Bricksofthedead.com: Can you give us a little background on yourself?
Dr. Kim Paffenroth: I’m a professor of Religious Studies, and have been (in various capacities and at various schools) since 1993. I wrote several books on the Bible and theology, and in 2006, I noticed there were quite a few titles out there, looking at either the philosophical or the theological import of pop culture, so I threw my hat in there, with Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth (Baylor, 2006).
Have you ever had a student take one of your classes because he is a fan of your books?
No, I wonder what that’d be like? (And I fear I’d disappoint.) Several people have asked me to sign a copy of a book, and for my small seminars, I’ve gifted them books when they turn in their final papers.
The characters in the Dying to Live series, regardless of how long we get to know them have an impact on the story. The one that stood out the most to me was the story of Popcorn who is a head strong child, that regardless of a brutal environment and events, seemed to still be destined to be a good person as he grew. Is there any chance we might see a novella about him as an adult?
It was not really my intention, but by the time I reached the third book – Dying to Live: Last Rites – I looked back and realized he was the only character who appeared in all three installments. So I guess I had more to say about him – or really, he’s the one character I wanted to see interact with a world that’s changed enormously over the span of the story.
You have a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from the Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from the University of Notre Dame, so I can’t think of anyone better to ask this than you. If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow what role would religion end up playing? Would survivors flock to religion, reject it? Perhaps splinter off into new local or regional religions depending on leadership since there wouldn’t be any global or national influences?
I think short term, they’d have more pressing problems, though there’d be hastily pronounced prayers or curses, of course. But long term, I think they’d evolve very different religions (or lack thereof), depending on the community in which they’ve survived.
Between family, teaching and other responsibilities, how much quiet time do you have to write or simply reflect?
Very little, and it doesn’t seem to get better. There’s always something happening that requires my attention. I really look forward to Christmas and summer breaks for that reason.
Are zombies evil?
Well, in so far as they’re mindless, then no – they’d be no more evil than a carnivorous animal. In so far as they’re residually human (they retain some memories and habits from life), then yes – and you’d see that, for example, in the gradations of their bad behavior, from enviously wandering the mall, to sometimes being rather more peaceful and accepting of their fate than the living humans are.
There are a lot of subjects and ideas you can write about, how do you know when the idea is worth dedicating time to and making a book out of it?
I think it gradually accumulates, even absorbs other ideas and trains of thought, until it seems viable on its own.
What is success to you as an author?
It’s funny, but when I reread something (regardless of whether or not it’s been a success in terms of sales) and it sounds right, or even if it sounds better than I remembered it – that’s a really good feeling.
As a teacher what is the best general advice you can give to a student?
Oh dear, I just wish the whole world would read more, whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish in their lives (whether it’s a class, or running for president, or wooing someone to whom they’re attracted).
Is there anything else you would like to add about any upcoming work?
I’m working on a couple things, so please check my blog!
Thank you so much for your time!
*Thank you Permuted Press for the photo!