Cover: Horseman of Death, Limbourg Brothers. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.
I never imagined myself becoming an author let alone a writer of fantasy horror. My first love has always been historical fiction and no period captivates me more than fifteenth-century England.
The story, in a sense, was over a decade in the making. In 2002, frustrated with the lack of attention given to the Wars of the Roses, I set out to write my own novel. As fate would have it, I left my research notebook on a plane and soon shelved the project indefinitely. Years later I was encouraged to take another look at it by a young friend who was set to publish her second novel. The wheels slowly started to turn.
As a student of Medieval warfare and lover of the cinematic undead, I must confess that I have always secretly longed for a zombie apocalypse. It should come to no surprise that one day, while bored to tears from poring through too many old documents, I decided to write a battle scene between men-at-arms and zombies. The next thing I knew, I had close to a hundred pages, and it just kept pouring out. The Second Great Mortality was born. I was surprised by where the story led me.
Zombies. Zombies have become so engrained into our culture that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even capitalized on their popularity to teach emergency preparedness. The word itself is a relatively modern addition to the English language, having been borrowed from Haitian folklore sometime in the nineteenth century, and would have been as foreign to the Medieval man as the word zipper. Apart from making a few subtle changes, I wanted to stay as true as possible to the spirit of zombie lore that I have grown up with.
Plague. The bubonic plague epidemic that killed as much as half of the population of England in the fourteenth-century was referred to by contemporary writers as Pestilence or Plague. It had such a devastating impact on the people of the time that it even came to be known as the Great Mortality. I could think of no better way for a zombie apocalypse to be unleashed upon Medieval England.
Names. I chose to forego the conventional spellings on a number of names. For characters, I referred to a number of extant documents, such as the 'Agincourt roll' [British Library Harleian 782], to give the story a more period feel. The manor, village and priory all bear the name Colleville, which is a purely fictional location that I have striven to place in a relatively historical setting.