If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve likely noticed the lamentable absence of a specific mermaid type we all know and secretly love: the ZOMBIE MERMAID. So I have selflessly asked one Ms Michelle McCrary to discuss the matter, as I knew she’d written a zombie mermaid story for an upcoming anthology from Library of the Living Dead Press. Michelle is a zombie expert, in fact; not only did she found the Shreveport Zombie Walk, but she has short stories published in the anthologies Zombology and Zombology 2 and co-edited with author Joe McKinney (and has a short story in) the book Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology. Which I think is all equally impressive and suspicious. How does she know so much about zombies, anyway?
Our Q and A follows.
So Michelle, I understand you have written a zombie mermaid story. Can you tell me about that?
I wrote a story called “The True Story of the Little Mermaid (as written by Hans Christian Anderson)” that will be published in Feary Tales, an upcoming anthology from Library of the Living Dead Press. In it will be classic fairy tales… with an undead twist! I decided to take on The Little Mermaid for several reasons. Growing up, I was fascinated by mermaids, in part because of the movie Splash. That movie was on HBO forty times a day! At the same time, I stayed up late with my dad on Friday nights watching horror movies. It was how we spent time together—between mermaids and zombies, I should have known I was going to grow up to be weird. I also have a wonderful mom who has always encouraged my creativity, no matter what strange twists and turns it takes. When I was about fourteen, my sister Melissa, who is ten years younger than me, was obsessed with the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. She watched that movie so much I can still to this day quote it to you line for line. No joke. So when I heard that the publisher was looking for zombified fairy tales, I immediately thought of The Little Mermaid. The original story, written by Hans Christian Anderson, is not as happy and light-hearted as the Disney version. I wanted to play that up and add in a little gore. In my version, the mermaid rescues the prince, but when he kisses her… well, let’s just say that she gets a little more than she bargained for. She ends up not being the heroine of the story, but the horror of it. One of her sisters narrates, telling what really happened. I had fun taking a few jabs at the Disney movie, hoping a few readers would catch the jokes.
And you organize the Shreveport Zombie Walk. What is the zombie walk? How did this whole thing start?
The zombie walk happens on World Zombie Day in October. It began in Pittsburgh, PA which is the zombie capitol of the world. That is where George A. Romero filmed his classic movies Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. The mall where the latter was filmed is a mecca for zombie fans like myself, and I even visited it a few years ago. In 2008, I wanted to attend a zombie walk on World Zombie Day, but the closest one was in Dallas, and my family had a lot going on that weekend and couldn’t go out of town. I decided one day that I would just organize one in Shreveport myself! On that day in October, people in our community show up at our walk event dressed as zombies, and we shamble around in a group. It is so much fun! Local businesses & best-selling authors donate door prizes, and I also give out prizes for best zombie costumes. One of the most important things we do is also collect food donations for our local food bank. Most zombie walks do something similar, figuring that if you have that many people together, you might as well do something good for your community. Last year, we had over 200 attendees and raised 872 pounds of food. This year, we have moved from having the walk at a local mall to having it outdoors downtown, with a street being closed off, vendors, sponsors, a musical performance, support from the Downtown Development Authority and the Shreveport-Bossier Tourism and Convention Bureau. With more community support and exposure, I hope we can raise over one thousand pounds of food at this year’s Shreveport Zombie Walk, which is October 8.
What is it about zombies and Shreveport?
It seems like I have opened up this whole new underground cult of zombie-lovers in Shreveport that no one knew about. Since I started the walk four years ago, Shreveport has had zombie proms, zombie crawls and a stage play of Night of the Living Dead that I starred in two years in a row. Lots of people have taken to calling me the Shreveport Zombie Queen. I can’t say I don’t like being called that…because I love it! Of course, there are some people that think it is strange, but once you tell them the walk is for a good cause, it usually smooths things over.
Why not? Zombies are the new vampires! You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing zombies. They have taken over popular culture. Books, movies, comics, music… heck, my husband even got me a zombie cupcake cookbook for Christmas. I think the thing that makes the zombie so popular is that it is so scary—it can be your husband, your wife, your child. And in most cases, they are unstoppable except for that quintessential headshot. They have no other motivation than to eat your flesh—they can’t be reasoned with. They can also be a social commentary. You can take almost any zombie-themed movie and take out the zombie, replace it with a relevant issue of our time, and it will most likely make sense. The zombies are just the antagonists. We really want to see how people survive; how the survivors relate to each other. Do I really think zombies could exist? Probably not. Dead people cannot rise and eat the living. But, hey, it’s fun to imagine that something so weird could happen. So why not…zombie mermaids!
And why mermaids?
Mermaids are mysterious, fascinating and most likely, impossible, just like zombies. But, in my heart, I would like to believe they are real. I don’t think the same about zombies in my heart.
Is there anything better than a zombie mermaid?
A zombie mermaid would probably be the coolest thing ever. Could you imagine if evil fisherman were pulling in their nets, eager to eye their spoils at sea, hoping for dolphins, only to be surprised by a beautiful yet deadly zombified mermaid? They would be so shocked that their slow reaction time would give her enough time to escape the net and eat them up. Yep, I can totally see it now!
Have you ever dressed as a zombie mermaid? Are you tempted to now?
I have never dressed as a zombie mermaid, but thank you for the idea! If I don’t dress up as one this year, I will certainly do it for a future walk because it is such a cool concept.
Do you have any special affection for mermaids?
I do have a special place in my heart for mermaids. You see, honestly, fish freak me out. Anything that breathes water, actually. I think it’s when they hit air and start flopping around is when I get all spazzy. But a mermaid… they don’t do that. Sometimes, like in Splash, they get legs! They aren’t “all the way” a fish, so they are okay with me. When I was little, I used to take a king-sized pillow case from my parent’s bed, one that was turquoise and covered in huge white flowers, and stick my legs inside of it. I would put a belt around the top part to keep it around my waist, and then tie a string around my ankles to make a fin. I would imagine I was Madison from Splash and flop all around the living room floor. It was probably quite a sight to see.
Do you have any advice for aspiring (zombie) mermaids?
To be the best zombie mermaid you can be, always be beautiful inside and out! Because when you start to decay, well… it’s only what’s on the inside that counts after that! And if you are a proper zombie mermaid, you will want to get lots of prince flesh on the inside of your stomach!