Let’s start this blog post with some ZOMBIE talk!
I gotta be honest, before writing this book I despised zombies.
I had no desire to write about them or watch movies with them in it. However,
my brother loves zombies and I have noticed a trend building around them more
and more. Therefore, I figured: Why not? This is when the research begins
because I won’t write what I don’t know. 
I was lucky to find a paper written on the subject of zombies
and even luckier that I emailed the university and explained my situation so
they gave me a copy of the paper for free! Brilliant! Now I know that begging
does work sometimes. The paper is called:
Witches and Zombies of the South African Lowveld: Discourse,
Accusations and Subjective Reality 
By Isak Neihaus
University of Pretoria
Now this article opened my mind to what folklore and magic I
could play with. The funny part is that one beta reader said to me, I thought
you were explaining zombies with science, so why are you talking about magic as
well? I believe that magic and science are connected though and the way the
Countess explains it in the book is well done. She says:
“My girl, all magic in the world involves science as science
involves magic. You cannot expect a witch to boil herbs without knowing the correct
time at which it should boil for. Or an alchemist to make an oil without
understanding what component in the ingredients will affect the others. Magic
and science are connected. It is not something many people understand.”
One of my favorite parts from the book!
And now a description of what I have decided a zombie’s powers
and abilities are, which is also based on research, along with being a smidgeon
of made up-it-ness from me:
Zombies never sleep, and they are incapable of fatigue. Fatigue
in the muscles is caused by a lactic acid build up. Zombies are incapable of
producing this acid.
Zombies are
impervious to pain and require very little air to breathe. The small portion of
the brain, which the parasite needs, requires such a small amount of oxygen
that simply by being in an environment where oxygen is present will suffice.
This means, obviously, that a zombie can survive on land; however, this also
means that a zombie can survive under water as water is one part oxygen.
          They are
thus immune to drugs, poisons, gases, extreme pressure, high voltage
electricity, which I think would at least stop them for a little, suffocation,
and drowning.  
          While not
invulnerable to physical injury, zombies can suffer great damage to their bodies
without being adversely affected. Dismembering the legs will render the zombie
immobile, but the creature will still continue to subsist. In this book I have
decided to go with the lore of penetrating the brain to kill them. 
          Zombies
don’t possess any superhuman strength, nor do they have normal night vision a
characteristic usually common to undead monsters. What I did was give zombies
the ability to see heat signatures and hear heart beats. That was a lot more
fun considering what had to happen for the big final battle. Read the
book! 
          Zombies
have no concept of fear. The small amount of brain that they have does not
process it. A zombie will see you and feel the need to kill you without being
intimidated by the number or the weapons.
          Another
deadly aspect of the zombie is their ability to rapidly spread their undead
scourge, increasing their numbers to vast measures. The bite of a zombie will
cause its victim to quickly grow sick and die usually instantly or within 3 days,
only to rise again as a zombie.
          A
little something I love about writing zombies over vampires:
          I believe
it is true that “Walk or die” has been replaced by “die and walk”, which really
goes to explain both supernatural creatures very well. The most terrific aspect
of the zombie is that it first appears as the casual shape of a typical
civilian who’s mind has been sucked out and left empty. Zombies are different
to write about; instead of sucking your blood like a vampire does zombies are
all about death and destruction. When it comes to zombies you only see that
mindless behavior and not the need to analyze or have emotion to any particular
situation. Zombies come in disguised and brutally tear you into pieces. How
many times in a zombie movie does a person say: “Oh my God are you ok? Can I
help you?” to a zombie? Zombies are all about consuming blood, flesh, brains,
muscles…EVERYTHING! Basically I can be brutal and disgusting with zombies.
Pretty much let them do whatever disgusting behavior I can invent. There is no
guilt in any form from them.
Vampires are
written as if they have emotions. It is a tough subject because it depends on
the type of vampire the author creates. In the Last Witch Series I play it off
as vampires knowing emotions and still keeping a part of their soul. I also
touch on the old belief that a person may not be born with a soul but have to
earn one.
This book does have a message behind it that developed more as I
wrote the book. I believe the message of prejudice is apparent. I loved being
able to incorporate that and hope it teaches some teens how to be more tolerant
of others.
This book is filled with unique items that I have only touched
on. I don’t believe this book will be like any other series around. But I leave
that up to you to decide.
Hugs and Corsets,
Esther Wheelmaker

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