I’ve had several reviewers point out the similarities between Broken World and The Walking Dead, and I finally decided to say something about it.
Before I published Broken World, I was pretty sure reviewers were going to rip me apart over the similarities. I’ll be honest though, I didn’t expect it to do as well as it has. Not because I don’t think it’s good, because I do. I love it. But because I’d spent months reading agents and editors flat-out say that there’s no market for zombie novels. Um…really? I disagreed before, and I do even more now. Why? Because people like me who love zombies, loved them before TWD came around and will continue to love them after the show ends. And now especially there’s a big market for zombie fiction. TWD is huge. Anyone who picks up a zombie book these days is most definitely going to be a fan of the show, so I would be an idiot to say I wasn’t inspired by TWD. I’ve gotten lucky though, and most readers love Broken World because of the similarities. Which is totally awesome! However, after reading some of the comparisons reviewers have made, I wanted to reveal exactly what my motivation was behind writing it, and exactly where I was inspired.
The biggest thing people have pointed out is the Daryl/Merle and Axl/Angus similarities. So here’s the big question: are Axl and Angus supposed to be Daryl and Merle? No. They are Axl and Angus. Are they inspired by the brothers? Absolutely. I’ve never denied it. Why? Because I’d be a moron to try and convince anyone they weren’t. So why did I do it? It’s simple: I’m a huge fan of the show, and a huge fan of Robert Kirkman. Plus, Daryl is an amazing character, and so was his brother. I love characters with lots of baggage! There’s so much room for growth and change, as we saw with Daryl, and I was so excited by the idea of throwing Merle into the bunch and seeing what would happen. How Daryl would stand up under pressure. How Merle would fit into this group. It had so much potential that was never explored because of Merle’s untimely death. Of course, by the time Merle died I had already written two books. When I wrote them, Merle and Daryl had never been in a single episode together (with the exception of the one episode where Daryl hallucinates). I finished the third book shortly after season three ended, but it was outlined well before that. So yes, the brothers in my book are inspired by the brothers in TWD, but a lot of the similarities are coincidence, because I had already written the books before I ever saw the two of them interact.
Now, what about the Emily/Sophia thing? I’ll be totally honest, when I wrote Emily I didn’t have a single thought about TWD. I started writing Broken World with totally different intentions. Different plot, different character interactions. No zombies. But by the end of the first chapter I had changed my mind. I wanted to write a zombie novel, so I decided to. I came up with Emily’s character because I needed a reason to get Vivian across country that was different and stood out, and would show a soft side that contrasted with the fake exterior she had created for herself. I wanted to make her sympathetic and human. A few people have said she was a bad mom, and if that’s your opinion then that’s fine. I’m okay with it. Like I said, I like flaws in my characters. I didn’t write her to be a bad mom, I wrote her to be a human being who makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes have horrible consequences. Another person said that Emily was killed off because she was “an inconvenience to the romance plot.” Quite frankly, that’s bullshit. Axl and Vivian bonded even more over Emily, and if she had lived it would have been the same. I didn’t intend to kill Emily off. She was going to live. The problem came when I was about halfway through the first book and started outlining the second and third books. I had Vivian running off all the time to get supplies, and it made no sense for her to do that if she had a child. If people thought she was a bad mom before, they would have hated her then! In order to keep the story going—which is told from Vivian’s perspective—I had kill Emily off. I wasn’t thinking about Sophia at all when I did it. Can I see the similarity? Yup.
One reviewer compared Winston and Tyreese, which is also a coincidence (and kind of racist). They’re two black guys, but that’s about all they have in common. When I wrote Broken World, Tyreese wasn’t even in the show, so I had no idea who he was. I didn’t start reading the comics until this last year, either. To be honest, I kind of dislike Tyreese (especially in the show). Winston is my voice of reason in the group. If he’s like anyone, he’s Dale or Hershel (show, not comic), although I didn’t mirror his character after anyone in TWD. Sorry, but that’s a total coincidence.
Glen and Al? Nope, sorry again. A reviewer compared the two characters because they are both Asian and slightly geeky. I never found Glen to be geeky. Insecure and quiet, a follower. Yeah. Geeky…I’m not sure what about his personality seemed geeky to the reviewer, but I didn’t get it. Al was a kid I threw in because I wanted a geeky zombie enthusiast in there, and I made him Asian because I like diversity in my stories. The end.
This one really made me roll my eyes: Joshua and Hershel. Really? Hershel is a vet and a farmer in his sixties. Joshua is a twenty-seven-year-old doctor who’s six feet seven inches tall. They’re similar because they both have medical training, I guess? Nope. Joshua is there because I wanted a doctor in my group. It will help them get further and survive longer realistically. There’s nothing worse than reading a book and having people with no medical knowledge perform surgery. Successfully.
Vivian apparently is a mix between Lori, Carol and Andrea? That’s just weird. I can grab any three characters, smash them together and pull one bit from their personalities to compare them to a fourth. It doesn’t mean anything. Vivian is nothing like Lori. For real? Ugh. No way! And Andrea…nope. Never really cared for Andrea all that much, and they have almost nothing in common other than blonde hair (and neither one can cook, which is really grasping at straws). Carol…I won’t deny similarities, but they have nothing to do with Emily. More the abusive/damaged background than anything else. But again, I just really love those damaged characters!
As you read further in the books, you may find a thing here or there that actually DID happen in an episode of TWD. They are intentional! There are a lot of zombie stories out there where the characters have never seen a zombie movie and have no clue what’s going on. Not mine. They’ve all seen zombie stuff, Al is a big fan even. So, it just made since for someone to say, “Hey! I saw this in a zombie movie I love, let’s see if it works!” Not all the stuff I’m going to use will be from TWD, though. Some may be taken from other zombie books I’ve read. But I am going to use the resources out there, because when the zombie apocalypse happens for real, you know we’ll all be pulling out the DVDs of TWD and watching it for tips on how to survive!
So, if you’re reading one of the books in the Broken World series and something reminds you of TWD, just ask me! I’ll be honest. You can send me an email or comment on my Facebook Page, or ask a question on my Goodreads Page. You can even comment on this post, I always respond to the people who leave comments. (Except spammers. You make me sad.) I’ve gotten a couple awesome emails and comments from readers, and I’m going to be honest, they make my day! I really love these book and loved writing them, and I’m thrilled that they’re doing so well!
Thanks everyone for your support!
~Kate L. Mary~