I’ve probably been over this in the past, but I’m too lazy to go check and see, so I’ll just say it all again. Considering how often I seem to have to repeat myself to people, it’s more a case of habit at this point, anyway.
Alright, so, I’m getting ready to self publish my novel Bunnypocalypse: Dead Reckoning, the first book in the Bunnypocalypse series. Naturally, this is going to raise at least one obvious question.
Why the hell would I title a series Bunnypocalypse?
Two reasons. First, Bunny The Zombie Slayer veers too close to me getting sued. Second, this is the story of Bunny Beckman, and her personal journey through the zombie apocalypse. The story of how it tears away at her humanity, but also the story of how it forces her to face the things about herself she has spent her life not looking at.
This is Bunny’s apocalypse.
Okay? Okay. Good, Glad we sorted that out. Have a nice day. See ya later.
What? You wanna know more? Why, I’m glad I imagined you asking that.
Okay, joking around aside, there’s actually two things I want to explain about this book, and the series as a whole. I mean, I could get into character arcs, plot points, secondary characters, and all of that, but I really kind of want to stay focused on these two things, which are Bunny and what she is all about, and the themes of the series, which the first book lays down.
Usually, I’m not big on explaining my themes, as I think they work better when experienced in the subtle way that I actually do weave them into the narrative. However, Bunny is a special case. She’s kind of unique, and I think maybe it’s better if I give at least some kind of context for what it is I’m doing. If for no other reason than to actually use this blog to talk about writing, as a writer.
You know, that thing it was suppose to be for in the first place? Yeah. That.
So, I want to touch on those themes first. I’m big into narrative themes and fiction as a metaphor, like pretty much every writer out there. I like to explore concepts, and because my brain is wired a certain way, the concepts I like to explore are what we call controversial and dark topics.
Trust me, I wish this wasn’t the case, but my writer brain has decreed it so, and I am at the mercy of my own imagination. I’m sure other writers out there will understand this. Stephen King calls it the lint trap of the mind. We write what gets caught there.
Anyway, the core concepts and themes of Bunnypocalypse are an exploration of trauma. Specifically, how it changes the way we react to situations, interact with people, see the world, experience things, and how it affects us. This is a subject that I think does not get explored deeply enough in most fiction, and is often relegated to a secondary characters sub plot. The kind of thing that gets resolved far too easily, and then never really comes up again.
So, I made it the entire plot of a series. Naturally, this gets pretty dark.
The reason I mention the concept and themes first is so you will understand everything else I am about to say. It’s called context, and if my attempts to find a publisher for Bunny have shown me anything, it’s that context is a deeply important matter. Out of context, this book is just weird. In context, it’s… something more. Even more than I thought it would be.
There’s two things you need to know about Bunny Beckman, my protagonist. Well, there’s way more than two, but but for the purposes of this post, I’m gonna keep it to two.
The first thing is that Bunny is not a hero. She’s not noble, selfless, and kind. She doesn’t travel around the post zombie apocalypse world doing good deeds. She’s a wrecking ball. She leaves a swath of destruction in her wake. She doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. She is a ball of anger management issues, with a tank.
Bunny is an anti-hero. I cannot stress this enough. She is a seriously damaged individual who has had all the rules of civilization taken away, and is venting her rage at everything that is left. She is a whirlwind of misery and anger.
Bunny is a traumatized, and she handles it very poorly.
Now, I’ve been trying to get this book on the market and keep it there for ten years. People have read it. Everyone responds the same way when they talk to me about Bunny. They call her an inspiration. They feel empowered by her. A few have even said they want to be more like Bunny.
Don’t take this wrong. I get that. She’s a tough cookie, and she takes no shit. Hell, she’s my character, and I feel inspired by her. She makes me want to be stronger, tougher, and more capable of facing life with determination not to give in, to bend and be what others demand of me. That’s a real thing that Bunny gives people, and in no way am I trying to diminish that, or take it away.
Mostly because, when you get down to it, that’s the point of the narrative. Bunny’s journey through the series is her character arc, one of being torn down, forced to face the things about herself she doesn’t want to face, and then actually facing them. If people feel empowered by Bunny now, how are they gonna feel by the end?
Like they can face even their own darkness. Like they can beat it. Like they can heal from their own trauma, recover, and live again. That’s the purpose here. The point of the narrative. To give people that. Knowing they feel some of that strength now, at the very start? Yeah. I think Bunny’s bigger than me at this point.
So, off I go to self publish, since I can’t find a publisher with the balls to tackle this kind of narrative.
Now, I said there were two things about Bunny I wanted to get into. The first is that she is a traumatized figure, and that she has massive anger management issues. I don’t want to go too much into that, though, as these things play a large role in her character arc through the series, and spoilers are bad. However, I will say that her anger issues existed before the traumatic event. Basically, Bunny has been pissed as hell at the world for a very long time.
That’s important, because between the concept and the character, we arrive at why this is a zombie story.
I know, I know. Zombies are played out. Overdone. Tired. Boring. Blah blah blah.
This book would not work if it wasn’t a zombie apocalypse. That is the only thing that allows this to function in the way I want it to, to tell the story I want to tell. Allow me to explain why.
In Bunny’s world, zombie fiction does exist. Everybody knows exactly what’s happened. That this is a zombie apocalypse. But saying it out loud? That makes it way too real. Too much. Nobody really wants to deal with it, not as an actual thing. They are barely hanging on as it is, and that feels like the thing that will push them over the edge into insanity.
So, they call them Gaunts. That makes it a thing they can cope with. Much the way people who have experienced trauma create ways to cope with the actual events, without having to deal with the actual events. That’s kind of how writing works, by the way. You build your thematic structure into the narrative through clever use of world building and character function.
Told you I could be subtle.
Now, Gaunts come in many kinds. There’s not just one sort of zombie in Bunny’s world. That’d be too easy. Bunny don’t do easy. The reason there are many different kinds of Gaunts is because each is a metaphorical manifestation of Bunny’s internal struggle with her trauma and anger issues.
Here’ let me give you a couple of examples. Only a couple, though. I want you guys to figure out the others, and have a few surprises along the way.
The traditional slow moving George Romero Night of the Living Dead type zombie is the most common. Shamblers. Lots of them around, and much as Romero used them as a metaphor for consumerism, in Bunnypocalypse, they serve as a metaphor for Bunny’s fear of bending to societal pressures. Of sacrificing her sense of self to blend in, fit in, and be what other people want her to be, for their own interests. This is a very base level fear she has, and her refusal to bend to that kind of thing is a major aspect of her character.
Another type of Gaunt that we will see a lot of is called the Hound. These look like your average zombie, but they are insanely strong, fast, resilient, and worst of all, clever. They are an apex predator in the world of the hungry dead. They can dodge bullets while still at range, rip a person apart with ease, and are able to execute elaborate traps and cunning tactics. Any humanity they once possessed is gone, leaving just feral animal instinct paired with human cunning. They are one of the most dangerous things in the world after the apocalypse.
They are what Bunny fears she actually is. A remorseless monster. A killing machine. A predator.
Frequently in the narrative, Bunny recalls her time as police officer, and things that happened while she wore the uniform. Times she came right up to that line of brutality, but never crossed it, even though she knew she wanted to. The times she faced a junkie with a knife threatening a kid, or a domestic abuser that spit in her face and told her to fuck off, usually while calling her a lot of very derogatory things. The times she brushed up against excessive force, and really wanted to just obliterate that line, but didn’t.
Now, that line is gone. Civilization is gone. There’s nobody to tell her to stop, or that it’s wrong. In fact, crossing that line may well be the difference between living and dying, not just for her, but for others. But what becomes of her when that line is a distant thing behind her?
Hounds are what she fears she is, deep down inside. That when you strip away the things she claims to be, all that’s really there is a monster. That terrifies her. What terrifies her even more is when it stops being a thing that terrifies her.
When she becomes okay with it.
Like I said, there’s a lot of metaphor happening here, and this is just a glimpse into some of it. It is by no means a full explanation of Bunny as a character, or the story as a whole.
It’s more a way of me explaining what this is, why I wrote it the way I did, and what I hope, by the end of the series, people take away from it all. Who knows, maybe it might even help some people who are trying to work their way through their own traumatic experiences. That’s be a something I would be really okay with leaving behind when I’m gone.
There’s a few other things I’d like to say about Bunny, but they can wait for another post. This is good the way it is, and well, I want this to be something people can read in isolation of the rest.
Also, I’m kind of hungry and want to go eat something.