I love my writer friend, Marina Bridges.
I’ll say, “Write a story that’ll make me laugh.” So she does. Then I say, “Can I publish it?”
And she’ll say, “Well, if you think…”
I say, “Yay! I’ll have this edited and sent back to you for fiddling in a day or two.”
“And I have this great cover idea. Can I go for it?”
“Well, sure, but…”
“Terrific! Okay, now write a reader letter and let me know how long until you have the other stories finished. I have a great cover idea for a collection, too. Send me whatever you have finished and I’ll get started on the editing…”
You know what? She hasn’t once tried to hit me with a baseball bat or sent spiders in the mail. What a great gal. A true friend.
Best of all, she’s writing about zombies. Marina and I are both zombie nuts. She’s always sending me links to terrific or nasty or terrifically nasty zombie stories, and I’m always sending them to her. We both adore Jonathan Maberry. We dish regularly about The Walking Dead. So having the chance to publish her zombie stories is a dream.
Available now is the first in her Zombies Take New York collection: Wheel of Wonder: Zombies Take New York!
“His partner didn’t show up for Pitkin’s first day on the Coney Island beat, so the pitiless security force captain had sent Pitkin out alone. ‘Pitkin, the public doesn’t want to hear that you’re a little girl who can’t go to the amusement park by himself.’ Blab blab blab. Pitkin surfed out of the storefront security office on waves of smart-ass comments from his new co-workers.
‘Pitkin, don’t talk to any strangers!’
‘Pitkin, don’t get sand in your panties!’
And a final shot from the captain: ‘Don’t cause any trouble out there.'”
Trouble? How much trouble can a disgraced former member of New York’s Finest, now reduced to an amusement park security guard, get into on his first day on the job? His new beat is Coney Island, home of Nathan’s Famous Franks, the Sideshow by the Seashore, and the gigantic Ferris wheel, Wonder Wheel. The job is a walk in the park–until the zombies come. That’s when Pitkin finds out that just when you think you’ve fallen as far as you can go, Fate lofts you high into the air and demands to know, “Had enough falling yet?” Nice question, Fate–“Will you look at all those damned zombies!?!”
Why zombies? Why New York? Why Coney Island, for Pete’s sake? I’ll let Marina explain it to you.
Ever since they came to get Barbara, I’ve had a life-long love affair with zombies. They are an enemy as mindless and relentless as a relative who desperately wants you to have an ordinary life. They are as inescapable as bad neighbors. There is something mundane about them, yet they are horrifying. Zombies, the rotting corpse human flesh eating kind— not those poor slaves down in Haiti— are the scariest monsters ever.
While I was delighted when zombie fiction rose from the grave of vampire fiction (except vampire fiction was reborn, dammit) I was disappointed that I found so little of it that spoke to me. Zombies are very democratic monsters. They go after everyone, and they usually eventually get everyone. Live in a trailer park? Zombies are going to eat you. Live in an underground government bunker? Zombies are going to eat you. The stars of the zombie fiction I read, however, were often soldiers with guns, or cops with guns. I wanted to read about people who didn’t have a cache of guns, but did have to face a plague of zombies.
I also wanted to read about New Yorkers—regular New Yorkers—dealing with zombies. I lived in New York City for fifteen years. New York City would probably be the shittiest place in the world to be during the zombie apocalypse. Nobody would be able to leave Manhattan during a zombie apocalypse. The city would be locked down. All the bridges and tunnels would be closed. Any help that might arrive would be worried about saving the rich and powerful and not destroying expensive real estate. New York City is as democratic as zombies are. Most people would be in the same boat in a sea of shit during a New York zombie apocalypse.
I decided to write my own New York zombie stories. I veered over to Coney Island, first. I really like Coney Island. Coney Island, at least when I was in New York, was the faded, old, chain smoking, hateful hooker of amusement parks. The shows were scary, the rides were scary, the food was scary, the bathrooms were scary. There was this air of menace about Coney Island. Even when I rode the antique carousel and tried to snatch a brass ring, I was afraid my ass was going to fall off my alarmingly active and large wooden horse to be ground into hamburger under the fast spinning turntable. I spent some fabulous summer days nearly having heat strokes at Coney Island under the horrifying grin of their insane-looking trademark clown, Steeplechase Jack. Coney Island is in the process of being remodeled, and I’ve heard that they haven’t ruined it…yet. I’m sure it will eventually be ruined (i.e. it will be fun for children, like most amusement parks).
Everything in Wheel of Wonder is something I saw during my visits to Coney Island, including the Rottweiler on the Ferris wheel. You can see him too, if you search YouTube carefully. I didn’t see zombies at Coney Island. They were the only thing that was missing.