As a lawyer and a science-fiction fan, novelist John Abramowitz brings a different sensibility to his growing zombie series. So much so, in fact, that he attributes the Borg of the Star Trek universe as his introduction to zombies.
Abramowitz is also indifferent when it comes to the fast vs. slow zombie debate, a topic that usually fosters strong feelings in the zombie enthusiast crowd. He concedes that fast zombies like those in 28 Days Later are scarier, but notes that slow zombies are more realistic.
“Plus there’s something dramatic about the slow lurch.The lurch is a zombie’s signature, like Darth Vader’s respirator,” Abramowitz said. “It’s not very tactically useful, but that’s not the point. It’s about the flair. (Insert Office Spacejoke here.)”
It wasn’t the Borg, 28 Days Later or even Darth Vader that inspired Abramowitz to write about zombies, however. He said the idea for Atticus for the Undead came to him while reading the novel Feed, written by Seanan McGuire under her pseudonym Mira Grant.
“The story revolves around a presidential campaign in an America where zombies are a fact of daily life. Shaun of the Deadmeets The West Wing?Yes, please!” Abramowitz said. “As I read, I was impressed by how much thought McGuire had put into the politics of a post-zombie-apocalypse society and the sorts of issues that might arise.”
Despite the detail and thought put into the novel, Abramowitz said one point stuck with him.
“The zombies themselves were still unquestionably the enemy, to be avoided or double-tapped,” he said. “None of her protagonists ever asked whether the undead, too, had a right to live.”
Abramowitz said he decided he would ask the question, setting the story around a zombie on trial for eating brains. But one story wasn’t enough to contain the ideas that blossoming.
“By the time I finished Atticus, I was having so much fun that I knew I had to make it into a series,” he said. “And so, the Hunter Gamble series was born.”
That series continued last month with the release of Identity Theft. This time around, Hunter has turned his back on defending oppressed vampires, mages and zombies. Having accepted a position at his father’s giant litigation firm, he’s trying the glamorous cases, working in a corner office, and making a six-figure salary — and hating every minute of it. Can a mysterious crime involving an old college friend bring him back to the fray?
Abramowitz said he anticipates a third Hunter Gamble novel next year, adding that there’s still a ways to go to reach his goal of a seven-novel series. Achieving the goal will take some time, but Abramowitz feels the zombie genre still has some life left in it.
“I’d say it’s a reflection of how frustrated people are with the economic circumstances. I don’t think this is a very hopeful time for a lot of people, and zombie wastelands are a great fantasy reflection of that,” he said. “I think that has a lot to do with why dystopia in general, and zombies in particular, are ‘in’ right now.”
If that isn’t the case, Abramowitz also has an alternate theory.
“Maybe it’s just that zombies don’t sparkle,” he said. “There’s always that.”