by Hamish Robert Johnson
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 187
Cover Artist: D. Thomas Magee
Cemetery Highway is a rollicking tale of fame, friendship and falls from grace, set in a world where zombies are the elite and humans are the underclass.
Best friends Dexter, Michelle, Penny and Cakes have started a group called the Anti Zombie Alliance and plan on sticking it to the zombies once and for all. But when zombie big-wig Max convinces the suave Dexter to trade his standards for stardom, things get ugly.
Excerpt from Cemetery Highway
It was supposed to be a proud day for this hard working zombie. I’d slogged my way up from the bottom, and managed to carve out one hell of a career for myself. I stood in the ballroom of a luxury hotel - the finest in all of Industry - and the spotlight was on me. Finally me. I was about to be announced as the King’s Number Two, and I had oﬃcially made it!
The emcee smiled my way as he said some kind, slightly roasty words about yours truly. I pretended to laugh in all the right places and took the ribbing on the chin, but honestly it felt like something was missing. I was achieving my dream, a dream I’d worked at for decades, but here I was having second thoughts. It felt like I’d finally reached the top of a huge ladder, only to find I’d leaned it against the wrong wall.
“Zombies, let me introduce to you, the King’s new Second in Command, the incomparable Max Enfield.”
I walked out and accepted my trophy, and robotically began my acceptance speech, thanking this zombie and that, and telling several mildly amusing anecdotes. All was going well, until I noticed my reflection in the window. ‘Who is this zombie?’ I thought. Then I looked through my reflection to the world outside, and saw a group of young people milling around the front of a bar across the street. They were drinking, laughing and doing something I hadn’t thought to do in years. They were living their lives. All at once I knew what I’d been missing. Humanity.
Honestly, being a zombie is a pretty hard slog. To become one sounds easy, or at least that’s the sales pitch. You see, zombies really do have everything. We get paid crap loads of money to work for Zombie Corporation, drive nice cars and live in killer condos. And you should see our suits! Dapper is an understatement. All we have to do in return is be obedient and not drink alcohol, or take any intoxicants for that matter. It sounds simple, but the rub is that when you become a zombie, you get the career of your choice. I know that sounds great, but you literally have to do it forever. Or as our sales team says, “You get to do it forever.” It doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity, so my advice is choose your career wisely.
After my presentation I made a flimsy excuse, ducked out the back door and headed straight across the street. I had to remind myself what carefree socializing looked like, and maybe give myself the chance to feel it again. I had no expectations, I just knew I needed something fresh in my life, and thought that maybe I could find it there.
When I walked into the bar that night the first thing I saw was a banner reading, Anti-Zombie Alliance. Then i saw two girls standing behind it handing out ridiculous fliers extolling the virtues of self-defense against zombies and some counseling services for folks who had lost people to Zombie Corporation, and stickers with the slogan, Life, it’s always worth the wait. I’d heard that they think our lifestyle is shallow and based on instant gratification, but never had I had it shoved in my face like that before.
Oﬀended, I was about to turn right around and go back to my swanky party when something grabbed my attention and would not let go. It was a sound unlike any I’d heard before. Wavering, pulsing music, devoid of structure and limitations. It was daring. It was beautiful. It was the sound of freedom. I turned to see where it was coming from to find a young guy poncing around on the stage, dancing between various pieces of electronic equipment, while strumming an electric guitar and singing sporadically. He looked like an Egyptian god, but shorter. He was cool as hell too, like he knew himself completely and was just doing his own thing. And let me tell you, people really bought into his thing. He had a swirly, girly kind of dance that really shouldn’t have worked, but every time he moved girls screamed. Actually screamed. He had the crowd eating out of his hand, and his music was totally unique. It sounded like it came from another planet, and I wanted to go there. I wanted all of us to go there, or for him to bring it to us. So without hesitation I called the Head of Recruitment.
“Charlie, yes, it’s Max. I know about the award, I got it already. No, just stepped out for a bit. Anyway, I need permission to sign a new recruit. Oh yes, he’s the realest deal I’ve seen for a real long time. This kid’s got soul, and Lord knows we need some of that. Perfect, I’ll be right over to pick up the Package.”
About the Author
I grew up in Melbourne Australia and was fortunate enough to have a relatively unexciting childhood. After high school I attended film school at Deakin University, and while making the requisite pretentious art projects I discovered I had a knack for writing dialogue. In short, I wanted to be the next Quentin Tarantino.
After film school I put my passion asside and began an hilarious and relatively short lived culinary career. Quickly rising up the ranks, I found myself cooking in some of Australia’s finest restaurants and finishing a 3 year apprenticeship in 18 months. It was in these hellish kitchens that I rediscovered my love for quirky, dirty, flirty characters, which again stoked my desire for writing and the arts.
Upon hearing The Strokes for the first time, and with absolutely no preparation whatsoever I moved to New York City in 2003. I was once more surrounded by a bevy of interesting folks, inundating me with stories of hardship, romance and hope. How one cannot find inspiration in this city was beyond me. What was also beyond me was the ability to generate an income, so I hopped on the Greyhound with the little money I had left and got as far away as I could.
Austin Texas was my next port of call. Upon arriving I had a mere $40 to my name, but coupled with the attitude of a fearless traveler I was invincible. I quickly finagled a job, a room in a Revenge of the Nerds style college housing situation and the prominent position as lead guitarist in The Handsome Charlies.
I wouldn’t say I was a great guitarist, but I certainly knew how to act like one, and as we were sharing bills with The Black Angels and Ghostland Observatory I could be excused for thinking that I too would make it. But after a particularly ghastly SXSW performance I found myself standing in the parking lot listening to The Strokes perform “Is this it?” across the road. “No it is not”, I answered, and declared that I would return to writing and not continue to get distracted by flashier pursuits.
I commenced writing screenplays, pilots and web series like a madman and have not slowed down since. I now have multiple screenplays in various stages of development, and have completed my first novel. And I am here to stay!
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