Max Booth III is the author of four books: Toxicity (Post Mortem Press, 2014), a black comedy crime novel; The Mind is a Razorblade (Kraken Press, 2014), a neo-noir horror novel; and two story collections, True Stories Told By a Liar (Numen Books, 2012) and They Might Be Demons (Dark Moon Books, 2013). He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. Since 2011 he has been the Assistant Editor of Dark Moon Digest, where I first got a chance to work with him on my zombie short story, “Bury My Heart in Marvin Gardens,” and has edited four anthologies: Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories (Dark Moon Books, 2012), Zombies Need Love, Too (Dark Moon Books, 2013), So it Goes: a Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013), and Long Distance Drunks: a Tribute to Charles Bukowski (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2014). He has worked as a cashier, merchandise manager, inventory control specialist, copy editor, and hotel night manager. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with his life partner and dachshund.
As a San Antonio native, Max is of course part of the whole Texas thing going in the zombie genre. (Readers of this series of interviews will probably know what I’m talking about, especially after my interviews with Rhiannon Frater, Bowie Ibarra, and Stephen Knight.) His previous efforts on the zombie front have been as editor and short story writer, but he has recently penned a longer work called Black that has earned him a place among the zombie masters in this series.
So please welcome Max Booth!
Joe McKinney: Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream. I’m glad you could swing by. You’re no stranger to zombie fiction. Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing? How do you approach the genre?
Max Booth III: Thanks for having me, Joe. It’s an honor to be here. I’ve written a few zombie short stories here and there—most notable, probably, would be my short story, “In the Attic of the Universe,” which was published by Post Mortem Press in their New Dawn Fades anthology back in 2011. It tells the story of a father living in the attic of his house with his infant child during the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. The undead practically surround his house, but he’s still lucky enough to slip out a few times to make food raids at various stores. On one of these grocery trips, however, he is bitten. So now this guy is infected with the zombie virus but he also has this infant child in his care. There’s no one else that can take him. If this guy dies, which is inevitable, then the baby also dies. The only question is, does he allow the baby to live long enough to be eaten by his own father, or does he end the child’s misery before it’s too late?
Another notable zombie story of mine is a novella called Black, and it will be published this October by Hazardous Press. It is a western story about a gunslinger who, no matter how hard he tries, just cannot die.
I like to approach my zombie writing with the zombies not being the main focus. I find the humans and their survival entirely more interesting than the disgusting walking meatbags trying to eat them.
JM: The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. Are you prepared? Would humanity win?
MB: If we’re talking slow, Night of the Living Dead zombies, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll win. For one, our military is just way too powerful at this point, and two, everyone and their mother is prepared for the zombies to rise. They won’t last five minutes before we start blowing out their brains. I think, in a way, we sort of want that to happen. Because, deep down, we are all lunatics.
JM: What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever? (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here. I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)
MB: Movie: 28 Days Later. Whenever I say this is my favorite zombie movie, there’s always a 50% chance that I am going to get punched in the face afterward. Some people go nuts when others recognize 28 Days Later as a zombie film, and I find that fact completely hilarious. But regardless, 28 Days Later was a damn good horror flick about zombies. No, they weren’t traditional zombies. But so what? Fiction is about being creative, trying something new. Coming up with different approaches. And that’s exactly what 28 Days Later was. Something new, and it was awesome.
Book: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. This book is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It is intense, brutal, and so damn mesmerizing. Imagine what would happen if Cormac McCarthy wrote a zombie novel, and you get The Reapers Are the Angels.
JM: What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?
MB: Easy. The lawnmower scene from Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC1d7dw24Gg
JM: I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us. Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period. Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past. Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life. What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?
MB: Sometimes I wonder if our zombie obsession is just us daydreaming about a world where we can straight up murder people without consequence. But that thought is ridiculous and terrifying, so let’s just say…uh…consumerism!
That was Max Booth III ladies and gentlemen. Check him out on Twitter at @GiveMeYourTeeth and on the web at http://www.TalesFromTheBooth.com.