Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Guest Post: Kristi Charish on Zombie Love

Happy Halloween! We have a treat for you today - BRAINS! Wait, no that's a treat for the zombies. But we have Kristi Charish, author of the Kincaid Strange series, here to talk about why we love those zombies.

We also loved The Voodoo Killings, the first book in the Kincaid Strange series, and its unique twist on zombies and necromancy. Check out our review here. Book two, Lipstick Voodoo, releases in January but we've got a chance to win an early copy at the end of the post.

Zombie Love: Our Everlasting Obsession and Love of All Things Zombie

Ghosts, werewolves, vampires, aliens. They’ve all had their high moment in entertainment and pop culture. Teen Wolf in the 80s, Interview with the Vampire, Ghost, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the 90s, Vampire Academy and Twilight in the oughts and teens. But they all seem to ebb and wane in their popularity. So much so it’s become a predictable, nay, expected cycle of monster roulette.

Not so with the zombie.

From The Walking Dead to Hello Kitty Zombie parties for toddlers, it seems as if zombies have infested and infected every facet of our culture. Many have predicted their demise for what now feels like close to a decade, but much like the shambling hordes on Resident Evil, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland, they just keep coming…and coming…

things zombie GIF

Wait – what’s that group of people doing outside shambling along my sidewalk? They’re awfully pale…and having difficulty moving…Oh my God, is that an open head wound!? Now where did I leave the baseball bat?

Never mind about the horde gathering in my front yard. The point is there’s something about zombies that refuse to be beaten down. They just keep getting back up, the reincarnations are slight. They are always the walking, hungry, ravenous, and (mostly) unthinking horde.

Think back to your last monster nightmare. Was it a vampire or werewolf hunting you through a forest or abandoned warehouse? I know what monster haunts my dreams, and it’s always a zombie.

Zombies are terrifying – they can’t be reasoned with (most of the time), they’re unrelenting, and they want your brains. 

the simpsons zombies GIF

So why is it we can’t get enough of them?

Well, once you peek under the surface, there are some serious and terrifying societal parallels. Twitter, Instagram, FB, YouTube, News, Netflix – even that weather app tucked way back in your pages and pages of apps, all of them are fighting for a slice of your attention, not unlike a pack of zombies are fighting for their pound of flesh (or brains – I’m not a zombie discriminator). And they want your attention. They’re designed to be addictive, to reward some addictive prone section of everyone’s brain. Marketing execs and advertisers swarm over the big data our use creates, building a profile of marketing and sales targets around those algorithms, treating us all a little bit like a mindless horde as we’re filed away into profile boxes. It’s even been suggested that our own free will is compromised, the algorithms so accurate and effective – infectious even – that they can sway our own thoughts and opinions.

Without us even realizing it.

We’re reduced to numbers, a digital notation on an invisible ledger. Watch the people around you the next time you’re on a bus, in a store, out to dinner, even waiting for a movie to start. I’ll bet an awful lot of people are hunched over their phones, zombie like in their obsession and blank features.

reaction s liv moore GIF

Scary. Zombie virus coursing through your veins anyone?

And then there’s globalization, yet again making me feel as if I’m part of a giant, unending, and often mindless horde that’s systematically taking over the planet, eating ourselves out of existence, and burying ourselves under a mass of plastic. Devoid of personality or significant distinctions. And don’t get me started on the political and current social atmospheres. It often feels as if gone are the days of nuanced discussions, friendly discourse, and open minds that formed my youth. Everyone has a voice…provided you share the right voice. No individual descent here, only the large cries of the hordes, a construct created and now fueled by social media. I know how often I feel as if I need to pick a side. My own discordant nuanced opinions aren’t wanted, and I daresay actively discouraged by social media at large.

Pick a side, any side, but the message is clear. Join a horde. 

simon pegg comedy GIF by Coolidge Corner Theatre

I find myself seeking out small bands of like-minded survivors with whom to face the onslaught of the horde together, and if the success of Left for Dead is any indication, I’d say everyone is.

Kind of like I wish I had four best friends trained in armed combat now…Oh, dear – is that man who just stepped in my flower bed – is he missing an eye?! Come to think of it a few of them are – and limbs, and patches of skin…

When I sat down to write this I wasn’t certain why zombies were my worst nightmare, but now I see why. Strip the personality and independent thought away, add a number with a digitally calculated set of algorithmic opinions neatly filed into an appropriate marketing box that when applied can alter how you perceive the world, how you react – what you think you want out of life.

Thinking about it and I feel another zombie nightmare coming on…

zombie attack GIF by South Park

Or maybe it’s the horde outside. They’ve made it to my window and are banging on the glass to get in. It won’t be long now… All my greatest fears about technology, globalization, and big data rounded into a terrifying, primitive, pathogenic package that my instinctive sleeping mind can process.

I wonder if that’s why I write zombies that are thinking, ones who retain their personalities, their thoughts, their individuality, all the while at constant risk of becoming the horde. But there’s hope that they won’t. That despite the constant risk, the danger of zombifying they haven’t. Yet. They fight it. 

angry shaun of the dead GIF

…Then again, it might just be that I really love a fantastic monster. One who scares the pants off me and is always good for an entertaining evening of fear, much like my cell phone is an endless source of entertainment, games, information, videos, monster plants versus zombies…

Take your pick what the zombie means to you, but no doubt about it they’re here… at your doorstep, in all their decrepit, rotting glory. And if the tone of society is any indication the horde is here for a very, very, long, camped out, siege worthy stay.

About the Author

Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, an urban fantasy series about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS, an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix.

Kristi is also scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing.

Twitter: @kristicharish 
Instagram: @charishkristi

Kristi's got an ARC of Lipstick Voodoo for one lucky winner!

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