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“World War Z,” starring Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos, was based on the book by Max Brooks.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
With Halloween on the horizon, the how-to's of surviving ghouls and goblins often become a top priority.
On Tuesday, author and screenwriter Max Brooks plans to tackle this topic during his lecture at Virginia Tech titled, "10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack."
The son of filmmaker Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft, Brooks, 41, is the author of the bestselling books "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War." The latter served as the basis for the 2013 film, "World War Z," starring Brad Pitt.
Brooks has also written for "Saturday Night Live," acted in TV shows including "Roseanne" and "7th Heaven," and done voice-over work in animated series, including "Batman Beyond," "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command," and "Justice League."
He is currently working on a comic book series, "The Extinction Parade," which features a zombie attack told through the eyes of vampires. It can be downloaded at www.Comixology.com. Brooks is also preparing to release his World War I-themed graphic novel, "The Harlem Hellfighters," in April.
Before making his first visit to Southwest Virginia, Brooks shared his thoughts on work, life and, most importantly, zombies.
Despite his multifaceted career, when asked his inspiration for embracing the living dead, the author gave a simple answer: "Fear."
Why do you think the zombie phenomenon has become so popular?
I think people need a place to explore their apocalyptic anxiety. We're living in some pretty scary times, and a lot of people are worried about the world crashing down around them. Zombie stories allow us to imagine what the world would be like without it seeming too real, and therefore, too scary.
What's the craziest thing a fan has ever asked you?
"At what point, in a zombie plague, is it okay to use old people as bait?"
As a writer, do you worry about being pigeonholed as "the zombie guy"?
Only if I get pigeonholed as "the zombie guy who got eaten by zombies."
What other writers do you look to for inspiration?
Tom Clancy was -- is -- my hero. He rooted everything be wrote in reality. He did his homework. He tirelessly researched his subjects. He avoided all that macho fantasy BS that every other spy writer depends on. He followed his passion. He was the kind of writer I will always aspire to be.
You've worked in a variety of areas aside from your books, including acting and voice-over work, as well as writing for "Saturday Night Live." What work are you most proud of?
I'm a writer. I've always been a writer. Ever since I was 12, I've been writing stories. Anything else I do is just a fun, temporary detour from the main road.
How do you think growing up the son of two fixtures of the entertainment community has affected your work?
Good question. I guess I never thought about them as fixtures in the entertainment community. To me, they were just Mom and Dad. They taught me about discipline, about resilience in the face of rejection, about fidelity to the purity of the work. If I were to truly elaborate on how they shaped my career, I'd probably have to write a whole book.
Since this is your first trip to Blacksburg, is there anything in particular at Tech or in Southwest Virginia you hope to see?
If I get time, I'd like to shoot over to VMI. My dad went there during World War II. I'd like to pick up a T-shirt or hat for him. I know he'd like that.
What do you have planned for your lecture at Tech?
It's a disaster-preparedness lecture with a zombie spin. Because there's really nothing zombie-specific about zombie survival, what I talk about can pretty much be applied to any mega-crisis scenario.
What is the key to surviving a zombie attack?
The key to surviving a zombie attack is clear, calm thought. That's a pretty rare commodity these days. More and more, it seems like panic and hysteria are becoming national industries. That needs to stop. When attacked by zombies, or, indeed, anything dangerous, it never hurts to just take a deep breath and think.
What does "the zombie guy" dress as for Halloween?
Well, given that the whole point of a costume is to dress like someone you're not, I guess I'll go as a guy who's not afraid of zombies.
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