Will Once
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Warning! Contains spoilers

Why did I write this book?
I have always been intrigued by the idea of seeing a situation from someone else's perspective. All too often in fiction we focus exclusively on the hero - the big brave character who does notable things. That's fine and dandy, but I find myself wondering what the villain feels. What does the world look like from his perspective? Of course, there is nothing new about writing from the point of view of the bad guy, so I started to think about the most unlikely of main characters. And it was a short hop from there to setting my main character as a zombie.
 
Once I had that idea, I played with it, turned it around in my head, doodled with it. I didn't want a mindless main character. That just didn't appeal. So it had to be an intelligent thinking zombie. And that led me to the idea of a herb or potion to keep him from becoming a mindless ravenous monster, and the most ridiculous unzombie-like thing was tea, which meant that his girlfriend had to be a witch. A world with witches and zombies in it had to have other fantastical creatures, and that gave me vampires and dwarves and dragons.
 
Then I had to decide what to do with my zombie. It occurred to me that being a zombie might feel like you were a persecuted minority. From that came the idea of zombie as a metaphor for racism. That then led to the idea of a corrupt Government, a quest and the rise of the zombie as an unlikely hero.
 
All this before a word was written. By now I had a set of characters, a story arc, the beginnings of a theme and some ideas of symbolism. And from that point, I was committed. The story had to be written.
 
 
Why is it written in the first person?
 
One of the early decisions was what voice to use. Because the hero was someone that you would not identify with - a zombie - I didn't want to give the reader the option of distancing themselves. I wanted you to be inside the zombie's head all the way. No peeking at the world through fingers clamped over your eyes! That meant the first person, as in "I did this and then I did that." Up close and personal.
 
Then it was a case of finding a personality for the hero. It seemed funny to have a non-heroic hero, a day-dreamer with a dash of pedantry. Someone who quibbles with the word "undead". A breezy chatty narrator who gets confused by shoelaces. A trainee estate agent.
 
I pictured him telling his story to a journalist or a biographer some time after the events in the book. The phrase that stuck in my head was "and that was when..." It just seemed to capture the carefree way that he would describe fantastic events.
Why doesn't the hero have a name?
Three reasons for this:
 
First, it seemed to fit his meek character and the forgetfulness of a zombie. It seemed right that a zombie wouldn't know who he was. It also helped to turn him into Everyman - someone who changes the world by being normal. Or, as normal as you can be as a zombie in a post-apocalyptic world.
 
Secondly, I wanted to play a trick on the reader. I wanted to see how far into the book you would go before you realised that the hero didn't have a name. 
 
Thirdly, it just panned out that way.You don't really need a name for the narrator in a first person story. By the time that I needed to give him a name, it didn't seem right. Sometimes stories tell themselves. This seemed to be one of those instances.
 
 
What caused the Switch?
 
Nobody knows. In our neatly packaged civilized world we like to know the reason for everything. If something like the Switch ever happened, I imagine that the average Joe in the street would not know what was going on. So the Switch is unexplained. Maybe we'll explore this in a sequel.
 
The idea for the Switch came from a harsh winter a few years ago. The roads were covered in such a heavy fall of snow that vehicles couldn't move. As a result the shops couldn't be restocked and started to run out of food. This got me thinking what would happen if some of the things that civilization relies on suddenly failed. How long would we survive? What would we do? The simplest thing to switch off, it seemed to me, was electricity. And from that came the Switch.
 
I've since learned that the idea has also been used in a US television series called Revolution. I didn't know this at the time that I started writing. My version of the Switch seems sufficiently different that I decided to keep it.
 
 
Why zombies?
 
There have been a lot of zombie books and films recently. I was a little worried that the genre might be played out and getting a little stale. So I thought long and hard about whether to make the main character a zombie or some other fantasy race.
 
I stuck with zombies because they seem to raise a number of questions that haven't been explored. Zombies seem to be a metaphor for something that is wrong with the world that we can't quite explain. The public mood appears to be gloomy, with fears about recession, the environment, corruption in public office, religion. Zombies feel like a manifestation of that general feeling that we are at a difficult time, which some even interpret as the end of days.
 
Zombies are also a very convenient target. There can be no doubt that they are evil so if ever you find yourself in a zombie apocalypse you have complete freedom to shoot them. You don't have to worry about a murder charge because they are already dead. And there is no question about seeing it from their perspective because they don't ordinarily have one.
 
This means that zombie films often split into two distinct modes. There is terror mode, where you are in mortal danger and have to run for your life from endless threatening hordes. Then there is macho mode. This normally involves a stronghold and guns. In some ways, macho mode is a playground where you are allowed to do what you want. That is why I included ManWorld in Love, Death and Tea. Some people might like the macho freedom that a zombie apocalypse would give them.