Daniel Kraus is Finishing George Romero’s THE LIVING DEAD Novel and He Talks About The Story

When he passed away, George Romero was working on the latest addition to his Dead universe, The Living Dead. The Dead universe includes, but is not limited to, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. If you were worried that the book would never see the light of day, fret no more. Daniel Kraus, who worked on the novelization of The Shape of Water, is picking up where Romero left off. Kraus has mentioned to EW that:

It’s huge. It’s a massively scaled story, a real epic, the kind no one ever gave him the budget for in film. In a book, of course, there is no budget, and in his pages you can feel his joy of being able, at last, to do every single thing he wanted.

The state [of the manuscript] varied. Some of it was in tremendous, publish-ready state. Other parts, near of the end of what he wrote, were sketchier, clearly intended to be fleshed out later.

Only half the job I’m doing is finishing this book. The other half is putting George back together, in a sense — not just from reading his every obscure interview and analyzing his every obscure work, but also immersing myself in the art that he loved. I’m studying his favorite movies, watching his favorite operas, listening to his favorite music, all in an attempt to find in them the inspirations he might have found. I’m taking thematic and structural cues from these works and working them into the book. It’s not like having George next to me, but it’s what I have, and I’m treasuring every moment of it.

In addition to telling us about the novel, Kraus teased us about what we will miss out on with the passing of Romero:

Beginning with [2007’s] Diary of the Dead, George had moved into a new phase of thinking about zombies, with an intent to cycle them through genres. Diary was found-footage; [2009’s] Survival was a western. His next one was supposed to be a film noir, complete with black-and-white photography and a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

That sounds like it would’ve been really cool. Maybe someone can pick that idea up? A film noir zombie film just sounds amazing. If you’re wanting to know what will happen in The Living Dead, here’s a synopsis:

On October 24th, John Doe rises from the dead. Assistant Medical Examiner Luis Acocella and his assistant Charlene Rutkowksi are vivisecting him when it happens, and so begins a global nightmare beyond comprehension.

Greer Morgan is a teenager living in a trailer park, and when the dead begin their assault, the true natures of her neighbors are revealed. Chuck Chaplin is a pretty-boy cable-news anchor, and the plague brings sudden purpose to his empty life.

Karl Nishimura is the helmsman of the U.S.S. Vindicator, a nuclear submarine, and he battles against a complete zombie takeover of his city upon the sea. And meanwhile, a mysterious woman named Etta Hoffmann records the progress of the epidemic from a bunker in D.C., as well as the broken dreams and stubborn hopes of a nation not ready to give up.

Spread across three separate time periods and combining Romero’s biting social commentary with Kraus’s gift for the beautiful and grotesque, the book rockets forward as the zombie plague explodes, endures, and finally, in a shocking final act, begins to radically change.

The Living Dead is set for release in the Fall of 2019.