Monday, September 26, 2011

Zombie Tale from: Susan Dennard

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by Susan Dennard
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Of Necromancy, Zombies, and Other Such Ilk

Zombies. The undead. Revenants. Walking corpses.

Some are brought to life by nasty viruses , while others are the result of a necromancer’s hand.

Whatever the cause for reanimation and no matter what you choose to call them, they’ve all got one thing in common: THEY’RE FREAKING SCARY.

You know it’s true! When a decomposed, blood-thirsty monster shambles toward you, the normal reaction is to panic and—if you’re smart—to flee at maximum speed.

Now, your average, run-of-the-mill zombie is slow. They shuffle and list like a drunk on high seas, and all it takes is a well-aimed bullet to stop them dead (pun intended) in their tracks. I’m all for these zombies because as long as I’m not too outnumbered, I’m pretty sure I can evade them. I’ve seen Zombieland, so I know the rules (don’t forget #3: Beware of bathrooms).

Then there are the really creepy undead: the fast ones. These zombies can sprint as quickly as you can but without the annoyance of pain or exhaustion or lack of cardiac endurance. If you’re going to shoot ‘em, you had better be darn good with moving targets. I still have nightmares about the girl in the red vest from Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

And just when you think it can’t get any more bowel-releasing scary than fast zombies, the smart ones come onto the scene. These ones can learn, and they remember things from life. I literally had to sleep with the lights on after reading Ilsa Bick’s Ashes. I mean, think about it: if a zombie knows how to hunt? To unlock doors? How to set traps for its victims? I don’t stand a chance.

In my novel, Something Strange and Deadly, I wanted zombies that were also a new level of terrifying—I wanted Eleanor, my protagonist, to be as backed into a corner as she could get. A flimsy parasol just wasn’t gonna be a good zombie-defense.

In the book, a necromancer has reanimated all the corpses in the local graveyard (Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, if you’re wondering). The bodies range from freshly dead with maggots feeding on their skin to long-decomposed skeletons. Eleanor sees children, Civil War soldiers, and wealthy debutantes side-by-side—all quite dead and rotting, of course.

When these Dead are under the necromancer’s control, they aren’t too scary (well, unless he’s ordered them to kill you—then they’re pretty terrifying). But what about when the necromancer loses control? When the leash snaps?

Then the Dead turn rabid and desperately hungry for human flesh. They’re full of unbridled energy, and they’ll sprint, jaws chomping, straight for your jugular.

Worst of all, there’s no stopping the Hungry. You can’t just shoot them or chop off their heads. The bodies will keep coming at you, all the way down to the last little pinky toe. The only way to stop one of the Hungry is to remove the bits of magic that animate it. Or dynamite—that’ll usually do the trick too.

Oh, but you can’t control necromantic magic? And you don’t have any TNT on hand? Well, too bad for you. Looks like today might be your last, my friend.

Unless, of course, the Spirit-Hunters are around—and you had better hope they are…

Because there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia.

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

The book is set to release in in July 2012 (look for ARCs in early 2012!), and the sequels are due in summer 2013 and summer 2014. Right now, book 2 is tentatively titled A Darkness Strange and Lovely, and it follows Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters to Paris. French zombies--ooh la la!

Now you tell me: What are your favorite zombie books? What about movies or TV (I’m a big Walking Dead fan, myself)? Most importantly of all, what is your zombie-fighting weapon-of-choice? Personally, I’m gonna go for enormous, super-sharp samurai swords…


Guest post created for September Zombies event by x, author of
© 2011. All rights reserved.

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by Susan Dennard
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BE on the lookout...

Something Strange and Deadly
by Susan Denard
Release date: July 2012


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=== September Zombies schedule ===


  1. Ooo a new zombie book forthcoming - I will definitely look out for it!

    Pabkins @ Mission to Read

  2. I'll have to keep an eye out for this book

  3. Thanks, guys! Hopefully I'll be able to reveal my cover soon, and PERHAPS share the opening chapter. Look for ARCS in the winter!! :D

  4. I really enjoyed FEED by Mira Grant, and THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS by Alden Bell for books. Movies/TV...almost too many to name (Walking Dead is great!).

    And I prefer a British Army pickaxe--they specifically have handles that are 3 feet long. Those things are deadly, and so heavy that even if I missed hitting them with the point, there's a good chance I'm knocking a zombie head off. From a distance.

  5. I dunno, I haven't really read many zombie books. I guess the zombies from the abhorsen trilogy, and the zombies from the dresden files:P
    Hm what would be my weapong of choice. I guess it depends. I'm guessing they can't shoot, so something that's above ground. How about a hot air balloon with a really big sniper rifle. Of course, I wouldn't have a clue how to use it.
    And I'm so screwed if it's the zombies from Necropolis by Anthony Horowitz:O

  6. @Joanna: Awesome. British Army pickaxe it is. Me + You + Sara = 3 Ninja stylee on those zombies.

    @tymcon: The ABHORSEN trilogy is soooooo great! That was definitely my first exposure to walking dead. And, um, hot air balloon with a rifle? 100% WIN.

  7. I have to second Feed. It's one of my favorite books...but my dad kept spoiling things for me while he was reading the sequel so I can't even motivate myself to pick it up. Of course, this is the guy that I talk to all the time about what we're going to do when the zombie apocalypse happens and we already have an agreement that if one of us gets hit and is going to BECOME a zombie...take 'em out. (Dunno about you, but I'd rather not be a zombie.)

    The zombies that scare me most are the ones in the Left4Dead series. When you're playing the game you have to really listen, because there are special zombies that you can identify by what they sound like. You hear a Witch crying, you turn your freaking flashlight off and pray she's not sitting right in the middle of where you need to go (but she probably is).

    As for my weapon of choice...that would have to be some kind of gun. I'm not really interested in getting up close and personal with the darn things.

  8. Definitely the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. She is just AMAZING!! Seriously...go check out Feed and Deadline. Also, I adore Carrie Ryan's zombie trilogy. Another fantastic read. Who doesn't love these titles?
    The Forest of Hands and Teeth
    The Dead Tossed Waves
    The Dark and Hollow Places

  9. I loved Zombieland, oh so many rules!
    I pretty much will watch or read anything with zombies in it. Although I'm a big chicken so if its a movie I refuse to watch it alone.

    The book looks great, can't wait for it to come out!

  10. @Arianna, A gun IS smart. If I can have 2 weapons, that'll be my other choice. And as for video games, I CANNOT play zombie games. I just get waaaaay too freaked out. Seriously--crying witches in the dark? Um, NO WAY.

    @Vivien, since you're the 3rd person to recommend this trilogy, I'm gonna have to try it out! And you're so right about Ryan's titles--EPIC.

    @Aimee, I'm definitely the same. No scary movies or games by myself. Even a scary book is better read with people around. I remember reading HOUSE OF LEAVES by myself...and immediately stopping. I wound up only reading it in brightly lit, public places because it was just too scary for me. And to this day, I am TERRIFIED of closets (and probably will be for the rest of my life).

  11. Sounds like one I need to check out. Great post!


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