I’ve liked post-apocalyptic fiction since I was a kid, when my dad handed me Malevil the summer before fifth grade. Hey, what dad doesn’t give his nine-year old daughter a book about the survivors of a nuclear holocaust?
What’s that? Oh, I guess just mine does.
But it struck a chord, and I’ve loved the genre ever since. So much so, that after being dissatisfied with reading a bunch of prepper, zombie and post-apocalyptic self-published fiction, I decided to write my own.
The problem wasn’t that the books I read weren’t any good—a lot of them were. The problem was that, if it wasn’t Young Adult, the protagonists in those stories were men. And although I like men as much as the next guy (girl?), I wanted to read about someone like me, like most of us females, who faced the end of the world. And not some chick who happened to be well-versed in every martial art, or who had no emotions except the urge to kick some zombie butt. Nope. I wanted a woman who would still have the entire range of human emotions, complete with sense of humor, even when the zombies were just outside the door. Or maybe a few miles away—if they were just outside the door I’m pretty sure my only emotion would be f*****ck!
And this led to writing about love, and not because I’m a woman. We all want to be loved. Yep, even tough, gore-spattered zombie hunters. And, although Until the End of the World is partly a love story, I don’t just mean romantic love. I mean the steadfast love of our friends, the I’ll-do-anything love for our children, and the comforting love of our families, whether that family be blood-related or not.
Now, I don’t know for sure—and as much as I adore post-apocalyptic lit and prepping, I hope never to find out firsthand—but I think that even in the midst of the end of the world all of our human emotions will survive. We’ll love, we’ll hate, we’ll be jealous and cranky and happy and sad. And I hope we’ll still have a sense of humor. We’ll need it.
I know some people find love stories soppy and think they have no place in the genre, but I disagree. And I think that in a time when death is so close and people so scarce, we’ll hold on to that need with a kung-fu death grip. It won’t be all flowers and romantic dinners, but who wouldn’t want the girl they love to stick a sharp blade into a zombie’s brain for them? Or vice versa.
So, my characters hope, they argue and laugh—they laugh a lot—they’re petty and generous and loyal and weak and brave. They’re like all of us, because we are all of those things, sometimes all at once. And they love, because as cliché as it sounds, I don’t think we could survive in a world without love, no matter how great a shot or quick with a machete. Besides, we might need someone to sacrifice themselves so that we may live, and they’re not gonna do that if they don’t love us, now are they? Or vice versa.
This piece was originally published 11/13/2013 on Zombiepop.net.