If you’re into zombies, you might have heard of Devan Sagliani. He wrote the screenplay for Humans Vs. Zombies as well as the Zombie Attack: Rise of the Horde and The Rising Dead novels.
Now, Sagliani has returned to genre once again with his latest project “Undead L.A.,” which just saw the release of its first part (http://www.amazon.com/Undead-L-A-1-ebook/dp/B00EW6S546).
“Undead L.A. 1 is just the start. I’ve already got the stories for Undead L.A. 2 plotted out and the cover is done as well,” he said. “I’m debating at this point whether or not there will be an Undead L.A. 3, considering how part 2 ends. The determining factor will most likely be fan response.”
Zombie Attack was written for a young adult audience and Rising Dead aimed at a mature audience. This time around, Sagliani said he tried to push the boundaries even further.
“It tells the story of the zombie apocalypse hitting Los Angeles through six interrelated tales, each with their own protagonist,” he said. “In this way I could not only explore the vast cultural and racial differences of the sprawling and complex city, but also make Los Angeles itself the main character in a way.”
Sagliani said the first volume of Undead L.A. will feature an eclectic cast of characters. There’s a LAPD police detective hell bent on revenge, a teenage surfer in Venice Beach, a woman dying of cancer who gets invited to the Emmys, an airline pilot trying to escape LAX, a band of kids in Hollywood left to fend for themselves, and a female chef who starts a food truck empire from scratch only to see it end in chaos as zombies descend on her.
“The book is filled with the history of the city as well, its architecture, its art, it’s music, it’s soul. Readers get a taste of Hollywood and how the film industry seeps into the lives of every day Angelinos,” he said. “They get a taste of the celebrity lifestyle and the shallow vacuity associated with the City of Angels. I’ve also worked hard to capture the diversity that makes Los Angeles so unique while not glossing over the violence and poverty and crime.”
Zombie fans who like the genre for its blood and guts should take note. Sagliani said this new series is far more grisly than his previous works.
“Undead L.A. as a series is exponentially more graphic and gory than my previous works. I wanted to blend in some of my roots in writing transgressive literary fiction. In my other books I’ve tended to shy away from taking it to that next level,” he explained. “This time I wanted to give zombie fans what they were really looking for, what they told me they wanted – blood and guts. There are definitely parts of the book that are not for the squeamish.”
Although his various books have all been set in different locations (The Rising Dead was set in Las Vegas), Sagliani said more than geography separates his tales.
“Each of the series has their own distinct world with its own rules,” he said. “The only thing they have in common in some regards is the zombie apocalypse.”
The zombies in Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde are still seen as humans who have been turned and might be in some way eventually saved or at least redeemed. They work together using a hive mind like insects to accomplish common goals. We don’t know why Z Day hit. It’s just about reclaiming what’s left of the world so they can start over. People are the biggest threat to safety and survival, with zombies being a close second to gangs and cult leaders and cannibals.
In The Rising Dead the zombies are just pure chaos, eat kill destroy. We know the zombie virus was developed in a lab and how it got out. They are slower and more persistent and retain some of their human traits after being turned. No one has any plans to redeem them or the people left behind. There is no one coming to save them. They are on their own and the government is somehow behind what’s going on, so they can’t be relied on or trusted either.
In Undead L.A. 1 readers are told over and over that the virus started in downtown Los Angeles in the homeless camps and spread like wildfire in every direction decimating everything in its way. It’s clear that it’s being used as a weapon by someone. There are factions of military left fighting against each other over how to fix the problem and sanitize those effected. There is no cure, no other thought but to survive moment to moment, like living in a hell on Earth and waiting to see what horrible thing will happen next.
Sagliani said he does have ideas for stories that have nothing to do with zombies, it’s just a matter of time before he can get to them.
“I have plot outlines sketched out in various stages for other books in the adult horror genre and one that’s pure crime fiction I’d love to write out one day. It’s just a matter of time. I never had writer’s block a day in my life. Instead I don’t have enough hours in the day to get it all out,” he said. “Part of the reason I’m so interested in writing this type of fiction right now is because of the audience for it. There is just something amazing about zombie fans. They are supportive and encouraging and forgiving. I’ve met so many amazing people through Twitter and Facebook. I’m not sure if other genre writers have had that type of experience but I know I have.”
Fans of his earlier works need not feel abandoned. Sagliani said he hasn’t finished with those storylines just yet.
“Permuted Press is just releasing Zombie Attack Rise of the Horde and The Rising Dead in paperback. They’ve got me working on the sequels to them back to back and then I’m putting out Undead L.A. 2. After that I’m hoping to focus on some of the other ideas that have been nagging me,” he said. “There is a series I’ve been wanting to write out now for over a decade about witches and psychics and magic. I’m hoping to play around more with that. In the meantime it’s full speed ahead for zombies, which suits me fine. Like I said zombie fans are the greatest fans in the world. I could spend the rest of my life writing in just this genre and be happy.”