A follow-up to his "Zombie, Ohio" (but "not exactly a sequel," he says), he weaves a multi-perspective story of three survivors: a jaded journalist (working for "Brain's Chicago Business," naturally), a South Side pastor with a troubled past and a tough drummer in an all-girl punk band.
We sat down with Kenemore to ask him about his book, the zombie genre, and how he helped pay for his research. Here's an edited transcript of our conversation.
Q: Zombies seem to be having a cultural moment. Why do you think that is?
A: I think it's just that zombies (are) percolating to their appropriate place in the culture. Vampires are popular, but
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Q: What do you do when you're not writing about zombies?
A: I'm a communications/copywriter-type person here in Chicago. I work for The Harris School at the
Q: You spend a lot of time going over Chicago's political and social makeup. Why is that important for a zombie novel?
A: Zombies are like a natural disaster story. Zombies are everywhere, (like a) tornado. An earthquake. A typhoon. It's a test of the whole city.
I don't think Chicago would do very well under a test because of things like corruption. Like people giving jobs to their friends instead of to smart people who know what to do. So I think that if a zombie attack happened in Chicago, one of the things we'd learn about ourselves is why it's not good to have corruption and the patronage system, because you don't get the best people who know what to do when a crisis happens.
Q: Max Brooks cited
A: I really like both Studs Terkel and Max Brooks. Brooks' book had a much larger cast of narrators. But I wanted to do things like have a smaller cast: Three narrators who told the same story from different perspectives … (depending on the) race and sex and social class and neighborhood background of the narrator.
Q: Any tips on where to hide in a zombie attack?
A: I would like to be up high and have Molotov cocktails and throw them down at the zombies because they would run into other zombies and set them on fire. You'd have a mass of flaming zombies. That would be the most fun.
Q: What are the places you'd hide in Chicago?
A: Being at
Q: You used crowd-funded website Kickstarter to help you pay for travel research for this novel. People who pledged money had their names as characters in the book. Tell me about that.
A: I didn't need a lot of money, but what I wanted to do was explore the state … to take a bunch of road trips … without worrying about money and only making art and the story I wanted to write.
So I thought "What would I do in terms of rewards people would like for pledging?" I know that when I have to give a character names, I usually just give my friends' names anyway. So I thought, this will be a nice source of names. Then some people wanted themselves portrayed as zombies. And some people were really, really happy to see themselves killed as zombies. I got so many thank yous.
Q: Can we expect 48 other zombie books? Zombie, Hawaii; Zombie, Rhode Island?
A: I honestly don't know yet. I need to start thinking about an answer to that. I've lived a lot of different places around the Midwest. I could definitely do the whole Midwest.
Q: In your novel, the mayor of Chicago is eaten by zombie
A: I don't know. Embalming. You can last a long time these days.
Chris LaMorte is a freelancer writer and editor of UrbanDaddy Chicago.