Guest Post: More Than Your Average Zombies by Kenny Soward
What do you feel when you hear the term “Zombie Western”? Excited and intrigued, if you’re anything like me! Earlier this month I reviewed Those Poor, Poor Bastards from Ragnarok Publications, and as you can see I loved it. Today, co-author Kenny Soward joins us to talk about creating the world and characters of the Dead West series, where the west is wild and the zombies even wilder.
When Joe Martin and Tim Marquitz asked me to join them in writing a Wild West zombie series, I jumped at the chance. Not only could I write the type of gritty characters like those in Walking Dead and Deadwood, but I’d finally be able to draft them uniquely.
Characters aside, we realized we were about to write another zombie book…like the millions of other ones out there. So, what could we do to make our baby different from the rest? That’s when our collective pea brains began churning out the possibilities. Pulling from our love of old shows like Kung Fu, we began formulating a powerful antagonist, Liao Xu, a Daoist monk bent on twisting his religion – normally a peaceful, wise faith – into a malicious force to transform the good old U S of A into a living hell.
Daoism is a mystical and philosophical religion, and Liao Xu warps it to fit his malevolent goals…and he’s had hundreds of years to significantly develop his pure hatred of the living world. He wants to bring it all down, cleanse the landscape of the living and pave the way for his own foul minions to inherit the earth.
With Joe’s research, Tim was able to put together a riveting outline, and I was given free rein to bust out the first draft of this unique world we were creating. The idea of combining mysticism and zombies took root in our brains, and knowing Liao Xu had a very controlling personality, we presented our ‘deaduns’ as an extension of Liao Xu’s spirit; his hands and eyes as his evil consumes and poisons the land.
But it only made sense that Liao Xu would have much more up his sleeve than hordes of rambling, dead flesh to command. From there began a natural progression into more bizarre monstrosities, creatures crawling out of nightmares, beautiful things twisted to Liao Xu’s will. Yes, deaduns are certainly Liao Xu’s fodder, but he saves his best for last.
Darkness breeds its own sort of mad creativity.
And in between all those monsters are the human ones, the ones that threaten with a look, bear grudges, and sometimes knock you down just because they feel like it. The kind of people you never want to go to sleep around…and if you must, always make sure to keep one eye open.
In “Dead West”, everything is out to get you, even the cold, harsh environment of the Sierra Nevada Mountains; it can freeze you clean in just a few hours, starve you, or bare you to the wolves.
There’s plenty of ways to die out there, zombies aside.
Joe, Tim, and I have been greatly pleased with the reviews for “Dead West” so far, and we hope that you’ll join us as we tear shit up in the American Weird West.
The first two books in the “Dead West” series by J.M. Martin, Tim Marquitz, and Kenny Soward are available now at Amazon.com. Kenny Soward is a writer of epic fantasy and horror, and is an avid YouTube vlogger.