I write horror, but you probably knew that. As a horror writer it shouldn’t be a surprise to also say I’m a fan of the genre. I’ve loved horror ever since I was kid. I’m sure many other horror writers grew up being fans of the genre too.
For the purpose of this blog post I’m going to focus mainly on zombies and vampires as examples of conflicting opinion. Some people are so sick of seeing these creatures that they can’t run away fast enough, while others will never tire of them.
When it comes to writing, I write what I’m passionate about. Do I love a good zombie story? Hell yeah. Do I love a good vampire story? Hell yeah. Just because the mainstream may get tired of zombies and vampires doesn’t mean horror fans will.
Zombies, in particular, have exploded in popularity the past few years. While the mainstream got caught up in the plethora of new content, horror fans already knew it was there. We had been enjoying the undead since the late sixties with George A. Romero’s, Night of the Living Dead. Today AMC’s The Walking Dead rules television with the most watched show. You can’t kick a rock without something zombie related popping up.
As a lifelong fan of both horror and zombies, I’ll never get tired of them. When people couldn’t get away fast enough from vampires a few years back, I still sought them out. My point is some of us are here for the long haul. We love horror and everything that goes along with it. We’ll love it no matter how popular it gets. We’ll consume it in all its forms.
So when I see certain people complain about seeing too much zombie fiction, I try to understand…but fail. If you’re in the business of publishing and you’re getting a ton of zombie submissions, why get annoyed with the creators? To me, it would be like getting angry at beef for being beef. Instead of seeing beef, why not take a closer look. Maybe you’ve got a juicy T-bone steak, hamburger, filet mignon, steak tacos, or Shepard’s Pie. All beef isn’t created equal, just like not all zombie stories are either.
To group every zombie story together and say you’re sick and tired of them all seems like overkill. I went through something similar while submitting my vampire book. Right or wrong, I always approach writing with my fandom along for the ride. Being a horror fan I know what I’d like to read/see. Many other horror fans probably would too. Like zombies, we consume what we love. That’s why The Walking Dead continues to be the number one show on television. Fans keep consuming it. Remember Brad Pitt’s romp through a zombie infested world as he sought patient zero in World War Z? According to IMDB, the film raked in over two hundred million dollars in the US alone. Zombies continue to be big business.
So why, then, are editors voicing frustration over seeing so many zombie submissions? What makes books, and publishing, different?
I’m not sure I can answer that question.
All I know is what I see fans consuming. Zombies, like vampires, will never go away completely. True fans will never stop consuming what they love. One would think that if fans are clamoring for something, suppliers should be lining up to give them what they want. Yet, for some reason, publishing seems to be dancing to a different tune. I can’t tell you how many times others told me to forget about my vampire book. It would seem zombies are the new vampire.
My advice to anyone writing and submitting anything with zombies or vampires is to be genuine. As long as you’re not chasing trends or regurgitating popular tropes, don’t ever shy away from writing what you’re passionate about. Take zombies and make them your own. No two stories are alike, just like no two zombies are alike. If you can create quality fiction, people will notice.
My first ever publication (October 2013, in Siren’s Call Magazine) was a piece of zombie flash fiction. Don’t let popular opinion discourage you from submitting. You may miss out on some great opportunities.
The inspiration for this post came from an i09 article, titled 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories That Editors Are Tired of Seeing. If you were wondering why your fairy tale retelling has been racking up the rejections, this article may help shine some light on the matter. While this list is interesting, Don’t ever shy away from writing what you’re passionate about…even if quite a few editors are tired of the subject matter. Write something your inner fan would love to read and trust other fans would love it too.
We should never let popular opinion dictate what we create. Keep writing what you love. Fight the good fight. The fans may thank you for it someday.