Remember Pat the Bunny? That warm and fuzzy childhood book now has a sick, sick cousin Pat the Zombie. “Something about the brain-numbing prose of the original Pat the Bunny — and the acute appeal of a zombie touch-and-recoil book — just popped for me at once,” author Aaron Ximm says.
Yes, he's a dad. Yes, he has a young daughter. Upon flipping through the advance copy of the book (to his wife's horror), his daughter asked him “Daddy, what is wrong with these people?!” Ximm wasn't sure if she was referring to the zombies in the book, or to him and illustrator Kaveh Soofi for coming up with the whole concept.
Style Council: I see that the bunny is the zombie. Do you think rabbit zombies would be scary?
Ximm: Honestly I think Zombunnie is the expression of an only partially explored and incompletely understood cultural archetype, some long-eared shadow in the back of our shared psyche.
There's a pulsing vein of unnerving or threatening rabbits in our cultural history, which seems so far to have hopped just outside collective notice, from the killer rabbit in Python's Holy Grail to Donny Darko's shadow. Farther back, Alice's rabbit hole is a dark passage into the unnerving and strange, is it not?
Consider too that there is something truly macabre, even sinister, in carrying the severed foot of a an animal as a talisman of good fortune. I wonder there if there is some homeopathic magic intended, to ward off the bunny itself.
You know, all the fanfare has always gone to the stereotype of the Dark Clown. But I think this may be the Dark Bunny's moment.
SC: Have you ever imagined a baby zombie? It seems like zombified babies are pretty much screwed. They can't hunt. They can't go out and get themselves brains. I don't know. Any opinion on this subject?
Ximm: Ah, clearly you haven't yet played through Dead Space 2!
I'm not sure that baby zombies would pose a lesser threat, myself. Students of the Twilight series are familiar with the terrible threat to both humans and the secrecy of the supernatural world posed by the Immortal Children of the middle ages. There's little reason to believe that undead infants would pose less of one.
In fact, I can imagine that such changelings would pose a unique threat, preying on our strong biological desire to protect and nurture infants. Perhaps our conflicting emotions would make you hesitate, to your peril, at the crucial moment? That seems like just the sort of strategy that evolution would favor.
On a more sober note, one of the more genuinely affecting passages in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the moment when the Bennet lasses are confronted with a zombie baby and suffer just such conflict.
SC: Would you give Pat the Zombie to a toddler?
Ximm: I would certainly check the terms of my restraining order very carefully before doing so. Or consider one last time if my relationship with the parents might someday be salvaged, or of use to me.
It does say an adult spoof on the cover for pragmatic reasons…you have been warned!
SC: Who do you expect would be more of a handful: a regular 2-year-old or a zombie 2-year-old?
Ximm: Now that is a head-scratcher.
On the one hand a two-year-old zombie would be just old enough to hunt for herself, and many of the common concerns of young parents could be laid aside — after all, if she falls from the porch into the swimming pool it's only going to be a nuisance.
But on the other hand the natural bravado at that age could only be amplified by a complete lack of ability to feel pain and that monomaniacal yearning to consume the brains of the living, so I'd worry that the usual parental exercise of applying judicious restraint would become more than a full-time job — assuming you wanted to keep the zombie-toddler around, maybe in vain hope of a cure?
On the other other hand — whose was that, by the way? — one thing the zombie toddler would have that so far I see little or no evidence of in my own or my friends' offspring is patience.
Zombies really never get enough credit for their Bodhisattva like serenity. My hunch is that that has something to do with them transcending the fear of death.
My last thought is that looking at what my own daughter puts away, I would worry, where on earth would I get all those brains?
SC: Who runs faster, babies or zombie babies? There's a whole genre of fast-running undead now.
Ximm: I think the core ability of the zombie baby would not be speed on the flats but the ability to fit through small crawlspaces, vents, grates, cat doors, and the like — paired with their natural affinity for climbing any and all climbable surfaces. They really could find a well-stocked niche exploiting otherwise unreachable food.
So your own children (say) might enjoy the illusion of escape for a few minutes, but unless they had chosen their escape route very carefully I think that — as per usual — their undead 'prey mates' would prevail in the end.
SC: If a pregnant woman gets bitten by a zombie, does her baby then become a zombie? Or is it protected by the woman's immune system? Or does the zombie mom bite the baby as soon as it's born and turn it into a zombie, too? Thoughts?
Ximm: Zombology like all hard sciences is an experimental one.
So there's really one conclusive way to answer that question.
Hmm. I suppose now is not the ideal moment to comment that my wife and I are expecting another mouth to feed in a few months ourselves.