How Not to Write Your Novel: Zombies

I know what you’re thinking: Zombies, Brett? Really?

I know it’s not fashionable to believe in zombies these days, but how are they any less real than the other things you spend your time doing instead of writing? Pursuing physical fitness? Come on – who are you trying to fool? Learning Chinese? Seriously – who speaks that anymore anyways?? No – if you think zombies aren’t real you clearly haven’t been to Disney World. And I’d wager you don’t listen to much talk radio, either.

Provided you can keep them from gnawing on the neighbors, zombies can, in fact, be useful and productive additions to any household! Of course there are a few odd peccadilloes that must be accounted for before embarking on any Undead Maintenance project.


Assuming you aren’t personally acquainted with the neighborhood houngan, or any mad Swiss doctors of experimental bent, you’re probably going to have to come by your housecorpse in a non-traditional way. Options include: registering as a medical research/education facility, slipping a 50 to the creepy guy at the morgue, or building a swimming pool on the site of an ancient indian burial ground. Note! Graverobbing remains illegal in much of the Western Hemisphere and murder is similarly frowned upon, though accidents do happen and pneumatic nail guns can be surprisingly difficult to handle.


Once acquired, some semblance of life must be returned to the body. Without some motivating force, all you’re going to have is a large and likely rather lumpy coffee table. If you happen to live in mountainous terrain that enjoys the benefit of frequent thunderstorms and can get your hands on large volumes of human amniotic fluid, we recommend going the Shelley route as it offers the greatest chance of success with the least direct risk of damnation.  (We note as well that certain among the zombie-keeping fraternity will likely chide and assert that minions animated in this way are more accurately termed ‘golems’, and are no true zombies at all. This author is of the opinion that that is all so much semantic hogwash, and those espousing it can go get humped.) As real estate in such places is prohibitively expensive, and amniotic fluid so vexingly rare, we suspect rather that most aficionados will have to resort to Dark Powers to provide their cadavers with unlife.  While Haitian voodoo is, in these days, the most high profile provider of such services, there are in fact a number of other markets burgeoning necromancers might explore. Certain ancient Etruscan gods offer bargain prices due to their small market share of late, and similarly members of African pantheons and belief systems. Whichever Dark Power you choose, read the agreement carefully, as they are notorious for inserting harshly punitive riders in hopes of suckering the unwary.

Care and Keeping

Once you have acquired your zombie and given life to it, there are a few things that are of paramount importance if you are to make the best of it.

Embalm, embalm, embalm.

Friends don’t let friends, or their zombies, putrify. Modern embalming practices have advanced to the point where corpses can retain the vast majority of their integrity for years without rotting, sloughing, or shedding. See that you make use of them! No one wants to find that their zombie servant has not only put their fingers in the oatmeal, but left them there.

Avoid moisture

While it’s true that zombies cannot drown (being dead, they needn’t breathe), they are NOT suitable for submersible duties and tasks. In fact, it is highly recommended that you weatherize your zombie immediately upon first animation. Spray-on latex is an acceptable (if kinky) alternative, though potentially dangerous to the allergic. Rumors of a Zeibart-for-Zombies being in development have proven unfounded, in this author’s experience. Whatever option you choose, we recommend keeping your zombie in a cool, dry place when not in use and buff-dried quickly if they do become moist. Zombie mold is insidious, fast-growing, and absolute murder on your carpets.


Zombies are dead. Or rather – undead, if we are to be precise. They have no need to eat, being fueled by either the elements (Frankensteinian tradition) or Dark Power Juice (all others). Provided the proper obeisances are made, they should continue to function at maximum efficiency without any form of organic intake. Should your zombie accidentally ingest something, we highly recommend immediate disassembly as zombies lack the cognitive ability to distinguish between ‘ham sandwich’ and ‘your brain’. Only you can prevent Zombie Apocalypse*.

By following this simple guide, you too can become the proud master of your very own undead servitor. And rest assured, done properly, keeping a zombie can prevent HOURS of otherwise undesirable writing. Good night, my pretties. You’re welcome! And whatever you do…


*Look for ‘How Not to Write your Novel: Inciting Zombie Apocalypse’ in a future installment of Cat Vacuuming!

**Cat Vacuuming does not condone the use of ‘Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse’ as excuse for not writing as any damned fool can not write a novel when the apocalypse is on. CV does, however, agree that having a plan to survive is a good idea. (See THE LIST #6)

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