Stepping into the North Ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday was terrifying. The room was huge and Max Brooks looked like he was going to fill it. Who knew zombies were so popular? Not me. And it’s a good thing, too.
I was pacing back-stage, working my way into a a serious case of stage-fright, when Max arrived. Saying he was late is uncharitable. My iPod might run fast. Or he got held up in the hallways between the Ballroom and the Exhibit Hall, though how that could have happened with six burly Department of Zombie Defense guards surrounding him, I won’t hazard to guess.
Max immediately took over. He’d asked one of the people with him to introduce him before I managed to say hello. He seemed pleased a moderator had been assigned. He probably wouldn’t have been if he’d known how close to panic I was.
“Hey, that’s my neighbor!” one of the guards exclaimed. “No, really, it is. What’s she doing here?”
Just like that, the panic disappeared.
Someone here knew me. The real me. The professional me. The one who knew what she was doing. I nodded at Max and walked up the stairs to face the audience.
“Welcome to the 2011 Phoenix Comic Con! Is everyone having a good time? I can’t hear you, are you having a good time? That’s what I wanted to hear! Now, you may have heard there’s a war going on between humans and zombies…. We are fortunate to have with us today the man who wrote the book, literally, on that war and how to survive it. Here he is…Max Brooks!”
That was all there was to it. Max stepped to the mike. I moved to the rear of the stage and discovered just how little I knew about zombies, despite having researched Max and already led the Zombie Creators Reveal their Secrets panel discussion with Dean Lorey, Cherie Priest, Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Yvonne Navarro (and her husband on a stick).
In fact, I learned some very important things about zombies during the Phoenix Comic Con, including:
- Don’t go to Bill Murray’s house.
- Zombies represent the total loss of self.
- Never dare Tom Wolfe’s agent to get you published.
- Zombies never quit. Ever. They may, eventually, decompose.
- Your favorite type of zombie depends on whether you are being chased by them or not.
So now I have my own zombie survival kit assembled. I am ready for the war. I do have to admit, however, my primary escape plan is just to run next door. I know Commander Hayes can handle any zombies coming his way.