Between the covers: Developing the story for the “I Zombie” trilogy

What with the Rapture less than 24 hours away, I thought I best post a new “Under the covers” article before it’s WAY too late. I get asked this a lot — “How do you do your writing?” The question tends to refer to whether or not I use outlines and, if so, what kind of outlines do I use? Because this question comes up so often, I thought I would take a moment to answer it here, in public, for free, and for everyone’s enlightenment.

The idea, for I Zombie I, came to me one day when I asked myself “What would it be like to turn into a zombie?” The pain, the suffering, the undead smell, women being repulsed by the mere sight of the zombie visage…all good and timely questions. When I decided that question could only be answered in book form, I knew I had a major task ahead of me. That task was going to have to span multiple volumes, hundreds of thousands of words, and gallons of Diet Mountain Dew.

So, I had my question in hand. The next step was deciding how it was going to happen. What I first developed was a Point A and Point Z. The challenge was how to get there. Under normal circumstances I would have then written a rough outline of how the story was to flow. From chapter to chapter I would let it all develop with the help of my magical outline. But…there was a feeling in the back of my head that begged me not to go the standard route. This was apocalyptic fiction and anyone who has ever experienced an apocalypse knows that, to the very core, the foundation of an apocalypse is chaos.

Chaos. Yummy chaos. It’s siren song beckoned me forth, and I did heed its call.

I decided, at the 11th hour, the “I Zombie” trilogy would be written without the safety net of an outline, thus infusing the story with an undertone of self-inflicted chaos. It seemed a perfect strategy for helping our heros (Jacob Plummer, Bethany Nitshimi, Professor Daniel Joy Michaels, and Command Sam Leamy), struggle and suffer through the three books.

But not only that – it added another level that I totally didn’t expect. As I wrote the story, I also experienced the story first hand. It was like I was writing and reading the book simultaneously. Every night, when I sat myself down to work, I would ask myself “What kind of trouble can I cause for these people now?”

Once I complete the “I Zombie” trilogy, I fully plan on revisiting the dystopian world again; and when I do, you can bet chaos will guide me through the landscape of death, doom, ash, and hopelessness.

That is, of course, if we survive the Rapture. Good luck my fellow mortals!