By Dakota Cantwell
Zombies have been laid out in seemingly all forms since they first began gaining popularity in the entertainment industry. Given this constant barrage of zombie-filled media, it can be hard to find a new way to introduce zombies or use them to tell new messages. This is an obstacle that Chad Hunter faced when writing his books combining technology with supernatural forces to create his series DedKode.
Computer guy by day and writer by night, Hunter has a background in journalism and writing but is focused on a career in computer networking. Even still, Hunter always carved out time for his writing. It was in these moments that DedKode found life.
DedKode’s summary reads, “Devon Collier is three things – he is the famous white hat ‘hacktivist’ known as DedKode, he is foul-mouthed and opinionated and most recently, he is a cursed young man, killed and resurrected as a zombie but with a will of his own. After discovering a menacing dark presence on the World Wide Web. DedKode and his team search for an answer to stop the force known as ‘Spook.Net.’ Along their way, DedKode, James Palladino and the Kanapilly sister help whomever they can from their supernatural dangers hiding behind technological trappings.”
The DedKode series consists of Ghost Image, C2C and U Up?, along with the upcoming novel Connected.
While not the first time that Hunter has published a book, the series are his first zombie-focused books. While Hunter has a fascination for zombie pop culture, this was not always the case for him.
“When I was a kid, I hated zombies,” said Hunter. “Zombies literally terrified the hell out of me.”
Hunter recalls when the music video for Thriller came out in his childhood. All of his friends raved about the new music video. Hunter recalls it very differently than his group of friends did.
“It scared the hell out of me,” Hunter said, “because up to that point, I was used to Bella Lugosi zombies. Just somebody with like dark eyes, not half-rotted corpses in great makeup.”
He recounts the zombie mania that seemed to sweep the entertainment industry in the 80s: Return of the Living Dead, Night of the creeps, and many of the Italian zombie movies. Hunter said that he had to put on a front in the face of all the hype for zombies at the time.
Hunter said that his brother was a good safe space for his fear of zombies in a world thrilled by them.
“My brother, God bless him, would allow me to either sleep in his room or I would hide alongside the TV and he would tell me what was going on,” Hunter said.
Following the entertainment trend, video games soon followed the zombie craze with the introduction of Castlevania and Resident Evil.
“At some point,” Hunter said, “in as much as I hated zombies, I was always kind of fascinated with them.”
This fascination spawned what would become his book series DedKode. Tying together supernatural elements with technology Devon Collier, the main character, and the series were born.
Dead code is a computer referring to a portion of programming not accessed by any of the program’s features. Knowing this from his experience with computer programming, Hunter chose his name for the books he would write.
While Hunter does seek to create imaginative and entertaining writing, he does not just want to put words out there without a purpose. Hunter is a huge activist and proponent of anti-bullying campaigns. He speaks in schools to talk with children about the dangers and consequences of bullying.
Even though Ghost Image, the first book in the series, does deal directly with cyberbullying in college, his purpose with his books is much broader.
“At the core of them,” Hunter said, “each one is about the idea that good and evil have always existed. And as mankind evolves, good and evil adapt to use those tools.”
Hunter’s books find Collier working with ghosts, facing off against malevolent webcams and interacting with the Cthulhu mythology. Connected, the next book set to come out, finds Collier working with time travel to unravel the mysteries of the zombie apocalypse coming for them.
“It’s really about how much tech we have pulls us away from each other,” Hunter said.
Hunter’s history in technology has shown him how technology can lead to misunderstandings which can lead to arguments and fights that were unfounded to begin with. Hunter finds that technology can be a way to spread bad news and information very quickly across the globe.
Hunter remembers the quote from Bob Proctors “You can cook a man’s dinner with electricity and you can also cook the man.”
“Technology is the same thing to me, it’s just a tool,” Hunter said. “It’s allowed great things to happen. You can get information across the globe in super-fast speeds, but look how much damage we can do with technology. Look how much disinformation we can sow with it.”
This idea finds it’s way into the books with the antagonist Spook.Net, a malevolent force that’s moving mankind like pieces on a chessboard.
Along with a strong meaning, Connected, the upcoming novel in the series, has something special in line for long-time zombie fans.
For the upcoming novel, Connected, the foreword was written by a character many zombie fans will remember, Tarman from The Return of the Living Dead.
“I reached out to Allan Trautman, who played Tarman,” Hunter said. “I’m like, all he can say is no.”
Trotman responded in a day, saying that he was thrilled that someone would consider him for this and he wrote the one-page forward for the upcoming novel.
All writers think about their audience when they are writing. Hunter said that his audience won’t be everyone, but he hopes that those that do enjoy it.
“I hope it reaches people who enjoy a good read,” Hunter said. “Definitely zombie fans, I think zombie fans will not be disappointed. I would love to reach people who this is not normally their genre.”
Whether readers are new to the genre or not, diversity is very important to Hunter.
“I want to make sure that a white farm in lower Michigan can read it and enjoy it. A kid in Japan could read it. A woman in India could read,” Hunter said. “As long as they like this genre, they will see themselves somehow reflected.”
The upcoming novel Connected is set to release in the summer of 2023, but the first three books in the series are available for reader consumption right now. You can connect with Hunter on social media and become part of the Dead Thread, a resource Hunter is using to keep fans updated on the progress of the DedKode series.
Categories: zombie books
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