A few years ago I had a small zombie story published (more about that soon, including a cover I designed for the story) at a wonderful magazine called Kaleidotrope. At the time I submitted the story I was extremely nervous. I knew damn well that selling anything containing vampires, werewolves and zombies was a hard sell. Back then a lot of the submission guidelines I encountered specifically stated that they would not entertain these creatures. It was pretty disheartening.
The story sold. It was a genuine surprise. It wasn’t that I had no faith in my idea or my characters – I was and still am happy with the piece. But getting a zombie story through slush readers and onto an editor’s desk seemed like a miracle to me.
I’m so grateful to Kaleidotrope for publishing it. That little story even earned a short review at Locus Online, which is ever so groovy.
Vampires, werewolves and zombies still seem to have a fairly bad literary reputation. A handful of authors and magazines I’ve checked out over the years have written – and published – well-written, strong monster fiction. You often hear the phrase “there’s no such thing as an original idea” banded around the writing community, and yet writers reinvent ideas and genres all the time. It’s what we’re born to do.
I’m interested in fresh (or maybe that should be decaying, in the case of zombies) spins. Damnit, bring me the undead in all their slinking, salivating, putrid glory. But give me something new as well, even if it’s only a detail here, or a nudge there to some unchartered territory.
All this said, I can imagine how tedious it is to wade through the same generic plots day in, day out. The general frustration is apparent in a lot of submission guidelines, and as I’ve never read slush or edited a publication, I can’t fully sympathise with slush readers and editors.
So here is a small handful of monster fiction that I’ve liked.
- Feature Development for Social Networking, by Benjamin Rosenbaum. What spreads just as fast as a zombie outbreak? News on social media. (Zombies)
- Up, by James Hargrave. A brutal night-in-the-life. (Vampires)
- Teeth, an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, featuring stories by Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. (Vampires)
- Finisterre, by Maria Deira. (Werewolves)
- The Days of Flaming Motorcycles, by Catherynne M. Valente. (Zombies)
I’ll add to this list as I find more stories. I’m not including all novels and anthologies, as they’re easy to search for on sites like Amazon or Goodreads.