Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From a nightmare, a new book rises

THIS MORTAL FLESH
PANAMA CITY — I never dream about zombies, which is surprising given how thoroughly the creatures have saturated our media and culture.

I don’t need to run down the list of movies, TV shows, books, comics and video games that use them as fodder for storytelling. Or remind you that “The Walking Dead” is one of the most popular series on TV. But did you know:

•The Centers for Disease Control used a “zombie outbreak” to explore how people can prepare themselves for longterm survival in the event of a fast-moving contagion. >>Read the PDF<<

•Ace Hardware created a “Zombie Preparedness Guide” to suggest tools and supplies do-it-yourselfers should have on hand for emergencies.

University of Michigan epidemiology students learned how to handle a disaster via a zombie response drill.

And that’s just scratching (and clawing) the surface.

Yet I never dreamed about zombies — except this one time when I did. I awoke from the dream only seconds into it, as I came to realize that I was not only surrounded by the undead, but I was one of them. I looked around at the carnage, realized what my future held ... and woke up, thinking, “This would make a cool story.”

Seeking to understand the dream, I did what anyone in this day and age would do, which is consult Dr. Google. He (or possibly she) said that such dreams indicate a person is feeling disconnected from others and “your own inner landscape,” whatever that means. The proper response to such a dream includes looking at aspects of my life and determining how “to reconnect and feel whole again.”

Thanks a lot, Dr. Google.

My way of reconnecting with myself is to write, because I don’t know what I’m thinking until I write it down and sort it out. I chose to meet the dream head-on, exploring its meaning as fiction. That required figuring out how to relate a tale from the point of view of a zombie — a conscious being with no conscience, who sees living humans as food and other zombies as competition.

I’m a pretty imaginative guy, but that stretched even my brainpan. The effort was disturbing, distressing, and ultimately cathartic in many ways — in that by playing out these various narrative scenarios, I could share how dangerous such a mindset would be, and how it could bend even the most selfless people in its orbit to become frightening beings as well.

The sad truth is that we all know someone like that (well, maybe not as extreme) — out for themselves only, at the expense of everyone else around them — sinister, manipulative, secretive and destructive. And sometimes it feels like the only way to beat them is to become them.

The result, for better or worse, is my new novel, “This Mortal Flesh.”

It has been out in ebook format since Feb. 7, and is now in paperback. We’re celebrating the launch with a gathering at St. AndrewsCoffee House and Bistro 5-7 p.m. Saturday. Host James Pigneri is prepping some finger food and refreshments, and his baristas are concocting a couple of specialty zombie potions for the evening. >>Check out the event page here.<<

We’ll have some “live” zombies on hand to creep you out and take photos with you.
Stop by and say hello. Pick up a book, if that’s your thing. Tell us what you think will happen on Sunday’s season finale of “The Walking Dead” (check out my friend Brad Milner's "Blogging Dead" entries to see what he thinks will happen).

Just don’t be a zombie. And don’t let them ruin your life.


Peace.

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