New York City writer Max Brooks never expected to be standing on a Salt Lake City street corner helping a television reporter pick zombies out of the crowd.
Peter: Is that guy a zombie? Max: No, because he would be coming for us and trying to eat us.
Brooks wrote "The Zombie Survival Guide." Just for fun. The kind of thing you'd expect of a former Saturday Night Live writer and the son of Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Young Frankenstein) and the late, great Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate).
Peter: Is that guy a zombie? Max: No, because he's waiting patiently to cross the street instead of trying to eat us. That's your litmus test.
"I sat down and wrote this really for me," Brooks said, "I never expected it to be published and really, logically, why would you? It's a book about how to realistically fight something that isn't real."
The book plays it straight. Discusses in great detail the various techniques and power tools available to fight off the undead. Actual fact-checking was involved.
"I never thought anybody besides me would be interested in this."
The book is now in its seventh printing. Hollywood producers have called. There was a movie option.
But it wasn't just the book sales that stunned him.
It was how many people took the book so seriously.
Lecture audiences asked genuine zombie defense questions.
Gun bloggers, he says, took offense because the guide favors the Soviet AK-47 over the US Army M16. (For the record, neither assault rifle is recommended for killing the living dead.)
Europeans complained about the book's "American" perspective. Too much talk about guns and SUVs.
Wait, wait. This is a book about zombies.
Perhaps, he said, he could rewrite for the foreign anti-zombie audience.
Brooks mused aloud what strategies he'd include in the French edition.
"We surrender! We surrender!"