From left: zombie expert, Max Brooks, author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide
Middle left: zombie expert Matt Mogk, founder of the Zombie Research Society
Middle right: vampire expert Scott Bowen, author of The Vampire Survival Guide
Far right: vampire expert Steve Niles, a veteran comic book writer, known for 30 Days of Night
Max Brooks: Without sounding I think too narcissistic I think in large respect the public at large their level of anxiety has caught up to where I always have lived. I think we're living in very uncertain times. I think there is a high level of uncertainty and anxiety among the general populace and we haven't seen that since the 1970s when there really was a feeling, subconscious and conscious, that the system was breaking down. And I think that's how people feel now and I think people need a place to explore those anxieties in what I consider a safe way because if you face the breakdown of society and it's too real then instinctively you want to turn away. And I think when you see a zombie story you're seeing the exact same thing you would see in a genuine outbreak or a Hurricane Katrina but because the catalyst of that is fictional you're able to examine it.
Max Brooks: Exactly. If you go into a cocktail party and you say, "Hey, how would you guys all prepare for a zombie outbreak?" you could have a very lively, spirited, intelligent conversation about things like bottled water, first aid, having a radio, getting to know your neighbors and it would all be fun and easy but at the same time it would be real. Try that if you go to a cocktail party and say, "Hey, how are we all going to survive the next pandemic?" You're going to clear the room.
Max Brooks: There were many, many fears but zombies to me were particularly unique in that you didn't have to go find them in that every other sort of monster movie begins with a group of young, good-looking Caucasian Americans making a bad choice and looking for trouble whereas most zombie stories you can be minding your own business and it surges up around you and destroys the world. And I think for me that's also what makes zombies unique is that in a zombie plague you're just as likely to die from dehydration, starvation, infection, accidents as you are from ever confronting a zombie.
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