I'm Scott Kenemore, author of 10 horror novels and satires about the undead. (Though I might be best known for disagreeing with Max Brooks about the awesomeness Return of the Living Dead on panels at San Diego Comic-Con.) After the 2016 election, I thought it'd be interesting to write a book where a Trumpian figure runs for president while harboring a secret so dark he must conceal it even from his closest advisors and aides; namely, that he is a member of the walking dead, and seeks the nation's highest office in order to turn America into a wonderland for brain-eating zombies. He wants to build a southern border wall. . . to keep delicious humans IN. He wants to cut govt.-funded access to healthcare. . . because hobbled, sickly humans are so much easier for zombies to catch. And Mar-a-Lago's location near the Caribbean is no coincidence, for it functions as a recruitment center for the rich and powerful who might wish to join the elite ranks of the ravenous unliving.
The late, great George Romeo was the master of using zombies for political criticism. I find them salient to the 2016 presidential election because—just like zombies—the candidate who won did so many things you “can’t” do. Dead bodies “can’t” rise from their graves to feed upon the flesh of the living—and political candidates “can’t” make fun of handicapped reporters, alienate minority groups, and speak enthusiastically of groping women . . . and still expect to get elected president.
Until they do. A chief function of horror is to challenge what we know to be possible and true. Realizing you’ve been dead wrong about something is one of the scariest feelings of all. (Half the horror is being eaten alive by the zombie, but the other half is realizing you were so very wrong about what kind of world you were living in. First of all, ouch, my brains! But second of all, how in the heck is this even happening?!) For these reasons, I think the 2016 election can probably be best understood as a horror story. Ask me anything.

The new book: https://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Chief-Eater-Politics-Undead/dp/1945863218

My website: https://scottkenemore.com/

Proofs, I has them! https://scottkenemore.com/about/

EDIT: Thanks everyone! I'm going to step away for a bit, but if anyone has additional questions I'll try to get to them later this evening!

Comments: 43 • Responses: 14  • Date: 

PizzaDeliverator23 karma

Are your sales really that bad that you have to ride the "DAE DRUMPF LOL"-train?

scottkenemore10 karma

I'm not saying "DAE DRUMPF." I'm saying the election of DT was one of the most remarkable political happenings of our time, and something that was horrific to about 51% of the population because sober, credentialed, well-paid experts had assured this 51% it "couldn't " happen. And then it did.

matrix_man6 karma

Do you think it's possible to create political satire/commentary (rather through comedy, horror, or any other genre) that can maintain relevance over time? Or is any sort of political satire/commentary going to end up feeling dated eventually?

scottkenemore5 karma

Great question. I think good satire and comedy will persevere and stay relevant, ultimately, because archetypes recur. Certain figures in history, certain trends, and certain situations pop up again and again. I'm currently writing a book in which former Chicago mayor Big Bill Thompson figures prominently. He is so similar to the current chief executive that it's astounding, yet he was born in the 1800's. I think humans change less over the sweep of history than is comforting to imagine.

matrix_man5 karma

As a follow-up question: I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and I know a lot of people criticize him for his in-your-face, preachy political commentary (that's not a criticism with which I agree, but I digress). Do you think there's a point where the political message becomes bigger than the entertainment (in a negative way)? How subtle is too subtle, and how outspoken is too outspoken? How do you find that line, and do you ever worry about crossing it?

scottkenemore2 karma

That's a great question, and my lousy answer is you have to trust your instincts and figure out, fundamentally, what your project is. Why are you writing this book? Are you trying to make a case for a certain position? Are you trying to show both sides of an issue? Or is your project something else entirely. Novels can be nuanced or direct, and both approaches are equally capable of being good or bad. Also, you can be a liberal and still appreciate the work of Robert Heinlein, for example, who advocates pretty vigorously for classically conservative positions in much of his work (like for the death penalty in Starship Troopers, for example). And King himself has many fans who identify as conservatives (and know King is a liberal), but still like, appreciate, and buy his work.

matrix_man2 karma

So do you think King gets these complaints lobbed against him more than other writers simply because he's more popular than other writers that do similar things in their writing? Or do you think it's because he's written so many books that the message starts feeling repetitive to some people? I always find it a ridiculous complaint personally, because writing (and indeed all forms of art) is inherently expressive to some degree. I can't imagine that those same critics would want a world where we didn't have an amazing book like To Kill a Mockingbird simply because it was too socially conscious and outspoken.

Thank you for your time and your responses! I always love talking with other writers!

scottkenemore3 karma

Certainly, I think King gets attention because he is so very famous. If you like to write stories/novels/poems with a socially conscious bent, I wouldn't let anything stop you! The world will likely be richer for it!

gekogekogeko5 karma

Has the current turn of political events surprised you? Was your book meant to be political?

scottkenemore3 karma

Surprise is at the very core of what is happening, and what makes it a horror story. The morning after the 2016 presidential election, employees at the Gen Y tech company where I was working in Chicago were distraught. Some periodically got up from their desks to vomit. Many had called in sick. But they were more than shocked or surprised. They were horrified. More precisely, they were horrified because something they'd been told "can't happen" had just happened. Horror has this element that goes beyond surprise-- People who have passed away “can’t” appear to you as ghosts and ask you to avenge their deaths. Humans “can’t” transform into murderous wolves or blood-sucking bats. Corpses “can’t” rise from their coffins to feast on the brains of the living. Until, of course, they day comes when they do exactly that.

IggyChooChoo5 karma

Obviously you're a horror writer, but parts in Zombie, Ohio and Zombie, Indiana are really funny. What are the comedy influences in your horror?

scottkenemore6 karma

Great question Iggy. My favorite works of zombie comedy horror are probably: - Return of the Living Dead - Return of the Living Dead Part II - Braindead/Dead Alive - Each and every Terry Pratchett novel with scenes featuring Reg Shoe or Mr. Slant

bartlesjames4 karma

Since you're the author of "ZEO: How to Get A(head) in Business": Would a ZEO quit the advisory board of a Zombie in Chief? (Sorry if this question is too brainy.)

scottkenemore4 karma


coryrenton3 karma

Which word processing programs do you find best for writing, and which are best for book layout?

scottkenemore6 karma

Hi Cory, I just use Microsoft Word. The nice thing about having a publisher is that they handle the layout for you.

coryrenton2 karma

What are your preferred settings (font, size, margins, etc...) when writing? Typically how many drafts are involved?

scottkenemore6 karma

I am a Calibri 11 point font man. Something about it has always seemed appropriately eldritch to me.

RaspersProgress2 karma

Who in the Zombie Trump White House is safe, on account of being brainless?

scottkenemore4 karma

There is a Bannon-type character named "McNelis" who might come awfully close. In my book, the Tycoon running for president is a high-functioning zombie who is aware enough to use the humans around him for his purposes. It's somewhat similar to what I did in an earlier book called Zombie Ohio.

Sacklpicka1 karma

How much do you make?

scottkenemore2 karma

When you went to college with the bestselling writer of your generation, John Green-- which I did -- everything feels like a pittance. Alas!

Bloated_Butthole1 karma

How much profit have you made from your books?

scottkenemore6 karma

Let me caution you now that writing fiction, generally, is a lousy road to "profit." Considering the amount of time (years?) that can go into writing a book, authors sometimes make less than minimum wage. I think you have to be a little insane to do it. The writer John Gardner (who wrote "Grendel") talks in an essay somewhere about how this is really driven home when you begin to reach middle-age. If you're a writer, you probably hung out with the smarter guys and gals in school. And so your friends went on to be things like doctors and lawyers. But the financial reward for getting a short story juuuuuuust right will never be anything near the financial reward for devoting that same amount of time to mastering tort law or thoracic surgery. Suppose a story of yours does the best a story can; it's printed in the New Yorker and goes on to be published in a collection of short stories. You have, in that scenario, probably made what an average surgeon-- not a great surgeon, an average one-- makes in a month. (For more on the state of author compensation, I recommend Robert Brockway's piece on the subject in Cracked.com.)

gekogekogeko1 karma

On the whole, who would make a better president: Trump or a Zombie?

scottkenemore5 karma

In the fictional universe in which I write, I propose several levels of undead functionality. The Tycoon in my novel is operating at the highest level. But I think what really gets at the core of the matter is what something or someone WANTS. With a zombie, it knows precisely what it wants, and it knows how to go and get it. Nothing about its motivation is a mystery, etc. With Donald Trump, on the other hand, the sense of what he actually hopes happens is a slippery, more nebulous thing. With a real zombie in charge, the motivations of the president and the presidency would at least be knowable. With the current administration? It's a trickier thing.

UnsureAndWondering1 karma

Wait just one minute. Max Brooks doesn't like ROTLD? That's quite possibly the best zombie movie of all time. How could somebody not like that?

scottkenemore2 karma

I know, right!? I think it's one of the most important and exciting zombie movies of all time. It's the FIRST FILM in which zombies ask for brains by name. And James Karen's performance in it is just outstanding. Max seems to dislike humorous and fundamentally unserious zombies. I respect that position, but it's certainly not my own!