What’s the Thought Process in Developing a SciFi/Horror Story?
by Clive Riddle, Author of The Z Tailgate
I love Sci Fi, ever since my father and big brother introduced me to Robert Heinlein and Issaac Asimov when I was in elementary school. I love Horror – well, at least when the violence isn’t overwhelming. In particular, I love zombies. Who doesn’t love zombies? They’re so soft and cuddly. I love a good zombie movie or The Walking Dead, despite how they ended this season.
My first book- Dorris Bridge, involved a paranormal mystery involving rural legends, set in the 1970’s. My second book, The Burning Z, finds the Burning Man festival swarming with zombies. My new book, The Z Tailgate, is the sequel to the Burning Z and I wanted to use it to share with you, one writer’s thought process in developing a Sci Fi/Horror story.
First of all, I wanted to mashup a number of elements. Why not Sci Fi and Horror? So behind the scenes in The Burning Z and The Z Tailgate, the genesis of the zombie menace are meteor-like objects sent by unseen aliens that shoot projectiles, infecting their victims. The premise is germ warfare, so that the ground can be cleared for a future alien invasion.
I decided to mix in political and international intrigue. What if the President’s administration found it expedient to blame the genesis of zombie germ warfare on terrorists instead of aliens? What if the Burning Man site, where the first zombie outbreak occurs, becomes an internment camp for zombies? What if authorities began experimenting on the zombies? What if the Chinese and others want to get their hands on some z’s to run experiments of their own?
I also wanted to place the zombies in some unusual settings that readers might be curious about. Burning Man is such a unique, wonderful experience – I consider it the best alternative to visiting another planet if you can’t afford space travel. A Raider football tailgate is an amazing costumed world with BBQ and beer. Zombies in both settings might not merit a second glance until it’s too late. I also place them in a cruise ship as an interesting contrast to the normal cruise experience. The settings hopefully also allow injection of elements of humor.
But in order to mashup these elements, I needed to subtract something from a typically zombie plot: the post-apocalypse. My contention is that things never actually happen as quickly as we might imagine. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it didn’t fall in a day either. While zombie hordes might bring about an apocalypse, perhaps it might take a good while to come about. Perhaps what happens during these pre-apocalyptic days could prove to be quite interesting.
Finally, as an avid Oakland Raider fan, I hoped to add the unfolding saga of the Raiders relocating to a new venue into the mix – whether this means they are ultimately moving to Las Vegas, Los Angeles or just another stadium nearby. Having zombies invade the last Raider tailgate to be held at the Oakland Coliseum seemed to offer some symbolism of the plight of diehard Raider fans.
So if you perused the plot synopsis for the Z Tailgate and asked “Zombies? Aliens? Burning Man? Raider Tailgates? Cruise Ships? Chinese Spies? What was he thinking?” – now perhaps, you have a few answers.
Zombies go to a Raider tailgate and bleed silver and black. The Z Tailgate is the sequel to the Burning Z. In the Burning Z, Zombies went to Burning Man. The sequel begins back in the Black Rock Desert before zombies invade a cruise ship and a tailgate party. In The Z Tailgate, the Burning Man site is now an internment camp for zombies and our heroes, Alan Gorman, Conner and Bruce, consult with the Department of Homeland Security, who oversee zombie affairs. Alan and Conner are sent to a cruise ship to investigate a possible new zombie outbreak. Bruce and Cassie – Conner’s girlfriend – are kidnapped along with a truckload of zombies by Chinese-backed henchmen intending to stow away some Zs to China. The zombie truck becomes the subject of a manhunt, ultimately hiding out in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot, where a football game is about to take place. The zombies escape and invade the tailgate parties, leading to a climatic battle in the Coliseum parking lot. – Goodreads Synopsis
Z Tailgate is available now on Amazon