Tuesday, August 04, 2015


Back when I was a young man, I wrote a short horror story entitled "The New Ecology of Death". The strangest thing about the story was probably that it was about a zombie. Now, that's not strange today, but in the 1980s it was pretty freaking weird. There were--as I discovered--no markets for zombie fiction. That's right. No one published such things, and no one wanted to publish zombie fiction. I was ahead of the curve by a grand stretch--so far ahead that no one would consider it.

After I had retired the yarn to the trunk where it would gather dust, I heard that Stephen Bissette was putting together a comic book horror anthology called TABOO. First I sold him a short story, "Wet". What the Hell, I figured. I'd just adapt "The New Ecology of Death" into comic script format, send the story and script along, and see what would happen. What happened is that he accepted it for publication.

Unfortunately, the story languished in publication limbo as troubles plagued Bissette's brilliant anthology, and it was a long time before the tale finally saw print in the very last issue of TABOO, published at that point by Kitchen Sink.

Many more years passed. I'd  written a zombie novel called THE LIVING END for Severed Press. It did okay and by then zombie novels were selling well. The publisher asked me to write another zombie novel, but I had pretty much said all I wanted to with THE LIVING END as far as apocalyptic zombie fiction was concerned. He kept asking, so I looked at some of my notes that I'd stored away with the original text for "The New Ecology of Death". I'd all but forgotten that I'd written basic notes for transitioning the short story into a novel.

I agreed to do it.

"The New Ecology of Death" pretty much turns the zombie mythos on its head. The zombie in question (Wenzler) recalls his former existence as a living man in detail and is obsessed with seeing his young son before his body disintegrates. Thus, he must face the living as a barrier to his existence if he wants to achieve this end. I fleshed out the notes and started work on the novel, delivering it some months later.

If you want a stranger-than-normal zombie novel, THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH is for you. Follow the travails of Wenzler as he runs the gauntlet of the living to find his son. Why? Even Wenzler does not know exactly why. He only knows that he has to do it.

THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH, a zombie novel By James Robert Smith. From Severed Press.

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