Zombies? Really? By Isabella Jordan
When I first came up with the idea for my Dusty Mile series, I presented the idea to a friend of mine – one of my six fans – and she shook her head the second I uttered the word “zombie”. I realized that I lost her. I stopped.
“What?” I asked.
“Yeah…?” I didn’t see why she was balking here. At first. So I asked, “Why not?”
“Eww,” she said. “So either your hero or heroine is going to be an ugly, dead, rotting, flesh-eating zombie? I would not want to read that.”
Ah. Never considered that someone would assume that’s what I’m talking about. Still, I had to point out, “Vampires are dead.”
“Vampires aren’t rotting and disgusting and ugly,” she retorted.
Now I shook my head.
“What?” she asked.
“Vampires can be rotting and disgusting and ugly,” I replied. “It depends on what you’re reading or watching. Right?”
She conceded. And hey. Not all vampires are sexy like those glittery boys from Twilight or those handsome Salvatore brothers from The Vampire Diaries. Anyone ever seen 30 Days of Night? The vampires in that film are about as appealing as the zombies.
So as a reader, do you get to the word zombie and shut down? How can that possibly be romantic? Well, I’m here to make you feel better about zombies in romance. First of all, at least in my Dusty Mile Series at Changeling Press, there are no zombie heroes or heroines. (Note: I have seen a couple of books where the author pulled this off to be fair, but still…). There. Feel better now? I thought so.
Now, I can still see a flicker of hesitation. So let me tell you a little about my series, Dusty Mile. Like my latest television addiction, The Walking Dead, my series follows a group of characters surviving in a world where the zombie apocalypse has just landed and turned most of the population into mindless, flesh-eating monsters. But the monsters aren’t the focus. The survivors are. It’s a human story.
How would you survive in a world where you are the prey and most of the people you knew and loved are dead, eaten? Where would you get food when everything in the grocery stores rots or expires? Where would you get gas for your car once the power goes out? How are you at risk in a world without laws?
Oh, it gets more dramatic. I know those of you who grew up on the George A. Romero zombie films like me are sitting there thinking, “yeah, been there, done that.” Try this on. How would interactions change between survivors who came fresh from a society that is heavy on impersonal electronic connections and low on personal human connections? See what I mean?
One thing that does bother me from film to film on most zombie films is the lack of continuity and as a fan of the romance genre, I need that. Each film had a group of survivors and at the end, all you can do is hope they made it. You never see them again, never learn their fate. No, I wanted a connection.
So I decided on a family. Uncle Larry, for this series, is my anchor. He came from a big family whose home was on Dusty Mile road. Once he and his sisters grew up and started their own families, they came back every summer. Well, Larry didn’t start a family. He went into the military and retired back at his family’s home. Once his parents died, he claimed the house and the family came each summer for him. Each summer he showed his many nephews survival skills, cryptically warning them that they would need them some day – like he knew the apocalypse was coming. The series is about those nephews, grown, sexy young men who realize as soon as the world goes to hell that they have only one place to go – to a man they are sure has survived and will know what to do. That’s right. Uncle Larry.
And of course they meet some wonderful women on the way.
The first is Dusty Mile: Charmer and it came out earlier this year:
In a world where humans are prey, new rules for sex and love are still evolving...
Caroline McGrath is thrilled to find another survivor of the zombie apocalypse -- until she realizes he's Robbie Huston, the only guy she ever had a one-night stand with.
Now they're depending on each other for their very survival, and the sparks fly. Still, she has to wonder if Robbie would want her if she wasn't just about the only woman left on Earth? After all, he walked away once.
When they find Tyler, another survivor, everything gets more complicated. Caroline discovers she likes being watched, but while
has no problem indulging her voyeuristic fantasies, and even joining their sensual play, Caroline's now got twice as much to lose. Will she be able to hold on to both her men once they reach Robbie's uncle at Dusty Mile? Tyler
Dusty Mile: Charmer
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Isabella Jordan
"Caroline," he began, keeping his voice calm. "We can't stay here. You have a Jeep. I have guns and some ammo. Let's get out of here."
Caroline met his gaze then.
"I know we don't know each other that well," he spoke her thought aloud, thankfully not referencing the night they'd spent together. "But we're both the survivor type to have made it this far. Right?"
"I guess." He was right. They couldn't stay there in the building. Not without starving anyway. Or going absolutely crazy.
She had transportation. He had... "Why do you have guns?" she asked.
"That apartment I picked my way into," Robbie explained. "Guy had a gun safe in there and the key was stuck to the back in one of those magnetic boxes. Three handguns and an assault rifle that I'm pretty sure isn't legal. There's enough ammo to get us started. We can find more on the way. We'll need it with those things."
"And you know how to use guns?" She wanted to make sure before she agreed to anything.
Robbie nodded. "I'm from Texas originally. My dad was a card-carrying member of the NRA. Thought every man should know how to be a decent marksman."
He said the last with a heavy accent and she guessed doing an impersonation of his father. She almost smiled and then thought better of it. "Your parents...?"
Robbie's gaze didn't waver. "Dad's been gone for a while. Long before this. And Mom..." His eyes slid closed and she considered her question answered.
"How about you? Do you have... anyone?" he asked carefully.
"My parents have been gone for a long time. I didn't have brothers or sisters. And the family I did have left, well, I couldn't reach any of them..."
"Anyone else? You know..."
Her cheeks warmed when she realized now he was wondering if she'd lost a boyfriend or a husband. He hadn't seemed worried about that the one night they'd spent together. But in his defense, he'd been drunk too.
Caroline chuckled. "Well, there's an ex-boyfriend I wouldn't miss much if he got eaten. But other than that, no."
Robbie grinned now. He really had a great smile. "Yeah, I had one of those exes. Doesn't really matter now, does it?"
His gaze moved over her face in a way that brought more heat to her cheeks. Such intensity in those deep green eyes... Why was he looking at her like that? Did he realize her heart had just gone from ten to sixty in her chest?
Caroline looked away first, ending the moment, and stepped back. She had to remember it had probably been a while since he'd gotten laid. Maybe not since the world as they knew it ended. That was likely the only reason he was looking at her like that.
For that matter, it had been a long time for her too. The last time she'd had sex had been the night with him. He was good in bed, she'd give him that.
"So what are we going to do?" Caroline asked. "How do I know you won't take my keys and leave me here?" You've left me before. "You're... armed..."
Robbie nodded but his expression remained patient, calm. "I'm not going to leave you, Caroline. You're just going to have to trust me."
"Don't give me that look." Now his infectious grin was back. "You have every right to feel that way. I'll just have to earn your trust somehow. And you could have done worse even though you might not agree with me right now."
Okay, he was earning points for at least alluding to the fact that he was an asshole.
"I guess we need a plan here, right?" Caroline tried to focus on their situation now. "I tried it without a plan yesterday and you see how well that turned out."
Robbie laughed with her. "We'll come up with a plan. I have an idea about where we could go. And it would probably be a good idea to get a solid night's sleep before we try this. It's almost dark now..."
Caroline nodded her agreement. They should absolutely use any advantages they had, daylight being one of them.
"Can I take your couch?" He tipped his head in the direction of her living room furniture which was covered by blankets, old magazines...
"Sure." At least he wasn't making assumptions about how things would go between them. "Wait, don't you have to go back and get your guns and stuff?"
"Oh, shit," he muttered, dashing for her door. "I left them in the hall."
"I needed your trust and I wasn't sure marching in like the Terminator with my assault rifle was the way to go."
While Caroline watched, he pulled a handgun from the waistband of his jeans at his back. He flipped a switch at the top of the handle, the safety she guessed. Then with the gun at the ready, he worked the deadbolt and lock of her door and darted out just long enough to grab an enormous duffle bag and an acoustic guitar. He worked furiously to secure the door again before tucking the gun back into his waistband and dropping the bag carefully to the floor by the door.
"Did you see that... thing?"
Robbie shook his head. "No."
"Those are the guns?"
He nodded. "That and a few travel items. Just in case you said yes." His mouth curved up into a cute half smile. "Traveling light. You'll need to pack too."
Pack. It was a daunting thought. She'd be leaving her apartment, her home, behind. The shock of it must have showed on her face because his expression softened. "I know. It seems crazy to have to just pick up and take off. Leave everything familiar."
One huge question echoed in her mind. "But where are we going, Robbie?"
"South to Virginia."
"Who or what's in Virginia?"
"A crazy uncle who's been predicting some shit like this would hit for years. If anyone's still out there, he is."
Caroline nodded, hoping they would find his relative. But she didn't state the obvious. The odds were against it.
"And if that doesn't pan out, wherever there's food and shelter and whatever else we need to stay alive. That's the main goal now."
It was one hell of a big change from the daily goals she used to have. Now the thought of what she'd eat and what she'd watch on television before she went to sleep alone seemed so trivial and unimportant. And it really was.
She'd have given anything to have that world back.
Next up is Dusty Mile 2: Soldier. I hope to have it out either later this year or early next year:
(This is the story of Robbie's cousin Owen.)
Owen finished his time in the Army and put aside the soldier to have an ordinary life. He had an ordinary job that he lost to the economy, an ordinary wife who left him for his best friend. And just before he could lose his home, the zombie apocalypse happened. Putting the soldier back on, he plans to blaze a trail to Uncle Larry's. Until one amazing woman crosses his path.
Dana has had anything but an ordinary life. Forced into prostitution as a teen, her heart aches for the baby she had to give up during those dark days. With the rejects of hell roaming the earth, and law and order no longer existent, no court can now stop her from finding her lost daughter -- or finding out what happened to her.
The resurrected soldier in Owen requires a woman who can match his skill and bravery. Dana needs a man who can let her shine -- and snap a bone when she needs him to. Will they find her daughter? Will they find Uncle Larry? Will they survive and find love in a world gone crazy?
Oh, I also have a series of shorts that goes along with this series called Dusty Mile Survival Guide. The first one, Fun in the Garden, is available in October.
It’s not necessary to read this series of shorts to understand the main series. But it’s some extra sexy time with the characters and I hope you’ll like them.
Dusty Mile Survival Guide 1: Fun in the Garden - October 14th!
Against all odds, Caroline and Robbie have made it safely to Uncle Larry's Dusty Mile Camp. Survival is their top priority in a world where they're what's on the menu!
Uncle Larry wants his new camp members to start a garden in an effort to re-establish a food supply, but Caroline can kill a plant looking at it. Robbie decides Caroline's just not properly motivated. Some plowing of a different kind might be just the thing to get this project growing!
What else? I can promise you emotional sexy stories where zombie gore is implied but not graphically played out for you. It is a romance. I hope you’ll give this series a try and that you enjoy it. You can check out the first chapter of Dusty Mile: Charmer here: http://isabellajordan.com/excerpts/dustymilechapterone.pdf
My stuff aside, what’s your favorite zombie book or movie?
(Today, Isabella is giving away three PDF copies of Dusty Mile: Charmer. To enter the draw, answer her question above:what’s your favorite zombie book or movie? Isabella's contest will close at midnight tonight and the winners will be announced tomorrow on this thread.)