“Hi. My name is Mitch Lavender, and I write fiction in the Horror-Zombie Genre.”
“Over the last two years, I’ve been crafting a series of novels that follows the events that cause governments all over the world to fail and at the same time, the dead are getting up and attacking the living. In such a world, mercenaries have come forth to fight back the risen dead, protecting the innocent. Even dead animals rise and attack, and these men and women – vestiges from the Before Wars, are all that stand between the living and the undead, when the government is powerless to assist. They are Undertakers.”
I wait for a response but there is none. 12 step programs prohibit condemning a confession, and this is me, spilling my guts. I continue.
“I call the series The Risen. The first book is called Undertaking Hartford. It’s a good story, told in three acts with a unique twist on the genre that I have not seen before. I have likable characters and a smarmy, narrative voice that is in tune for the story. In truth, I think all components work in harmony, and I’ll go so far as to say it is the best thing I have ever written.”
Across the room of half-filled chairs I see disinterested looks and no eye contact. People are waiting for their turn to talk. Well, one person makes eye contact.
It’s Jennifer, and she’s a romance writer. She wants to do the sort of books that have Fabio on the cover. Her problem is that she writes intimate scenes so that they sound like someone is getting murdered.
His steely hardness plunged into her wet flesh again and again, each thrust making her scream louder and louder.
In a world of people with messed up perceptions of sexuality, Jennifer is their voice. She’s tragic in so many ways. She thinks her work is enticing, erotic and unique to the extent that it would draw readers that don’t usually read the genre. She believes this, deep in her soul.
Like her, I also think my zombie stories are exciting and inspired. That’s why we are in this support group.
Jennifer purses her painted-on lips into a pout. She raises a press-on fingernail to her mouth and licks it seductively with a flick of her tongue.
No one sees this but me. I keep talking.
While Undertaking Hartford might be an excellent story, I recognize the saturation level of the genre and don’t expect it to do well when released.
I sigh. My novel is doomed to be lost among the flotsam of the genre, and Jennifer is just a hot mess of unclaimed baggage.
“I have written seven short stories over the last month, and none of them have zombies. I have submitted four of them to publications, so we’ll see. I am proud of myself for that.”
Claps as I step down from the podium. They are just glad I am finished. Now they get their turn.
It’s not etiquette, but I don’t stay to listen to the others. I don’t even look back. As I reach my car in the parking lot, Jennifer calls out to me from the doorway.
“Zombies rule! Go with it.” She holds a thumb up.
I get in my car and drive home. So help me, Jennifer’s little act has me thinking about the second novel in The Risen series.
Truly, we are the blind leading the blind.