I knew I wanted to write “Tell Me Like You Done Before,” a story that zombifies Of Mice and Men, at least a decade before I wrote the first sentence or figured out the details of the plot. I carried the seed around in the folds of my brain, waiting for the right catalyst to begin. Then came the 2009 Stoker Awards weekend in Burbank and an encounter with Steve Jones, the editor of the December 2009 anthology The Dead That Walk. I returned home, energized as I so often am from such gatherings, and wrote the first draft of this story so quickly it was almost as if I was transcribing it rather than writing it for the first time.
That was a gift from my subconscious, which unbeknownst to me, had been working on the story all along, and had been awaiting my call.
This story’s creation reminds me of the apocryphal tale of an auto mechanic who stops to help a man whose car had broken down on a country road. It takes the mechanic five minutes to fix the problem, and then he charges the stranded driver $50 for the service. The man is outraged.
“Fifty dollars for five minutes work!” he protests.
“No,” says the mechanic. “The $50 was for 30 years of experience. I tossed in the five minutes for free.”
So think of this as a story which took 10 years and two weeks to complete. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often, but when it does, this writer knows enough to be grateful.
If you’d like to watch me read “Tell Me Like You Done Before,” you can do that right here.
“Tell Me Like You Done Before” was reprinted in my zombie collection What Will Come After.