How Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, Zombie Killers Came about
Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, Zombie Killers
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.
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?
Excerpt from The Monk’s Second Tale:
Emerging from amongst the forest trees Like autumn leaves upon the Sherwood breeze, The bandits formed a ring around their prey-- A portly man whose threadbare cape of gray Was pitted full of holes bespeaking wear. He shed his hood, revealing tonsured hair And features bronzed and burnished by the sun-- As brown as is a new-baked, hot-crossed-bun. Yet florid were his cheeks, with veins of red, Which told on beer and wine he’d often fed. “My name,” the man announced, “is Friar Tuck,
And trusting to the will of God and luck, I seek one Robin Hood, for in this shire A weird contagion soon shall spread like fire Amongst the Sheriff’s men, creating strife And bringing those infected back to life.” Then pointing to his leper’s bell, he said, “Although this trinket might attract the dead It keeps away that murd’rous knight named Guy Who brought this dreaded sickness from the dry And dusty lands where Richard now crusades-- From one of our unholy, bloody raids.”
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 Entertainmentbeing 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 webpage 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.