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World War Z’ author Max Brooks to give zombie apocalypse advice at Ohio State

Courtesy of Mike D'Andrea

Max Brooks claims to know how to survive a zombie apocalypse, but he still gets anxious over the animated corpses.

“Zombies are just scary,” Brooks said. “They just scare the crap out of me.”

Brooks, author of bestselling zombie novels “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” is scheduled to speak to Ohio State students about how to survive a zombie apocalypse on Monday as part of an Ohio Union Activities Board-sponsored event.

Before his first zombie novel “The Zombie Survival Guide” was published in 2003, Brooks was a writer for Saturday Night Live from 2001-2003.

“It was a very intense, stressful, rewarding experience,” Brooks said. “It’s kind of how my dad went through World War II. We both are glad we did it, but neither of us would probably do it again.”

As a child, Brooks was fascinated with zombies but wasn’t able to completely learn how to survive an attack by them. 

“When I was a kid I wondered how I would fight them and how I would survive an attack by them and I went looking for a book on how to do that and nobody had written one so I thought I would write it for myself,” Brooks said.

Brooks’ novel “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” is being adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt and is set to hit theaters June 21. Brooks said he was approached about turning the book into a movie before it even hit shelves in 2006. 

“I was approached by Brad Pitt’s Plan B (production company) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way (production company) and both wanted to turn it into a movie,” Brooks said.

The book “World War Z” takes place after a zombie apocalypse occurs, while the movie takes place as one is just breaking out. 

“I guess you would call (the book) an ‘after action report,’ where an oral historian is trying to piece together the story of the human race. How we as a species survived,” Brooks said. “I haven’t seen the movie yet. I don’t know what they’re doing.” 

While zombies seem to be taking over America’s televisions and movie screens with popular shows like AMC’s “Walking Dead” and movies like “Warm Bodies,” Brooks thinks the fascination roots from an internal anxiety about the collapse of the system. 

“I think there definitely is an expression or general feeling, either consciously or subconsciously, that the system is breaking down,” Brooks said. “I think we’re definitely in a time of national, even international, anxiety and we haven’t been this way since the 1970s, and that was the last time zombies were popular.”

Brooks said zombies give people a safe escape to think about these problems.

“I think the zombie apocalypse is a very psychologically safe way to explore those apocalyptic fantasies without it being so real that we force ourselves to tune out,” Brooks said.

While there are many people that think a zombie apocalypse could occur any day, others are skeptics to the idea. Brooks said anticipating an attack will also prepare you for other disasters.

“Even if it doesn’t happen and you prepare for it, it’s the same preparation you would need for other kinds of disasters,” Brooks said. “There is nothing in your zombie survival kit that you wouldn’t find in your earthquake or tornado or pandemic survival kit.”

Brooks’ No. 1 tip to surviving a zombie apocalypse is to “stay calm.”

“If you stay calm and you use your head and you don’t get into (a state of) panic, then you’re pretty much going to be OK in almost any situation,” Brooks said. 

While Brooks doesn’t think that America is the most prepared country for a zombie attack, he does think that the re-election of President Barack Obama bought the U.S. four more years of safety. 

“I certainly think America is in much better shape than we were from 2001-2008. Any administration that focuses on education, infrastructure, disaster preparedness, I think is exactly what we need,” Brooks said. “Any administration that says things like, ‘We need less infrastructure, less government, more foreign wars,’ and basically dismantles the threads of civilization, are almost doing the zombies’ work for them.”

Kenny Myers, a fourth-year in international studies, read “World War Z” for his critical security class.

“I thought it was a really well-written story,” Myers said. “I read it and wrote a paper about how different theories would play out under a zombie apocalypse.”

Theresa Fisher, a fourth-year in speech and hearing science, isn’t an avid fan of zombies, although her boyfriend is one. 

“My boyfriend loves the humans versus zombies stuff and I just can’t get into it,” Fisher said. “The only zombie thing I really liked was the Michael Jackson music video for ‘Thriller.'”

The event “10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse” is scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Ohio Union Performance Hall. Tickets are free for students and are available at the Ohio Union Information Center. 

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