Writing in the time of Zombies
A very funny thing happened to me when I got laid off from a job last summer. I wrote a contemporary. I was shocked, but it was a fun experiment and experience. Even better: I sold Something More to The Wild Rose Press for its Class of 1985 Reunion series.
Then I wrote a second short story Something Special, which will end the series sometime this winter.
(As I write this, I’m watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, which brings new and interesting challenges to ending a series—and to writing a blog, as well.)
As a writer, my calling is medieval history. I love playing within the historical timeline, mixing what was with what could have been. My historicals are sent in the mid- to late-12th century, when the Plantagenet dynasty was flourishing under the young King Henry II. I know how his decisions, his relationships and his ruling style affected not just his reign—but countries.
In general, the decisions, relationships and personalities of a few affected the lives of many during the medieval era.
(Clearly, in The Walking Dead someone gave the order to shoot those not infected to prevent the spread of the zombie disease, which brings new meaning to the idea of how the decisions of a few affect the after lives of the many.)
During the final read-through of the story galley for Something Special, I realized that I carried that same idea forward. One man’s decision spirals through the generations. How one man’s choice impacts his family through the generations is the catalyst of the story.
The story’s heart is how love can heal even the worst damage.
(I don’t think anything can heal the damage in The Walking Dead.)
The connection between choice and consequence—besides a frequent topic of conversation if there are kids in the house—is what creates a story. Yes, there’s more to it than that, but tension, conflict and the “is he going to be eaten moments?” often come out of our choices and what happens as a result.
In Something Special, my heroine Jane Grey—yes, the historical reference is intentional—feels as if she’s a pawn in a grand scheme that she doesn’t understand. As a result, she worries, plans for every contingency and constantly analyzes risks. As she tells the hero, detective Andrew (Andy) Morgan, “I’ve lived in the debris of dangerous men all my life.” She knows what to do.
But that knowledge doesn’t help. She can’t change the past. She can’t escape it, and she can’t figure out how to live with it. And ultimately because she can’t stop the bad, she doesn’t trust the good. Her grandfather’s choice is her consequence.
But not all consequences are like the walking dead breaking down our defenses and overrunning our lives.
Sometimes the good we do lingers long after we are gone. Andy is as much a product of the good as Jane is the bad. His family left a legacy of love, loyalty and doing the right thing. As a result, he doesn’t worry that things won’t work out. He just assumes they will.
He trusts. She doesn’t.
In Something Special they struggle to find a bridge between those antipodal views of the world.
In the Zombie apocalypse, they would make a great team.
He’s the one who would take great risks to lead to the survivors through the land of the Walking Dead, but she’s the one who would study the maps and know the locations of the weapons cache, exits and food stores.
In other words, they would be unbeatable.
Keena Kincaid is the author of four historical paranormal romances with The Wild Rose Press and two short stories. She likes to say she writes romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. The truth is she’s usually kidnapped by tall, handsome men, who are totally into someone else, and held hostage until she helps them win the woman of their dreams. For more information about her books, visit: http://keenakincaid.com/
If you can't wait for Something Special, here is the blurb & Buy link for Keena's latest Class of '85 release - Something More
If she could, Nora Emerson would demand a "do over" of the last twenty-five years. An emotionally abusive marriage, failed fertility treatments and a nasty, public divorce have left her bruised, skittish and determined to remain independent at all costs.
With an all-consuming business and a furious teenage sister on his hands, Nora is a complication Nick McPherson doesn't need. It's one he wants. Her vulnerability and kick-ass competency intrigue him, and the sexual sparks between them could set Summerville on fire.
The more she insists the sex is just for fun, the more determined he becomes to turn their fling into something more.
Waiting for your comments & questions!