Zombie Awareness Month Roundtable: Tantor Audio Authors and Giveaway!

30 05 2013


Can humanity survive the rising of the undead? What skills will be most important when trying to survive in the time of cannibalistic undead? Today I ask my panel of experts to chime in on all things Zombie Survival. Today’s guest all share one thing in common beyond being awesome undead bards, they have all had their books produced by the wonderful people at Tantor Audio!

So along with today’s answers, we will be having a Giveaway. Two people will receive a Zombie Audiobook pack including titles from each of the participants in today’s roundtable. To enter, just leave a comment answering the following question:

What one skill do you have that could be your saving grace in a Zombie Apocalypse?

Please make sure you include a way for me to contact you if you

The Giveaway is for the Continental US, and ends Thursday June 6th at 11:59PM. 

Jesse Petersen author of The Living With the Dead series.


Scott Kenemore, author of Zombie, Ohio and The Zen of Zombie

Mark Tufo, author of The Zombie Fallout Series, and The Book of Riley

Wayne Simmons, author of Flu and Fever

When discussing training for Zombie Survival, many people focus on the obvious, weapons training, martial arts, wilderness survival skills and the like. What is one often neglected skill that seems useless today but may be essential in surviving the coming Zombie Apocalypse?

Jesse Petersen: I think most people would be stuck on basic survival skills. You’d figure out weapons pretty fast and hopefully it wouldn’t come to martial arts very often with zombies, but when it comes to getting potable water, making a fire, finding food once things go bad, I think a lot of people won’t have those skills. Hopefully they’ll be able to figure out libraries. LOL A good argument for making sure we fund those. ALOT.

Scott Kenemore: I’m not of the opinion that a true zombie apocalypse would be survivable in the truest sense.  Therefore, I think it’d be important to focus on having as much fun as you possibly could.  I think taking a bunch of Molotov cocktails up to a roof and then throwing them down on the zombies would be a pretty fun way to go out swinging.

Mark Tufo: CARDIO! – I think most folks over-estimate the level of their physical fitness. Now I’ll use myself as a prime example. In High School and College I was what many folks considered a jock, I played baseball, football and ran track. Even played hockey on the side. Then I joined the Marine Corps where they honed that conditioning into a fine tuned machine, which I summarily dismantled with 15 plus years sitting behind a desk. So my head says ATHLETE, my body says not so much. My only chance when the zombies come is thatthe person next to me ate an extra burrito for lunch! Man I have got to clean my treadmill off. 

Wayne Simmons: Running. Seriously, a good pair of trainers and the common sense to uproot and fly at the first sign of trouble will up your survival chances no end. We all love the have-a-go-heroes in zombie books and movies, but were the z-poc to happen for real, those guys would be the first to go. The runners and the hiders: they’re the guys who’ll last longest.

You’re on a long business trip, 1,000 miles away from home when the Zombie Outbreak begins. What do you do? Find a place to hole up and wait out the wave of undead or grab your gear and attempt the classic cross country Zombie Apocalypse Road Trip?

Jesse Petersen: Road Trip! Seriously, I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from trying to get to my husband and family. So I’d be road tripping it and I’m sure I’d pick up some crazy sidekicks (one of whom I’m sure I’d have to kill at some point).

Scott Kenemore: I think a lot would depend on the terrain.  Flat, desert areas would be the biggest challenge.  There would be nowhere to hide.  I think you want variations in terrain when fighting and hiding from zombies.

Mark Tufo: First off, that I’m a thousand miles away is bad news, my separation anxiety would be kicking into high gear by now. So yup I’m going to be that guy that treks across the country against all odds.

Wayne Simmons: The smart thing to do would be to hole up. But I’m something of a migrating man by nature so would probably go on the road trip. It’s curiosity, too. I’d want to watch the world around me going to hell rather than hide away in the arse end of nowhere, waiting for the zeds to wait for me. It would be the death of me, of course, but hell…

Stop what you are doing right now, and look around the place you currently are. What are the positive and negative aspects of your current location if undead hordes where heading your way right now?

Jesse Petersen: Well, I face a window, which is positive since I can see them coming, negative in that they can see me and if they break it, I’m screwed. I don’t really have access to weaponry here except for heavy things on my desk, but I have a few of those so I might be able to Shaun of the Dead a zombie (like they do with the records) and get to a gun if I needed to. It’s not the worst place, for sure, but it’s no bunker.

Scott Kenemore: I’m in a pretty tall building, so I think I’d be okay for a while.  Also, it has elevators.  Are zombies smart enough to operate elevators?  I’m thinking no.  Therefore, our first step is to barricade the stairwell…

Mark Tufo: My home has some decent positives in the fact that I live out in the sticks. Less people means less zombies. Defensive wise I have some holes but nothing a strategically placed Claymore mine wouldn’t take care of.

Wayne Simmons: Positive: I’m at home. I live in a ground floor apartment, situated at the back of the block. The garden’s secure and surrounded by a high wall.

Negative: We haven’t got much food in the cupboards. Almost no tinned stuff. Bugger…


In all the books and movies about Zombies that you have read, what one Zombie scenario do you feel is the least survivable?

Jesse Petersen: The faster the outbreak moves and the larger the population that is transformed at once, the worse it is. If it moves to animals, that’s it. We’re an extinct species and our planet goes back to the trees, I guess.

Scott Kenemore: Zombies on a sumbarine or airplane would be pretty terrifying.

Mark Tufo: Well with all the zombie movies and books I’ve devoured doesn’t seem to be any of them where folks do particularly well. Least survivable? I’d have to go with the countries that have banned or limited access to firearms. Sure you can kill zombies a hundred different ways, me personally, I don’t want to be swinging a hammer.

Wayne Simmons: The police station hole-up. Sure, you’ve got all the guns and ammo you need. But those doughnuts are gonna go stale real soon

What is the one quality that the characters of your books seem to share that has helped them to avoid joining the Zombie Smorgasbord?

Jesse Petersen: I think Dave and Sarah and everyone who works closely with them all share the quality of hope. They continue to TRY whether it’s try to get to a certain place, try to make life livable or try to get a cure. They don’t give up because they cling to the hope that things could be okay again. If you don’t keep that, you lie down and die.

Scott Kenemore: I think you have to be innately curious about zombies.  It’s not enough just to be terrified and run in the other direction.  People survive when they take a moment to figure out what they’re up against.  This means studying the undead and figuring out– to whatever extent this is possible– what makes them tick.  What do they want?  How do they try to get it?  Understanding these things is the first step to longer-term survival.

Mark Tufo: The main characters in my books seem to share strong bonds of family and friendship. The want and drive to protect everyone else even at the expense of themselves, I think that above all other reasons is why at least some of them have survived.

Wayne Simmons: They wear GREAT trainers…

Thanks to these great authors for their answers. Make sure to click the audio images above for my reviews of their books.

Audiobook Review: Fever by Wayne Simmons

23 10 2012

Fever by Wayne Simmons (Flu Series, Bk. 2)

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 51 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse/Pandemic

Quick Thoughts: Fever is a brutal, frightening, kinetically paced apocalyptic thriller that takes it cues from some of the greatest works of the genre, yet Simmons keeps it feeling fresh and new. Combined with Flu, Fever is one of the notable entries of Zombie literature of 2012, and very well may find itself achieving classic status among fans of the genre. If Flu left you unsure of Simmon’s world, Fever will eradicate any doubts.

Grade: A-

I have to admit, I was a little unsure about Fever by Wayne Simmons. I enjoyed Flu, the first book of the series but I also said that my overall impression and its place in the pantheon of great zombie literature was highly dependent on where Simmons moves the series. Then, of course, I made the rookie mistake of browsing some reviews and summaries of the book before listening. Nothing specific in the critical analysis of the novels had me worried, in fact most were positive. What concerned me was that people were calling Fever a prequel to Flu. Now, I have nothing against prequels, but my concern was that I was interested in seeing where Simmons was taking the tale, and not how it began. Sure, I love a good zombie outbreak and pandemic novel, but Simmons already had me pretty well sold on the characters and left us with a significant cliffhanger. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Second novels in series are already problematic to begin with. Typically, it involves the expansion of the world, and is often a bridge novel to further entries in the series or setting up a conclusion. It is rare for a second novel to be better than the first. It has a role to play, but either some of the shine is stripped from the original, or it is so preoccupied with its role that it neglects any sort of congruent story telling. Yet, when people were calling Fever a prequel, it really did have me concerned. Luckily, I discovered that Fever isn’t a prequel novel, in the strictest sense, but an all encompassing tale that bookends the occurrences of Flu, giving us more back story on the world, introducing us to new characters all while picking up the ends of Flu tying all the pieces together seamlessly.

Fever is a novel told in three main parts. The first story gives us a glimpse at the original outbreak within a shadowy government lab in Ireland. This part is a claustrophobic, yet moody psychological zombie thriller full of danger and betrayal. On its own devices, the opening works as a short story, while creating more depth to the world Simmons is building. Then Simmons moves is into a pandemic tale reminiscent of the opening sequences of Stephen King’s The Stand. Here Simmons introduces us to a bunch of new players, struggling in a world or paranoia and obligation. The strength of this part of the story is the relationships between the characters. Simmons relationships are always complicated, creating tension that only explodes within the high stress environment of an apocalyptic event. While many of these relationships are untraditional, like a deaf man dealing with his unfaithful wife and her overbearing father, and a homosexual man trying to find safety for himself and his ex-wife who still feels betrayed by his coming out, there is at essence a recognizable humanity to all these characters that isn’t always easy to watch. As we move into the thirds part of the novel, where Simmons begins to blend the new characters in with the retuning players from Flu, we are thrust into a violent zombie apocalypse that bears a likeness to Brian Keene’s The Rising, one of the classics of the genre. It’s fast and furious, and no characters is safe as the one group tries to keep themselves safe from zombies and a corrupt government agency, all while trying to untangle the secrets to the outbreak. Simmons offers a lot of game changing revelations in this part, yet never allows the pace to slow in order for you to contemplate the implications until the novel comes to its brutal conclusion. What Simmons does is highly impressive. He not only expands his world, but takes the potential of Flu and increases it exponentially. Fever is a brutal, frightening, kinetically paced apocalyptic thriller that takes it cues from some of the greatest works of the genre, yet Simmons keeps it feeling fresh and new. Combined with Flu, Fever is one of the notable entries of Zombie literature of 2012, and very well may find itself achieving classic status among fans of the genre. If Flu left you unsure of Simmon’s world, Fever will eradicate any doubts.

Like Flu, I am still not 100% sold on Michael Kramer’s narration, but it is professional, well paced reading and his signature voice adds a tone of creepiness to the overall tale. While Kramer doesn’t really enhance the experience of the novel, neither does he distract, which is saying a lot because Fever definitely has its challenges for a narrator. One of the biggest challenges is bringing Shaun’s voice to life. Shaun is a deaf Irish man whose voice often was something others either ridiculed or used as an excuse to diminish or simply dismiss the character. At first, I found Kramer’s interpretation a bit robotic. While I struggled with the chosen voice for Shaun early, I thing as the character began to crack under the pressure, Kramer did a great job presenting the emotional turmoil of the character while staying true to his chosen voice. While I still feel I would have liked an Irish narrator, or at least one who could give the prose an Irish lilt, Kramer did a good job with the challenges presented.

Note: Thanks to Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for Review.

Audiobook Review: Flu by Wayne Simmons

28 09 2012

Flu by Wayne Simmons

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 52 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Flu is a strong opening move, yet serves more as a set up to Simmons world, then a complete tale. The true place of Flu within the genre depends highly on how Simmons follows this up. He has placed many pieces in the right positions, now he just needs to execute. Fans of darker moodier Zombie tales who prefer detailed character psychology over lavish zombie mayhem will definitely want to give Flu a shot.

Grade: B

I have considered many things when contemplating the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. There are so many factors one needs to consider including location, provisions, routes of escape, climate, weapons, personal tastiness, protective gears, and presidential nominees. All these factors can contribute to your zombie survival game plan. Yet one thing I have never considered was history.  As Americans, we have a much shorter span of history to consider. There are conflicts in America, often down racial, sexual or class lines, but it pales in comparison to the multigenerational century spanning historic conflicts that exist in other countries. How one would go about surviving the Apocalypse in Serbia, where religious and ethnic conflicts spanning centuries are quite different than an American like me whose biggest conflict is with the neighbor who never cleans up his dog crap. While I may not go out of my way to protect this neighbor due to his lack of neighborly consideration, our families have not been warring with each other for longer than my known relatives have been alive. Flu by Wayne Simmons is set in Ireland. History is a big deal in Ireland. Sometimes I think American forget how much strife exist in that one small country. There is a history of mistrust, abuse and violent action that many American’s forget about. So, how would an ex-member of the IRA respond to the governmental attempts to isolate and contain a zombie outbreak? How would a soldier who worked at suppressing the IRA respond during an Apocalyptic scenario to a former IRA member he encounters? Its questions and scenarios like this that adds levels to Wayne Simmons Zombie audiobook.

As someone who consumes a lot of Zombie fiction, it’s really hard to find a totally unique zombie outbreak scenario. Flu starts off with a lot of traditional zombie outbreak scenes. A devastating, completely lethal Flu is spreading across Ireland. The Government responds through quarantine, and creating camps to isolate the uninfected. Yet, when the infected dead begin to rise, seeking human flesh to consume, the country is thrown into inescapable chaos. While a group attempts to survive among the chaos, a shadowy military installation is observing the ruins of their country, searching for a solution, no matter what the cost. It’s all pretty standard boilerplate zombie apocalypse. Simmons throws in a few interesting twists. The Flu itself is more of an ever present threat than we see in many zombie novels. Just because someone has survived to this point, doesn’t mean they won’t come down with it. This element adds a bit of paranoid suspense to the overall mood of the novel. There isn’t just the fear of the undead, or the potential to be infected by direct contact. The Flu could actually be airborne, meaning anyone can catch it without even being bit by a zombie. This piles on the psychological distress of the novel, creating a mood that is more psychological thriller than straight horror. Simmons fills the characters with natural distrust, often pitting unlikely pairs together, like older brutish men with younger women, cops with criminals, then throwing in the historic mistrust of authority of the Irish. With these elements, Flu becomes a broody, moody character study, a dark path through humanities inner most prejudices, complicated by the extreme apocalyptic scenario. The Zombie action itself comes in smaller doses, but well conceived and executed. Simmon’s zombies so far are pretty traditional. There are hints of evolution and some interesting spins, like an obsession with fire, yet for the most part they are the shambling Romero style zombies that I find especially scary. Simmons also has some moments of horrific gore, yet it’s not gore for gore sake, but truly serves a purpose. Each scene is displayed to show the psychological affect on the survivors. One interesting theme Simmons uses with his characters is how a horrific event like this can make a good man do horrible things, plus provide redemption to the corrupt. Overall, Flu is a strong opening move, yet serves more as a set up to Simmons world, then a complete tale. The true place of Flu within the genre depends highly on how Simmons follows this up. He has placed many pieces in the right positions, now he just needs to execute.

Michael Kramer narrates Flu, and initially I had mix feelings about this. Kramer has always been a hit or miss type narrator for me. He’s a professional who has a great sense of story, and has a strong, deep voice. Yet, that deep voice limits him in many ways, particular in characterizations. Being set in Ireland, I would have loved to seen an Irish narrator like Gerard Doyle take on this project. Kramer does a pretty authentic sounding Irish accent, but uses it strictly for his characters. The narrative prose is read all in his default, accent neutral voice. Despite this, I though that Kramer’s voice was a decent fit for the mood of the tale. While I would have preferred an Irish narrator, Kramer gave the story a decidedly creepy feel. He reads Flu with a deliberate style that allows the listener to follow the story. His characters were decent. The delineation between characters wasn’t that great. He basically had a pretty standard Irish accent, and softened it, or hardened it, changing cadence and rhythms to delineate the characters, and it worked pretty well. His male characters were definitely better than his female characters, which is expected with a narrator with such a deep voice. While it may not have been the ideal match, Kramer makes it work. Fans of darker moodier Zombie tales who prefer detailed character psychology over lavish zombie mayhem will definitely want to give Flu a shot.

Note: Thanks to Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

This Review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” series.