Zombies? Drugs? What in the world?


When I released Tainted Cure, I was asked that question in various ways many times. Several people bombarded me with negative comments, online and in person (not about the quality of writing) but about my decision to delve into the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic genre since my main fan base consists of mystery/thriller/suspense readers.

Apparently, there is some obscure rule urging authors to “stick” to a particular genre if they want to succeed by creating their “brand.” Many people, including other authors, urged me to change my mind and steer clear of genre-hopping by continuing to pen what my fans crave.

I never have been good with rules or running away from a challenge. J

Though I have been a longtime fan of the zombie genre and of course, The Walking Dead, I never considered writing a book about the subject. Seriously, hasn’t it all been done? What in the world could I add to the genre?

Ever since The Magic Island by W.B. Seabrook in 1929 hit the bookshelves, the reasoning behind our collective infatuation with dead bodies rising from the grave, all gooey, rotten, rank and hungry as they wreak havoc on those still alive, has changed due to current hot-button topics (and societal fears) of the time. Though I disagree with a few of the theories presented, there is a great article entitled How the zombie represents America’s deepest fearswritten by Zachary Crockett and Javier Zarracina in which they discuss the “…sociopolitical history of zombies, from Haiti to The Walking Dead.”

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Excerpts from the article:

From Haiti to Hollywood: fear of voodoo and primitive culture
Though various concepts of the dead rising date back thousands of years in many different cultural variations, the American depiction of the zombie was borrowed from 19th-century Haitian voodooism.”
The atomic zombie: fear of nuclear extinction and the Red Scare
“World War II was emerging, and would bring with it mass genocide, atomic warfare, and the threat of communist dictatorships. The ensuing Cold War reinvigorated anxieties over Soviet communism and scientific advancements, like the space race…Zombies became an integral part of how Americans grappled with these fears.”
The apocalypse zombie: a response to civil rights and the Vietnam War
The 1960s — rife with assassinations, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and counterculture rebellion — were among American history’s most turbulent years…In the midst of it all came a movie that entirely changed the zombie film as we know it: Night of the Living Dead.
George Romero’s 1968 epic begins with a young woman named Barbara arriving at a cemetery to lay a wreath on her grandfather’s grave. A zombie stumbles forth, and she runs through the countryside, taking refuge in a farmhouse. Here, she encounters a young black man named Ben and a small group of other survivors. Ben avoids an onslaught of hundreds of zombies and emerges as the house’s sole survivor, only to be shot and killed in the final scene by a white Southern police officer.
Released just five months after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Night of the Living Dead teems with political undertones that address the nation’s turbulent race relations.
The zombies in Dawn of the Dead underscore the fears of capitalism and mindless consumption that racked the late 1970s. Here, the zombies are consumers, aimlessly roaming through shops.”

The pandemic zombie: fear of mass contagion
“Beginning in the 1980s, a fear of global contagion consumed the minds of Americans…Over several decades, the world had witnessed a number of major, previously unidentified viruses: Ebola was detected in Sudan in 1976, AIDS manifested itself in the 1980s, the avian flu broke out in China in the mid-’90s, and SARS sent global shockwaves in 2003. Fears of “devastating epidemics” prompted the World Health Organization to establish a detailed preparation infrastructure.
These contagion fears — like all fears before it — were swiftly integrated into the zombies’ sense of being: An early 1986 article about AIDS in the Journal of the American Medical Association was titled “Night of the Living Dead II.”
Contagion soon joined the ranks of voodoo and radiation as an explanation for how zombies are reanimated.”

The post-apocalyptic zombie: fear of each other
“…the latest zombie trend. Today’s storylines critique the tenets of right-wing survivalism: rugged independence, a hands-off government, and guns… A hygienic collapse brings with it truly horrific consequences, but also, in the eyes of a certain faction, cleanses society of its rot and provides a chance to start from scratch on a new set of terms.
But this fantasy is threatened by one of the key elements of the pandemic zombie narrative: globalization. In the eyes of survivors, interconnectedness is the reaper of all personal freedoms — and they do all they can to avoid it.
Walls are prominently featured in The Walking Dead as a way to keep out both zombies and other humans. In the film depiction of World War Z (2013), Jerusalem is besieged by hordes of zombies, which crawl up the walls like a slow-moving bacterial infection. Unlike the creatures of previous films, these migrant zombies move at fast speeds, with a sense of urgency, riffing on our fear of rapid migration rates.” 

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Biological pandemics, government experiments gone awry, otherworldly gunk or some crazed dictator intent on making all the subjects of his or her country mindless followers—again, what more could I add to the genre?

Unfortunately, the answer was the culmination of a painful, eight-year-long journey. It wasn’t until dealing with a family member struggling with addiction and all the ripple effects the drug culture has on the addict, those who love them, and society as a whole, did the idea spark to life.

I think a few of my family members thought I finally snapped the last tendril of sanity. I jumped from the porch swing and yelled, “Yes! I’ve got it! The zombie apocalypse happens from a cure for addiction falling into the wrong hands!”

Tainted Cure, Tainted Reality, Tainted Future and Tainted World incorporate the zombie genre as a way to explore how drug dependency, abuse by multi-generations, and the horrific overdose death rate, effects our society every day.

Addiction, just like mindless zombies, cares not of your race, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious views, age, social class or intellect. The difference between the two is if bitten by a zombie, you die; if addiction bites you, there is hope for recovery.

Sometimes.

You may not be an addict and maybe you have never experienced the agony of loving a family member or friend suffering with addiction, but those things do not grant you immunity to the devastating effects of drug abuse in our culture, which, by the way, still glamorizes getting ‘high’ and the ‘party’ lifestyle, and occasionally, glorifies the life of dealers as though the soulless, evil individuals are people to emulate.

Throughout the four-book Rememdium Series, I wanted to expose the truth about the epidemic of addiction, and yes, it is an epidemic. In 2016, the overdose rate reported by states to the CDC (source) was 63,363. That translates to 174 people dying every day.

Babies.

Adults.

Teenagers.

Elderly.

Addiction, like justice is supposed to be, is blind; everyone is welcomed to partake in the deadly game by the poison.

Despite years of educational courses in schools starting in elementary and all the way through college, a multitude of news reports, parents teaching their children to steer clear of drugs, the overdose rate has risen every single year.

·  Heart disease: 633,842
• Cancer: 595,930
• Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 155,041
• Accidents (unintentional injuries): 146,571
• Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 140,323
• Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561
• Diabetes: 79,535
• Influenza and pneumonia: 57,062
• Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 49,959
• Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193
Overdose rate is above influenza and pneumonia and right under diabetes.

Still doubtful we are at the epidemic level? Casey Leins, a staff writer for USA News, reports:

“Though the epidemic has grown over the past few years, it reached new heights this year, forcing federal and state governments to take immediate action. In October, President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency over the crisis. Earlier in 2017, the governors of AlaskaArizonaFlorida and Maryland issued a public health emergencyMassachusetts was the first state to declare the epidemic an emergency in 2014, followed by Virginia in 2016.”

The crisis in our world is terrifying—the stuff of nightmares—actually worse than any nightmare because it is real. It is happening right now.

So, to answer the question regarding my decision to delve into this genre:

The post-apocalyptic zombie: fear of destruction from within due to addiction – and it has already begun

THE MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION:
HOW DO WE STOP IT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE?





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