QUESTION (1 of 3) FROM SCOTT MCPHERSON, CIO, FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: How is your Dad doing? Please tell him that we love him!
Max: I’ll make sure and tell him. He’s fine by the way; 86 and going strong, and over for dinner every night.
QUESTION (3 of 3): Does he have a Hitchcockian-style voice cameo in the book?
Max: Unfortunately no. The problem is that he has such a recognizable voice that it’d pull listeners right out of the story. I was sorry not to use him but at least he forgives me for using Carl Reiner.
QUESTION (3 of 3): How difficult was it to “sell” the idea of an unabridged audiobook to your publisher, or did they approach you?
I initially approached Random House for the abridged audiobook, but the second time around, they called me. It was a hard sell the first time around simply because of budget constraints. The abridged version’s success gave us a second chance at completing the entire audiobook.
QUESTION FROM SUSAN HILLWIG: Could you please tell me who all of the voice actors are and what parts they portray in the unabridged version of WWZ?
Max: Here’s the cast list (in no particular order) for the complete audiobook, along with characters they read:
Simon Pegg as Grover Carlson
Paul Sorvino as Fernando Oliveira
Henry Rollins returns as T. Sean Collins
Ade M’Cormack as Jacob Nyathi
Ric Young as Xu Zhicai
Common as Darnell Hackworth
Brian Tee as Hyungchol Choi & Michael Choi
Jeri Ryan as Maria Zhuganova
Masi Oka as Kondo Tatsumi
Frank Darabont as Roy Elliot
Bruce Boxleitner Gavin Blaire
Nathan Fillion as Stanley MacDonald
Rene Auberjonois as Emil Renard
F. Murray Abraham as Sergei Ryzhkov
Alfred Molina as Terry Knox
Nicki Clyne as Sharon
Denise Crosby as Mary Jo Miller
Parminder Nagra as Barati Palshigar
Martin Scorcese as “Breck”
Scott David Ogden Stiers as Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk
Kal Penn as Sardar Khan
QUESTION FROM NASH SU: I wanted to know if the Audio Book contains the rest of the stories on the book that was left out on the first audio or if there will be some new stories?
Max: The audiobook doesn’t have any new stories in it, but all the ones from the original text are now included. The only thing it’s missing is an exchange between the Japanese characters of Kondo and Tomonaga. In the book they speak about their meeting, but, unfortunately, we recorded Tomonaga so many years later that it was impossible to get them both in the same studio at the same time.
QUESTION FROM ESMO2004: Are any of the voice actors the same from the original audio book? Some of them did an amazing job.
Max: All the original actors are still there in their original role. All we did was add the roles that were left out of the first, abridged edition. You’re actually not the first person to ask that question. I’ve had to explain to several actors from the abridged version (including my wife!) that no one was replacing them.
QUESTION FROM GARY WELLER : Max, Love the book! I’ve listened to the abridged version numerous times, which leads me to ask: why is there no unabridged version available? The beauty of the book is as you said in the foreword: the purpose is to record and preserve the individual tales of heroism and survival. There are so many good pieces missing from the abridged version. I hope the new version will offer many, if not all, of those back!
Keep up the good work!
Max: Thanks, Gary. Requests like that are exactly why we’re doing this unabridged audio version now. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me over the years and say exactly what you said. Don’t worry. This time they’re all there. We even got Henry Rollins to come back and record his farewell speech. That was the only time I actually got to meet him.
QUESTION FROM TERESA ARAUCO : What kind of preparation did the actors in audiobook 1 go through, if any? I can see that if you hired actors from an agency, that perhaps they come in ready to roll and are open to a little prompting. Will the actors in audiobook 2 get more/different guidance from you? Perhaps reading about grief, despair, darkness, and stories of prevailing against all odds? That kinda energy rings clearly. I am listening to the tv show on the Bio station called “I Survived”. Survivors talk to a camera. The stories are grisly, but I think the poor survivors would do better if they had a trusted interviewer to confide in–like the set up you have in WWZ. Documentaries where war survivors are speaking to one trusted interviewer…so powerful!
I still can’t decide which I like better, my well-worn hard copy of WWZ with all the cool footnotes, parenthetical comments and references…or the audio where each voice is distinct…the accents were an AMAZING touch.
Be well, Max and Family
Your computer geek friend in Madison, WI,
Max: Dear Teresa,
I tried to be present for as many of the actor recordings as possible. Each time I gave them as much or as little direction as they wanted or felt they needed. Each actor has a different way of working. Some are at their best the more time they do it, some need time to warm up. Some just need one simple word to set them on their path, others have a very strong idea of how to inhabit the role. Nathan Fillion, for example, just needed one word; guilt. Nathan plays Stanley MacDonald, the Canadian soldier in Kyrgyzstan who witnesses one of the first non-Chinese outbreaks but allows himself to be convinced that he was just suffering PTSD. Nathan took that guilt to a place so dark, you might not even recognize his voice. He could not have done a better job. Likewise, Masi Oka is a great example of an actor thought he had a better take on the character of Kondo Tatsumi than I did. His first reading had a very thick Japanese accent (which I wanted). The second time, he convinced me that pulling that accent back would allow the humanity, more genuine emotion, to shine through. And he was right!
QUESTION FROM MARK JANSSEN: What is the difference between the extended audio book and an unabridged audio book. Will there parts of the text not covered in the extended audio book.
Excellent question, Mark and I wish I had an equally excellent answer. The truth is that there are very strict guidelines governing what you can call ‘unabridged’. As I understand it, even the slightest edits, no matter how small, negate the use of that title. For that reason, we’re going with the label of “Complete” because the audiobook isn’t word for word (although you probably won’t notice any changes).
QUESTION FROM CODY HOLLIMAN: I listened to the audiobook twice before I read the book. In the audiobook, I don’t recall any mention of Amarillo, Texas, but it is part of the book. Did I miss it in the audiobook or were there a few parts excluded from it? I’m born and raised in Amarillo, so I thought it was awesome when I found that part in the book. I loaned my audiobook to a friend and it’s gone now, I will definitely purchase this new one. Thanks Max!
Max: This time around, Amarillo is definitely in the audiobook and the part of Grover Carlson is read by none other than Simon Pegg. You probably won’t recognize his voice though. His American accent is so good it even fooled me for a second. I wasn’t able to go to England for his recording so when I downloaded the file of his reading, my first reaction “This guy’s great but who… oh wow… that’s Simon.”
QUESTION FROM MARTIN ELLIS: Forget extended Audiobook. Any plans for a sequel to World War Z? I read a sort of missing chapter in a different zombie novel which was about a woman who helped reinforce the Great Wall of China. Truly touching stuff. But if anything it made me want more.
Max: Glad you like the chapter “The Great Wall”. It’s a chapter I had to cut out of the book because it simply didn’t fit into the entire story. Maybe someday I’ll get to adapt it into an audio recording. As far as a sequel goes, rest assured if I ever got an idea I feel confident in, I’d write it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, without that passion, that inspiration, it’d just be “Spaceballs 2: the Search for More Money”.
QUESTION FROM RYAN NEELY: I had the Survival guide on audiobook. I had WWZ in paper form. I was just wondering if you were planning on having different voices for each story. The survival guide voice was not awful but it wasn’t great either (no emotion). It seems many background sound effects may be a big part of this work….Hope for the best!
I actually didn’t have a say in the casting of the Zombie Survival Guide audiobook. Because of time constraints, Random House decided to go ahead with the actor and production of their choice. I was, however, involved in both the abridged and unabridged version of the WWZ audiobook, and yes, each actor reads a different role (although a couple actors double up). I wanted it almost to be like a radio play, or the kind of full production audiobooks I used to listen to as a kid. The fact that it’s an ensemble story, with many different voices, made me want to recreate the kind of experience I had watching Irwin Allen disaster films where every couple of minutes I’d shout out “Hey, look who else is in this!”