How Reading Wuthering Heights is as Close To Writing a Zombie Novel I’ve Ever Gotten

One of the things you get while working at a bookstore is a wide variety of interesting conversations.

It was Christmas time in 2008 which meant the store was busy all day. To keep ourselves sane during the stressful season, we would often start store-wide (and sometimes even cross shift) discussions. One conversation in particular interested me: of all the characters in the books we read in English class, who would survive the zombi apocalypse?

Names such as Irene Adler, Natty Bumppo, even Tom Sawyer were thrown out there. It was decided early that Mr Darcy wouldn’t make it through the opening scene.

My input was a single person: Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. If anyone was getting through that, it would be him–the bastard.

From here my mind wandered and naturally a story started forming.

You know that second half of that book, the part about the kids… what if it is actually about ZOMBIES…

So, in the midst of holiday bustle I grabbed a copy of Wuthering Heights, a book I had read as a high school senior–a book I had complained about for years after–and, much to the shock and horror of 18 year old me, began to read it again.

First off, it turns out this book isn’t as bad as I remember. There were some things that I noticed, now older. Like, for one, Heathcliff is no where NEAR the bad guy in this thing. Easily that role is Kathy, though Hindley plays his part as well.

Heathcliff, the totally not white kid Kathy’s dad brings home from London, basically just wants to be happy, live like everyone else. Oh, and is completely in love with Kathy, who strings him along all their youth until they are old enough to do something about it, and then she pulls the marrying for station non-sense, which is a not-subtle, not-polite way of saying she can’t marry the brown kid.

Heathcliff, heartbroken after a lifetime of abuse by her family, decides, fuck this, and leaves. We don’t know where, but it is speculated by everyone else that it is off to war.

Comes back years later with a small fortune and nothing but revenge on his mind. Tells them in a very Shakespearean manner that he intends to ruin them all, and the rest of the book is him doing that.

And somehow remaining the best person of the lot.

Like, Hindley at one point, sloppy English drunk, barks at Heathcliff for some non-sense, SHOOTS at him, like with a gun, in the house, BAM, misses, because sloppy English drunk, and Heathcliff is like: there there, drunk man, it is ok, let me take you back up to bed.

I mean, it is because he wants Hindley to suffer, but still.

Anyway, zombies.

So, the book, which was to be called Wuthering Nights if you must know, and you must know, because that title is rad, was going to pick up in the next-gen era, when Heathcliff is forcing the children to marry because then at least someone will be happy in all this mess… which is not what happens, of course.

So instead of awkward family drama, we drop in zombies. They attack the Heights, and Heathcliff realizes that Kathy 2 is all he has left of Kathy, and by God she’s going to survive this.

I’d even figured out how to get the zombies into the mix.

Of course, I suspect you know where this is going. Shortly there after a certain book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released. There are differences, naturally. PPZ is more light hearted, and intermixed the story inside the original text. I had planned to write a sorta stand-alone retelling of the end of the book. I had also thought to keep it serious and more in the style of the original.

But, as these stories go, as PPZ was announced, my desire to write Wuthering Nights had left. I do not know if the original conversation that sparked the idea came from the ether, or if one of the booksellers had heard about PPZ’s upcoming release.

I do know that Heathcliff would have survived a zombie outbreak.

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