Apr 7, 2011

Wondercon 2011 Edition: Max Brooks

4:34 PM

When it comes to the zombie faction of Wondercon's nerd festival, Max Brooks is the crown prince. (Robert Kirkman is the current king, obviously. And George Romero is god.) With an hour's time to interact with a packed room of overzealous zombie fans on Friday, Brooks proved more than worthy of his position.

If Brooks has a politically correct filter, he removed it before stepping on the stage. He teased an audience member asking a silly question. He made fun of Hollywood bigwigs. He talked about Ronald Reagan (bad president), gays in the military (America's future saviors when China finally invades) and the culture of fear in America (bad, but good inspiration for writing). And, somehow, it all related back to zombies.

Then, when his hour was up, he thanked the crowd and sprinted (well, more like power walked) out of the room before the audience could surround him. Put some makeup on the crowd and it would have looked like he was escaping a zombie hoard.


The World War Z movie: Apparently, Brooks has been asked about the film adaptation of his book World War Z a time or two. He started the session by saying, "Let's get the movie stuff out of the way first, then the people who only care about that can leave." He says he has no idea what's going on with the movie - he sold the rights, and no one has to keep him in the loop.

When telling the story of how he sold the book rights, he dropped this gem: "Brad Pitt read it and said, 'I would like to adopt this book.' He says 'adopt' a lot."

A writer's biggest fear: "For a writer selling the film rights to a book, there are two words that keep you up at night, sweating, hiding under the bed holding a shotgun. And those words are Michael Bay."

Writing inspiration: "You've gotta write for yourself. Write something that you'd like to read. If you write to be liked by others, and you don't like it and they don't end up liking it either, then you're a failure. You just wasted your life."

The Zombie Survival Guide: "In 1999 everybody was freaking out about Y2K. It was so bad that there were all kinds of survival guides being published. But there were no zombie survival guides, so I decided to write one, never really expecting it to be published. A few years later I showed it to an agent and he said he could get it published. I said 'Sure,' and he went out and got it published."

World War Z: "When AIDS first started popping up, there was a great denial, like only gays could get it, or you had to have sex with a monkey to get it. Then, once we realized that wasn't true, there was a great panic. We could have killed AIDS with a pamphlet, but our flaws and stupidity let it grow into something we couldn't control. And that's kinda the idea for how zombies get out of control in World War Z."

Zombie characteristics: Depending on the book/film/video game, zombies can be slow and weak or sprinters with super-human strength. Brooks prefers the former but doesn't think zombies have to be confined to one set of characteristics. "Zombies are constantly being redefined. But Return of the Living Dead? That's a zombie I don't like. That's a minstrel zombie show. Return of the Living Dead did for zombies what Adam West did for Batman."

That's not a compliment, Adam.

Best and worst place to be during a zombie attack: "The best place to be would be New York. New Yorkers are tough and can survive through anything. The worst place? L.A. I grew up in L.A. I live in L.A. And I wouldn't want to be in L.A. when it's raining, much less when zombies attack. L.A. is so ass-backwards."

Video game zombies: "I love all the different zombies and games. I love Left 4 Dead. I love Resident Evil. You know what's not fine, though, is a game about fighting zombies in a mall and giving no credit to Romero. Those guys can kiss my ass. Everyone rips off everyone, I know, but how are you going to make a game fighting zombies in a mall and not make Romero rich. C'mon dude."

It's ok to be mad, Max. Dead Rising sucks anyway.

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