By Chris Post
Zombie comedies are an ever-growing segment of the film genre thanks in large part to the success of movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. Comedy hijinks aren’t restricted only to film, however, and author Grivante is bring mirth to print.
“First and foremost, there are many that are writing excellent zompoc stories in the genre. They are dark and gritty and filled with everything you’d expect a zombie book to be about… mine is not,” Grivante said. “As I wrote the first book, I spent most of my time laughing. Crazy things were happening all over the place and here were Jonah & Judas, bashing heads and staying alive while the world imploded all around them.”
Jonah and Judas would be the Zee brothers, the titular characters of “The Zee Brothers: Zombie Exterminators” series of books. The first two books, Curse of the Zombie Omelet and Zombie School Lockdown are available at all major retailers online or in store by special order.
Thy are also in the Kindle Unlimited Program currently and you can find them all via Grivante’s author profile page on Amazon: Author.to/Grivante. A third Zee Brothers book, Halloween Holocaust will be out later this year.
The Zee Brothers also appear in several shorts and a mini comic. Grivante’s work in zombie fiction has also been included in the Tales from the Zombie Road Anthology and the Undead Worlds Anthology Series.
Grivante described the Zee Brothers stories as a “wacky” take on the zombie genre, blending elements of comedy and absurd horror.
“It’s like the Dukes of Hazard fight the Evil Dead. The overall story involves two brothers and their girlfriend who find themselves in worsening predicaments that almost always end up with their clients being dead and a holy mess to clean up before they’re done,” he said. “Along the way, they leave us laughing and nodding at their zombie pop culture references, it’s a very self aware series in terms of zombies and the typical tropes of the genre.”
In the Zee Brothers universe, zombies are a pain, but not the harbingers of a society-ending apocalypse.
“In my view, unless something truly catastrophic happened, zombies (unless they were fast zombies) wouldn’t likely take over the world. They’d be a problem that could be dealt with, however unpleasantly. That was the genesis for the “zombie exterminators” idea,” Grivante said. “They have to be dealt with, no one really wants the job and most don’t even believe they’re real, so along come a duo like the Zee Brothers who just happen to have the skills and training necessary to answer the call.”
As the stories are set in a single and expanding universe, readers will come to know a host of main and recurring characters. Beyond the Zee brothers and their girlfriend JJ, there is Xanadu, JJ’s dog who is imbued with some very strange and magical powers. Other characters include Burt, the not to bright bug exterminator that the brother’s used to work with, Larry, the zombie, who introduced in Curse of the Zombie Omelet and Dr. Nitsau the evil scientist and CEO of Nitsau corp who is mostly a background character, but will rear her head as the series heads to its conclusion.
“Ultimately, there is a deeper, slightly more serious story going on amongst the chaos and absurdity that involves the CEO of the corporation the brothers used to work for,” Grivante said. “That and a twisted love triangle between the brothers and JJ, keep the story unpredictable.”
Grivante said his connection to the zombie genre goes back to his younger years, but wasn’t his primary focus when he envisioned being an author.
“I’ve always loved zombies since I was a kid. I was introduced to Romero’s ‘of the dead’ movies as a teenager and fell in love with them,” he said. “I read a lot of comics at the time and would grab anything that had zombies in it, especially things like Deadworld. Strangely, I never set out to write about zombies specifically, it just kind of happened one day and then I couldn’t stop.”
Grivante said it is the inability to be stopped that lends to the enduring popularity of the zombie genre.
“You can’t reason with them. You can’t make peace with them. They are out to get you and the only way to stop them is to kill them. It’s a type of fear that is very primal, kill or be killed,” he said. “That and the gore, I love the gore aspect of zombie horror. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but when I was watching the original Romero movies, seeing the zombie’s tear someone in half in mad hunger had me hooked.”
With so many zombie books and films released each year, there are those who feel the genre is reaching (or has passed) the point of over-saturation. Grivante said while some stories might be stale, the challenge is for new writers to push boundaries and look for new twists in the genre.
“I see that everyday in our author group, the Reanimated Writers. These authors are
pushing the boundaries of what has been done and telling new and exciting stories that stand out from the crowd,” he said. “Many are dealing with ‘zompoc’ themes but doing them in a unique and engaging way that excites readers.”
Reanimated Writers, which boasts more than 200 members, came about while Grivante was working to promote the first Zee Brothers book.
“I released Curse of the Zombie Omelet in late 2015 and spent the better part of a year trying different things to market it and not getting very far,” he said. “Very early on I did a horror convention in Portland, OR where I met a couple of other authors writing zombie fiction. They taught me that other authors weren’t my competition.”
Grivante also realized that it was hard to write new fiction while simultaneously trying to promote his existing work. As he continued to meet and network with other writers and idea occurred to him.
“Recognizing that our genre was pretty specific, I started reaching out to authors of zombie fiction in order to put together a promotion we could all utilize to promote our books collectively and with that, The Reanimated Writers came to life in late 2016,” Grivante said. “It’s become so much more than that though. We now have an active fan group on Facebook nearing 1200 fans and growing on a daily basis. We have contests, polls, giveaways and fun chats going on all week long.”
Another feature of the Reanimated Writers’ Facebook page is the Author Takeovers hosted on Saturday nights. During the event an author gets to run the group for a couple of hours and get introduced to new fans. The group also does live video interviews, has a podcast in development and is finishing a second group anthology Undead Worlds 2.
“We’ll also be releasing a box set called ‘Apocalyptic Beginnings’ this summer which will collect the first in series books of many of our authors in to one bargain priced set for the readers to enjoy,” Grivante said.
Zombie genre authors wishing to join Reanimated Writers need only sign up and participate.
Authors can join at https://www.facebook.com/groups/zombiebookpromo/
If you are a reader who loves zombie books, you can join the fan group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/reanimatedwriters/