in all ways imaginable, and I wrote a time travel novel about psychotic cannibals coming back to kill other time travelers and make books out of their skin. I wrote a zombie novel where the notes from the beta readers were along the lines of “be sure you have enough bodies in the parking lot when they return to look for the truck” and “cutting out the eyes would be consistent with the earlier attacks when they discover him hanging above the gate.” But zombie, horror erotica is the stuff we don’t want people to stumble across.
In these types of stories, I try to explore downward spirals, addiction, pain, darkness, and shame. All zombie stories are about exposing the rotten, ugly centers of the characters, their lives, and their relationships. Zombie erotica maybe more so.
With “Glory” I also mixed in religion as well. Why not drive the car over the cliff and take everyone with you? The story follows a disgraced preacher who struggles with particular proclivities. His cycle of managing and burying sin and shame begins to come apart in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. He does not find a way to rise to the occasion as his life has been a pattern of sinking. His method of coping at the end of the world follows the pattern of his life.
All horror is meant to deal with dark emotions, realities, and possibilities. The more extreme the style the greater the potential to say something in a powerful way. Maybe zombie erotica is the new extreme. Don’t tell anyone else you read my story. Just keep it between us.
Jay Wilburn was a public school teacher for 16 years. He left to care for his younger son and to be a full-time writer in beautiful Conway, South Carolina where he lives with his wife and two sons. He was featured in Best Horror of the Year vol. 5 with editor Ellen Datlow. He has published many horror and speculative fiction stories. His first novel, Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel, is available now. Time Eaters will be released by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing in August and featured at World Con. He will be a featured author with Hazardous Press at the 2013 World Horror Convention. He was included in the limited edition Best of Dark Moon of Digest. He is a columnist for Dark Eclipse and for Revolt Daily. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.
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