Zombies and Unicorns
by George Ivanoff - March 21st, 2011
So what is it that the shuffling undead have in common with the equine symbols of purity? Well, nothing really. It’s just that for some odd reason they seem to divide opinion. Apparently, most people favour one or the other.
Authors Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black had a bit of a blogging discussion about zombies verus unicorns on Larbalestier’s blog. This eventually resulted in the two of them co-editing a YA short story anthology titled, yes you guessed it, Zombies vs Unicorns. It’s a great read. (Checkout my review on the MC Reviews website.)
Aside from the fact that I enjoyed reading the stories contained within its pages, this book made quite an impact on me as a writer. I was working on my novel, Gamers’ Challenge (sequel to Gamers’ Quest), when I read Zombies vs Unicorns. Unlike Larbalestier and Black, I did not find myself drawn to one of these imaginary creatures over the other. In fact, I loved the idea of using both of them. And so I did. Gamers’ Challenge, which will be published later this year by Ford Street Publishing, features both zombies and unicorns within its pages. When first plotting the novel, there was no trace of zombies or unicorns. But after reading the anthology, I just couldn’t resist working them in.
There was a moment in the plot that needed an unusual, unexpected threat. My original outline simply said something along the lines of “the heroes face a new threat, run around a bit and then escape, only to find themselves facing an even greater threat”. I knew what the greater threat was going to be, but I needed that unexpected threat. And now I had it — zombies.
Gamers’ Challenge also needed some mythic creatures to take part in the climactic battle. I already had a Chimaera, but I needed something else. Answer — a unicorn. In fact, I even ended up giving the unicorn a little extra time earlier in the novel.
Now that Gamers’ Challenge is finished and on its way to publication, I find myself being drawn back to both unicorns and zombies. And I keep thinking about what I would have written for the Zombies vs Unicorns anthology had I had the opportunity to contribute. Well, of course, I would have written a story with both creatures… or maybe… I would have combined the two and written something like this…
The first thing I noticed about the creature was its horn. The end was broken off, leaving a jagged edge that dripped with blood from its recent kill. It looked up at me, momentarily distracted from its meal of virgin’s brain, gore dribbling from the corners of its mouth. It stared at me with dead, vacant eyes and I noticed that one of its ears hung down, connected by a mere flap of decaying skin. It made a sound that was part whinny, part moan. It was a sad sound. A haunting sound. And possibly the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard. Then it returned to its grey matter feast, using a rotting hoof to hold down the body while biting into the girl’s brain with blackened teeth.
I had never been more thankful for my lack of virginity. And to think that Mum said it had been the greatest mistake of my young life. But she hadn’t realised that the zombie unicorn apocalypse was just around the corner.
Hmmm! I think it’s got potential. Well… maybe not.
One final thing to mention today. Tonight I’m off to the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne to do a reading from Gamers’ Quest as part of their regular Debut Mondays programme. So, if you find yourself in the Melbourne CBD this evening at 6.15pm with nothing to do… why not drop into the Wheeler Centre and listen to me and three other authors do some reading. More info here! I’ll probably report back about how it all went in my next post.
Catch ya later, George
PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll inflict some more zombie/unicorn fiction on you.