First of all, I want to thank Roxanne for hosting my release-day celebration on Fang-tastic Books. I'm excited that Hellforged hits bookstore shelves today, and I'm thrilled to be here for the occasion. So thanks, Roxanne!
Since Deadtown came out last year, one question I'm often asked is, “Why zombies?” Although Deadtown and Hellforged aren't about zombies—they're about the struggles of shapeshifter Vicky Vaughn to hold back the demons that threaten both her and the city of Boston—zombies do form a big part of Vicky's world. What are they doing there? Zombies usually belong to the world of horror, not urban fantasy. They're gross. And their main purpose is often to kill off characters in horrible ways and then get satisfyingly slaughtered by the protagonist and allies.
My zombies aren't like that. In the world of Deadtown, a plague swept through downtown Boston, instantly killing every human it touched. The unstable virus quickly morphed into something no worse than a bad cold, but two thousand Bostonians lay dead in its wake.
Paranormals were immune, so they managed the quarantine zone and dealt with the bodies. Then, three days after the plague hit, the zombies began to rise.
Deadtown's zombies aren't shambling brain-munchers. They're intelligent, they can talk, and they have personalities, just like the people they were before the plague. Some believe that those afflicted were never actually dead—no doctor would go anywhere near the bodies to examine them until long after the threat of contagion had passed, so no official death certificates exist. Whatever happened, the virus took a permanent toll on its victims: they have spongy green-gray skin, blood-red eyes, and stiffness in their limbs. Zombies are nearly impossible to kill, but they don't heal, either. Sunlight destroys their skin. They have superhuman strength.
They're always hungry, but they can eat any kind of food. They do run into some trouble, though, when they catch the scent of fresh human blood; it stirs up an uncontrollable blood lust that tends to make social situations a tad awkward. That’s why they can’t leave Deadtown without a permit.
Deadtown's zombies may not fit traditional definitions of what a zombie is. Still, if a similar plague happened in real life, you can bet that someone, somewhere would call the survivors “zombies.” And the label would stick.
In Deadtown, I wanted to explore how society might react if a large chunk of the population suddenly turned into monsters. In a sense, zombies are Deadtown's lepers. They're seen as less than human, feared, shunned, and shut away from the mainstream. I also wanted create zombies who were characters, not just props for target practice. There's Sykes, the “good cop” in human-zombie Goon Squad patrol pairing; Clyde, the zombie doorman who was a minister before the plague; and Tina, zombified at fifteen and determined to live like a normal teenager—or her version of one, anyway.
In Hellforged, something is killing Deadtown's zombies—leaving them really dead—and I wanted to make this a problem that matters. After all, in most zombie fiction, dead zombies are a good thing. In Deadtown's world, plenty of Bostonians would agree. But these zombies are Vicky's friends, and she's determined to protect them. I hope readers will be rooting for her to succeed. When one of the members of my writers' group, reading an early draft, said, “Oh, my God. You just killed a zombie and I cared,” I knew I was on the right track.
Zombies symbolize many things in fiction, mostly fears. They've been said to represent the fear of death, of disease, of mindless consumerism, of the “other,” of the id untempered by any superego, even a bourgeois fear of the working class. Deadtown's zombies show the other side of such fears, that even those who fall prey to the very worst fate still have a point of view, still have hopes, dreams, and fears of their own. They raise questions about what's human and what's monstrous. I hope you'll enjoy reading about them!
You can read the first chapter of Deadtown here and of Hellforged here. Stop by Nancy's website to explore the world of Deadtown and say hello!
To enter the giveaway please comment on this post with a question for Nancy, you could ask about zombies, her books, being a writer or anything you wish.