Should I use the word Zombie?

Should I use the Z-word in my novel?

Ed: Are there any zombies out there?
Shaun: Don’t say that!
Ed: What?
Shaun: That.
Ed: What?
Shaun: That. The Z word. Don’t say it.
Ed: Why not?
Shaun: Because it’s ridiculous!
Ed: All right… Are there any out there, though?
— Shaun of the Dead


This is something I went back and forward over. My book is set in the very early first days of a— let’s call it “zombie” outbreak. So I’m finding it quite interesting to think about how in this day and age my characters would refer to them.

Could it be set in a parallel universe type scenario – like the AMC version of the walking dead…

We decided very early on that there’s a lot zombie fiction out there, there’s a lot of zombie movies, and that leads to a lot of questions. Why are these characters never going ‘oh yeah, you gotta shoot them in the head, because I saw that on Night of the Living Dead‘,” he said. “And so we decided if we just strip that word out, and have this show set in a dimension where zombie movies just didn’t exist, it would kind of make things a little more believable

…or could it be that for my characters to not use or mention the “z word” at all, would be inflicting a form of genre blindness on them. But it’s tricky because I do also think using the word Zombie can create a bit of a “lampshade” moment – throwing light on the fact that the characters are in a zombie novel – when we want our readers to forget about that.
I thought long and hard about this and in the end, I think I’ve come up with a solution that suits my story – I want them to be My monsters after all!

You’ll have to wait and see whether you think I’ve got it right. Any opinions on the matter, as ever gratefully accepted!

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