Max Brooks visits Stony Brook University Thursday evening to talk to students about zombie survival tactics. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
Max Brooks visits Stony Brook University Thursday evening to talk to students about zombie survival tactics. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

Prominent author and zombie preparedness expert Max Brooks will be coming to Stony Brook University on Thursday evening to help prepare the campus should zombies ever strike as they did in his works Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, the latter which will be released in theaters later this year.

“I’d love to talk to Stony Brook students about how to survive a zombie attack,” Brooks said. “I think, with the right planning, Long Island could become quite a defensible haven for humanity. It’s very rare that you have on one piece of land Queens and the Hamptons.”

Brook’s connection to the zombie genre began a young age and has remained with him to this day.

“When I was a kid, I saw my first zombie movie and it terrified me like no other monster, and there’s nothing more primal than fear.”

Later in life, Brooks took that fear and translated it into words that have become popular pieces within a growing part of science fiction literature.

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“I made it work. Like I said, I’ve always been scared of zombies. I wrote my first book: Zombie Survival Guide. I wanted to write another zombie book, but I didn’t want to write just another zombie-adventure story. Everybody was doing that. They were doing it very well, and I had a lot of questions that no one was answering, so I set out to answer my own questions.”

World War Z is due to come out on June 21, directed by Marc Foster and staring Brad Pitt.

“How does it feel?” he said. “It doesn’t feel like much right now because I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I don’t really know what they’re doing. We’ll have to wait until the movie comes out.”

With that in mind, Brooks will be sure to do everything he can to inform the Stony Brook community and beyond as to survive a real humans vs. zombies war.
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Full Q&A with David O’Connor (DO) and Max Brooks (MB).

DO: You seem to care more about the quality of the zombie genre than being successful
yourself. Where did this intense passion come from?

MB: Fear! Zombies scare the crap out of me. It’s that simple. When I was a kid, I saw my first zombie movie and it terrified me like no other monster, and there’s nothing more primal than fear.

DO: WWZ is obviously slated to be released soon. What did it feel like to know your book
was being turned into a movie and having little say in its creative direction?

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MB: That’s a really good question. How does it feel? It doesn’t feel like much right now
because I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I don’t really know what they’re doing. We’ll
have to wait until the movie comes out.

DO: How does it feel to have Brad Pitt starring in a movie adaptation of a book you wrote?

MB: That’s a really good question. How does it feel? Like I said, I don’t know how it feels
yet. I have to see the movie.

DO: What made you decide to not write the movie’s screenplay?

MB: What made me decide not to write it? Well not being asked helped the decision-making process.

DO: Where did your inspiration for WWZ come from?

MB: I made it work. Like I said, I’ve always been scared of zombies. I wrote my first book:
Zombie Survival Guide. I wanted to write another zombie book, but I didn’t want to write
just another zombie-adventure story. Everybody was doing that. They were doing it very
well, and I had a lot of questions that no one was answering, so I set out to answer my
own questions.

DO: Why did you decide to stretch the time period in WWZ to encompass the entire war?

MB: I wanted to talk about the whole war. Wars take a long time. I was interested in the entire war so that’s the story I wanted to tell.

DO: Between The Zombie Survival Guide and WWZ, which did you enjoy writing more?
Which are you prouder of now?

MB: I’m proud of them both. They both are written from the heart, and they both answer
different questions. Zombie survival guide is much more personal in that it’s much more
individual. How would an individual group of people survive? And World War Z is big.
What would governments do? What would the whole world do? They were both fulfilling
prophecies.

DO: Have you got anything in the works right now?

MB: Yeah, several projects. Right now I have a comic book series, a limited series, for which I think we’re going to be making an official announcement in a couple weeks. So that’s next on the docket for me. We also have the unabridged audio book for World War Z
which is coming out. We have an amazing cast for that. That was a lot of hard work, but
that was really fulfilling casting these people and working with them. And then I have a
graphic novel coming out in about a year. It’s taken me about 13 years to complete.

DO: Do you stay involved in current zombie works right now such as the Walking Dead?

MB: I love the comics, and I loved the first season of the show. The first season I thought was unbelievable, but I checked out when they fired Frank Darabont, the creator.

DO: Why did you decide to come to Stony Brook University?

MB: You wanted me to come. You asked me to come, and I said, sure, I’d love to talk to
Stony Brook students about how to survive a zombie attack. I was born in New York.
It’s my second home. I think, with the right planning, Long Island could become quite
a defensible haven for humanity. It’s an island, that’s a start. Unfortunately it’s right
next to Manhattan, the largest population zone in the world, so I think it would require
a certain amount of planning and care to turn Long Island into a fortress. It’s also one of
the most diverse islands in the world. It’s very rare that you have on one piece of land
Queens and the Hamptons.

DO:  Was there any particular historical figure you drew inspiration from for World War Z
such as Churchill?

MB: All of them. I’m a history buff. I was a history major in college. I’m a history nerd before
I’m a science fiction nerd, so everything that happened in World War Z is based on a
true historical event. Pretty much every character in it has some basis in reality and some
basis in history. I even quote Churchill.

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