The novelist Rhiannon Frater recently asked her readers on her blog whether the whole zombie thing was done for due to an over-saturation of zombie fiction, or whether people were still looking for new takes and twists on an tired out genre?
It seemed that there was an overwhelming and positive response of fans who are still looking for the diamonds in the rough. But I must admit, there is a lot of bad, second rate, barely readable stuff out there.
Of the novels I've read I must say the cream of the crop are to be found in Mark Tufo's Zombie Fallout series and Jonathan Maberry's zombie books. I hope my own seires will be as well recieved. Meanwhile, other honorable mentions include Steven Knight's The Rising Horde, although a little too heavy on the action, his character development is solid. I tend to gravitate toward good character pieces and steer clear of gun-em-down and shoot-em-up nonstop violence for violence sake type books. Sadly, the latter rather than the former dominates the zombie market at the moment.
There are literally thousands of zombies books out there now, the majority of them about killing zombies. To that regard, yes, the genre is certainly a worn out one. But there are some genuinely fun zombie stories too. Tonia Brown's Bad Ass Zombie Road Trip is one example of a diamond in the rough. Rhiannon Frater's Last Bastion of the Living is good stuff. Then there are the LZR books, the Alice in Deadland series, the Contagion series, and so on and so forth.
Almost all of these books have come out in the last year or two, as did my own Resurrection Virus Saga, the Bitten books, which falls nicely into this new wave of zombie fiction and joins the horde.
But if you're planning on writing a zombie novel, since it's all the rage, here's my challenge to you. Try writing it without naming the types of guns or caliber of weapon, unless the story absolutely calls for it. If you don't think it can be done, then chances are, you have no story and probably should spend some more time brainstorming. The reason I suggest this is because it was some of the best advice I ever got. It pushed me to focus not on the action of the scenes, or the technical jargon, but to go back and write good character stories.
I can't hammer it home enough, because it is really what is at the heart of every great piece of fiction ever written. The best stories are always the ones that revolve around the characters. Where the character's desires, choices, and actions drive the plot. If the plot doesn't have much in the way of character progression, interaction, revelation, then it's probably a rather thin plot, and no amount of twists, original ideas, or correct technical jargon will save a book with no character depth.
But as long as there are character driven stories, then I think the zombie genre will breathe some life yet.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.