OK, so I’m starting to think about The Zombie Book. The problem here is that I have three stories I’d like to write, and none of them mesh very well.

First: the dream I posted about, the one where The Boyf and I were in some tiny college town in the mountains and all authority was gone and it was just us and some of the peeps we knew there preparing to defend ourselves from the inevitable arrival of the as-yet-unseen zombies. In this one, the zombies get very little screen time. In fact, they might get none at all. I like the idea of just dealing with what people do the second the world seems to have collapsed, whether it really has or not. I would have no idea how to end this, but also don’t necessarily think it needs a climax and denouement to get the meat in. In fact, the ending I would prefer would either be the total annihilation of the people left trying to defend the town, folks left to feel at least they’d tried even if they’d failed, or have it “end” by finding out the zombie thing is totally in control in the wider world and that help is, in fact, on the way, and oopsie, now all those frat-boys with tire irons and the folks whose marriages dissolved in two seconds do in fact have to live with one another after what they’ve done because, darn it, the world didn’t end.

Second: A completely different idea, a story about a group of people who have actively prepared for a zombie invasion and how that plan works or doesn’t work when the zombiepocalypse actually happens. Mainly I want to write this because Kath is our elected Zombiepocalypse Leader, and she has A Plan, and if the dead ever walk then I would totally follow her lead on things and so I think it would be fun to examine the absolute flip-side of your usual “OMG teh zombies!!1!” story of shock and frenzied survival by telling a story about what happens when The Plan just totally works, the zombies are no match for prepared and willing survivors and then they have to figure out what to do with all this surviving they’ve done. I have no idea what that would be, though.

Third: Yet another completely different idea, and one that will smack too heavily of teen horror obsessions, I know. This one is about a vampire who lives through a zombie uprising. Why a vampire? Because I like the idea of an intelligent predator trying to walk the line between predator and prey, having to examine his own motivations for defending the territory of his own prey – the people around him – and whether he’s doing it because he doesn’t want to give up what he has, honestly cares for the people around him or simply can’t handle the psychological self-examination prompted by the arrival of shambling hordes of other undead. Mainly I want to write it for the scenes of him walking unmolested through the zombies because they sense he’s not food – and possibly that the zombies run from him because they sense he’s even more dangerous – and it would let me play with the idea of the outsider as not just valued in a pluralistic society but in fact needed and necessary. It might be a fun way to play with something that’s always nagged at my own politics: the pleasure of being a “gender criminal,” as The Boyf describes society’s take on members of the queer community, and the urge to assimilate. There’s an argument going on in current queer politics, I think, between those who advocate the value society arguably gains from having those who will always be different but tolerated, and those who feel the drive to be integrated. I think there’s a very quiet fight that’s brewed for years between those who want to feel “special” and those who want to feel “normal,” and I myself am not really sure which of those I prefer. Would my vampire want to wipe out the zombies in silence and then return to his quiet life of anonymous predation or would he want the credit when it was all said and done, knowing he’s just passed up any future cocktail party invites he might ever receive from his mortal friends? What if he takes the credit and no one believes him? What if he takes the credit and they all believe him but nobody cares, and he doesn’t know how to handle that? It’s too coming-out, I know. These are all rough thoughts.

And, of course, I have the problem that I’m not really sure any of them are really new territory, and none of them would make even a decent novella in terms of length. So, I’m contemplating writing them as short novellas (or long short stories, if you like, but I don’t like that phrasing as much), and slapping the three of them together into one big PDF of unrelated stories as a “collection” rather than related stories. They don’t even need to happen in the same world (though it would save me having to come up with three different explanations for zombism). They’re just stories about zombies, and that’s basically all they have in common.

Of course, I shouldn’t even be thinking about this right now – I should be writing a summary of our last D&D game for Pigs Are Good People instead – but gods almighty it’s a slow week at work and I need to nail down some of the details before I just go off a’writin’.