Clueless zombies. A dangerous desert. And...Febreze. "Siege of the Dead," my THIRD flash fiction piece with Havok Publishing, comes out today! And for the next 24 hours it can be read for FREE at www.gohavok.com.
"Siege of the Dead" is a special story to me - and not just because it's coming out on November 11th, my birthday! Of the three flash fiction pieces I've written and published, this one best represents what I want my writing to be, both in short stories and novels: full of horror, humor, and heart. As excited as I am for you to read this story, I'm just as excited to share with you the story behind the story. Because "Siege of the Dead" is a peculiar cocktail of creativity inspired by 90s rock music, my love for zombies, and - most importantly - my faith.
It all began when Havok Publishing announced this season's flash fiction prompts. "Stories that Sing," they called it. Each month was based on a decade of music (70s, 80s, 90s, etc.), and writers were supposed to pick a song from that time period and use it as inspiration for a story. Cool, huh? I thought so. Immediately, I knew Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" was HOWLING to be made into a flash fiction piece, and that's how my story "To Con a Werewolf" (which was published by Havok back in September) came about. But there was another song that had all the makings of a great story, too. A 90s song about zombies - how could it not?
(Note: As part of Havok's monthly guess-that-song competition, I'm not allowed to reveal the name of my musical muse. But I can give you a hint! The name of the band is something you'll probably eat on Thanksgiving. In a sauce.)
I listened to this song, both the original and the bone-rattling, heart-pounding cover by Bad Wolves, on repeat. I mulled over the words. Ideas began to form - thoughtful, sobering ideas. This story, I knew, was going to be as zany as anything I'd written, but the underlying theme was serious. Painful. Hopeful. As I worked through the initial concept, I paired the essence of the music with a cluster of verses from the Bible. Talking about followers of Christ, it says:
Inspiration surged. I fell in love with my MC, Commander Corinthia II (see what I did there?), and her plight. I couldn't wait to write her painful, hopeful story. But then, well...life happened. My dog died. My sister had her twins. I had a major flare-up with my gastroparesis that knocked me flat for three months. Havok's submission deadline was creeping up, and "Siege of the Dead" wasn't anything more than a few heartfelt ideas scribbled on a mental notepad.
What was I supposed to do?
I was cleaning up the kitchen one night before bed, and I decided to flip on the radio. The song was okay, but it was ending soon and I wanted to see what the next one was before plunging my hands into a sink full of dirty dishes. Waiting by the counter for the song to end, my eyes caught sight of the calendar by the kitchen table. A week or two till Havok's deadline. My energy and motivation were low, and a part of me wanted to just can "Siege of the Dead" and get the pressure off my head - no matter how much I loved the story and what it stood for.
"God," I prayed, "do You even want me to write this story?" (We'd had this conversation a few times by now.) "Because I literally don't know what I'm supposed to be doing."
The song on the radio changed. The next one's intro was long, but it sounded familiar. Very familiar.
No. Freaking. Way.
And I stood in my kitchen and laughed so hard I almost cried. "Got it, God. Loud and clear. I love You."
Yes, that really happened. Yes, in that exact time and order. Yes, on a radio station that only plays this song once in a blue moon.
My God is real, and ain't nobody gonna convince me otherwise.
I had no more excuses. If He wanted me to write the story, then He'd equip me with the energy, motivation, and inspiration I needed to do it. And He did.
So if you like zombies, horror-comedy, and pain-turned-to-hope stories, I would love for you to check out "Siege of the Dead"! And - just throwing this out there - but do you know the BEST present you can give a writer on their birthday? A review of their story. If you read "Siege of the Dead" on www.gohavok.com today, non-Havok members can leave comments! (It'll tell you that it needs to be moderated first, but don't worry! They always go through.)
Have fun with a zombie siege in a dangerous desert...and don't forget to bring that Febreze! You're gonna need it.