CHILDHOOD FEARS, GROWNUP REALITY
In my day job I'm a sergeant in the San Antonio Police Department, and over the past twelve years I've gotten to do a little bit of everything a cop can do.
I've been a patrolman, a disaster mitigation specialist, a homicide detective and an administrator.
But I'm also a writer, and a lot of people have a hard time reconciling those two occupations.
Especially when they find out I write horror.
"Why?" they ask.
"And why zombies for God's sake?"
To answer that, I have to turn back to the summer of 1983.
I was fourteen.
That summer gave me two landmarks in my education.
The first was George Romero's Night of the Living Dead
, a movie that scared the ever-loving crap out of me.
I watched it one night on cable and slept cradling a baseball bat for the next month.
No movie had ever done that to me before, and very few have done it since.
And then, just when I thought I had experienced real fear, Hurricane Alicia made landfall.
I grew up in Clear Lake City, a little suburb south of Houston.
We were just across the lake from the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and the numerous shrimp camps down along the coast, and we were square in the path of the storm.
I spent all night in a closet, listening to the storm trying its hardest to rip my house from its foundation and send it sailing off like a kite.
The next morning, I went to the front door and looked out over a sea of muddy water.
Every roof was missing shingles.
Trees were toppled.
Cars and trucks were submerged to their roofs.
I saw a water moccasin glide through the swing set in my neighbor's back yard.
And at the entrance to my subdivision was a sixty foot shrimp boat that had been carried seven miles inland by the storm surge.
The destruction was staggering, and for a boy of fourteen, it felt a bit like the world had been turned upside down.
Of course, my fear didn't last long.
Later that day my best friend came by in a canoe and we paddled all around the neighborhood, acting like river explorers heading up the Amazon in search of The Creature from the Black Lagoon
It was a blast.
Nearly three decades have gone by since that summer, and a lot has happened.
I've built a career in one of the most dangerous professions out there.
I've become a father, raising two lovely children in a world that grows scarier every day.
I've carved out a life for myself and my family.
Doing that puts a hard grain of independence in a man's personality.
It makes him proud.
But it also makes him vulnerable.
And I'm no exception: scared to death for the future, but too obstinate to let it show.
And that's why, when I set out to write about the world I knew, to tell the kind of stories I felt simmering inside me, the words came out as horror.
I don't pretend to understand how that psychological alchemy happens.
For me, the stories have never been about the horrors themselves, but about struggling to be human in a world that is increasingly strange and hostile.
It is about finding beauty and peace in spite of all the obstacles thrown in our way.
That, for me, is why horror works.
It isn't about monsters.
It's about hope and humanity surviving against extraordinary odds.
That's why horror clicks with me.
My zombie horror novel Flesh Eaters is the third installment in the Dead World series.
If you've read Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead, the first two books, then you're familiar with the world of my zombie apocalypse.
If not, you're still in good shape, because this book is the beginning.
This is where it all got started.
And I think it's fitting that the story pays respects to the fears of my youth.
That's why it's about storms, and zombies.
But the story also mirrors my present day reality, for each of the main characters is a cop struggling to do the right thing in a world that is morally complicated and often savagely cruel.
How does one stay afloat in a world like that?
Flesh Eaters doesn't have the one true answer, because I don't think there is a one true answer, but I hope that it talks to readers about the things that are really important.
And most of all, family. Perhaps you agree. Or perhaps your priorities are different. Either way, I hope this book makes you ask questions about what's important to you. But no matter how you answer, I hope you enjoy the apocalypse!