Scott Kenemore

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.

Scott Kenemore, ladies and gentlemen.  One of my favorites in the genre.  Check out his books here, and if you want more, and I think you will, go here to check out his website.

A.R. Wise

The countdown to the release of my next zombie novel, The Savage Dead, continues with another major player on the Indie side of the zombie genre, Mr. Aaron Wise, a.k.a. A.R. Wise.  There is a wild, wild west culture developing among Indie authors, and Aaron is one of its most talented outlaws.  Disdainful of rejection from the mainstream publishers, he embraced the ebook revolution and took matters into his own hands.  He’s mentioned that he never even dreamed he’d garner the love and praise his books have brought him, but he’s thankful because that success has enabled him to devote his considerable skills into a full time writing career.

I discovered Aaron’s simply amazing series, Deadlocked, in March, 2012.  I still remember the date because I was on vacation in my family’s winter home in Colorado and looking for some new zombie fiction to fill up the Kindle I’d gotten for Christmas.  Trolling Amazon, Aaron’s books caught my eye and I decided to give them a try.  I started the first volume of Deadlocked right after breakfast and finished just before lunch.  And afterward, I was exhausted.  Reading an Aaron Wise book is like riding a horse at full gallop.  I’ve been keeping up with the series through each ensuing volume, and it just keeps getting better and better.  (Check it out here.)  You can thank me later.

As a fan of his stuff I knew I had to include him here in my zombie masters series, and I’m so glad he agreed to be my victim.  If you haven’t read his stuff yet, you’re in for a treat.  But for now, please welcome A.R. Wise, Zombie Master!

 

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?

A.R. Wise:  I like to equate the walking dead to our own creeping death. Every one of us knows that we’ll die one day, and we go about our lives with that knowledge eating at our subconscious. In my opinion, the scariest thing about zombies is that they aren’t just another monster hunting us – it’s us. When a character sees a walking corpse, they’re looking at their own future. All of the walking dead are a prophecy. That’s why, in my Deadlocked series, the main character of the first book is dealing with the discovery of his own cancer, and for the rest of the book he’s trying to run from the inevitable just long enough to make sure his family can survive after he’s gone.

JM:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now.  Are you prepared?  Would humanity win?

ARW:  I’m no survivalist, so I’d likely be zombie fodder. There’s a trend in zombie and apocalypse literature where survivalist authors are playing out their own fantasies as to how they would react to an apocalypse. I think that’s a really fun and engaging style of book, but it’s not the type that I write. My characters are closer to the average person; someone without expert military training or survivalist skills. However, I’d argue that reading about a character like that, who hasn’t been preparing for an apocalypse, is a great way to show that humanity can indeed win – not based on preparedness, but rather on ingenuity and a will to live.

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.)

ARW:  I’m going to cheat and split my decision here. One of my favorite zombie films of all time is Dawn of the Dead, by the father of the zombie genre, George Romero (no need to remind me of White Zombie – modern zombies started with Romero). Night of the Living Dead, Romero’s first film, is outstanding, and arguably has a better grip on its social message which was revolutionary at its time. However, I think the subversive message of the second film in his series is easier for someone of my generation to identify with. I see Dawn of the Dead as the ultimate example of how zombies can be used as more than just a raging antagonist for characters. In Dawn of the Dead, Romero created a film that one could watch and blithely ignore the social message and still have an entertaining ride, but it rewards a deeper analysis. Consumerism and conformity are on display as those zombies stagger through the mall, and our heroes are fighting to avoid succumbing to the same sad state.

As a counterweight to Dawn of the Dead, I’ll also throw out the hilarious and entirely entertaining Return of the Living Dead as one of my favorites. John Russo, who had worked with Romero on Night of the Living Dead, wrote the original script of Return as a dark and dreary film, but was usurped by Dan O’Bannon who rewrote the movie and directed it after Tobe Hooper dropped out. Reportedly, few of the actors of the film had any idea that it was meant as a comedic satire, which is shocking when you see their hammy performances. As it turned out, O’Bannon crafted a zombie comedy that stands tall as the funniest zombie film ever made, only challenged by Shaun of the Dead, another favorite of mine.

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?

ARW:  Is it fair to just throw out an entire movie here? Dead Alive (better known as Braindead by most of the world) by Peter Jackson is absolutely filled with the greatest zombie kills ever filmed. It’s a cavalcade of classic scenes. If forced to pick my favorite, I guess I’ll go with the preacher’s martial arts attack: “I kick ass for the Lord!”

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?

ARW:  As I mentioned before, I think that our subconscious draws comparisons between ourselves and the chomping monsters that have recently taken over popular culture. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as the baby boomer generation ages, we find ourselves surrounded by representations of our own impending demise. Like it or not, that rotting corpse will be you some day, and the fact that zombies are everywhere lately seems to me like a cathartic exploration of our own fear of creeping death. Many of the popular monsters that infect our culture have attributes that we can identify with – for instance, vampires represent lust while werewolves are an example of the anger and hatred that so many of us try to contain and hide. Zombies, however, are largely absent of any relatable characteristics, yet it could easily be argued that it’s easiest to see ourselves in them. The reason for this is because you can kill vampires, and slay werewolves, but there’s no stopping your own eventual transformation into a rotting corpse. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Mr. A.R. Wise.  Now that you’ve been introduced, go buy his books here, and keep up with him over at his blog.

Mark Tufo

Are there any Mark Tufo fans in the house?  Raise your hands with me.  Whenever I’m asked for my recommendations on great zombie writers I have a short list I always give out, and Mark is always on it.  He’s hilarious, he’s terrifying, and he’s a damn good storyteller.  I’m delighted to have him here on Old Major’s Dream.

As you know, I’m counting down the days till the September 3rd release of my next zombie novel, The Savage Dead, with a series of interviews of zombie masters, and Mark Tufo is most certainly that.  Mark was born in Boston Massachusetts. He attended UMASS Amherst where he obtained a BA and later joined the US Marine Corp. He was stationed in Parris Island SC, Twenty Nine Palms CA and Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. After his tour he went into the Human Resources field with a worldwide financial institution and has gone back to college at CTU to complete his masters.  He has written the Indian Hill trilogy with the first Indian Hill – Encounters being published for the Amazon Kindle in July 2009. He has since written the Zombie Fallout series and is working on a new zombie book.  He lives in Maine with his wife, three kids and two English bulldogs.

 

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?

Mark Tufo:  Hi Joe, first off I wanted to thank you for inviting me to be here. But I was told there would be refreshments and I’m not seeing any. Right now I have three series that revolve around zombies, Zombie Fallout, Timothy and The Book of Riley, so I guess it’s safe to say I really dig zombies. I’ve been fascinated with the genre since I was 7 and my babysitting cousin thought watching Night of the Living Dead would be a good way to while away the time. I’ve never been so scared and enthralled in my entire life. When I started the ZF series I really wanted to go with the Every Guy and see how he would deal with protecting his family and friends. That he’s a sarcastic smart-ass was just a bonus.

JM:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now.  Are you prepared?  Would humanity win?

MT:  I’m not a ‘prepper’ per say. I have guns, ammo and some food stored. Could I make it for the long haul with my stores and my defenses? I don’t think at my present location. I think humanity’s survival would rest on how fast the outbreak hit. And having been prior military I think the biggest threat to mankind would be mankind. When the crap hits the fan we are not nearly as altruistic as we would like to think. Cynical? Probably.

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.)

MT:  I almost hate answering this question because honestly I’ve read or watched so many books and movies that I’ve loved I’d never be able to give this list justice. How about if I go with a cop-out. If it has a zombie in it, I’m pretty much a fan.

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?

MT:  Dead Snow has this one scene where two men one armed with a sledge hammer and the other a chainsaw fight through a horde of Nazi’s. I thought that was a pretty awesome scene. Now hopefully if I’m ever caught in that scenario it’s with a fully automatic weapon. None of that hand to hand combat crap! Always carry extra ammo!

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?

MT:  Personally I think people want a change. A radical, apocalyptic change. We are so wrapped up in the monotony of our lives that somehow fighting hordes of the Living Dead seems like a viable alternative. No more mortgage, cable or cell phone bills. No more stories about our corrupt government officials. No increasing taxes. No more working for The Man. It’s a way to live life the way it was meant to – unencumbered. Although fighting continually for your survival has its own inherent burdens.

Thank you for allowing me the time to rant!

And that, my friends, was Mark Tufo, one of my personal favorites.  You can learn more about him and his Indian Hill Trilogy and Zombie Fallout series at his website here and here, and you can friend him on Facebook here.

You can check out all his books here.

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