By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
We meet the various zombies that appear in the Zombie Blues books and learn the story behind their inclusion. This time up is The Zombie that Left the Building.
Writers are inspired by so many different things and in this case the idea for an Elvis Impersonator Zombie came from this drawing my buddy Stephen sent me. He did the cover for The Time Warriors: The Belbridge Mystery and there’s more to come so this one came out of the blue during his brainstorming session.
The idea of an Elvis type zombie intrigued me and immediately my mind began whirring for ideas on how to approach the story. It was always going to be titled ‘The Zombie That left The Building.’ Nothing else was ever going to do for this story. So what angle could I take? At first I decided to go with a man who wasn’t very confident and crippling shy. He would be a slave to his low self worth. Secretly he was a huge Elvis Presley fan and like any other fan of something, he knew every single detail about the life of Elvis. He could sing and move like him, a passion inspired by his grandmother who was also a huge fan. His impersonation would be noticed by a neighbour who would push him to perform in public. Once shy guy hit the stage he found a confidence he had never known. It would be how becoming Elvis and lapping up the adoring fans was a mask that hid the real person behind. He could only be himself when he wore the guise of Elvis himself.
But what I like to do is make the zombie outbreak global so I took another approach. Diversity is hugely important but it can’t be shoehorned in to suit the PC brigade. It has to be organic and grow from the story. So I checked out videos of Elvis conventions and saw all the different nationalities inspired by the King himself. That’s when it hit me; this story had to be about racism and how one man can unite the planet through song. His music and lyrics bypassed colour and creed to bring out the best in people as they brought their love of him to the world.
Now I have to say at this point I never knew there really was a Maori Elvis impersonator. He is apparently the only one in the world. It is a pure coincidence believe me but it was a perfect fit. The reason behind choosing Maori was the show Sensing Murder. I was intrigued by the episodes where different cultures were involved. it showed me that racism affects so many more people than just black and white. The more I researched the more it spoke to me about the story’s themes of togetherness and rising above the darker aspects of humanity. Anyone can be anything they want to be, screw what others say. It’s actually one of my favourites of the book and one I’m particularly proud of.
You can judge for yourself in the upcoming Zombie Blues 3 when you can meet Elvis Tuhoe Presley for yourselves.