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.

Advertisements

Kim Paffenroth

When I released my first novel, Dead City, there were only a handful of zombie books out there.  Skipp and Goodfellow had done their Books of the Dead and Mondo Zombie, and Brian Keene had done The Rising, and Robert Kirkman was just getting The Walking Dead graphic novel series started.  If you were willing to search online you could find David Moody, J.L. Bourne and David Wellington serializing their first zombie efforts, but that was about it.  Dead City entered the market in 2006 to a hungry zombie readership, and readers devoured it.

But Dead City wasn’t alone.  That same year, zombie fans got another sweet treat in the form of Gospel of the Living Dead:  George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth, a probing analysis of the zombie films of George Romero.  The author of that book was Dr. Kim Paffenroth, professor of Religious Studies at Iona College in New York.  I was impressed with Dr. Paffenroth’s credentials, and when he contacted me and asked if I’d like to take a look at what he’d written, I jumped at the chance.

I was delighted with what I read, and I was delighted yet again when it won the Bram Stoker Award for Non-Fiction.

And then Kim contacted me and said he’d written a little zombie novel of his own, called Dying to Live, and asked if I’d like to read it for a possible cover blurb.  I said not just yes but hell yes, let me have a look.

I’m so glad I did, because Kim Paffenroth is a threat on all fronts.  Capable of writing non-fiction on everything from Augustine to zombies in a clear, readable style, he is also capable of writing fiction that probes deeply some of knottiest philosophical issues confronting the spiritual man living in today’s world.

I count myself lucky that Kim and I have maintained a steady correspondence over the years.  I have watched with great admiration as he’s grown as a fiction writer, and along the way we’ve shared moments of triumph and sorrow.  I count him a good friend, and one I’m proud to know.  I hope you enjoy this interview, because Kim Paffenroth is one of the truly good guys in this business.

 

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?

Kim Paffenroth:  I came at it from a different direction than most people. I started out writing nonfiction about zombies – not in the sense of “zombies are real” but I started by analyzing George Romero’s zombie films in a book, Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth (Baylor, 2006). It won the Bram Stoker Award and I got the idea to follow up with some zombie fiction of my own – instead of analyzing Romero’s zombies, I could give mine the symbolic significance I wanted.

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

KP:  Oh I don’t think I’d make it very far. I think we’d probably “win” but as in the really great zombie films (Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead) and now in The Walking Dead, I think the question would be at what cost? We’ve seen how much freedom and privacy we’re willing to give up, post-9/11: what kind of violent, security state would we have if we were always under the threat of walking, cannibal corpses?

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.)

KP:  I’ll never forget the original Dawn of the Dead and the effect it had on my imagination, or even deeper elements of my being and values.  To me, it’s the perfect balance between survivalist fantasies of how to prepare and equip, but with a sense of how those things don’t matter, in the face of an existence that has no meaning or purpose.

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

KP:  Again, it’s a corollary of seeing something when you’re at a particularly impressionable age. The helicopter partial decapitation in the original Dawn of the Dead is pretty hokey by modern standards, but I remember I could not get over that scene and “How did they do it?” You take a more spectacular kill in a more recent film (I like the bridge-severing in Land of the Dead) and you just can’t look at it the same way, it doesn’t fill you with wonder, because you’ve just come to expect really over the top and complicated and realistic looking scenes like that.

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?

KP:  I think the zombie may well survive and be re-imagined for future generations with different perspectives and contexts, but the way you frame the question does underline our current situation as a way of understanding the zombie phenomenon. And by “current situation” I don’t just mean “post-9/11”: that’s the challenge, to see the zombie as somehow responding to something that’s been with us since 1967. So in that sense, I’d say the zombie does embody all our fears of the decline of imperialist America, and the zombie can stand in for a myriad of fears associated with that gradual, painful, violent decline: Vietnam, consumerism, racism, the military-industrial complex, terrorism, the surveillance state, the class divide, colonialism, environmental degradation and catastrophe. 

You can check out Kim Paffenroth’s many books here, and check out his blog here

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.

Great Zombie Website

I stop by this site from time to time to make sure I’m up to date on my zombie fiction.  This is one of the more comprehensive zombie fiction sites around, and almost everything has a short, helpful review attached.

%d bloggers like this: