To celebrate the release of Warm Bodies (April 26th, 2011) Isaac Marion accepted to stop by for a guest post and a giveaway! But because we get to the juicy part, here’s a bit more about the book =)
"R" is an existentially tormented zombie shuffling through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, or the plague of the Dead—he isn’t sure which. He remembers nothing from before, and although he has a deep inner life full of wonder and longing, his ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables. After experiencing a young man’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice to rescue the boy’s
girlfriend, beginning a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship that will transform R, his fellow Dead, and
perhaps their whole lifeless world.
Most zombie books, unlike yours, are not written from the point of view of a zombie – and what makes WARM BODIES even more surprising is that we find ourselves rooting for R, even though he does some bad things – like eat the brains of our heroine’s boyfriend. Can you tell us why you have a zombie as your narrator?
I’m not the first person to tell a story from a zombie’s perspective, but it’s definitely a less popular approach, and usually played for comedy. I think there’s plenty of humor to be found in the daily life of a walking corpse, and my book does have laughs, but for me, when I imagine what it would be like to be undead, to have no memories, no sense of a past or a future or any driving reason to exist other than to kill and eat your fellow man, (or woman, or child) my first instinct isn’t to tell jokes about it. Or to yell "Boo!" What I feel when I imagine being a zombie is overwhelming confusion, apathy, and loneliness. Arguably the defining emotions of modern society. The deeper I got into writing this monstrous character the more relatable he became to me, which was a surprise, and also something of a scare.
Since their pop culture debut with Night of the Living Dead (or William Seabrook’s 1929 novel, The Magic Island, if you’re into obscure references.) zombies have mostly been used for cheap thrills. Horror or comedy or horror-comedy. The idea of placing zombies anywhere near a story of emotional depth sounds absurd to most people. Despite their undertone of social commentary, Romero’s movies are primarily about people running from, killing, and being killed by monsters. There hasn’t been much attempt to explore what zombies are, much less how they think, and I think that’s a wasted opportunity. I can’t count how many stories have been written about the social and psychological subtext of vampires, from every imaginable perspective, and that’s understandable. It’s easy to write a sympathetic monster when he can be charming and mysterious and sexy despite (or because of) his questionable morals. It’s much harder to build a hero out of a creature whose mind is a blank slate, whose body is repulsive, and whose thoughts on morality don’t go much beyond, "I wonder why I have to eat this person?" It was an intriguing challenge.
Purists will (and have, and continue to) spew rabid froth in my direction for suggesting that zombies have thoughts at all, and I’ve had some astonishing conversations with people insisting that the very nature of a zombie makes it scientifically impossible for them to think, due to lack of electrical impulses in their brains…neural decay and…I give up. When the phrase "scientifically impossible" enters a conversation about magically reanimated corpses, I bow out. But a more reasonable objection might be: "Since zombies as a fictional creature are defined by their mindlessness, aren’t you altering the creature beyond recognition by giving it thoughts? Aren’t you writing about something else entirely?" It’s a fair question, but the answer is no, because on the surface, my zombie looks no different from Romero’s. He’s ugly and bloodstained. He groans and shambles. He eats brains. The difference is that we see what’s going on in his head while he does these things, and it turns out he’s not this way because he’s actually mindless. He’s just so confused and apathetic, you wouldn’t know the difference. He doesn’t care whether or not you know he has a deep inner monologue. He just wants to eat you.
A common misconception about Warm Bodies is that it’s "Twilight with zombies" and it’s going to "ruin" zombies by defanging them, making them gentle lovers instead of horrific monsters. The truth is, when the story begins, all the zombies, including our narrator, are just as horrific as the ones in any horror film. It doesn’t end there, and we gradually begin to sympathize with the zombies’ tortured state of being, but it’s not about "good zombies" and how they make great boyfriends. It’s about the Dead trying to cure themselves from a deep-rooted curse and learn how to be alive again. Who’s more qualified to ponder the meaning of life than a dead man? You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
Thank you very much Isaac for taking the time to stop by!
I have one (1) copy to offer to one of you!
- Open to U.S. and Canada.
- All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know about your favorite zombies.
- Make sure you provide a way to contact you
- You can earn one (+1) extra entry for spreading the word, make sure you leave a second comment.
- Ends May 11th, 2011