Roff sinks his teeth into the walking-dead genre

The Milton-Freewater native will sign copies of his book at Book & Game Company.


It's coming.

Don't look back, don't show fear.

Just keep going, try to get to the safe destination ...

In this case, that will be Book and Game Company from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. There, Don Roff will be on hand to sign his released-that-day book, "Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection."

The year is 2011, and what starts as a pervasive and inexplicable illness ends up as a zombie infestation that devastates the world's population.

Roff, originally of Milton-Freewater, spent his teen years working at the M-F Drive In and making 8 mm movies with his buddies. He graduated from McLoughlin Union High School in 1985, joined the United States Army in 1989 and participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama.

Roff, 42, graduated from Walla Walla Community College in 1995 and Evergreen State College in 1997.

Now living with his family in Seattle, the author and filmmaker has written, directed and produced in the horror genre, with such credits to his name as the 2005 film "In the Weird World of Mushroom Madness" and the Scholastic book "True Scary Stories."

In 2006, Roff received the Zola Award for screen writing from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. He also works as an editor and contracts at Microsoft.

"Zombies" is the author's eighth book. Taking the form of a biologist's illustrated journal found in the aftermath of the attack, the tale of zombie apocalypse follows the narrator as he flees from city to countryside and heads north to Canada, where he hopes the undead will be slowed by the colder climate.

Encountering scattered humans and scores of the infected along the way, he fills his notebook with graphic drawings of the zombies and careful observations of their behavior, along with terrifying tales of survival.

It seems to be a season of zombies, noted horror blogger, Alison Nastasi.

Nastasi writes for b5media under the blog title Screamstress. The site covers horror and paranormal news and culture in film, TV, literature, art and music.

The scary beings have been in the culture for a long time, she noted. "Pieter Brueghel the Elder's painting 'The Triumph of Death.' Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.' George A. Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead.' Yes, zombie tales have been around for many years in books, films and even religion. The undead have invaded every part of our lives and are gaining popularity daily."

Today's world is ripe for a new arising of zombies and such, Nastasi said.

"It's not hard to imagine a zombie apocalypse when there are new viruses cropping up and major scientific and medical advancements. Socio-political and economic anxiety is at an all time high and the zombies are there -- lurking in the dark of our subconscious."

The genre offers escapism in its own bloody way, she added.

"There are no bills to pay or jobs to keep in the zombie apocalypse, aside from killing zombies -- and is the carnage guilt-free?"

It's this kind of stuff that's in his natural make up, Roff said from Seattle. In childhood, horror magazines on the racks at the local drug store and campy TV shows all served to feed the inner ghoul in him, he said.

He could identify with monsters, they felt safe somehow, Roff said.

"Monsters were always outsiders, and I was always a geek and an outsider, and so I always related to that."

Roff is hopes others feel the same way and is encouraging all comers to the book signing to dress as zombies.


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