The zombies are coming
In elementary school, Todd Brown wrote an unofficial sequel to the film "Jaws." Now, the author of the "Dead" series is working on a novel based in Estacada.
The idea for "Dead: Snapshot: Estacada" came about during the Chamber of Commerce's Spring Gala last year. Brown offered a chance to be on the book's cover to the highest bidder during the gala's oral auction. Estacada resident and businessman Ken Johnson was the winner.
"(Ken) will be on the cover of the book, and there will be (characters) named after him and (his wife) Bennett. It's completely fictionalized versions (of them)," Brown added.
The "Dead: Snapshot" books are a continuation of Brown's "Dead" series. In addition to the upcoming Estacada story, which Brown estimates will be published in April, there are stories set in Portland, Las Vegas, Liberty, S.C. and Leeds, England.
Brown's original "Dead" series chronicles a world riddled by the rise of zombies. Chapters in each book are written from three viewpoints: a first person account, tales from a group that was eager to see the apocalypse and snapshots of events happening in other places around the world.
Brown completed the original "Dead" series in 2015 and created a new "Dead" series, as well as the "Dead: Snapshot" books, shortly thereafter in order to tell more stories in the universe.
"Dead: Snapshot: Estacada" begins "right when things start to go haywire."
"The news is telling everyone what's going on and people are not sure what to think," Brown said. "There's a citywide meeting on the football field and Ken's character brings a zombie out (to help people realize that these) aren't your friends and family. This is death."
In an attempt to survive the zombies, the town isolates itself from other communities, but one group decides to break this rule when supplies run low.
"They raid Sandy," Brown said. "They encounter the primary villain of the new 'Dead' series."
The story also includes a character named after Mayor Sean Drinkwine.
"I play with the political aspect. In most stories, politicians are evil and out for themselves, but I like to blow up stereotypes. I don't like to go with the norm," Brown said.
Brown cites George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" series and Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" as inspirations in his own writing.
"(In 'Game of Thrones'), all of the chapters are from different perspectives. That really stuck with me," he said. "Kirkman took (the genre) to a new level. It was so mainstream that it couldn't be ignored anymore."
Brown strives to include complex characters in his books.
"Zombies are really just in the background," he said. "You can only read about someone being ripped apart so many times before it gets old. If there's not characters, it's not compelling. I don't write about military or superheros. My people make mistakes. That's what makes it work."
Brown has been interested in zombie stories ever since he saw "Dawn of the Dead" for his 14th birthday.
"I had never seen anything like it. I sat through the whole movie on the edge of my seat," he recalled.
Though it had long been something he enjoyed, Brown never expected to build his career on zombie fiction until he was in a college creative writing course years later.
"The teacher told the class, 'stop trying to impress me. Write something fun,'" he said. "Until that time, my ambition was to be a 'serious' writer."
He wrote a first person account of the zombie apocalypse, which would eventually become his book "Zomblog."
In his latest venture, Brown has enjoyed setting the story in a small town environment.
"Big cities are easy (to write about). In small towns, you have to rely on people," he said. "It would be kind of neat for someone to read it and see that these stories don't always have to be set in places like L.A., Atlanta or Maine. Things can happen in small towns."