Plot Outline:

B has broken free of Mr Dowling's lair, and is desperate to make her way back to County Hall, to deliver a vial to Dr Oystein that will swing the battle his way and restore control of the world to the living. But her enemies are in hot pursuit, and there are dangers and foes that she isn't even aware of -- but she's about to find out...

Author Notes:

I started work on Zom-B Fugitive on the 9th of September 2011, and finished my final edit on the 1st of August 2014.

Yes, yes, I know -- it was a horrible twist! And I'll talk about it soon, I promise, but first let's deal with some other issues.

Early in the book, B has a run-in with a couple of mutants called Glenn and Ossie. Even though their time in this series is brief, I tried to give them a memorable scene, and in a way I regret not introducing them in Zom-B Bride, as it would have been fun to let them bicker a bit more! But there wasn't really room for them in book 10, so I had to squeeze as much as I could into their few pages in this one. Like many of the characters in the series, they were named after real people, but in this case not after people that I actually know. Rather, they were named after Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles, two of my favourite football players when I was a child!

We get to see much more of Holy Moly in this book, and I loved writing the little one's scenes. I think Holy Moly might well be the sweetest character I've ever created, albeit in a very weird, menacing sort of way.

I was happy to bring back some of the supporting characters, B's room mates and the twins, although it's a bittersweet reunion, given the circumstances. And it was a sheer joy to lob Barnes back into the mix -- I doubt if anyone saw that coming! It can be a dangerous thing, bringing back a character who hasn't featured in a series for a while, especially if that character's reappearance comes out of the blue. The temptation is to weave the character back into the storyline at an earlier date. It would have been an easy thing to do -- Barnes could have returned to the fold in an earlier book, perhaps when B made it back from her mission in book 8. But I liked the shock of him just suddenly being there. This is a series, more than any of my others, where the shocks are as important as anything else. I've been hitting readers with them since book 1 and the reveal that B was actually a girl, and I didn't want to let up at this late stage. Hence... tah-dah! It's Barnes!

The Prospect of Whitby, by the way, is a real pub. Back around the time when I was starting work on Zom-B, I moved flats in London. While I ended up going central (hence all the scene set around County Hall), I spent a lot of time looking in the East End. Wapping was one of the areas I explored, and I had a drink in the famous old Prospect of Whitby while I was in the area. The pub made a big impression on me and I filed it away fro use at some point in the future.

I really liked the scenes of B and Barnes together. They're a pair of battlers who have both lost so much that the fight hardly seems worth fighting, yet still they go on out of a sense of duty. He's the father she deserved and might have had in another life, while she's the daughter he would have been so proud of. I wish they could have sailed off into the sunset together and enjoyed a long, quiet, happy life. But they couldn't, of course, because the true villain of the series still had plans for Becky Smith, and he couldn't let her go. Yes, folks, it's time to talk about...

Dr Oystein Dowling.

There are very few random things in a Darren Shan book that don't link up with the key plotlines at some point. When we first met Dr Oystein back in book 4, he mentioned in a throwaway statement that Oystein was his first name, not his surname. That should have set warning bells ringing! Heh -- I love those clues which are so obvious in retrospect, yet totally slip by readers first time round. The truth about Dr Oystein was there from the beginning, and I'm sure lots of fans are kicking themselves for not picking up on them. Although, having said that, a few fans did ask me over the years if the good doctor was as well-meaning as he seemed. They sensed something lurking beneath the still waters. When Mr Burke met his unexpected end in County Hall, there were murmurings among the Shansters -- had he really been sent to kill the doctor by Mr Dowling, or was there more to it than met the eye?

At the same time, harking back to the things we learnt about Mr Dowling in book 11, it's not a simple black and white issue. Dr Oystein isn't rotten to the core. There's far more to him than that. His story is as tragic as his brother's (and, indeed, his nephew's) and it will be finally told, shorn of any lies or cover-ups, in book 12, the final book in the series. There are still some huge twists ahead of us, along with the biggest fight scene of the series, and of course, the conclusion of B's story. Will it end in triumph or tears? Can she turn the table on her captors and find allies more worthy of her support who can help her find a way out of this seemingly impossible bind? You'll have to read on to find out. All I can say at this point is, the end is nigh... and I don't think it's an ending anyone's going to forget in a hurry...

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Fugitive UK paperback
  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Fugitive (Canada)
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