Sunday, March 21, 2010

This writing gig is a mind-twister. It's Sunday morning, and I just read two totally opposite opinions of my book, Xombies: Apocalypticon. One person thinks it's the most brilliant thing since H.P. Lovecraft, and the other thinks it's confusing and all over the place. The weird thing is, they're both right--for them. Reading a book is a totally personal experience, just as writing one is. Or should be.

I just wish there was a better way for people to know what they're getting with my work. I always knew I was going to alienate some readers, because my whole emphasis is on messing with expectations. Most popular entertainment is just repeating successful formulas over and over, not trying new stuff. Why can't a season of House end with an alien invasion? Why can't zombies attack General Hospital? Why can't a bucket of pig blood fall on the cast of Glee?

Anyway, that's why I don't watch a lot of series TV, or read many genre novels. Here are some authors who influenced me: Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, Charles Portis, John Irving, just to name a few. It troubles me that the zombie craze has caused my books to be mistakenly identified as zombie kitch, because that can't end well for me or the reader. When I wrote Xombies in 2001, the last thing I had in mind was following a trend--there was no zombie subgenre then, and I wasn't interested in starting one. I was trying to explode the rigid genre formulas that were killing my love of fiction. The idea of a literary zombie book was something new. I was tired of being programmed to, and yearned to be surprised, which in this homogenized, hyper-commodified age is a true luxury. I thought there must be many people who felt the same way I did.


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