With series like The Walking Dead, movies like Night of the Living dead and World War Z, it seems zombieland is dominated by male authors, actors and artists. This however is not the case…
Below the surface, in the underground zombie scene, it’s a whole different ballgame. As the founder of Zombie Guide Magazine, I’ve noticed there are three streams of zombie authors. One of these is dominated by men, one by women and one is mixed.
The first type of author is the “classic zombie story author”. The characters they write about aren’t that deep, there’s a lot of gore and a massive detail to survival and how to kill a zombie. This kind of zombie writing is still largely dominated by male authors. Some of these books can still have great plots and twists, but the majority is just the same survival scenario.
Second there’s the “alternative zombie stream”. These stories are usually a mix of new kinds of zombies and a very creative plot. Samples of this stream in movies are Waterborne and Zombie With A Shotgun. Although this hasn’t completely pushed through in the writing scene, there are a few first attempts in this. The zombies in these stories are frequently completely different from the classic zombie. They may be smart, fast and covering the line between zombie and regular monster.
This brings us to the subject at hand, The influence of female authors in the zombie scene. The third stream I’ve seen, is “zombies as a platform”. Here zombies are a platform to write about other events, or to base a story around.
It’s in this scene that the influence of women has greatly improved over the past years. At ZGM we get a lot of requests for reviews and it’s noticeable that there are a lot of women out there writing about zombies these days. A great example of this, is actually our first ever reviewed book, Zombie Days, Campfire Nights, by Leah Rhyne. Leah got out of her IT career to become a fulltime writer and started with writing a zombie book. It sets the perfect example of women, almost single handedly, creating this third stream in zombie literature. She writes about a couple of teenagers during the zombie apocalypse, losing their parents, being captured, concentration camps, medical experiments, dictators… You see? The zombies in this case are a metaphor for the Second World War. Being Jewish and wanting to write about emotions, characters and things she finds important, she found zombies to be a perfect platform to channel this energy.
That example defines the influence of women in the zombie scene. Most books written by female authors have deep characters, hidden messages and are actually a story to be told, needing a platform.
My thoughts on the origin of this stream are quite simple. The Walking Dead made the zombie genre take another turn. For the men, there’s blood, gore, death and decay. Not to mention guns and heroes. For the women, there’s emotion, soap like cliff hangers and of course, Daryl Dixon… This made The Walking Dead into an accessible family show, creating a new stream where zombies were a platform to tell stories.
Besides these three streams in zombie fiction and the role women played in picking up on the third stream and evolving it into a new kind of zombie fiction. There’s a huge difference in books written by men and women. Where men often want to show their knowledge of medicine, survival skills and how they would kill a zombie. Women expand their stories with in depth characters, longer dialogs and much more emotion.
Of course there are exceptions where men do really expand their characters and use zombies as a platform to channel their emotions and energy. And sure there are women who write gruesome horror stories, filled with blood and great detail to suffering. But from my experience, I conclude that the third stream, “zombies as a platform”, is dominated by female authors. Their influence as authors has given the zombie scene new life and more in depth stories.