The anthology includes my story "Snowmen. BE: Thanks for having me! There was always a subtle theme of urban myths and legends from Volume: 1 to Volume: 3. I wanted to do something different with Volume: 4. I wanted to raise the bar quality-wise, as well as take it in a new direction in terms of theme.
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Even now with the help of the internet there is a monumental rise in the number of Zombie Fiction stories and novels. Rightfully so Empire is among the spectacular seven. With Empire Mr. Dunwoody crafts a great tale of a bleak post apocalyptic America, where a great plague of the undead has forced survivors to retreat inlands and abandon the coastal states. The story focuses mainly on and around the coastal town of Jefferson Harbor, Louisiana and the swamp at its border, that just so happens to radiate the dark energy originally to blame for the rising of the dead.
Empire opens with a letter from the past, the first of many views into the hundred year history of the undead plague and the dismal chaos wrought in its wake, found by a group of survivors that break into the military barracks at Jefferson Harbor. The letter, over one hundred years old and stashed in an empty control panel, explains how the swamp neighboring Jefferson Harbor is a source of dark energy capable of raising any dead with in its reach be they human or animal and that it has been doing this since the source was formed at the birth of time and space.
This letter also explains how the military had been monitoring these sources, which exist all over the world, and the unholy power that ebbed from deep with in it.
This is just one of the plot points that separate Empire from the lumbering horde of undead novels. There are the undead or afterdead as described in the letter that were raised by the military for study, by chaining corpses in the swamp till they rose. Some how over the course of studying these corpses reanimated from the swamp the military creates a virus.
A deadly virus that can turn a normal warm blooded human into a rotting walking zombie interested only in its next meal. A deadly virus that spreads like wild fire toppling great cities like New York in its path, as the walking dead begin to out number the living.
The story is told from several different viewpoints following different bands of survivors left behind after the military withdraws inland to establish safe borders in centralized states. Dunwoody builds his characters because at any moment ANY character can be caught and ravaged by the army of zombies, this does add to the panic and desperation the characters feel.
Almost every character you meet has been born since the plague began and Mr. Dunwoody does a fantastic job of catching the despair of these poor human born into a dying world. A second plot point that raises Empire yet another notch is Death. Now most horror novels talk about death in all its forms but Mr. Dunwoody has given the Grim Reaper life, an actual scythe-swinging zombie hunting life.
This brings me to my personal favorite part of any horror story… the baddies. The main antagonist is a young sorcerer living in a massive house built in the swamp by the name of Baron Tetch. He is an interesting character that can control the dead raised by the dark energy around his swampy home.
Tetch commands his undead and plans on rebuilding America into an empire of the undead, all to serve him and whatever wicked whims he has. With Tetch and the evil energy around him Mr. Dunwoody merges traditional zombie tales with the dark unnamed mysticism of Lovecraft with pulse pounding results. Last, but most definitely, not least the undead themselves are varied and interesting instead of simple roving brain eating beasts.
You can tell Mr. Dunwoody is a fan of zombie fiction himself with the amount of detail he puts into his walking dead creations, each a story unto its own. There is Sawbones, a twin blade wielding dog skull wearing zombie that slaughters and bags warm bloods that enter to close. There is a garbage man zombie that ends up tearing his own deadly path across Jefferson Harbor, but my personal favorite has to be the eighty year dead clown that wanders the streets hunting for prey, still dressed in the bright clown suit he died in.
I thoroughly enjoyed Empire and I recommend it to anyone looking for a well written zombie tale that features more than just the token guts and gore of the genre.
And the best part, there is going to be an Empire 2, tentative release date!
Empire : a zombie novel
Dave wrote a book filled with an element that seems to make perfect sense although no one that I am aware of has utilized it before or since. The Grim Reaper, Death, decides to take a stand against the undead, tired and angered by their defiance to the natural order of things. It is his job to transport those from this life into the next, and the undead resist that. So in Empire, death relinquished his responsibilities and became something not quite human, but not quite immortal.
NanoInterview: T. Tell us about your most recent projects. You can imagine this is a busy time for us, so we provide extra content and more shows right through Halloween. You can find the shows at www. TFD: I thank you for writing a blurb for the back. I wrote Mercy as a catharsis for the suffering I have endured.
These zombies are a bit different than what we have seen in other works though: the dead have always had the ability to rise up when near places that are a "source" of supernatural power, but the plague came because the power of the source was laced with a deadly virus that allows their bites to transfer their infection, allowing them to perpetuate it and carry it through the entire human Empire takes place a century from now, long after the rise of the plague that caused the dead to rise. These zombies are a bit different than what we have seen in other works though: the dead have always had the ability to rise up when near places that are a "source" of supernatural power, but the plague came because the power of the source was laced with a deadly virus that allows their bites to transfer their infection, allowing them to perpetuate it and carry it through the entire human population. These zombies are tougher--some are faster, stronger, and continue to regain near living physical capabilities as they feed on the living. The story takes place in Jefferson Harbor, Louisiana near one of the sources of supernatural undead energy and likely the origin point of the plague. The military has pulled out, giving up on yet another coastal community as the remnants of the US government continues to consolidate its shrinking power to the north inside walled in cities.