-TheInsideMag.comCraig Nybo is the Norman Rockwell of gory monster adventure fiction.
I've read two of Craig's novels (his earlier foray into similar space -- "just your average zombies versus the KKK story," as he likes to say -- was Allied Zombies for Peace, a breakneck 42-minute romp through a small town holiday parade that goes to hell with the throwing of an anarchist's bomb and ends up with divisions of WWI vets, WWII vets, Vietnam vets, zombies, and the Ku Klux Klan going to the mat in real time), and here's what I think the Craig Nybo, Novelist, brand is:
Nybo likes small American towns and small-town institutions (diners, parades, sheriffs, local papers), almost to the point of being cliched. I don't view that pressing against the boundary of the hackneyed as being a bad thing, actually -- I think Nybo knows what he finds evocative and powerful and he goes for its heart, willingly taking the risk that a reader might say "aw, I've seen this before."
Except that the reader hasn't seen this before, unless he's been watching a lot of B monster movies and re-imagining them into the settings ofGoonies or Doc Hollywood. Nybo's newer novel (I think a third may be imminent, and the teaser at the back of Small Town Monsters suggests that Nybo's continued to put down roots in his brand) is set in rural Montana, and follows an ensemble cast (though principally the Chief of Police, relocated from California and constantly butting up against small town secrets and prejudices, and a young woman with a brutal father and a need to get out of town) through their scrambling reactions as the town experiences the return of an old nightmare it had thought dead and buried: werewolf killings.
It would be easy to turn his small town settings and characters either into cynical critiques of America or shiny two-dimensional posters inviting you to go fishing in the Big Sky Country, and it is to Nybo's great credit that he does neither. Like David Byrne at his best, Nybo seems to contemplate America with pleasure and, at the same time, an awareness of imperfections. That combination of affection and realism keep the stories gripping and fresh and prevents them from feeling like some kind of moralistic attack on the American small town.
I can't wait for the next one.
From the Author
Allied Zombies for Peace is about an undead civil rights group who marches for the 4th year in a row behind the KKK. Zombies of the AZP find this disconcerting because they have been fighting for enfranchisement for years. When they march behind the Klan, their goal of awareness for zombies who are committed to peace is foiled. The Klan marchers rile up the crowd and at least some of that resentment spills over onto the zombies. The whole situation blows up into an out-and-out brawl. And this brawl only takes 42 minutes to run its course.
The story of zombies vs. the Klan by itself doesn't take 8 hours to tell. There are other factions in play. Allied Zombies for Peace takes place in 1968, a year when America seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
- 1968 featured the following events:
- The Tet Offensive in Vietnam
- 3 college kids killed at a civil rights protest in Orangeburg, South Carolina
- Militant activism protests at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
- Martin Luthor King Jr. Assassinated
- Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated
- Black militants shoot it out with police in Cleveland, Ohio
- Police battle against protestors at the Democratic Convention in Chicago
What better place and time to place a zombie civil rights massacre than in the 1968 Veterans Day Parade in Columbus, Ohio? In this book, along with AZP demonstrators, tension also exists between Vietnam War protestors and recently returned veterans. Even further, the Columbus Police Department has its own problems. A recent internal affairs investigation has caused a rift in politics that blights the police's ability to respond to a full-scale riot. There is further tension between micro factions within the Klan. Some believe the Klan should become legitimate and less violent while others call for mass-scale violence.
All in all, when I wrote Allied Zombies for Peace, I had to break the overall 42-minute event into sub-stories, police against protesters, Nam vets against protestors, zombies against KKK. I hung each story on a few representative characters within each faction and wrote them somewhat autonomously. Once I had all of the stories written, I worked them together into more or less chronological order.
This wasn't easy. I had to manage a lot of characters and try to make them memorable for readers. I had to juggle several stories and keep them all interesting. I had to resolve every point of conflict I opened up. In the end, I am pretty proud of this book.
The zombies are somewhat marginalized and play second fiddle to a larger story. I like that. I didn't want to use zombies as a gimmick so I created very human versions of them.
I had fun reading this novel into audiobook form. I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to leave an honest review at Amazon and Goodreads. It means a ton to me.
See you on the next adventure.