By Celia Belmonte
“What will the children do when the adults suddenly die? Worse yet, what will they do when the adults do not stay dead?”
Those are the questions Henry Goodhue explores in his first novel, Zombie Youth: Playground Politics, (Severed Press, $13.50) a story about a group of students forced to recreate society after everyone over the age of 20 dies in a viral outbreak, only to return as ravenous zombies.
Goodhue, 30, who grew up in Red Bank and attended St. James Elementary School and Red Bank Regional High School, has long had a fascination with the supernatural.
“I have always been a fan of horror and read any comic book I could find,” Goodhue said.
Those interests would never leave Goodhue, who goes by the penname H.E. Goodhue, even as he moved away from the Two River area after college and began teaching sixth-grade mathematics at the Auten Road Intermediate School in Hillsborough.
Now in his eighth year of teaching, it is both personal experience and childhood passions that lead to the
creation of Zombie Youth: Playground Politics.
“A colleague and I were talking about what would happen if zombies took over and we thought the kids would do better with it than we would,” Goodhue said. “That planted the seed and I ran with it.”
Now the Red Bank native is selling hundreds of novels to readers worldwide.
“Strangely enough I have seen sales in Australia and the U.K.,” Goodhue said. “Through my website I’ve seen interest from Siberia, Russia and India. It blew my mind that people were looking at it all over the world.”
However, Goodhue does not forget where he came from. Since hitting the market in April, his book has already managed to sell out at River Road Books in Fair Haven and Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank.
“River Road Books has been really great and they have offered me a book signing,” Goodhue said. “I have not had a chance to set anything up yet but I have some tentative things in the works.”
Other local businesses were also eager to help out a rising star that once called their town his home. “Businesses in Red Bank were great for allowing me to put up posters on some of their stores,” Goodhue said. “When I put up posters in Red Bank I saw that sales did increase.”
A self-proclaimed “huge zombie fan,” it took Goodhue more than a year to finish the novel. In that time the story took a form that Goodhue could have never predicted.
“Honestly, when I started writing it, I did not intend for it to be for young adults,” Goodhue said. “I had no intention of audience. I wrote it just for people who like zombies, but my publisher wanted it to be geared toward young adults.”
Looking back, Goodhue realized just how important young adults were to the entire concept of the novel.
“I want the book to show that kids can handle more than people think and that they have more social presence and social knowledge than people give them credit,” Goodhue said. “I see students face so many things that would cripple adults, so I wanted to see, if there was a zombie outbreak, what kids could do.”
Although the novel is geared toward young adult readers, don’t call Zombie Youth the next Twilight or Harry Potter.
“Those books are great for their success and I am not going to knock anyone, but that was not the direction I wanted to go in,” Goodhue said. “Those stories really rely on the romance. There is definitely some of that in my book, but I wanted to focus more on the adult aspects of kids.”
Goodhue’s goal was to empower young adults and show them that they can and should be taken more seriously.
“I want to show that kids are capable and strong enough on their own to deal with what the world throws at them,” Goodhue said. “They don’t need some magical power or vampire to come and save them.”
Although, admittedly, it was not his original intent, Goodhue could not help using his book to make a statement about society today.
“The reason why it is called Zombie Youth is because the term is used to marginalize younger people in this generation,” Goodhue said. “It describes a certain political motivation and those people that are into Obama. The right uses the term to throw at the younger left. So the title was a play on words.”
To Goodhue, the apocalyptic world his young characters are forced to reconstruct mirrors in many ways the fragile economic, social, and political state of humanity today.
“I am concerned with the world we are leaving our kids with,” Goodhue said. “I hope that with new rights, respect, and the freedom to be who they want to be, the next generation will do a better job than we have done.”
Goodhue is currently working on his second book of what could be a three or four book Zombie Youth series. The new book is slated for release in late 2012 or early 2013. “I would love to think that it could become something,” Goodhue said. “You never know. My intention was that I had a story to tell and I wrote it. If people get behind it, that is great. It would be amazing to see it come to life in something like an MTV series or a movie.”
Two River residents can pick up copies of the new zombie thriller at River Road Books in Fair Haven and Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad Street in Red Bank or shop online at www.amazon.com. For more information about Henry Goodhue and Zombie Youth: Playground Politics check out hegoodhue.wordpress.com/ or www. severedpress.com/.