The Zombie Letters: Ora et Labora et Zombies

The Zombie Letters: Ora et Labora et Zombies September 4, 2012

My Darling Ava,

Where are you? I am sinking, from worry into fear. When my phone stopped working at noon on Friday,  I decided it was time to bring James  out to the Abbey …

While his wife, Ava, is out of town, Dr. Thomas Schutten is off for a week to take care of their eighteen month old son, James, and to enjoy the last few days of carnival, and then… something misunderstood and mysterious… and his world changes, almost overnight, into a dangerous place. Information services stop, society begins to pull itself apart, and Dr. Tom does the only thing he knows to do; he follows his own emergency plan and flees with James to the nearby Benedictine monastery, where he and his wife serve as oblates. They have agreed upon the Abbey as their meeting place in emergency circumstances. Now, without word, without news, with only hope… he waits.

Ora et Labora et Zombies is an epistolary novel, told through letters. In this case they are Tom’s letters, written to Ava while he waits for her to join him and their son at the Abbey. All that stands between them is time and uncertainty… and zombies?

Seventy-two handwritten letters.

4-6 pages each.

On specially watermarked stationery with a hand-printed serigraph cover sheet.

Each Letter will be published individually, as a weekly serial, and distributed to readers through the mail.

Didja get that? Through the mail.

Shades of Jonathan Harker!

What a fantastic concept!

Obviously it is Catholic. Obviously it is a zombie apocalypse.

Obviously it is something I’ve got to get.


Tom and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ryan Charles Trusell, the author of these Zombie Letters, yesterday at the CNMC. A more pleasant lunch I have rarely had than eating over-priced box lunches while getting to talk conversion stories, Firefly love, Flannery O’Connor love … well, you get the picture.

He’s my kind of people.

I’ve just gotta say that I love someone whose eyes light up telling me about the book binding class just completed and whose contact page has “mail always welcomed” and “emails tolerated” information. He’s not a crank. He just loves beautiful things. What could be more Catholic than that? Go. Visit. Tell him hello … I bet in this case he would welcome an email.

Go find out more about the Zombie Letters (Ora et Labora et Zombies).

Be sure to check out the rest of the site too. A special kind of publishing is being proposed at Labora/Editions with such things as specialized Catholic greeting cards and the imminent launch of a custom design service for invitations and sacramental announcements.


I received a comment from someone who had figured out the total cost of the letters and said that they must be “for the country club set.”

That’s a fair observation. The total cost in the end will be many times more than a paperback. With two daughters’ college educations impatiently waiting to be paid, we are not (and never will be) part of the country club set.

When my husband and I decided to subscribe, we took the attitude that we have always wanted to be patrons of the arts. However, we have nowhere near the resources to do so in the conventional sense of the word. This is within our reach and I feel rather as if I have purchased a Warhol back when he was undiscovered.

Realistically speaking, as my husband observed, we are getting the anticipation of a unique story, the delight of true anticipation as we can’t make the letters come any faster than once a week, the fascination of watching the story unfold, and the joy that comes from supporting a true artist with vision.  (I’m tellin’ ya, folks, that first letter … just see what Ryan does with a cupcake. This book speaks to the Catholic soul. Period.)

Hopefully, when the letters are all published they will be something that a book publisher would snap up and everyone can enjoy the book. There is no guarantee of that though. And we are participants as this unique effort to make a story as a thing of beauty.

All for the cost of 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, a couple of dress jackets for work, or of a stack of hardback books.

True, this isn’t for everyone. It is a cost more than any other book I will ever buy. But we count it worth the cost.

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