Monday, November 12, 2007

Zombies and Such

I had to post this, because a reviewer just contacted me to talk about Jack. She said she had No idea what to expect when she picked up my book, and it surprised her. (Good surprise, not bad, lol!)
But it got me thinking. When I started writing Zombie Jack, I wanted to jettison all my preconcieved ideas about zombies. After all...preconcieved ideas are made to be junked, right?

There was Vlad the Impaller, who became, through literary manipulation, the sexy vampire hero we know today. A hundred years ago, no one would have thought there was a chance in a billion a vampire would be a romance hero.Then there was the werewolf. In legends, there is nothing appealing about the werewolf. Doomed to change into a bloodthirsty beast on the full moon, he's evolved into the thinking wolf - dangerous, yes - but sexy.So - what's a zombie? Well, let's let Dr. Ling-Li, necromancer and zombie expert, tell us:

(Excerpt from Zombie Jack by yours truly!)

How to Make a Zombie in Three Hundred Easy Steps

Mr. Ling-Li paused and cupped his hands beneath his chin. He looked infinitely old, wise, and sorrowful. He caught Brianna’s glance and smiled.

“Necromancy is one of the oldest arts. It was present in ancient Egypt, where the most extensive writings about it exist. But, it was also present in Ur and Sumeria, and in Africa and China, where it was practiced by priests and witch doctors, scholars and laymen alike. You know it best by its connection to voodoo, which is the African branch of this art. I come from China, where my family practiced necromancy for fifty generations. Since we all live more than five hundred years, you can see that it is very much part of my existence, present in the very matrix of my being.

“A necromancer, in the simplest form, is simply a mortician. Someone who prepares the dead for the funeral, makes the dead look presentable, and changes the body using chemicals or herbs. But that is not what I am, although traditionally we work as morticians.

“In a more complex form, a necromancer is a like a priest. One who accompanies the dead to the underworld and shows their souls the way. The ancient Egyptians preserved the mummies. That also is a form of necromancy. And much of necromancy involves herbs and poisons.”

“Is that how to make zombies? With herbs?”

“Oh, much more than just herbs. In the beginning, someone lost a beloved and wanted to bring them back to life. The Greeks have a legend about Orpheus. He went to the underworld to beg Hades for his wife’s soul. Hades gave it to him, but Orpheus looked back, his beloved wife faded back into the underworld, and Orpheus went mad with grief. The longing to bring back someone from the dead is an old one, certainly far older than the legend of Orpheus, but the story illustrates both the longing and the dangers of such a dream.”

Brianna curled her hands around her hot teacup. “I thought that it was just a voodoo thing,” she admitted.

“Oh, no, zombies have different names in different places. Zombi is also the name of the voodoo snake god of Niger-Congo origin; it is akin to the Bantu word nzambi, which means god. But the word ‘god’ here is closer to ‘spirit,’ or one who talks to spirits, than your definition. And to tell you the truth, what you call zombies have nothing to do with Jack or May.”

May again. Brianna pasted a bright smile on her face and said, “Mostly we think of zombies as being mindless slaves in decaying bodies.”

“That’s because there are many different ways to make a zombie, and the easiest way is for a bokor, or zombie maker, to poison his victim, steal his soul, put it in a clay pot, and use the zombie’s body as his slave. Some people claim zombies are caused by a virus, and again, it’s true up to a point. There have been zombies made after contracting a certain virus, but they are not the same as what I do. You see, a bokor, or someone who makes zombies like the Heart Taker has, is not a necromancer. No, that involves something completely different.

“Some believe that necromancy is the most powerful of all magic, because it defeats even death itself. Jack is technically what you call an undead, but still has his soul. And for that, he is different from the other undead, such as vampires or bokor-made zombies.”

What do you think about Zombies? Are you willing to suspend your disbelief for a while and meet a sexy zombie - Jack the Stripper?


Bernita said...

Begod, I like that business about necromancers as "morticians."
I've always had my suspicions.
I applaud you for ignoring the pernicious vodun/zombie trope.

Sam said...

Thank yuou Bernita! I had a feeling you wouldn't be shocked by a sexy zombie!

Gabriele C. said...

After that snippet you posted some time ago - why not a sexy zombie, indeed? :)

Anonymous said...

Great idea, well written exerpt, and like Bernita, I love the idea of mortician/necromancers but I'm afraid there's no effin way am I reading a zombie romance. LOL

I'm all twitchy and shivery (not in a good way) at the thought. The mere mention of the word zombie freaks me out.

Sorry. Just me.