Fleshing Out My Young Adult Zombie Novel, by Belinda Dorio
2011 was my year for short stories, it was my year to get out there and write as much as I could. It ended with my work being published in three separate anthologies by The Australian Literature Review, an opportunity to meet author Michael Pryor, an anthology launch event in Toorak and a fantastic opportunity to work with The Australian Literature Review’s Steve Rossiter, emerging author and editor Beau Hillier, and Rhiannon Hart author of Blood Song (Random House), on an integrated short story collection titled Possessing Freedom (release date of April 20, 2012), with a ghost premise. Not to mention meeting and workshopping one of my stories from Possessing Freedom with international bestselling YA author Maria V Snyder!
2011 was amazing, but as the year drew to an end I felt the itch coming on to finally write a novel. I had a lot of fun writing from the perspective of Faye, a spectral villain in Possessing Freedom last year, and it really got me thinking about making genuine and relatable villainous characters. I believe a good book will blur the lines between what it means to be ‘good’ or ‘evil’, and so I wanted to challenge myself – to have a go at re-creating a stereotypical ‘monster’ in my vision, and narrate from one of the creatures POV’s.
I first drafted the concept and first chapter in October, and proudly named my creation Flesh.
Flesh is a YA post-apocalyptic thriller with romance and dystopian elements which follows one three teen narrators as they navigate a post-apocalyptic and futuristic version of our world. Books and movies that have so far influenced the work are: The Hunger Games, Inside Out, The Rosie Black Chronicles, movie In Time and classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula. With help from extensive research into the above, Greek Mythology, Darwin’s theory of natural selection and diseases such as Malaria, my own brand of zombies were created – creatures that threaten the existence of the human race in Flesh.
I know tampering with a much loved mythical creature such as the zombie can cause some backlash, but I am confident readers will enjoy the new creature they will find in Flesh.
Why do zombies have to be shambling, mind-less creatures? Couldn’t they be genetically modified beings who had to live off the flesh of humans, but still function reasonably well?
And if this were possible, what kind of ramifications would such creatures have on a ‘real-world’ scenario? If your mother died from a disease that was ravishing your country, only to come back alive a few days later – you’d be happy, wouldn’t you? So what if she had weird looking eyes that were drained of colour, so what if she kept smelling your skin and salivating… You love her.
In a world where these new creatures don’t seem all that dangerous at first, all zombies are forced to live in Sector Zero, and the human dead are no longer buried- but rationed out amongst the zombies. The zombies are being allowed to live, but the government holds them on a tight leash – the question is, when the zombies become volatile, sick of being confined like animals and believing themselves to be the ‘superior race’, is the leash going to be tight enough to hold them?
I can’t wait to write more of Flesh, and each week I try to add at least 3,000 words to the manuscript.
I hope you enjoy my zombie creations as much as I do!