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BQB’s Bad Ass Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – Chapter 1 – Section 3 – Packing a Bug-Out Bag


When the zombies come for you, they’re not going to care if you aren’t ready for them. This isn’t the prom and these flesh chomping dirt bags aren’t going to park their butts on your sofa and make small talk with your mom while you put the finishing touches on your make-up in the bathroom.

They want your brains and they want them now.

Thus, in the event that it starts looking like your home is about to be overrun with more zombies than you can handle, then you need to be prepared to make a dash in a flash.

Or to put it more succinctly, you need to be ready to “bug out” of your pad and that’s where a bug-out bag comes in.

Only Pack the Essentials

Your baseball card collection. That trophy you got for coming in seventy-seventh place in a foot race with seventy six of your classmates. Your collection of potato chips that bear a striking resemblance to Phyllis Diller.

Be ready to leave all that and more behind, because if you aren’t ready to eat those Diller chips for sustenance, then they’re just bogging you down.

(Phyllis Diller, millenials? No? Crap. Who’s a crusty old funny broad today? I got it. Do you have a collection of potato chips that look like Lisa Lampanelli?  No? Too early 2000’s?  Ok.  Check it out. Do you have a collection of potato chips that look like Chelsea Handler? Yes. The millennials are nodding their heads. I can get out of this terrible joke and move on.)

The zombies are not going to give you a break because you need to grab a few things before you go. And they aren’t going to run slower to compensate for you carrying a bunch of crap that you don’t need.

Zombies are dumb animals who don’t understand concepts like fairness…or kindness…or hygiene.

So if you’re slowly struggling under the weight of bags filled with all the notebooks you used to write love letters to Harry Styles from One Direction, then I guarantee your brains are going to end up with zombie teethmarks in them.
Thus, you must fill your bag with a) life sustaining essentials and b) the sum total weight of which you can carry while you are running away from damn dirty zombies.
The great thing about diversity is that we all are, at the risk of sounding redundant, different. An item that can sustain my life may be of little to no use to you.

So only you know what you can or can’t get along with during the z-poc, but here are some suggestions:

Food and Water

We covered storing food and water a bit in the section on zombie proofing your home. Now we’re talking about packing it. You’ll definitely want a few store bought water bottles in your bag. Prepackaged foods will also be ideal. Granola bars. Some of that nutritional shake mix (something along the lines of Carnation Instant Breakfast, for example) might be good. Of course you’ll have to mix it with water. You won’t have any milk to mix in it unless you manage to kidnap a cow amidst the apocalyptic fallout, which if you do, go you. I applaud your resourcefulness.

Canned food will last awhile, not due to its nutritious value but because it is pumped full of more preservatives than the face of your favorite aging celebrity. Just remember too many cans and you’ll be weighed down. The slower your roll the more likely you’ll end up zombie poop (because a damn zombie will eat and digest you and yes, they do poop.)


You’ll definitely want to bring your prescription drugs, though I can’t really recommend just leaving them in a random bag in your house. Drugs can be dangerous so you want to keep all that shit locked up in a safe location, far away from dumb little kids who explore the world by putting as much of it in their mouths as possible. (You parents who are constantly prying random, tiny pieces of floor junk out of your kids’ pie holes know what I’m talking about.)

Plus you want to keep your drugs out of the hands of untrustworthy adults, like your coke head brother-in-law, or your self-medicating hypochondriac buddy who jumps onto various health websites and diagnoses himself with a strange new tropical disease every time he sneezes.

In other words, your pharmaceuticals are for you, period. A medical doctor prescribed them to you based on his assessment of your condition and his judgment based on years of medical training.

So no, don’t leave drugs lying around your house in an unsecured bag. Keep drugs somewhere safe, secure, away from others but remember where you left them in case you need to grab them in a hurry when the zombies come.

As for over the counter stuff, these drugs can also be dangerous if you leave them just lying around in a bag.

Instead, maybe keep a mental list of what you’ll want to grab quickly when the zombies come a calling.

Do you want to bring your Nyquil in case you get a stuffy nose and/or a sore throat that keeps you from sleeping? Be my guest. However, keep in mind that the sleep you get from it will leave you less alert and more likely to become zombie chow.


It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave a little bit of cash in your bug-out bag. During the first few weeks of the zombie apocalypse, people will retain their faith in the government’s ability to restore order. Thus, they’ll be willing to trade goods and services for cash, completely unaware that the president has already left us all for dead and is partying hearty in his underground bunker with a champaign flute in one hand and a buxom supermodel’s honkers in the other.

(Not gonna lie, world leaders will really be the only ones who totally make out like bandits during the zombie apocalypse, which is totally unfair, for as we will discuss later, if anyone is going to cause a zompoc, it’s going to be those asshats.)

How much money? The short answer is whatever you can afford to lose, because you’ll be keeping it in a random bag in your house and you just know that when the end times come and you need a hundred bucks to bribe a guard to let you through a gate that leads to safety, you’re going to reach into your bag and discover that one of your sticky fingered relatives already found it, swiped it and spent it on something stupid (candy, comic books, ticket to a Justin Bieber concert, take your pick.)
Lighter and/or Matches

From time to time, you’ll need to start a fire when you’re living in the wilderness. Maybe you’ll need to cook a squirrel you caught and never would have even eaten before but after months without fast food that furry little bastard is looking mighty good to you (and ironically, it will probably taste much like your favorite fast food chain’s burger.)

Some experts might tell you it is possible to make a fire using a flint stone, rubbing two sticks together, or by harnessing the power of the sun through a magnifying glass, but I’m not an expert on anything. I’m just a jackass with a magic bookshelf pulling random thoughts out of my butt.

At any rate, it probably isn’t very safe to leave flammable materials lying around in a bag in your house either, so…ok. Scratch this idea too.

First Aid Kit

This is a must have. Some bandages. Some gauze. Maybe educate yourself on how to treat a wound. I have no idea how to do that shit either so let me know if you do.


Ah, finally. The gun control debate that’s tearing our country apart finds its way into a Bookshelf Q. Battler book.

Folks, here in America, we have the right to bear arms. This right has been written into our constitution due to a rather abusive relationship we had with our pre-democracy ruler, the King of England.

I’m sorry but someone has to say it. King George was an epic douche. Always bossing us around and telling us what to do. Forcing us to house his damn redcoats. Taxing the shit out of our tea.

We don’t drink as much tea as we used to and today we have  taxed ourselves at rates that would make the Founding Fathers spin in their graves, but still. It’s the principal of the thing.

If we’re going to be required to take a portion of our hard earned moolah and feed it to the bureaucratic beast known as government, then we at least want a say in choosing via elections which public officials will fleece us and which song and dance routines we want to see as these officials promise they’ll do one thing with our money and then once elected, do something completely different with it. Pick the song and dance routine that complies with whichever preconceived notions you have about the world that will never occur because political types just do what they want in the end anyway.

Like an empowered woman who has escaped an abusive relationship but remains fearful her nasty ex might break down the door at any time, we Americans still sleep with one eye open, frightened that the King of England will either come back for us, or a new, scary form of government will rear its ugly head and make us yearn for the good old days with the King.

Thus, Americans are understandably hanging onto this right. And aside from concerns about hypothetical tyranny, there’s always people who are rightfully afraid of crime, street gangs, terrorists, and assorted perverts.

Personally, I don’t own a gun. I could tell you that it is because I am trained in a variety of martial arts, from Kung-Fu and Krav Maga to Nerd-Fu and Obla Dee Ma Da.

But frankly, the real reason I don’t own a gun is because I did a mental calculation of the pros and cons of gun ownership versus potential risks posed to me and determined that due to my general incompetence and stupidity, the likelihood of me accidentally shooting myself or someone I care about was high whereas the likelihood of me needing to protect myself or someone I care about from a mob of violent weirdoes was low.

I’m in a weird place on gun control. I don’t want a gun. I don’t want to blow a deer’s brains out or anything. But I don’t necessarily want to see the right to own a firearm go away. After all, every time we surrender a right, the government grows that much stronger, and though the government we have today seems reasonable, who knows what it might morph into tomorrow.

On the other hand, we do have a problem with mass shootings and other gun related crimes. I don’t have the statistics but generally speaking, I don’t recall there ever being as many instances of mass shootings when I was a young lad in the 1990’s as there are today.

We were better at handling our depression in the 1990s. We’d pop on some alternative rock. A moody as hell bearded dude dressed up like a lumberjack in his best flannel would sing a depressing song. All of us young folk would sort of half-dance by swaying a few inches to the left then a few inches to the right with our heads down. We essentially handled our depression by going out of our way to let everyone know that we were depressed all the time.

Today’s kids are different. Parents and teachers and shrinks and everyone pumps kids full of so much happy good time, sparkly sunshine, special snowflake, get a participation ribbon just for showing up bullshit that when they become adults and meet up with someone telling them no for the first time, they grab a heater and go berserk.

And yes, I do realize its not only the millenials losing their shit. Old people have engaged in mass shootings. Middle-aged people have as well.

So I do understand why many people today are throwing their hands up, declaring society as a whole can’t be trusted with individual gun ownership, and demanding that the right to bear arms be thrown in the trash.

I’ll have to paraphrase the late great Ronald Reagan here. He once said that “the closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government program.”

I’d go a step further and say that the closest thing to eternal life is a right. Once the government says you can do something, it becomes difficult and practically impossible for that right to be taken away.

I don’t know what the answer to the gun debate is. A long held government right vs. too many people getting blown away by wackos. I’m just a mild mannered humorist so I can’t tell you how to resolve this debate, but I hope the various and sundry folks at the helm of our national ship figure out a way.

Did I have a point with all this? Oh right. So honestly, I am not going to tell you to go out and get a gun or a knife or some other kind of weapon to prepare for an apocalypse of any kind, be it a zombie apocalypse or an apocalypse generated by some other type of disaster.

The odds that you’ll shoot or stab yourself, or someone else, maybe even someone you love are high whereas the likelihood of you needing a gun or a knife or another weapon to fight zombies are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1. Shit, that’s a lot of zeroes, but that’s also how unlikely zombies will ever become anything more than make-believe.

Should you feel dumb for buying this book then? Probably, but it’s too late. I have already spent the money you shelled out for it on a delicious wings and skins sampler.

Burp. Excuse me.

If you are already a gun and/or knife or other type of weapon owner, I hope you’re exercising your right to bear arms cautiously. If you are, then surely you know it is a dumb idea to keep guns, knives and other weapons lying around in a bag in your house. You must, must, must keep all weapons locked up in a safe, secure location, and there is plenty of information out there on how to do that.


Hmmm. So I have determined it is a bad idea to leave weapons, fire starting implements, and medicine in a bag that’s just lying around your house. Perhaps this section was a waste of time.

Or maybe it wasn’t. You can still pack a bag filled with bottles of water, nonperishable packaged food, and as much cash as you can afford to lose. In the unlikely event that the zombies come, you can at least grab your food/water/money bag and run like hell.

During the first few weeks of post-apocalyptic survival, you’ll be able to survive off of the food and water you bring, and you perhaps could even trade some of your food and water with other survivors for goods and services.

Your money won’t be there because you always knew your buddy Doug was a dirty, dirty thief.

Up your nose with a rubber hose, Doug. You know you spent my zombie apocalypse money on hookers and blow. #WorstBuddyEver

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Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Bad Ass Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – Chapter 1 – Section 2 – Zombie Proofing Your Home


Zombies will be trying to break into your crib at all times. You need to nip that shit in the bud.

Whether it’s a swanky mansion in Beverly Hills or a crumbling old shack in East Randomtown, your home is yours. It belongs to you.

And I don’t know about you, noble reader, but I’d rather sing a karaoke version of Taylor Swift’s greatest hits while Japanese businessmen pelt me with rotten eggs than allow a damn dirty zombie to drive me out of my home.

This is America, damn it, and if those zombies want my house they’ll have to either yank my stank ass corpse out of it or at the very least, make me a reasonable offer based on fair market value, adjusted for inflation, with additional moving expenses added in.

I’m not going to tell you that it is possible to fully zombie proof your home. After all, put enough zombies anywhere and they can destroy anything.

But I will tell you that these are some steps that will slow the undead down:

Board Up Your House

Yes, right now.  Every door. Every window. Every entrance. Nail boards over all of it.  Then in bright orange spray paint write “Zombies Not Welcome” all over the boards.  Or, if you want to be tricky, put up a sign that says, “All the Brains in this House Have Already Been Devoured in a Grotesque Manner.”  Zombies are pretty dumb so they’ll fall for it. And let’s face it. No one in your house is a rocket scientist so a sign reading “No Brains Here” wouldn’t even really be that much of a stretch would it?

Do you want to be nailing boards over your doors while zombie hands are busting through the walls and getting all grabby with you? I think not. So nail your house shut and then sit in the corner and wait for the zombie apocalypse like a good reader.

Then again, I suppose if you did all this the neighbors would probably assume you are a wacko and call the cops on you.  And it would harm your home’s ventilation, cut down the interior air circulation, rob you of natural lighting,  and turn you into an unhealthy shut in.

Shit. OK. Change of plan. DO NOT board up your house.  But go to Home Depot and get a bunch of boards and store them somewhere nice and safe so you’ll have them ready to go when the news reports start warning of an impending zombie attack.

If you can’t carry the boards, there are usually a lot of Mexican dudes hanging around outside Home Depot waiting to help people carry anti-zombie attack boards in exchange for a few bucks. That’s not a racist statement. That’s just how it is.

In fact, and I don’t mean to tell the news media how to do their jobs here, but someone really needs to ask Donald Trump who the hell is going to carry all of our anti-zombie home protection boards when all the Mexicans are sent to the other side of the wall that he wants to build and bill to the Mexicans.

By the way, that reminds me:

You Need to Build a Wall

You need to build a giant wall around the entire perimeter of your home. You need to do it fast, you need to do it now and you need to make the zombies pay for it.

Don’t let the zombies fool you.  Many of them are still carrying the wallets that belonged to the people they were before they became undead shells of their formers selves. So they’ve got the cash to reimburse you for anti-zombie wall.

In that wall, there should be a door. You can use it if you ever want to leave your home for whatever reason. Maybe you need to go on supply runs or something.

Now it’s your home so you can choose to let zombies in if you want, provided that they pass through your rigorous vetting process, but make no mistake about it, zombies will only be allowed to pass through the door in your wall legally.

Look, this idea isn’t going to be popular but I’m just going to say it. Maybe we ought to put a total moratorium on all zombies entering your home until we figure out what in the hell these zombies are up to.

So get your ass back to Home Depot, grab some bricks and mortar and hire those Mexicans to build your wall for you. The higher the better because pole vaulting is not exactly a zombie’s strong suit.

Um, you might need to get some permits and the approval of various officials before you build your wall.  There’s probably limits on how high you can build too.  You know what, I’m just going to let you figure that part out on your own. I can’t do everything for you.

Get a Gas Powered Generator

These will become a hot commodity during a zombie apocalypse so rather than wait and put yourself in a position where you’ll have to sell you body to some redneck in order to get one, why not invest in one today?

Go get one, get it set up, and keep a reasonable supply of gas on hand. I mean, you don’t want to keep so much that you’ll burn down your house, but enough so that you’ll at least be able to run the lights and let your kids play their stupid video games so that you won’t have to talk to them or read to them or do any parenting or shit.

(That was a joke. Parent your kids and teach them to be solid citizens.  Who knows? Maybe with your help they’ll grow up to become respectable world leaders who won’t allow a zombie apocalypse to happen.)

Security Systems

If you have a home alarm monitoring system, it’s not going to work once the power goes out.

Thus, a pesky zombie could break into your house and if you’re fast asleep, you won’t know he’s inside until he’s munching on your face.

Various anti-zombie experts will differ on this, but I recommend hiring a band of hobos to walk around your house.  Promise to send some food their way once in awhile and in exchange, they’ll be expect to shout, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!” if they see any zombies coming your way.

Oh, right. My attorney advises me to to warn you that hobos are a violent, ill-tempered lot and should not be trusted anywhere near your home.

Really? That seems kind of racist against hobos.  Wait. Hobos aren’t a race. Classist? I don’t know.

You know what. Forget it. Don’t put hobos in charge of guarding your house.  Damn lawyers ruin everything.

Store Food/Water

Who knows how long the zombie apocalypse is going to last?

If you’re stuck in your home for an extended time period, you’re going to get the munchies like a futhermucker.

I’m no expert, but rarely has that ever stopped me from offering my opinion on anything, so here goes.

Perishables won’t last very long. Raw meat, cheese, milk, it’s all going to expire quickly if the zombies knock the power out and you didn’t have the foresight to get yourself a back-up generator.

You’ll probably want some powdered milk, packaged foods. Twinkies, I’m told, will last through a nuclear war and I know this because whenever I eat one I feel like it is still dancing in my belly for hours.

Do they still make Twinkies? I thought they stopped making them for awhile but then I thought they made a comeback. I don’t know.

Water is definitely something you’ll want. There’s all kinds of literature out there that will tell you how to keep it safe and drinkable even after storing it for long periods of time.

Do you know they have this invention now where it is like a giant bag you can put in your tub, fill it up with water and then your tub becomes like your own personal water storage tank?

Obviously, if there’s an impending disaster that could affect the quality of your water, you’ll want to fill that bag before said disaster.

With zombies, you could probably wait until news of a zombie epidemic spreads.

Then again, zombies have been known to pee in town water supplies.

You know what? It’s up to you. If you want to stop showering so you can leave a giant water bag in your tub in the event of a zombie apocalypse, be my guest.

Sorry.  There are probably people out there more qualified than I am to tell you how to package and preserve your water and food stuffs.

“You need twinkies and water” is the best advice I can give you.

Also, if it gets down to the point where you have to drink your own urine, consider just giving up and letting the zombies have you.

I mean, it’s your wizz, for Christ’s sake. There can’t be anything tangy or delicious about that.

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Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Doomsday Prepper


Your girlfriend will kick so much undead ass during the zombie apocalypse.

She thinks it’s the end of the world as we know it…but do you feel fine? 

Alas, to all good things must come an end.  Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out when they plugged in their curling irons all at once, so too may humanity cease to be one day.

But probably not while we’re alive.  It’s those future suckers who’ve got problems.

Or is the end closer than we think?  Your girlfriend sure seems to think so.

From BQB HQ in fabulous East Randomtown, here are the Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Doomsday Prepper:

10.   Attempted to get you to drink your own urine to, and I quote, “get you used to the robust flavor.” Not only did you hurt her feelings with your emphatic refusal, you’re also not able to look at lemonade the same way ever again.

9.  Refers to The Walking Dead and Mad Max as “training videos.”

8.  Every piece of clothing in her closet is camouflage.  In fact, if you were to wear camouflage and then stand in front of all of her camouflage clothes, you’d disappear.  Trippy.

7.  Her basement is filled with enough tin cans to give a hungry billy goat an orgasm.  (Get it?  Because doomsday preppers store canned food and billy goats like to eat tin cans and…oh.  I guess the cans have to be empty for a goat to want to chew on it.  You know what?  Forget it. When it needs to be explained, it isn’t funny.  Moving on…)

6.  She has more guns than your local run of the mill street gang…and she knows how to use ’em.

5.  She packed his and her bug out bags filled with survival gear to grab in a hurry when the zombies, aliens, machines, invading troops, catastrophic weather event, nuclear meltdown or other to be named tragedy unfolds, causing a need to “bug out” the door in a hurry.  Feel loved, my friend, because that means there’s no one else she’d rather spend the apocalypse with than you.

4.  Forget diamonds.  All she wants for Valentine’s Day is a gas mask.

3.  From hang nails to a steak dinner, she does all of her cutting with the same machete.

2.  Claims an ability to patch up wounds with bat guano (in case you were wondering why she keeps feeding ex-lax to that bat.)

  1.  Built an underground bunker.  Connected a hot tub, disco lights, and a recording of Barry White to a gas powered generator because hey, the world may have come to an end, but the romance is just beginning.
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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 18 Interview – Deirdre Gould – Maine Prepping and Self-Publishing



Amazon             Website


My guest today is Deirdre Gould, who has strategically placed herself in Maine, where cold temperatures make the zombies run slower and remote isolation means zombifying viruses take longer to spread.  Better yet, harsh storms make it so no one thinks Deirdre’s crazy for prepping.

In other words, she finds it to be a primo spot for writing the After the Cure series, which chronicles a world in which “the December Plague” has turned humans into violent, bloodthirsty, cannibalistic monsters.

I just hope they don’t eat me.  I taste awful.

Let me see if I can Deirdre on the space phone.

Q.  Hello Deirdre.  Are you a prepper and if so, I’ll ask the question I’ve posed to other prepper authors this month.  Why?  Are we all doomed or is it just a better safe and sorry thing?

A.  Hello BQB, things are getting pretty dodgy for you and your comrades! I hope I can help! Am I a prepper? Well, yes and no.  What lots of folks forget about Maine is that most of it is very, very rural.  And in the winter, when the tourists go home, even the cities are kind of rural.  There are some places, like my home town, that first got electricity within my lifetime (and I’m in my 30s).  Not only was a significant portion of my childhood spent without running water or electricity, but even after we got put on the grid, it wasn’t reliable. For a long time, it wasn’t unusual for the power to go out at least once a week.  It’s still pretty normal for it to go down once a month or so. And although our power workers are truly the best, it’s a big state (landwise) and once the power goes out, it could be out for a few hours or several days.  

As recently as the 1998 ice storm, my family spent two full weeks with no power and no running water.  And winter up here is no joke. You know that Stephen King book. The Storm of the Century?  Yeah, we have one of those at least every year.  Really. Had to turn one of the kids over to Linoge like six years ago. So almost everyone has a wood stove, most rural places still have an old hand pump well (and someone that lives there knows how to prime it and is constantly reminding people not to fall in), and lots of us have pantries stocked full at any given moment.  Especially because we can our own goods. And because for many people, the closest grocery store is forty five minutes to an hour away (everything is very spread out here).  Solar panels are big here, when people can afford them. Homemade windmills too.

But I don’t know anyone who has a bunker, unless it’s been turned into a root cellar after the Soviet Union collapsed.  Or a gun unless it’s for deer hunting. While a packed pantry is good, I try not to store more than about six months worth of anything, it’s just not practical for my particular family. And while Mainers have a reputation for being curt or crotchety, we really do take care of our neighbors instead of try to hide what we’ve got from them.  And I know there are lots of very generous preppers out there who do the same, but I’ve also heard stories about secret storehouses and guarded water sources. But probably somewhere in the back of almost every Mainer’s mind is the memory of someone helping them out when they most needed it.  Whether it was being rescued from an icy accident, sharing water with each other during the ice storm, or that emergency delivery of wood or oil in the worst part of February, we’ve all got them. Even in this modern world, we wouldn’t survive out here without each other. Besides, having the neighbors over is an excuse for a party. I like to think of us more as the Hobbits of the Prepper world. We do it because it makes good sense, and because we are always expecting company.  Not because we’re all doomed. 

Q.  Soap.  Water.  Tacos.  iPads.  Netflix.  Showers.  All these great inventions become lost in a zombie apocalypse.  Why do zombie fans fantasize about a world where all these things we take for granted are lost?

A.  I think it’s that old urge to pit man against nature. We want to imagine that we are tough enough to measure up without our crutches. We’ve conquered every bit of this old earth (there’s even a litter problem on Everest and tourists in Antarctica), so there’s no place left for those that feel that drive to explore, to prove that rugged individualistic streak. Much of apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of civilization, of course, but why? Is it because there is something inherently wrong with showers and readily available bacon? For the majority of these stories, no. It’s not really about damning our current way of life (though lots of these stories contain “warnings”), it’s about wanting to do better. About wanting to be better. But we all know we are creatures of habit. We won’t stop what we like unless we’re forced to.  We won’t make a better world until the one we live in is destroyed.  These stories aren’t about losing technology and history and massive portions of the population.  That’s just a byproduct.  The real story is about the people that emerge when they are forced to do without.  To do without modern implements, without the convenience and interconnectedness of society, even to do without the most basic and precious commodity we have, other humans and their brain power (cause it’s being snacked on).  It’s about being alone in an unfamiliar world and not only surviving, but making that world a better place.  Starting fresh.  That’s what we all really want to do. Start fresh.

Q.  You provide your readers with an interesting spin on the zompoc genre, namely, your series begins “after the cure” has been found.  This cure turns the Infected back to normal, regular humans but alas, they have to live with the realization of all the horrible things they’ve done.

I hate to ask for spoilers, but here’s the question that pops into my mind.  A zombie turns back to normal.  Should we blame him for eating other humans or should we be all like, “It’s cool, man.  You were a zombie.”

A.  No worries, that’s not really a spoiler, that’s one of the biggest questions of the series and why I started writing it in the first place.  Remember that the non-zombies aren’t totally innocent either.  They would have had to kill to survive as well. In the world of After the Cure, some of the Immunes killed even when they didn’t have to. But they didn’t know that the zombies would be cured. Should we blame them too?  How does a society function when everyone is a killer? You’d think that it would just fall apart. But we know, from our own human history, that it happens. We don’t have zombies, but we do have war and atrocity and cruelty. But when the war is over, when the conflict is resolved, people still have to go home. Maybe their neighbor was on the opposing side. Maybe their boss at work betrayed them to the opposing side. Maybe their grocer was their prison camp guard. But somehow, life goes on, people still interact, even when it seems incomprehensible.  So that’s a running theme throughout the series.  Who is guilty? Who is evil? How do people live not only with their neighbors, but with their own memories?

Q.  In the first book of the series, a court psychologist and a defense attorney work to bring those responsible for the virus to justice.  I could be wrong here, but I can’t think of another zombie apocalypse series where the reader actually gets to see a zombie apocalypse end and people turn their attention towards rebuilding society.  How did you come up with the idea for this?

A.  Actually, it was from reading truckloads of zombie books! I love them, I can’t get enough of them, even the ones that fall into a sort of formula. But after tome number gazillion and one, I realized that the causes of zombieism were always kind of limited.  For the most part, it was either a deadly virus or some chemical spill that caused zombies (with an occasional voodoo spell or electrical malfunction thrown in).  But I’d never seen a zombie story where a bacteria was involved.  That’s it, that was where it started. I started to wonder why nobody ever used a bacteria, and I realized that it was because a bacteria had the potential for an antibiotic, a cure, where a virus didn’t. It violated one of the most cherished rules of zombieism: They can’t be cured, so all you can do is kill them. It’s part of the “fun” of zombie fiction. There is no moral quandary about killing them because they can’t come back. They aren’t “people” anymore.  Zombies who can’t be cured might as well be a tornado or locusts or a volcano, just a natural disaster to be avoided or beaten. But what if that rule changed? What if people discovered that not only could the zombies be cured, but that once they were cured, they could remember everything that had happened while they were sick? And what if they found out late? Really, really late. 

If they were anything like us, the first thing they’d do is try to find someone or something to blame for what had happened. Something to excuse their own guilt. That’s why the trial became the initial frame for this world. But are the defendants really guilty or just convenient scapegoats? 

Q.  What motivated you to start writing?

A.  I’m one of those weird people who never wanted to start doing this for real. I mean, I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a little girl, but I never wanted to be a writer. I went to school for something very different, but when I was in college my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I took a year and a half off from school to help her. It meant many, many really long days of driving and sitting in doctor’s offices and hospitals (remember, everything is far away in Maine!). So to amuse myself, I started writing a novel. I didn’t finish it and set it aside for a long time, but I thought about it often and I’d add a bit here and there. Finally, the year my oldest child was born, I heard about Nanowrimo and decided I was going to finish this book (I think it had been about 7 years since I started it at that point).  At the end of November I had a draft and put it away. Three years later, I’d been laid off from my copywriting job and struggling to find something else and honestly just couldn’t find anything. So I sat down and worked on the book for another year. I pretended it was just going to be for me, that I didn’t care about anyone reading it, but I started reading all these sites by agents anyway. Finishing the book made me more confident and I started working on other things, just for fun. I submitted a few pieces but everything I was reading on the agent sites convinced me that I shouldn’t even bother trying. Nobody ever took on new writers any more. I had a better chance of winning the lottery as being picked up by even an agent, let alone a publisher. And then I heard about KDP. I decided I had nothing to lose, and posted one of my finished novels, just to see what would happen.  It was addictive. I got sucked in.  I still considered it a hobby, something for my spare time, pretty much until last year when I started hearing from readers. Then it started to get serious, because someone besides me actually cared what happened to my characters. I’m now firmly entrenched and I actually sometimes feel guilty because I enjoy doing this so much, it feels like I’m goofing off instead of working a “real” job. 

Q.  Thanks for talking with me today.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice for my friends and I that might help us survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.  Well, you are a couple of weeks in now, you’ve probably got some nicks and scrapes by now. You are going to want to keep any wounds clean and free from infection. In a world where antibiotics will be hard to find, you are going to need some easy alternatives or else that blister on your foot could mean amputation in a few weeks, or worse.  Honey is a great topical antibiotic. It can be rubbed directly onto small wounds to fight off infection before you bandage them. For internal or systemic bacteria (like listeria from that bad deli meat you ate from the mall after the coolers lost power), if you have a silver dollar or a piece of real silverware, some water, and a battery, you can make some colloidal silver to fight that nasty bug off.  Use too muc, though and your skin will turn a lovely shade of blue, permanently. If you listened to Sarah Lyons Fleming on day one, you probably have some baby wipes to clean yourself, but what are you doing about those nasty blood spattered weapons? Those things are crawling with zombie virus. Washing them won’t completely kill the germs, so you’ll need to find some copper. The pipes in your building probably aren’t doing much good now, if the electricity is off. Hack off a length of copper pipe. At night (or whenever you stop to flop down, exhausted from the near constant run/slaughter/run combo) place your pipe over the weapons. In two hours or so, almost all the germs will be gone, even a foot away from the actual copper!  Here’s hoping you make it to day 19!

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