But the idea of zombies plays an important part. “Zombies are a classic horror trope, everybody knows they are baddies and fear them. This really captures the theme of fear in the community, the fear of who might come into the country, the fear of people you don't know, maybe people who don’t look like you.”
“But what if the zombie kids were like everybody else? What if they've got hopes and dreams? They have every child’s right to have a future free from conflict, and an education, and hope.”
Jayne believes while children will reflect on the book’s themes, it is foremost a page-turning action adventure. “When children read the book, of course they're rooting for the kid who wants to just fulfill his dreams and have some hope for the future. The serious things are not overplayed too much. It is just fun and exciting—with lots of great zombie action. Because that's the best way to talk to kids, they've got to be able to be involved in the story. The kids who have read it have absolutely loved it!”
The parallels with COVID-19 quarantine
While the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Jayne notes, the fear and uncertainty children are experiencing can also help them empathise with her characters. “Although I wrote this book long before the lockdown, the pandemic has just allowed it to be seen in a different light. The book is about a zombie affliction landing in the world and kids disrupted and being frightened and not sure of the future—so that was just art mirroring life.