Plot Outline:

The seventh book in the series. B Smith and the other Angels are relieved to finally receive their first mission - to safely escort a group of human survivors from the zombie-infested streets of London to New Kirkham, a barricaded safe haven in the country. But after battling through crowds of undead monsters, B discovers that the survivors of the town don't necessarily represent the best of humanity. And when evil influences make their way to New Kirkham, unearthing demons from B's past, the humans will be forced to choose between being honorable and being safe. The second half of the series starts here, and it will be a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride all the way from this point until the end...

Author Notes:

I started Zom-B Mission on the 30th of August 2010, and did my final bit of editing work on the book 3 years later, in August 2013.

Book 6 brought the first major movements of the storyline to a close. I didn't know, when I started book 7, that the series would neatly split into two halves of equal length -- at the time I thought there could be anywhere between 10 and 15 books in the series. But I knew I had finished introducing all of my main characters, and that the storyline would kick up a few notches from this point onwards, as I began to weave together the various plot strands and set about bringing all of the major players back into the action.

I'd always planned to set a portion of the story outside the confines of London, so that we could see what was happening elsewhere in the country. The series could have actually accommodated a longer stretch outside the city, which is why I wasn't certain how many books I would need to finish the story. It would have been very easy to have B move on to a few other places like New Kirkham, the town that features here, and to run into a variety of friends and foes beyond the familiar streets of London. But ultimately I decided against that, as I felt there was no good reason to stretch the series any further -- New Kirkham gives us a taste of what it's like elsewhere in the world, as the shattered remnants of humanity strive to piece their lives back together, and a taste is all we truly require.

I wanted the second half of the story to be more sharply focused than the first. When the series began, it was important not to reveal too much too quickly, and to give each book a different feel, to create a sense of disorder and unease -- B wanders randomly through the streets of London (well, it seems random to B), desperately trying to find her place in a world gone mad. By the start of Zom-B Mission, she has found her place (or so she believes) and has settled into life as a zombie Angel. B is much more relaxed and confident in this book, as close to true happiness as she has been since the downfall of humanity -- indeed, in a way, she's the happiest she has ever been. While there are still a lot of twists and surprises in store for B, she's more purposeful in this book and those which follow, taking control of her destiny and actively working to make the world a better place.

Zom-B Mission is where the stakes start to rise. B has trained hard and is ready to take the battle to her enemies, but that means stepping further into the ferocious madness and exploring even more of the darkness than she has in the first six books. Up until this point, B has been running away from the horrors of the new and twisted world. This book is where she stops to face them -- but facing true horror is never an easy thing, and the extra responsibilities she takes on will mean that she has to endure challenges far more testing than any she has endured to date. B thinks she's ready to deal with those responsibilities. Dr Oystein thinks so too. But neither can know for sure until she tackles the demons of the world beyond and conquers or is conquered by them...

As in the earlier books, I have featured names of people I know, along with places that are important to me. The base where B meets up with her old friend Vinyl again is actually the building where my original publishers, Harper Collins, were based when I was writing these books. Even though I ended up taking Zom-B to a different publisher, I'd enjoyed my years as a Harper Collins author, and kept the reference point for nostalgia's sake -- though it also helped that, geographically speaking, it slotted in nicely with the direction B was heading!

Pearse and Conall, the pair of Angels who are working with Vinyl, are named after cousins of mine. They're both ginger, which is why the characters are ginger too, and Pearse is small like his counterpart in the book, while Conall is burlier, again like the character based on him -- at least, that's what they're like as children, though that might change over the years to come! And the reason they're playing cards when we first meet them is that I used to play cards all the time with their father when we were their age.

The little girl who features on the cover, Liz, is named after one of my wife's friends. Liz has read all of my books, and had jokingly complained a few times over the years, wanting to know why I hadn't named anyone after her, when I'd named lots of characters after friends who didn't read my books. I've named a character after Liz in one of my adult books (not yet published), but the character is only talked about in the book -- she never actually appears in the story! I was going to leave things at that, but then I relented and decided to feature Liz in this book too -- and, not only that, to put her on the cover. Hopefully that's the end of the real Liz's complaints!

When we get to New Kirkham, we run into the town's no-nonsense mayor, Biddy Barry, who is named after... my mother! My mum's real name is Breda O'Shaughnessy, but her maiden name was Breda Barry, and when she was a child her nickname was Biddy Barry The Snob! I'd already used the surname of Barry in the series, in the prologue of book 1 (Brian Barry, one of the first casualties), but I figured it would be OK to use it again. In real life the pair are related -- my mum is Brian's aunt -- but there is no connection in the novels -- at least, none that I'm aware of!

We also run into the KKK in this book. I'd known from early on that I was going to return to the issue of racism, since it's one of the key themes of the series. While the KKK have never established themselves in the UK, I figured this would be a good time for them to step forward, since organisations like this tend to prosper when times are tough -- when people are scared and angry, they often turn to extremists who promise them a simpler way forward. We've seen that in real life over the last decade, following the economic crisis and the so-called War On Terror, and I wanted to reflect it in the world of Zom-B.

We also run into a dog with a difference in this book. We've seen the hound before, in Zom-B Baby, but it looked like a normal, harmless sheepdog in that book. Here, we get to see that it's a whole lot more -- proof, if any more was needed, that in the world of Darren Shan, you need to be wary of everyone... and everything...

I'll be back here in July with my notes for book 8, Zom-B Clans. Until then, be careful on your mission... and don't try to pet the doggy! Woof-woof!!!!

Global Cover Variations

  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Mission (USA audio)
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  • Book Cover Image Zom-B Mission (Canada)
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