Plot Outline:

The fifth book in the series. B is trying to settle into life with the Angels, but finds it hard to believe some of Dr Oystein's claims. When she decides to seek refuge elsewhere, she scours the streets of London in search of a place to call home. But what she finds will lead B to question everything that she has ever held to be true.

Author Notes:

The fifth book in the Zom-B series went on sale on 26th September 2013. I began work on it on 17th February 2010, and finished my final draft 3 years later. But the actual genesis of this book, along with books 4 and 6, goes back to August 2009. That was when I plotted out the story arcs of the next three books in the series, having finished my early drafts of the opening three. The first arc of the series (books 1 to 3) focused on B's chaotic early experiences in the months following the zombie apocalypse -- they were about bewilderment and chaos. The next arc (books 4 to 6) would focus on B's struggle to fit in with the Angels. It would be a time of answering questions, introducing major new characters, and revisiting the first three books to draw everything together and set us up for the frantic second half of the series.

The story line explored in Zom-B Angels and Zom-B Baby was originally meant to fit in one book. (See my author notes for Zom-B Angels.) When I realised the book would be too long if I did it that way, I split the story in two and added in some extra elements to bring Zom-B Baby into line with the rest of the series. This wasn't about just making the book bigger, but about doing more with the characters and adding exciting new scenes -- one of my favourite parts of the book, where B and Rage set out to climb the London Eye, was only conceived at this stage of the process, and would never have made the cut if I'd had to squeeze everything into a single book.

In a way, Zom-B Baby acts as a reverse image of book 3, Zom-B City. In that book, B wends her way westward from the east end of London -- in this book, she travels in the opposite direction. But where B found sanctuary at the end of book 3, here she finds only a nightmare impossibly come to life.

Zom-B Baby could be seen as autobiographical in certain respects. At the time, I was starting to consider the prospect of having babies with my then-girlfriend (and now-wife) Bas. On the one hand, I loved the idea of having children of my own. But on the other, I was terrified. The problem with waiting until later in life to have babies is that you have too much time to think about it. In their 20s, most people feel fresh and ready for anything -- they just take on the challenge of raising a child without blinking. But by their late 30s, most people are settled and comfortable with their life -- having a baby in those circumstances is a huge game-changer. Did I want a baby or didn't I?!? I wasn't sure, and I think that certainly fed into the books that I was writing.

While the babies (yes, I don't think I'm giving too much away when I reveal that there will be more of them!) that feature in this series are vital to the plot, I also think they were a way for me to examine some of my darkest fears. Whether that was useful or not, I don't know. Usually I'd say that it's a good thing to confront your worries -- but the baby in this book was so spine-chilling that maybe it sent me running for the hills, if only temporarily! Anyway, I conquered my fears during the rewrites of the book, amd when a baby did come the way of myself and Mrs Shan in 2014, I felt like I was in a better place to deal with it than I would have been back in 2010.

There's a scene, early in the book, set in the London Dungeons. Originally that took place in the Dali Universe, which was situated in County Hall. But then the gallery moved out, so I had to change it to a series of empty rooms. Then, just before I was due to hand in my final draft, I heard that the Dungeons were going to move in, so I quickly tweaked the scenes to make reference to this. That's the trouble of using real settings in a book -- unless it's a place that is definitely not going to change any time soon (e.g. a mountain, or a famous old building that is protected by law) then there's always a risk that the world will move on and you'll end up dating your story. I've tried to avoid this as much as I can in my books (it's one of the reasons why I didn't supply any place names in my original vampire books), but with Zom-B it's impossible to avoid, since the city is such an integral part of the plot -- in fact, it's almost a character. I get around it as best I can, but I'm treading on fragile ice all the way -- for instance, there's another scene in the book, set in a skating park on the Southbank, and there's a very good chance that the skaters are going to be moved on to a different location in the very near future. Oh well -- some you win, some you lose! In truth, it doesn't matter too much, as only very observant Londoners will notice the discrepancies over the years to come. Still I do what I can to minimise the risks, in the hope that my books are still going to be read years from now -- if I'm wrong about that, and nobody is reading this series in 5 or 10 years, then it won't be an issue!

I namecheck several areas of London in Zom-B Baby which are personally important to me. There's the Elephant And Castle, which is where I lived when I was a child. Tower Bridge Road gets a mention -- a great-aunt of mine lived just off of it, and I visited her often there over the years. And I used to rent a flat just off of Brick Lane, which is an area B returns to, having originally explored it in Zom-B City.

I think Zom-B Baby moves the story forward nicely. Not a HUGE amount happens, but we get to see more of the supporting cast, and we get to see B start to change and adapt to the world. We see more of what life is like in a city of the undead (including spending some time with a group of zombies). And ultimately the book features some of the most chilling scenes that I've ever written, when the baby of the title makes its appearance.

One last comment -- when the book came out in the UK, it ended up being removed from the shelves of a prominent supermarket. Because books are treated like any other item in a supermarket (e.g. a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread) the staff in those stores aren't aware of the literary differences between a book for a 4 year old and a book for a 14 year old -- hence, all "children's books" tend to be lumped together. This meant that Zom-B Baby ended up being stuck very close to copies of the Peppa Pig books, and angry parents complained that the VERY scary cover was frightening their young ones! I guess that answers the question of who would win in a battle between zombies and Peppa Pig!!!!

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Chronicles II (usa)
  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Baby UK first draft
  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Baby (Taiwan)
  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Baby UK (WHSmith)
  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Baby (USA)
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