Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Zombie Spotlight On
Dead Hunger by Eric A. Shelman

Reviewed by Anthony Servante


The Zombie Spotlight On column focuses on authors who participated in the Zombies, Ghouls, and Gods series interviews. This series delves into the evolution of the undead in Zombie Apocalypse literature. I seek out what's new in the zombie genre. How have these living dead creatures changed since the George Romero undead in his classic ground-breaking movie, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)? 

The changes so far have been two-fold: one, the zombies have evolved beyond lumbering corpses seeking living flesh to feast on; two, the origin of the zombies has been given new history and a variety of catalysts. But I should add a third change: the human survivors have been more widely drawn and given more character development and depth. So, these are the elements I seek to examine with this column. For more background on the column and the series, check the archives on the right of this article. 

Let's begin by turning our spotlight on...

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A phone call to his sister leads Flex Sheridan into a nightmare and a quest to save his family from a new, horrifying epidemic that's turning humans into zombies. As he makes his way from Georgia to Gainesville, Florida and back, he picks up old and new friends and survivors. Flex re-connects with perhaps the strongest woman he's ever known, Gem Cardoza, his former girlfriend. Together they take his six-year-old niece Trina - the only uninfected survivor of his sister's famiy - and his infected sister Jamie, and make a run from central Florida back to his isolated Georgia home. As they head north, they encounter another uninfected, Hemphill "Hemp" Chatsworth. Hemp is British, and extremely smart. He holds a biology degree with a major in Epidemiology, as well as a degree in mechanical engineering, both of which this group will need. Along with the crossbow-wielding Charlene "Charlie" Sanders and a pregnant Great Pyrenees dog, this small group uses street smarts and technology to defend against the new "Abnormals" that walk the earth. But Hemp is also compelled to learn how they got this way, and if possible, how to reverse the condition and save Flex's sister. So grab your machine gun and take a ride in their fortified vehicles and mobile lab; you're going to want these people on your side when the Dead Hunger . . .

Eric A. Shelman


Wow. Damned zombies. Who ever thought I'd go from my first book, a story of an abused child in 1870's New York being rescued by the ASPCA to zombies? Yes, the first book is true - all the rest, except for my second book on Mary Ellen Wilson - the little abused girl - are fiction. Serial killers, witches, and of course, my most popular books to date, the Dead Hunger series.

I sing. I write. I paint. I collect microphones, but only new awesome ones. My quirkiest thing is that I have over 200 videos on YouTube. Yes, they are of ME singing. It's cuckoo, I know. Another weird tidbit? My Van Morrison Brown Eyed Girl cover has over 3,500,000 hits. Yes, over 3.5 million.

So check out my writing. Download a sample for Kindle if you like. I think you'll like my style, because I write how people talk. I don't write how geniuses try to tell you to write. So conversational is my style, and I like to keep the shit real.

Thanks for reading! Visit my web page at I'll keep you updated on my new releases! You can also email me if you want to order shirts or autographed books. ALSO, look me up on Facebook - it's Author Shelman there, too.


~ Eric


DEAD HUNGER recounts the story of Flex Sheridan. Right off, the Prologue tells us that Jaime, his sister, "turned", that is, became a zombie or as Shelman writes, "abnormals" (but eventually succumbs to the term "zombie"). Then he gets right to the point: "I’ll tell you how this started. It’ll introduce you to me and my friends, but your guess will be as good as mine as to what comes next for us in this bizarre new world. Any other time I’d sound crazy as shit, but if you’re reading this, then you know I’m not. The dead have risen." So far, this follows the structure of the classic zombie apocalypse. People start turning, survivors try to figure out what's going on, and finally the number of the undead reaches cataclysmic proportions. But Shelman's zombies "have more ingenuity and instinct" and other "abilities". This is our first clue that we will not be facing Romeroesque living dead. 

The narrative early on explains that we are secondhand witnesses to Flex's accounts of the apocalypse. "I’ve been reluctant to use the word zombie, because I don’t want to give this recount of our experiences anything like a comic feel. There’s nothing funny about it, and again – if you’re alive to read this, then you know that already." This declaration is a common feature for most ZA literature, and one of its weaknesses. Before the author can approach the subject of the undead infestation, he must make sure that we know that his novel's universe exists in a world where zombies exist in fictional form. Thereby, when the real deal appears, his characters can react to them appropriately. Many authors have their zombies pop out of the blue and the narrators learn as they go on how to deal with these undead creatures (you know, a bullet to the head, the flesh-eating habit, and so forth). In ZA novels where zombies don't exist in fiction, the narrative works to convince us that "this" is how it would work in real life if they did exist. 

When Flex makes a big deal about whether or not to call the "abnormals" zombies, he is as much telling the reader that the situation is not like in the ZA literature, that "reality" is a lot scarier. And that's what either makes or breaks a zombie book, whether or not the reader buys into the premise that here there be zombies for real. Shelman deals with this weakness by using a simple prose, realistic language (it should come as no surprise that children curse worse than adults, and when the rules of civilization go asunder, so do the rules of etiquette), and a journal narrative to address (hopefully) the survivors of the apocalypse in the future, serve as a survival guide for wayfarers, or record the horrific event for posterity. Either way, the novel works on this level.

Eric A. Shelman has created a believable Zombie Apocalypse with characters that develop and learn and "abnormals" that are realistic in this fictional universe. DEAD HUNGER is a welcome addition to the intelligent evolution of the zombie novel. 

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