Cemetery Highway is a rollicking tale of fame, friendship and falls from grace, set in a world where zombies are the elite and humans are the underclass.
Best friends Dexter, Michelle, Penny and Cakes have started a group called the Anti Zombie Alliance and plan on sticking it to the zombies once and for all. But when zombie big-wig Max convinces the suave Dexter to trade his standards for stardom, things get ugly.
Fang Followers, please welcome Hamish Robert Johnson, the author of Cemetery Highway.
He’s been nice enough to provide us with a guest post about his journey from screenplay to novel to movie.
Right now, as we speak…or write, I am in active pre-production on the movie version of my novel CEMETERY HIGHWAY. The funny thing is, I wrote the screenplay before the book, and didn’t actually intend to write a book at all.
I attended a movie pitching event in Hollywood a year ago. It was like speed dating with film executives, whereby you get three minutes to tell the story of your film, and explain why they would want to devote time and money to it. I had a few interested parties, but one gentleman in particular took quite a shining to me and my tale of supernaturally unrequited love. We talked a couple of times after the initial meeting, but in the end he told me that it would be too difficult to break a fresh world such as this, to an audience without a lot of marketing money. And unfortunately he did not have a stack of that. But he told me that if it was a graphic novel or a book, it would be a much easier sell.
So naturally I called up everyone I knew in the comic book world. Two phone calls later I had drained that well to no avail. I figured I’d have to hire someone to adapt the screenplay into a book, but the more I looked into it, the pricier it became.
I guess it was a lack of confidence talking, but I did not think I was smart enough to write a book. I thought that was for the well educated, scholarly types, and while I was right, there was also no reason that I could not be one too. I had, after all written the script. And a script is full of very concise and descriptive action. So why could I not just expand on that, weave the dialogue in and out appropriately and see how it read?
To my surprise and relief it read very well. or at least well enough for me to knock out a great first draft. But it was not until I was on the second draft that I came to understand how much fun this can be. I mean, screenwriting is a blast, but there a many restrictions. Generally one page is equal to one minute, so it is utterly pointless to have a 250 page script. But with novels, you can go as long as you like. And tangents? Please! What freedom it is to write from inside the heads of a crazy array characters, as they prattle on about their whims, desires and each other.
I am very proud of myself for writing my first book. It was no easy feat, and it gave me the confidence to pursue the movie with seriousness and determination. And it turns out that Hollywood exec was right, a book gives a script a real boost. Now I have a genuine star attached for the lead and am talking to one of America’s most famous indie directors. And if all goes according to plan, we will commence principal photography in December.
Wow. What a different book. I mean different in the best possible way. I must say, I loved this book. There are a lot of books I like, but not many I can say I love. Cemetery Highway is definitely one that I can say I love.
Cemetery Highway is not your typical zombie book in any sense of the word. The zombies are functioning members of society and the humans are considered lower class citizens. Zombies get the best of the best; living lives of luxury as long as they follow all of the rules of “The King” and continue doing their assigned jobs, working over 100 hours a week for the rest of their lives. Humans are left in poverty, but can take “The Package” at any time. If you take The Package, you will never want for anything; but you will also not have any of your humanity left. You are left with no sense of emotion, no memory of the emotion of love unless you experienced as a human. If you become a zombie and decide to go against the rules of the king, you are shunned from zombie society, left living on the streets, stripped of fine clothes and cars, left to starve unless you can either buy your own modified sheep brains or catch an unsuspecting human unawares.
The characters in Cemetery Highway are very relatable and likeable for the most part. Even the “villain” of the story is likeable. There is humor throughout the book, which I really enjoy. You must have a sense of humor as well as understand the concept of irony to appreciate some of what is going on.
The basic theme of Cemetery Highway is pretty easy to understand and I was never very good at understanding when authors are implying something other than what the reader is presented with on the surface. I feel like the author is drawing parallels to our society being full of mindless zombies and those who still have humanity and a sense of uniqueness are looked down upon. I could be totally off base here though so if I’m wrong, I’m not surprised lol. If this is the message Hamish Robert Johnson is intending to get across, then yay for me, and I agree with his message haha.
I would totally recommend Cemetery Highway regardless of whether or not they like the concept of zombies. I would tell people that Cemetery Highway isn’t like any zombie book I’ve ever even HEARD of and it’s definitely worth the read. I really hope Johnson continues to explore the world of books, I think he has the potential to develop a huge following of readers with his ability to think outside the box and create something so completely unique as he did with Cemetery Highway.