UNDEAD MATTERS

Jared Sandman’s Blogbuster Tour 2011 runs from July 1st through August 31st. His novels include Leviathan, The Wild Hunt and Dreamland, all of which are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. His latest book, The Shadow Wolves, has just been released. Follow him on Twitter (@JaredSandman) and be entered to win one of several $25 Amazon gift cards. See rules at www.jaredsandman.com for eligibility.

* * *
A reader contacted me not long ago about my second novel, The Wild Hunt, to explain how he didn’t consider it a zombie book at all. I asked him why he thought so; his answer: “Because the horsemen in the Furious Host aren’t brain-eaters.”

In my opinion, that’s a rather narrow view of what constitutes a zombie. I shied away from the Z-word within the book itself, preferring to call them ghouls and revenants. For those who haven’t read the book, the antagonists comprise a mob of undead henchmen who are cursed to forever ride as part of the mythic Wild Hunt as punishment for living wicked lives. While it is true my characters don’t eat brains or devour flesh, they aren’t above killing people for sport. And one certainly wouldn’t want to run across them in real life.

I think there’s room enough for many different types to huddle under the undead umbrella: ghouls and weidergangers, vampires and voodoo victims, zombies and jiangshis. They don’t all have to be slow-moving Romero munchers. There are those that are reanimated corpses like in Shaun of the Dead or The Rising. Then there are the type that have come into vogue over the past decade, those who have been infected with a chemical agent or a virus that turns innocent folks into murderers or cannibals. (Think 28 Days Later, Stephen King’s Cell or Simon Clark’s superb novel, Blood Crazy.) Although these victims are technically alive, they are no doubt zombies in essence. And don’t forget those that straddle the line between zombie and vampire, as seen in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

I once had the privilege of dining with pulp writer Hugh B. Cave, and he told me a couple stories about meeting “real” zombies when he lived in the Caribbean. Cave wrote many tales involving voodoo, both as fiction (The Cross on the Drum) and non-fiction (Haiti: Highroad to Adventure). These unfortunate souls he encountered weren’t undead so much as enslaved by a bocor’s black magick (or more likely dosed with tetrodox). They appeared normal enough, though they lived only to work the local farm fields. Another time he witnessed a boy who, in the throes of a ceremonial trance, imbibed enough alcohol to poison a full-grown man.

While my reader in question may not consider these examples to be “proper” zombies, I believe they are all equally valid. And that kind of variety is what keeps the sub-genre still relevant even ten years after the post-9/11 zombie explosion.

Jared Sandman’s The Wild Hunt is available at Amazon

About Jared Sandman

Jared Sandman was born in Canton, Ohio, in 1985. He began selling his first stories professionally while in high school and wrote his first novel upon graduation. (That book, BLOOD MONEY, sits in a desk drawer where it will never see the light of day.)LEVIATHAN was his second attempt at the long form, which he wrote two years later. This was followed up by THE WILD HUNT and DREAMLAND (coming early 2011). He's currently working on his fifth book.Jared lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and can be reached through his website, www.jaredsandman.com, where he keeps a blog. Follow him on Twitter @JaredSandman.