Before he passed away last year at the age of 77, father of the zombie genre, George Romero, was working on a novel called The Living Dead. He was only able to finish roughly half of the manuscript before he passed, but his family has recruited novelist Daniel Kraus to complete the book before its fall 2019 release.
Kraus, who wrote the novelization for The Shape of Water, says the first-half of the book was nearly complete, but the second half wasn’t much more than notes and a guidepost. He spoke to EW this week to explain his process of getting into the mind of a legend and someone who is no longer with us in order to finish the work.
“Only half the job I’m doing is finishing this book. The other half is putting George back together, in a sense — not just from reading his every obscure interview and analyzing his every obscure work, but also immersing myself in the art that he loved. I’m studying his favorite movies, watching his favorite operas, listening to his favorite music, all in an attempt to find in them the inspirations he might have found. I’m taking thematic and structural cues from these works and working them into the book. It’s not like having George next to me, but it’s what I have, and I’m treasuring every moment of it.”
Kraus cites Romero as an inspiration to his career, and is fully-aware of Romero’s insistence in staying outside the studio system in order to maintain his vision. While the films later in his career were small-budget affairs, the novel is the single largest-scale zombie story Romero has ever told.
“It’s huge . It’s a massively scaled story, a real epic, the kind no one ever gave him the budget for in film. In a book, of course, there is no budget, and in his pages you can feel his joy of being able, at last, to do every single thing he wanted.”
Fans of Romero’s career and subtexts of consumerism, social injustice, and class inequality will seem to have a totally unfiltered George Romero come fall of 2019, and that’s all anyone could want.