Undead mingle with the living at the Pier in St. Petersburg

In Self-Publishing on March 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Body odor is one thing. Decaying body odor is quite another.

Luckily the zombies in attendance at the “Zombie St. Pete” The Pier Premiere kept it under control.

Held in downtown St. Petersburg, the eponymous occasion celebrated the self-published release of a 12-story anthology created in large part by students at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
It was not only a literary but also a visual feast. Authors were on hand to sign copies of “Zombie St. Pete,” and a dance troupe of surprisingly limber flesh eaters performed a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.

While many of the collaborators are longtime horror fans, the project’s impetus was a cultural studies class offered at USFSP titled “Zombies R Us: Culture and Politics of the Undead” taught by Frances Auld, Ph.D. Because the students had so much enthusiasm for the subject, Auld said she suggested they do something really naughty and write their own zombie fiction set in St. Pete.

Aaron Alper, 28, a USFSP graduate student in English education and David Reynolds, 23, who graduated from USFSP in 2009 with a degree in English, joined Auld to form the editing triumvirate.

Happenstance led to the Pier being featured as the backdrop of the undead apocalypse but more importantly a fitting venue to celebrate the chilling tales of “the Burg.”

When asked about the recent trends toward the supernatural, zombies included, S.G. Browne, author of the zombie tale “Breathers” and the “Zombie St. Pete” introduction, says that he believes there has been a pretty continuous interest in the undead but suggests that some of their appeal is the fact they are “tragically comical.” It’s hard to make a zombie too sexy, which makes them more accessible to the everyday citizen.

Additionally, Browne says they are the closest to us. One doesn’t have to be bitten to be a zombie. And one doesn’t gain any particularly advanced superpowers. No shape-shifting. No unnaturally keen senses. Just an inconvenient case of rigor mortis.

Browne joined Auld, Alper and Reynolds along with the other anthology authors to sign books and mingle with fans, both the living and the not-so-living, at the publication release event Saturday night.

Even band members of Have Gun, Will Travel, the night’s entertainment, were festively sanguine and didn’t seem put off by the fiends in attendance as much as their unique surroundings.

“This is weird,” said Matt Burke, 34, lead singer and guitarist. “Playing in a vintage, 80s food court. Zombies don’t like fluorescent lights either, so I’ve heard.”

Others were equally comfortable with the subject matter and attendees.

“I’ve loved horror movies since I was 6 years old,” said Megan Klecha, 24, of Port Richey. “Not a big romance fan. Give me zombies. Give me a chainsaw.”

Young and old celebrated the dead. Some listened to short story readings from the authors and some had their makeup done. Or undone.

For Peggy Sample-Summerhill, 52, of Land O’ Lakes, who spent the evening toting a brain around, it was her first time as a zombie.

“This is like Halloween in February,” said Sample-Summerhill. “This is what life is all about.”

Or the “unlife,” as some would say.

  1. Sounds like I missed a hell of a good time. Nice post!

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