Saturday, 18 October 2014

Building a Dead New World by Ryan Hill @j_ryan #YA #zombie #postapoc

Building a post-apocalyptic zombie world

Building a word is one of the most fun - and challenging - things a writer can take on. Creating a world out of thin air, like, say, Middle Earth, is one thing. It's an entirely new world with no previously set rules or expectations in place. When I decided to write Dead New World, I didn't have that luxury when I thought up the story's world.

Most everybody is familiar with the zombie genre in books and films. The genre comes with a certain set of rules to follow, or you run the risk of alienating the core audience. With DNW, I first decided when to set the story. I thought it would be fun to have characters who'd only known a world overrun by zombies, so Holt, the main character in DNW, was born shortly after the zombie apocalypse happened. This also provided the added fun of having characters with no clue about things like the Super Bowl, or Vietnam.

Once I had the time figured out, I started thinking in more detail about this world. If people survived as long as seventeen years after the zombie apocalypse, groups had to have banded together. Built protective enclosures to live in. Being in places that were already somewhat secure, like a military fort, only made sense. In DNW, the humans are barely hanging on, but they're also trying to take back the world. Every day, the military goes out and tries to destroy as many zombies as they can, hoping to take the country back bit-by-bit. But why would people do this? If everything had gone to hell, why bother with restoring order? That led to the idea of the US government trying to rebuild Washington, DC.

Strategically, taking back a city, like DC, doesn't make any sense. It's suicide to try and take back a city flooded with zombies. But, in DNW, humans take back DC. It took a long time and cost upwards of a million lives, but retaking DC was more a PR move than anything else. By controlling the nation's capitol,people can have a symbol that the United States lives on, and one day things will go back to the way they were. Sure, it won't happen any time soon (if at all), but it gives people hope.

One thing I really wanted to explore in DNW was the idea of religion and zombies. Personally, if zombies started walking around, it would be some sort of confirmation that there's life after death, making religion vital to some people. I mean, if the dead can rise, wouldn't that confirm there's a God? How would people react to that? The entire world of DNW has a religious undercurrent for that very reason.

Apart from that, I just tried to think of a twisted, scary world where zombies aren't necessarily the biggest threat out there. DNW certainly acknowledges the tropes of the genre, but it also takes a lot of them and adds some wrinkles, making the world unique unto itself. What kind of wrinkles, you ask? You'll have to read Dead New World to find out.


Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.

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Zombies aren’t mindless anymore. 

Before the world fell into chaos, zombies existed only in the imagination. Now, there’re more dead walking the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans are forced behind concrete barricades to stay alive. 

A man known only as the Reverend has become a threat to the rebuilding United States. The leader of a powerful cult, the Reverend somehow controls the zombies, bending them to his will. He believes zombies are God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, and he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, his army composed of both humans and zombies, he may well get his wish. 

Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose… though he didn’t completely turn. He survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death. 

Holt and Ambrose must sacrifice everything to take down the Reverend and survive in this dead new world. But will they lose their souls in the process?

(psst, I gave Dead New World four gruesomely shiny stars! Go buy it!)

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