Why Has Night to Dawn Magazine Gone to the Zombies?

Night to Dawn features an unholy blend of zombie fiction, vampire tales, and dark poetry.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.


About Barbara Custer

Author of: Twilight Healer Steel Rose Life Raft: Earth City of Brotherly Death Close Liaisons Infinite Sight When Blood Reigns Infinite Sight Publisher / Editor of Night to Dawn Books & Magazine
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  1. When I write, my antagonist is most often human, because I find that I don’t need to dress us up with fangs or horns to make us into cruel monsters. When I read, I prefer equally the vampire and the furred were-animal for the monster, because I want my evil out in the open. I can forgive a monster a vice which I would not forgive a man, even in fiction. I’m full of double-standards, you see. bookwormpov (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. Hmm…I suppose it could be said that I often delve into the darker side of fairy lore to find monsters to use in my prose and poetry. I’ve used the redcap in both a short story and a poem. I’ve used the alpe in one story (one that was reprinted in Issue 21 of NIGHT TO DAWN) and creatures that could possibly be called cousins of the alpe in another. Many of my dark poems feature various dark fairies.

  3. This article was fascinating to read. I especially liked the part about your trip to Atlantic City when you were growing up. That must have scared you out of your wits. I would have been terrified. I don’t write about zombies, but one thing that gives me the willies is reading about aliens and alien hybrids. I think they may be walking among us, but we’ll never know!! If I didn’t think I’d scare myself, I might try writing about aliens. Thanks for the great blog post! I always enjoy reading them.

    • Catherine, the sight of that mummy did in fact terrify me. I remember my mother taking me to a movie to make me feel better. The thought of alien hybrids intrigues me.
      Barbara of the Balloons

  4. I love that balloons enter into your stories.

  5. Joseph J. Patchen

    I try to stay away from the traditional tropes and make my monsters more of the mind.

  6. Not all that into zombies myself, although I do like mummies. I think I lean more to ghosts and vampires in the monster camp.

    • I like mummies also, but I don’t see too many submissions with mummies. I used to love vampires but have geared toward mummies and zombies. 🙂
      Barbara of the Balloons

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