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A Dad and the Undead

self-published author deals with fatherhood via zombies

Eric Christenson

BRAAAAAIIIIIIIIINS. Adam Oster likes to occasionally play around with genre cliches, but his zombie novella is more about a character dealing with fatherhood than rehashing old zombie tropes.
BRAAAAAIIIIIIIIINS. Adam Oster likes to occasionally play around with genre cliches, but his zombie novella is more about a character dealing with fatherhood than rehashing old zombie tropes.

Adam Oster deals with fatherhood a little differently. the Father of two’s latest novella tackles the topic head on ... and eats its brains.

In Daddy of the Dead, Bert Hamberg wakes up on a business trip in Chicago to the zombie apocalypse. Then he immediately drives to Menomonie in a blinding snowstorm, desperate to find his 4-year-old daughter after the massive outbreak. “It’s this unimaginable fear,” Oster said. “The idea is a father facing his fear to save his kid.”

The Eau Claire writer knew he wanted to write about fatherhood, and after one particular zombie-filled stress dream, knew the realm he wanted to write in. He said it started as a short story — he wanted to be about 8,000 words (readable in about 30 minutes) — but the idea grew and grew, he added characters, subplots, and ideas and now the book clocks in over 100 pages.

“I realized that I really like writing about zombies,” Oster said. “You can pretty much do whatever you want in that realm. I really started enjoying getting into it.”
The zombie genre is huge: Much like an actual outbreak, zombies are everywhere and kinda inescapable. While Oster watches The Walking Dead, his kids watch Paranorman.

While he said he won’t read his novella to his kids yet (they’re 4 and 2), they’re well-aware of zombies. “It’s hard not to be,” Oster said. “They like to pull at my head and claim they’re eating my brains.”

Part of what comes with an idea so pervasive is that the zombie genre is typically riddled with clichés, but instead of falling into them or avoiding them entirely, Oster said he likes to play off of them, exaggerate them, or make them weirder – sometimes to the chagrin of fans of the genre.

But also, there are no pages on wasted on explaining what zombies are — readers know the rules — so Oster can get right to his characters.

“I like to work with clichés,” Oster said. “Daddy of the Dead really takes on those tropes and I like to run with it.”

If there’s a take-home (besides “don’t get your brains eaten by zombies”), the book is about dealing with fatherhood, stepping up to the plate and going to whatever lengths to make sure your loved ones are OK. “It’s really dealing with an emotion,” he said. “It doesn’t so much have a message as it does try to encapsulate what it is to be a father.”

Daddy of the Dead is available on Amazon.com. To learn more about Oster, visit fatmogul.com.

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