In recent years I've written 16 'Lost' Canterbury Tales (original narrative poems set in the Middle Ages), several of which have been published in their full or abridged forms.
However, on submitting a contemporary 'zombie-narrative-poem' to A.P. Fuchs, owner of the independent horror publisher Coscom Entertainment, he snapped it up for an anthology. In his acceptance email Mr Fuchs also told me that if I could write 18,000 words in a similar style (i.e. in rhyming couplets and iambic pentameters) and on a similar theme (i.e. zombies), he would publish it as a stand alone novella.
"Can I set the tale in medieval times?" I asked.
"Historical zombies are fine," Mr Fuchs replied.
Taking up his offer, I began work on what I believe is one of the few Canterbury Tales commercially published in over 600 years. Set in the Middle Ages, at the time of the Kings' Crusade, I weaved Robin Hood and his comrade-in-arms Friar Tuck into my zombie tale, along with other characters of the era and a smattering of myth fragments from the legends chronicling their exploits. One qualm I had at the time was that a supernatural theme such as an outbreak of zombie-ism might prevent my work being taken seriously by Chaucerians. My reviews' page indicates otherwise. And anyhow, didn't the Pardoner introduce Death (or some other supernatural being) into his tale? Below is the blurb from the back of the book:
When lion-hearted Richard ruled the roost
Of England, he decided that to boost
His regal reputation he should mount
A war to wrest from Turkish men the fount
Of Christendom; yet in that desert land
A zombie plague emerged from 'midst the sand.
A necromancer's alchemistic spell
Reanimated corpses bound for Hell
(And even bound for Heaven's pearly gate).
Soon after 'twas apparent that the fate
Of all on Earth--the evil and the good--
Was in the hands of Robin of the Hood
Whose outlaw men, along with Friar Tuck,
Against rampaging hordes of zombies struck.
They fought to save the likes of you and I,
Not caring that one slip and they would die.
Their tale lies here, within this humble book--
I pray you'll spare the time to take a look...
My biggest headache was putting a title to an epic 94 pages of verse. The Monk's Second Tale was passable as a secondary title (and would be in line with the Chaucer theme), but the main title had to be something attention-grabbing. Thus Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers - A Canterbury Tale by Paul A. Freeman was born.
Due to Coscom Entertainment being a horror imprint, the title was aimed primarily at attracting fans of what's popularly known as Z-Lit. Yet when all is said and done, this narrative poem is simply a Canterbury Tale told by the Monk on the return journey of the pilgrimage. It's part of my 'Lost' Canterbury Tales project, and is the longest of those tales I've written so far.
Hopefully any sceptical Chaucer scholar reading this blog will be open-minded enough to judge my book on its story-telling merit and as a story written in the age-old tradition of the great poet himself. Here is the link to purchasing details:
Below are links to my three Global Short Story Competition winners, my short-listed story for the National newspaper, Abu Dhabi, and my Canterbury Tale published by Coscom Entertainment: