Lauren Wilson is a professional cook and writer who completed her training at at Toronto’s George Brown Chef School. She is the author of The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse, a pun-filled book of recipes and tips for surviving the zpoc.
Here, she answers a few questions about zombies and survival for the readers of FangirlNation.
Jessica Greenlee: Who did you test-kitchen the recipes in The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse on and what did they think?
Lauren Wilson: I tested the recipes out on anyone and everyone who was adventurous enough to taste them! Mainly family and friends (special thanks to my mom and Aunt Lili for testing recipes independently for me!). As you might imagine, feedback was as varied as the post-apocalyptic food landscape would be. Not everyone loves freeze-dried beef chunks or roasted crickets – but I did my very best to play up the strengths of the, shall we say, less than tasty ingredients a hungry survivor would come across during the zpoc.
JG: How many of the survival techniques did you try out and where? What was the most memorable test?
LW: I tried to master as many of the survival techniques as I could. Even basic survival skills like fire building and starting without the aid of a lighter requires lots of patience and practice! There was continual action in my Brooklyn backyard – lots of fire building in a Hibachi, testing out various stove and oven hacks, and tending to various self-irrigated planters (SIPs) with my potting soil recipe. I also went on several foraging tours with Wildman Steve Brill in Central and Prospect Park, which were always memorable – he is quite the entertaining character and is happy to share his wealth of information.
JG: What is your favorite zombie game, movie, comic book, or book? Why? Which do you think is most likely to help you survive the coming zombie hoards? In addition to The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse, of course.
OOOOOH! Such a good question. The conclusion of the book is a good clue as to my favorite zombie thing ever – Resident Evil! RE is what got me into zombies. I remember when I first discovered the game back in 2001, I was crashing my little brother’s sleepover while home from university for Christmas, and I got HOOKED. I would stay up all night alone and in the dark with my PS1, eating chips and scaring the poop out of myself (the Lickers ALWAYS got me). I must also give a huge shout out to Colson Whitehead’s book Zone One – think literary genius writing a zpoc fiction. It’s so great. The Walking Dead (comic and television series) have been a huge influence for me, too, and I think the television series is probably the best mainstream depiction of how hard it would actually be to survive a zpoc (or any ‘poc for that matter). Of course if we’re talking straight strategy and self-defense I will forever have a soft-spot for Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide. And where we would be without Mr. Romero? The Night of the Living Dead is my all-time favorite modern zombie flick.
JG: Bug in or bug out? Which is your preferred survival method? Alone or with a group?
LW: Well, I have to be perfectly honest here, living in New York City (one of the most densely populated cities on the planet) ain’t a smart move in terms of zpoc preparedness. On top of that, I am scrawny and a huge baby. So I think my best move would be to ride out the initial outbreak holed up in my apartment. That said, I am a huge proponent of group survival and would try to assemble a solid and skill-varied group from any survivors in my apartment building. Once the dust settles a little I think I would try and make it to one of several ideal Long-Haul Bug Out Locales I have researched, like the one covered in the final chapter of The Art of Eating in Damariscotta, Maine.
JG: Do you think zombies appreciate a good pun?
LW: Gosh I hope so! I would absolutely HATE losing my love of puns should I ever succumb to the horde. There is a lot of debate about what is actually going on in the mind of the zombie, and zed heads have all kinds of different takes. Being the word nerd that I am, I like to think that zombies might retain some vestige of language (we can look to Return of the Living Dead or Day of the Dead for visions of that) and that somewhere in there the undead would still enjoy some good word play.
JG: How many years have you spent preparing for the apocalypse?
LW: I didn’t really start preparing for the apocalypse until I started working on the concept for the book. That work also coincided with me moving to New York City. When Hurricane Irene and then Sandy hit it sort of underlined for me that one should engage in at least some form of basic disaster preparedness. I think the CDC emergency preparedness campaign under the guise of prepping for the zpoc was BRILLIANT. I would categorize myself as a casual prepper. I sometimes attend meetings of the New York City Preppers Network and am always floored by the level of thought and effort that many New Yorkers put into general emergency preparedness, and it pushes me to make sure I do the basics.
JG: Thank you for taking the time to do this, Lauren. We wish you the best in your future writing and zombie fighting.