Let me start off by saying that I really appreciate you giving me some time on your blog today. My name is Jaime Johnesee and I’m here today to talk about something that is very important in a zombie story –the characters.
If readers don’t care about the characters, then the storyline is really nothing more than a moot point. Would Harry Potter have been as successful if Harry was an annoying brat? Probably not. Would any best selling book –throughout history– have done as well as it did if it was created with characters that nobody gave a flying fig about?
Having well fleshed (yeah, I went there), realistic, and relatable characters is a necessity in all stories. Especially seeing as how in today’s most popular zombie fiction the characters are what is most important to the story while the zombies become merely a backdrop for that tale to unfold. There is a similar theme running throughout all zombie fiction but what keeps these stories so fresh and popular are the people that the author drops into the stories –the ones who have to fight the zombies.
Zombies are an awesome monster, one of my favorites, the lore and history that surrounds them is absolutely amazing to read. If you have time I highly recommend delving into the historical and cultural significances zombies have had on society. There are some fantastic papers out there on the undead. Not to mention some wonderful blogs that discuss zombies in both fiction and history.
As for me, I made a very different choice with my zombies and I used them as the main characters and the humans as the backdrop. The people I was hanging around with caused me to change the way I saw zombies and so I decided to head down another path with my world. It so happened that my path was more humor than horror. I know many folks, me included, who love the vicious flesh hungry monsters. Yet with my own work I felt the need to go another direction. I wanted to capture the friends I have that love to role-play as zombies. Every time I sat and talked with these pals of mine I came away feeling lighter and happier. I saw a challenge in taking a well known monster and making it human.
My character, Bob, is just a regular guy (with really bad luck) who died and was raised by a necromancer. He is the same fellow he was before his death. He has the same feelings and emotions it’s just that he happens to be rotting. Occasionally, bits of him fall off but he can quickly reattach those with a stapler or a special glue.
I went a more comedic route with my zombie because I felt like that’s the sort of guy Bob is. He jokes a lot and is self effacing with his humor. He finds something funny about almost every situation and, because of that, he doesn’t ever give up no matter how bad things are for him. Basically, he’s the Clark Griswold of the supernatural world.
I even decided to put a little piece of my own life into every Bob story. For each novella, or short story, there is one scene, or anecdote, where my real life merges with Bob’s. Most of the stuff is too comical to not include it somewhere, and these events just fit with his bad luck.
At any rate, I am of the opinion it is the characters that make a book either great or one you will never remember in a million years. Plot is the cornerstone, sure, but the building surrounding that plot –making it so impactful– are the characters.
If you can write a character that is believable, and can be well and truly loved (or loathed) so completely, then you’ve done a good job as an author. With current zom-poc books the characters are even more important because the monster is familiar and the theme of survival is the same. You need the characters, and their interactions, to take center stage. They are what the book is truly about. Not the zombies, not the apocalypse, not even the survival; it’s about the people thrust into those situations and their reactions.
That’s my two cents on the matter. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. I hope you guys have a fantastic day and I just want to take a moment to again thank my wonderful host for having me on their blog today.
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The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014
AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily: