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Attack of the zombie authors July 24, 2010

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, Fun stuff, News.
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Max Brooks and Seth Grahame-Smith.

I’m not a connoisseur of the walking dead, but the folks who write these novels are priceless on a panel.  The “Reading with Brains: The Rise and Unrelenting Stamina of Zombie Fiction” panel  made me think of high school when the straightforward nerds took on the complicated nerds.

On one end of the panel: Max Brooks (THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE) and Seth Grahame-Smith (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES) were dead on (no pun intended) with their simple idea that zombies are scary creatures, and they’re just that – – zombies. “You could still make all of the right decisions but (zombies) still come after you,” Brooks says. Grahame-Smith says: “Zombies are literally dead things for hot chicks to kill.” And both — as did several other panel members — said they were inspired by George Romero and “Night of the Living Dead.”

Now add into the mix Walter Greatshell (XOMBIES: APOCALYPTICON) who makes a slight dig at folks who borrow heavily from Romero. And of course Greatshell doesn’t borrow because — implied — he doesn’t have to, right? That’s because his novels are based on zombies — oops Xombies — that are smurf blue and chase a bunch of people, including the 17-year-old female heroine — onto a submarine.

Equally amusing is Mira Grant (FEED) — whose real name is Seanan McGuire — who sounds like she knows how to start a pandemic based on all of her detailed research and calls to the CDC for her zombie books. I wouldn’t have been all that scared but I’d never heard her speak before. She’s really glib and those big medical words roll effortlessly out of her mouth. She’s all about survival and very intense.

Joan Frances Turner is about to have her debut novel (DUST) published. She started writing about zombies after a death in her family and started to think about all of the things that happen to the body once it ceases to function. She also subscribes to the theory — in her book — that a zombie can have a memory. What happens? How does the zombie cope? And then it got  way too analytical for me when she started to talk about zombie metaphors — physical decay vs social decay etc. Just too much deep thinking for me on a Saturday!

Ryan Mecum (ZOMBIE HAIKU) tried to answer as much as possible in haiku:

I like slow zombies
fast zombies are less creepy
George Romero, yay.

(Mecum has also written VAMPIRE HAIKU.)

Amelia Beamer (THE LOVING DEAD) and John Skipp (ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD) rounded out the panel. Beamer is a newbie to zombie publishing and Skipp is often described as a master with at least 18 titles to his credit.

The newsiest part? When Max Brooks confirmed WORLD WAR Z— the follow-up to his ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE — was in development for a movie and that he heard Brad Pitt was interested in a role. (And if I’d made it to the Dark Shadows panel, I would’ve been interested to hear about that movie, being directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.  Grahame-Smith is writing.)

I haven’t read that many zombie books. Some of them are very campy (Grahame-Smith’s P&P) and most are downright spooky because — well — zombies and disease = no human race/chaos. And — where’s the romance? (Although Beamer’s THE LOVING DEAD is supposed to have lots of ghoulish love!) Anyway, after  listening to the spirited, funny and sometimes sarcastic discussion at this Comic-Con panel, I just might have to tackle a few more.

And let me know if you’ve read any of these books or others in the zombie zone. Curious what folks think!

Comments»

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