Posted in Freedom Friday

My Room

Growing up I spent a lot of time in my room. Not because my parents punished me or anything. I just liked the time alone to do stuff I enjoyed doing without interference from the outside world. In some ways, I still do that whenever I withdraw from everyone to write my zombie tales of madness and survival. Let me give you a quick peek into my formative years for Freedom Friday, this way you’ll know where I’m coming from whenever I insert a reference of some obscure book, movie or music into my insane writings.

Chess by Thomas Saur
Chess by Thomas Saur

I value my time alone. How’s that for an attention-getting statement? Life moves fast. If I don’t slow down, I’ll end up wishing I had spent more time smelling the roses. I know it’s a cliché, but it works in this case—the smelling of the roses bit, that is.

As a boy, growing up in an active Italian family, I didn’t have time to think about the future. I was having too much fun enjoying the present running around with all my cousins. Not a weekend went by that we weren’t doing something with my relatives, whether it was cooking a BBQ, eating a gigantic meal or stuffing ourselves with oversized sandwiches.

Given my parents had four siblings apiece, it’s debatable since I don’t have my mom’s full history, our get-togethers were massive feasts of food and fun. My dad had recorded some of those events on one of those Super 8 cameras he had purchased. Back then, video did not come from a phone you concealed in your pocket, but from a clunky, old brick you held in your hand. Every so often I’d watch them wondering whatever happened to everybody.

When I reached the age of self-awareness, a teenager (a.k.a. the age of reason), I’d spent a good chunk of my time in my room. I don’t know why. I mean, I had friends and all, and my parents had friends, but I felt as though I needed time to understand who I was.

I learned I enjoyed playing chess. I remember having bought a portable electronic chess game that would play me on different levels, including grandmaster. I can’t say how many hours I’d dedicated to the game, by now most of that is lost in my memory. Yet, because of the time I’d poured into it, my team in grade school went on to win second place in the Ontario Regional Chess Tournament for that year.

About a year later, my interests had changed and my mind had focused more on music than anything else. I learned how to play the guitar. I guess I was pretty good ‘cause I played gigs with a few bands and had my own band by the end of high school.

How can I ever forget those summer nights when I knew my neighbors had gone to some party, and I’d be in my room, cranking out the tunes on my Gibson imitation. My poor parents. They put up so much with me, it’s a wonder they hadn’t disowned me by the time I had completed puberty.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

In all this, I discovered Shakespeare. My first exposure to the behemoth playwright was in the ninth grade English class where we began studying The Merchant of Venice. At the time, I couldn’t get my head around a man possessed with the thought of collecting a pound of flesh for a debt owed. It became an obsession with me to want to find out what it all meant.

A pound of flesh? From where? The arm? The thigh? The buttocks? And when Shylock gets his pound of flesh, what will he do with it? Will he use it to heat his home? Will it be a mantelpiece for use in conversations? Or…will he reduce himself to zombie status and eat it?

From there I went on to devour Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the intense, once-a-year-read Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet. Oh, how I fell in love with the notion of lovers wanting to sacrifice their lives for each other. It haunted my nights. It made my days nightmares. I had obsessed over the book. I read, reread, and reread the text, going to the library searching for commentaries to hear what the experts had to say. I wondered how a story so simple could make me feel so insignificant. I contemplated on those last moments when Juliet held the dagger in her hand, waiting to thrust it deep within her bowels so she could be with her lover once again, Romeo.

“O happy dagger. This is thy sheath.”

During my formative years, my room became my sanctuary.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have memories of wanting to spend time in your room? What did you do? Did you learn anything?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Classic Literature Zombie Style

Yesterday morning I read an article that stated Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies might head to theaters soon. You read that right. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I wonder how the playful Elizabeth Bennet will choose among her suitors this time. Guaranteed Mr. Right would need martial arts training.

Word Jumble
Word Jumble

For this edition of Monday Mayhem, I’d like to explore other classics that would benefit from a zombie facelift.

Okay. Ready? Set. Here’s my take on classic literature zombie style:

Romeo and Juliet and Zombies—Juliet outside on the balcony: “Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art the undead that we shall henceforth quicken their demise? Deny me not, be but sworn the pleasure to raise my knife against the bowels of the fiends.”

Anne of Green Gables and Zombies—Anne walking through Violet Vale with Diana: “There’s such a lot of different Annes in me, I frighten myself sometimes. I have horrid dreams of violence. Is it wrong to want to thrust a fireplace poker into the head of a walker?”

Les Misérables and Zombies—Victor Hugo: “He never went out without a skull under his arm, and he often came back with two.”

Hamlet and Zombies—Hamlet holding a skull: “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him whole; before the eaters raised their gnashing teeth and their unbridled hunger to tear at his flesh, discarding his limbs as puppetry. For whence forth are thy gibes now among thy pieces?”

Great Expectations and Zombies—Miss Havisham: “Kill it, kill it, kill it! If it resists, kill it. If it wounds you, kill it. If it tears your heart to pieces—and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper—kill it, kill it, kill it!”

The Three Musketeers and Zombies—Aramis to D’Artagnan: “Athos takes his creature beheadings very seriously. Not to worry, he’ll be his usual charming self by morning.”

Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Zombies—The opening line: “What is the use of a book, without the pleasure of jamming it down the throat of a brain chewer?”

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Zombies—Holmes holding a bow: “It’s elementary, my dear Watson. Once the creatures cross the threshold, these razor sharp arrows will dispatch them whole. There will be nothing left of the boastful relics.”

A Christmas Carol and Zombies—Ghost of Christmas Present to Ebenezer Scrooge: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as destroying a maggot bag with your bare hands.”

Julius Caesar and Zombies—Antony’s oratorio: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, protect thy ears. The harbingers have devoured Caesar to the bone. Lift up thy swords and swear vengeance to the beasts, spilling their entrails forthwith beyond the square.”

Can you think of other classics more deserving of a zombie makeover?