When I first became editor of Night to Dawn Magazine, I read each submission carefully, trying to find unique twists to the vampire monster. After all, I had the credentials; I’d just published Twilight Healer and seen many of my short vampire tales in small press magazines. But then Mike had taken me to two consecutive mummy flicks (back in the days before he’d gotten sick). Author Jonathan Maberry introduced me to zombies, and Tom Johnson had me writing SF and mystery tales for his publications. Before long, I started seeking mummies, zombies, evil aliens, and psychotic killers for my magazine. What’s more, my novels have turned toward evil aliens and zombies for monsters, and in some cases, the helium found in balloons was used for a weapon.
After reading enough tales and watching enough flicks about monsters, I realized that for me, the zombie makes the truest monster. Why? It takes me back to my childhood, when I visited a 1000-year-old woman on display in Atlantic City. The picture on the billboard displayed a model, but when I entered a room surrounded by drapes, I happened upon a skeletal woman dressed in rags, lying in an oversized bathtub. She sat up and waved to everyone. Later on, I found out that she was a well-preserved mummy, and the bathtub was actually a sarcophagus. Of course, people used mechanics and thin wires to make the body move. But at age ten, I didn’t know about such things. I only know that a dead woman was sitting in a bathtub, and I fled from the pavilion screaming.
Every author has his or her own pet monster, even if they don’t write horror. Tom Johnson specializes in pulp crime and SF, but you’ll find plenty of monsters (dinosaurs) in his Jur novels. In Michael De Stefano’s Gunslinger’s Companion, the criminals and some plantation owners behave worse than supernatural monsters. As everyone knows, humans can make the worst fiends. Stephen King finds monsters everywhere he looks—cell phones, revenants, psychotic killers, and yes, even helium balloons. Every author has their own reasons for choosing a given monster.
For me, the zombie serves as stark reminder of that mummified woman, and so naturally the zombie has shambled into Night to Dawn. My expectation is that future issues will include more zombie tales. Dead walkers terrorize people in Steel Rose and will continue to do so in its sequel. So…I’d love to hear about the monster that appears most in your fiction and why you’ve chosen this monster. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
I’m offering a signed copy of Steel Rose (first prize) and copy of Night to Dawn 26 (second prize) to a random commenter. Overseas winners will receive Starbucks gift cards and PDF copies.