Ok, three days (barely, I know I’m late tonight) until the official release date of my novella collection The End in All Beginnings, and tonight we’ll discuss the third novella contained therein, “Love in the Time of Zombies.” But first, two housekeeping duties.
First, The End in All Beginnings received its first Amazon review today–and a 5-star review at that–from Shane Keene. “Anthony Rivera (of Grey Matter Press) has repeatedly referred to John F.D. Taff as the King of Pain. This collection gives proof to that description. Each heartrending novella in THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS is written with the poignant, poetic style that has become Taff’s stock in trade and one of the reasons I return to his work over and over. “ Go here to read the entire review!
Second there’s an interview with me up on Jim Pyre’s Dead Letter Office beginning tomorrow night. Go there and take a look at it. He’s got a few other interviews with various authors, so poke around.
Now, let’s get back to the discussion at hand, the third novella in my collection, “Love in the Time of Zombies.” When you purchase The End in All Beginnings, and you really should, I have some notes on each story at the back. These notes go into some detail about the genesis for each story. I’ve tried not to duplicate those notes with these blog postings, so if you want to know, for instance, where the title of this story originated (if you can’t already guess), you can always…right, buy the book.
But here let’s talk about the deeper meaning of “Love in the Time of Zombies,” at least as far as I’m concerned. First off, coming after “What Becomes God” and “Object Permanence,” “Love in the Time of Zombies” takes a lighter, almost comic tone. So it’s a little palate cleanser before you leap into “The Long, Long Breakdown” and “Visitation.” At the same time, it’s more of an out-and-out horror story than the two coming before it, concerning itself, of course, with the titular zombies.
So, sure, there are zombies. There’s an undefined apocalypse involving said zombies. And there’s quite a bit of blood, gore and dead-on-living action in the story. But at its dead little decaying heart “Love in the Time of Zombies” is not strictly about zombies, at least not completely.
Here’s where I let you in on two little secrets of my writing. Two themes or motifs appear a lot in what I write. The first is water. More on that tomorrow. The second is unrequited love. Ahhh, yes, that old standby unrequited love. It figures in many of my short stories–“The Water Bearer” and “Orifice” are examples from my short story collection Little Deaths.
Unrequited love is, I believe, as universal a theme as water. All humans experience it, there’s almost no way around it. Love isn’t a choice, at least not in my experience. Love hits you for the worst reasons, at the worst times. You have no control over when and where and to whom it arises for. And sometimes, perhaps often, that love is expended on someone who, for one reason or another, doesn’t or can’t or won’t return it. In my mind, there’s not a lot more poignant than that. Everyone’s got at least one experience with this; that girl or guy in high school you burned like a forest fire for, yet you couldn’t get to even notice you. That’s a particular heartache that a helluva lot of people can relate to via direct experience.
I’ve often recounted my two-idea theory of writing. In a nutshell, I usually get one idea that rolls around in my mind like a stone in a tumbler, until it’s all polished and ready. But then it usually takes a second (and sometimes even a third) idea to act as a catalyst with the first, to turn them both into a story. Here the first idea was Linda Ronstadt’s song “Long, Long Time,” which I allude to in the story. That’s a song that perfectly encapsulates the pain of unrequited love, at least for me. The second idea, then, was using the title and the first line or two from Love in the Time of Cholera to kick things off. The third idea, in this case, was zombies. Viola. Story born.
Well, that’s it for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll discuss “The Long, Long Breakdown,” which features my other perennial theme, water, and homage to another rock song. Until then, go buy The End in All Beginnings.