Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ryan Sayles on The Zombie Apocalypse and Writer's Block

In 2013 I had terrible writer’s block and needed to write a zombie story to meet our impending deadline for the follow-up to Zelmer Pulp’s flagship issue. (Note: this story is being published two years after that deadline came and went.)

At the time I was attending trade school in the mornings learning how to be an electrician and in the evenings I was at my fulltime police job. My wife was pregnant with kid number four. Trying to find time for some creative output was killing me. When the writer’s block wall hit I knew what I’d have to do: wait it out. I got it a lot, more than herpes even, especially back then.

So, I cruised my usual haunts because if I can’t write, I can at least read. Shotgun Honey, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Near to the Knuckle. There, at that British gritty flash fiction site I found a balm for my ails. They had published a story by a fairly mysterious writer named Nova Osborne called “Southern Comfort.” I read it and said to myself, this is the kind of narrative voice and tone I want to use for a story.

The idea of writing another zombie story always excites me, because I think that with that kind of infectious, all-consuming, dangerous apocalypse as a backdrop, I can focus on the real meat (no pun intended) of any story: people.

And I figured a guy in the vein of Southern Comfort in the zombie apocalypse would be good to write about. Why? Because I think I could make him a quiet menace. Then I could make him worse than zombies.

So the guy is just at the grocery store trying to buy ingredients for a romantic candlelit dinner when the shit hits the fan. All he is trying to do is get home to Susie, his gal. That’s it. But maybe she doesn’t want him to come home.

If any of you know Susie Henry, a Florida-based poet and all-around sweetheart, you’ll know who I named the gal after. Why? She’s been so wonderful and supportive of me and all of Zelmer Pulp over the years that she deserved some kind of shout out. She’s got some poetry collections on Amazon. Check her out.

I wrote more to the story than what is published. I took it from where it ends now—a good spot, I think, and thanks be to Chuck Regan for suggesting it—and shoved it off a cliff into a shithole that I enjoyed writing. However, Chuck said it was too far and the original ending lacks the impact it has now. I agree with him. The content got pretty horrible by the end.

I hope you guys enjoy the collection and view it as a worthy successor to our first. If you don’t, just keep buying our books. At some point you’ll find something you like.

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