Scott Kenemore can deliver a joke that keeps chuckling to yourself all day. I like that about his writing. I have been a fan of his “Zen of Zombie” Series for a few years now, and his dry, smooth wit has yet to disappoint. More than that, in fact, it’s kept me coming back to his books again and again.
But the high water mark, for me, came with his companion volumes, Zombie, Ohio, and Zombie, Illinois. Scott Kenemore knows the Midwest, from its rural farm belt to its big city corruption. He puts on an effortless display of social commentary and personal empathy with every line he writes, and I for one have found it hard to keep away from what he writes. And when people ask for my favorite zombie writers, I give them a short list that invariably has Scott Kenemore’s name on it.
But what really interests me about Scott is the depth and warmth of his personal correspondence. I wish I could share the emails Scott and I have traded over the years, for he really is a genuinely wonderful man. Perhaps those of you who have known someone almost entirely through their letters can appreciate how special an email or Facebook message can seem from that person. If you are one such lucky person, I bet you get how I have developed a friendship with Scott Kenemore, though we live thousands of miles apart and have met face to face only twice. He’s a unique talent in the zombie genre, and one who truly deserves the title of zombie master.
Please welcome Mr. Scott Kenemore, writer and all around great guy.
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?
Scott Kenemore: I expect I’m mostly known for a zombie humor book called The Zen of Zombie, and a horror novel called Zombie, Ohio. I started writing satirical books about zombies, and moved into horror fiction from there. As perhaps this tells you, I really enjoy the silly, comic aspects of zombies, and I enjoy using them in social satire.
JM: The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. Are you prepared? Would humanity win?
SK: My money is on the zombies. If the zomb-pocalypse were occurring this moment, I would retreat to the roof of my building with some Molotov cocktails. I think it would be fun to catch a bunch of zombies on fire down below me. (Although I’d be well aware that any resultant amusement would be fleeting.)
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.)
SK: This is a great question. I’ll forever have a strong connection to the Romero films like Day of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead that first got me into zombies. That said, Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead remains my favorite zombie film of all time. It’s a rollicking mix of horror and humor, effectively scary, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can’t say enough good things about it. I think my favorite zombie short stories are “What Maisie Knew” by David Liss, and “Pigeons From Hell” by Robert E. Howard.
JM: What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?
SK: My favorite zombie-killing-a-person scene would probably be when Allan Trautman’s Tarman Zombie kills Suicide in Return of the Living Dead with a gruesome bite to the brain.
My favorite person-killing-a-zombie scene would probably be any of the action sequences from Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive involving Father McGruder. (Although, does he actually “kill” zombies, or only beat them up a bunch? That may be debatable…)
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?
SK: I feel like every time I think I know the answer to this question, something changes my mind again. However, answers that—at one time or another—have seemed to work for me include zombies as a statement about mindless consumerism, zombies as a comment on mob culture and mass hysteria, zombies as an inquiry into the mysterious nature of life after death, and zombies as a reminder of the tenuous and easily-overturned systems that hold modern society together. Zombies, simply by being what they are, posit that the world could be a very, very different place. They are agents of change, and harbingers of delightfully bad news.