Hope and Undead Elvis - By Ian Thomas Healy

Foreword

Allison M. Dickson

Hope and Undead Elvis is not a typical Ian Healy story, and as someone who has read nearly every scrap of his work, I feel qualified to say so. I also know Ian well enough to say he's not a religious man in the slightest. And it's important to note this, because Hope and Undead Elvis is heavy on spiritual stuff. Hell, its heroine is a pregnant virgin, and Graceland becomes an Eden that our girl must reach on a road of Job-like trials. And those are only a few of the themes you'll find within. Readers who are familiar with the Bible will likely recognize even more, and because I'd had plenty of that stuff drilled into my head as a kid in Sunday school, I know most of them.

When Ian told me he wanted to try submitting this to publishers in the Christian market, I was opposed to the idea. Not because I'm a godless heathen, but because this is not a Christian story any more than Lord of the Rings is. It is perhaps more allegorical than Tolkien. In fact, it's probably more on par with the thematic work of C.S. Lewis, but only if C.S. Lewis himself wasn't trying so blatantly to sell his religion through his work. Ian didn't write this to proselytize or reflect his own godly principles (such as they are). Rather, he delved freely into the collective unconscious and pulled out archetypes that were old well before the time of Christ.

An author doesn't need to be religious to write about religion, and a reader doesn't need to be religious to enjoy a story about God and saviors and such. I enjoyed the hell out of this story, and pieces of it have stuck with me long since I handed him back the first draft with its few critical marks. God and Creation, for better or worse, are as much a part of the human fabric as much as our music and our beer. So sit back and enjoy Hope and Undead Elvis for what it is. It's not a religious tale and Mr. Healy isn't trying to tell you something. This is just one author's weird and haunting little vision about the end of the world that just happens to borrow a few familiar bits to sweeten the pot. And I have to say, Undead Elvis is a pretty righteous dude.

Preface

One of the questions authors are asked constantly is "Where do you get your ideas?" Or, somewhat less frequently, "What were you smoking when you thought of this?"

With Hope and Undead Elvis, the idea germinated from a contest hosted by Jeff Hebert, creator of the HeroMachine character-creation application. The contest in question was to make a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic character. I had just read Victor Gischler's Go-Go Dancers of the Apocalypse and wanted to do something in that vein. Thus came two images which I titled "Catholic Schoolgirl of the Apocalypse" and "Undead Elvis of the Apocalypse." Those two ideas wouldn't leave me alone, and it was only about a week before I sat down and typed out the first chapter of what would become a unique project for me. Those images are included after this Preface for those of you who have ebook readers with the capability.

At first, I imagined Hope and Undead Elvis as a tongue-in-cheek, babes-and-bullets type of romp through a post-apocalyptic setting in the vein of the movie Six String Samurai. By the end of the first chapter, I knew that this wasn't going to be the novel I'd write, and over the next several months Hope and Undead Elvis transformed itself from a lighthearted adventure into a highly allegorical reimagining of the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Marketing this book to potential agents and publishers proved to be the most difficult task of all. There isn't anything else out there like Hope and Undead Elvis, which means there isn't a pre-made audience ready to snap it up. That makes it difficult for agents and publishers to get behind, and the one common theme that stretched through my rejections was "We love this, but we don't see how we could sell it." Even my last-ditch efforts approaching Christian publishers were met with a love for the story and dismay at the prospects of selling it. I couldn't just let it sit, because I believe it is a very good tale and worth sharing, so I opted to epublish it and add it to my ever-growing library of

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