Like many StumbleUpon users, Hollywood screenwriter and producer Cori Stern stumbles for inspiration. In January 2008, she stumbled upon a story called “I Am a Zombie Filled with Love” that had been highly rated by fellow Stumblers, and it was love at first sight.
“I read it and thought, ‘that’s a killer short story. It should be a movie,’” she says.
The story was written by Isaac Marion, an amateur writer who was 26 at the time and had never before been published.
“That call was completely out of the blue,” Marion says, adding that he had noticed that StumbleUpon was a top referrer of traffic to his site at that point but had never heard of it before.
Stern encouraged Marion to turn his short story into a novel that became the soon-to-be-published “Warm Bodies.” From there, she introduced Marion’s material to her colleagues Laurie Webb and Bruna Papandrea (whose past projects include movies with Sydney Pollack and Milk) and snagged a movie deal with Summit Entertainment, the same production company behind The Hurt Locker and the Twilight films. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) is directing.
It seems fitting that Marion’s work was discovered on StumbleUpon, since the author has a passion for the unexpected. His site burningbuilding.com showcases his preference for offbeat, magical realism tales, often from the perspective of an unexpected character. (One of his stories is told from the point of view of a stoplight).
Perhaps Marion’s passion for capturing original perspectives stems from a past job chaperoning foster kids to meetings with their biological parents, which, he says, exposed him to people and situations in walks of life he had never encountered. On the inspiration for “I Am a Zombie Filled with Love,” Marion says that he was interested in exploring zombie mythology in a way no one had before.
“No one’s ever really toyed with all the implications of it. I just thought it’d be fascinating to explore what it would be like from their perspective. There are a lot of parallels that are ripe with analogy with normal life,” he says.
Stern says that she’ll continue stumbling on the job and calls Stumblers “coolhunters” and “people with taste.”
“I wish more writers would get their work out there so it could get judged by the crowd. Self-publishing isn’t particularly the way to go,” she says. “If someone’s good, it’ll bubble up to the top.”