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Smell the Coffee: Fun with the living dead

By Karin Fuller

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This seems an appropriate time of year to admit that I have a thing for zombies. The affinity is still sort of new. It started when my husband and I began watching "The Walking Dead," an AMC show about life in the U.S. during the zombie apocalypse.

Neither of us expected to like the show, but it had been recommended so passionately by an undead-loving friend that we gave it a try. We imagined it would be rife with zombie clichés -- the stiff-armed creatures stumbling after the survivors, hoping to munch on their brains -- but the show surprised us by being well written, intense and compelling.

By the time we finished watching the first season, I was hooked. I needed more zombies.

My affection for all things morbid goes back a long way. I cut my teeth on Chiller Theater and "Tales from the Crypt." Stephen King was practically my Dr. Seuss. But then for a while, horror seemed to go out of style, especially monster-type horror. It wasn't until books like "Interview with the Vampire" and "Twilight" and shows like "True Blood" that vampires were brought back under the limelight (where some of them sparkled), but zombies now seem poised to stage a coup.

The popularity of the video game "Resident Evil," movies like "Zombieland" and "28 Days Later," and the TV show "The Walking Dead" has Hollywood scrambling for more zombie lore.

The biggest problem with zombies and Hollywood is the undead's lack of sex appeal. It's darn near impossible to make a zombie into a romantic leading character.

Imagine a scene starring the zombie equivalents of Edward and Bella, looking deep into each other's eyes (perhaps one of them dangling), while he says, "It's not just your body. I really love your brain."

I mean, with zombies, there's that whole necrophilia taboo, along with the undead's propensity for dropping appendages at inopportune times. To come up with something semi-sexy involving zombies seems almost impossible.

Which is just the kind of thing that tweaks my interest, writing-wise. My husband's, too. Tell either of us it can't be done and we start brainstorming on how it can.

That's how the two of us came to be writing a zombie novel together. I'm not sure if we can keep the momentum to take it all the way to completion, but the early research has been fun. (For the record, we have not violated any corpses. Just read lots of books and watched many movies.)

Geoff and I have written together before, but never attempted something this big. He's good at keeping me grounded, story-wise, stopping me from doing things like having a zombie employed as an Organ Procurement Specialist.

I've also joined with a friend to gather zombie stories for an anthology we're putting together. We've gathered some really good stories, enough that we've already started to look for a publisher.

My immersion into the world of the walking dead has led to a number of disturbing dreams. Sometimes, I'm the hungry, stiff-armed stumbler wishing for some not-so-fast food, but most of the time, I'm the one being chased. After such dreams, I calm myself by remembering than while zombies eat flesh, their preference is brains.

With that being the case, I should be perfectly safe.

The East End Zombie Walk will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 starting at Appalachian Power Park. For more information, visit holloweast.com. Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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