Before the first essay was even written, “But If a Zombie Apocalypse Did Occur” had a contract with McFarland, an academic book publishing company.
The authors are APSU alumni and professors, Antonio S. Thompson, history and philosophy professor and his wife Amy L. Thompson, biology professor.
“Of all the books I’ve written and contributed to, this one was by far the most popular” Antonio Thompson said.
Since the books release, the authors were invited twice to speak at Wizard World Comic Con and they were recently the keynote speakers at APSU’s Laurel Wreath Honor Society.
The authors agree that the interest and support from APSU students was the most encouraging form of feedback.
“When possible we do include students in our projects, we try to bring them into as much of our work as we can,” they commented.
Zombies are popular among the student body and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has played a role in that, but Antonio Thompson said his interest in zombies started in his childhood, before “The Walking Dead”.
“I was raised in a family that enjoyed horror movies,” said Antonio Thompson. “Film director George Romero’s zombie work is what really got me interested in them.”
The authors said they wanted to mix that portion of popular culture with the academic world. Their goal was for those interested in zombies to pick up the book and be able to read about something they love as well as be enlightened by the nonfiction aspect. After the idea was born, the authors scouted out contributors,
“This was a crucial part of the writing process because we needed people who were experts in their field but also a similar interest in zombies,” Amy Thompson said.
Of the 18 contributors, five worked at APSU.
Each contributor submitted an essay on a real world aspect of an apocalypse-like phenomena. The authors went line by line on each essay, including their own, and gave feedback and suggestions for revision. They admit the process was time consuming and usually took place at their kitchen table. The Thompson’s have three children together as well as full time jobs.
“It was really a labor of love, and not in a bad way, we love what we do but we gave up summers, weekends and a good majority of our free time for our book,” Antionio Thompson said.
They said they want the book to present more than what is written on the pages.
“I really would like for students to see that learning does not always mean boring, it can be fun,” Amy Thompson said. “Mixing academics with pop culture will hopefully reveal that education goes beyond the classroom setting.”
As educators themselves, they said they want to show it is okay to use different approaches to learning, the inclusion of pop culture being only one of many. The authors hope their book helps their own students see they are relatable, approachable, and human, just like them.
As for APSU students, they want them to have an open mind. Their book is not all about zombies, it is meant to be encouraging not just academic.
“Most of all we want our readers to see that if we can go out-of-the-box, so can they,” Antonio Thompson said. “Interests and academics do not have to be independent of each other.”