ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: DIY Home Design with Mira Grant

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 0 comments

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Author Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire)’s Newsflesh series examines life [cough] on the other side of a zombie apocalypse. Who better to join Apex Publications in our first-ever (and possibly last) attempt at a DIY Home Design Blog?

Below you will find handy tips for choosing a zombie-apocalypse home site, stain removal, and ill-advised color palettes for the apocalypse, along with a succinct rule-of-thumb for the ongoing weapons-as-decor debate. Presenting:



What are the top priorities for home (and bunker) design in a Zombie Apocalypse environment? Can you truly integrate space for defense and training while not sacrificing comfort?

MG: When designing your home/bunker for survival in a Zombie Apocalypse environment, there are several factors you need to hold firmly in mind.

  • How many people are you intending to invite over for a slumber party that never ends? 
  • How populated is the area in which you live (ie, how large are the mobs of both the living and the dead who form outside your stylishly electrified walls going to be)? 
  • How long are you actually intending to survive?  Are you planning to Brave New World your way into becoming the founders of a revitalized human race, or are you going to Masque of the Red Death it until the booze runs out and you all jump off the roof? 

All these things are going to matter as you put your plan together!

Image Source: Gail Frederick via Flickr / CC Attribution

Now I, personally, want to survive long enough to watch a Mad Max biker gang taken out by a pack of zombie zoo lions, so I’m planning for the long haul.  That means a highly defensible location large enough to allow for a population of up to twenty individuals, with a roof area which can be used for both solar power and gardening, but with a minimum number of easily accessible entrances.

A free-standing structure is a must.  Yes, you can be surrounded, but it will prevent damage to the foundations of the buildings around you from turning you into sitting ducks.  Old-style movie theaters, with their lockable projection rooms and single-doored lobbies, are ideal, assuming you can’t get a private mansion in the hills (with a good fence around it) or a converted missile or grain silo.

Comfort is easy.  Survival is hard.


Form or function? Storage or style? Easy-to-clean or puncture-resistant?

Function over form.  If you don’t believe that storage and style can be combined, please take some time before the end of the world to visit your local IKEA and Container Stores.  These things can absolutely co-exist, and you’re going to want them to after the hungry dead begin to walk.  In the absence of any knowledge about how the zombie virus is spread, go with option c: “all of the above.”  You don’t want to be tracking fomites or blood splatter into your home, but you also don’t want to risk fluid transfer.  A clean suit over chainmail body armor is a good start.  Once you know what to avoid, you can adjust your protective gear accordingly.


How important are color palettes for Zombie Apocalypse home design? Can you suggest optimal ones?

The color palette of your home is vital: these may be the last walls you ever see.  Because of this, the only optimal color scheme is the one that makes you happy.  For me, that’s bright orange and electric green.  For you, it may be pastel pink, or eggshell white.  Avoid black and red, as they will both depress your friends and conceal blood splatter, which could kill you later.


Might there be any good IKEA-style hacks for aspiring Zombie Apocalypse home stylists?

Remember that bleach isn’t just a cleaning agent: once the dead rise, it’s a way of life.  Scavenge sun lamps used to treat SAD to light at least one area of your home during those periods where it isn’t safe to keep a window open.  Clean regularly.  A tidy house may not always be a happy house, but it’s definitely a house that will make it harder to conceal anything untoward.  Put down plastic sheeting and become comfortable with nudity–no one gets to obscure those inconvenient bite marks!

Weapons as decor? Or should they be kept defense-ready only?

If you’re not using your decor as a weapon, you’re doing it wrong.

Mira Grant was born and raised in Northern California, where she has made a lifelong study of horror movies, horrible viruses, and the inevitable threat of the living dead. In college, she was voted Most Likely to Summon Something Horrible in the Cornfield, and was a founding member of the Horror Movie Sleep-Away Survival Camp, where her record for time survived in the “Swamp Cannibals” scenario remains unchallenged.

Currently, Mira lives in a crumbling farmhouse with an assortment of cats, horror movies, comics, and books about horrible diseases. When not writing, she splits her time between travel, auditing college virology courses, and watching more horror movies than is strictly good for you. Favorite vacation spots include Seattle, London, and a large haunted corn maze just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.

In her guise as mild-mannered urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire, Mira was the recipient of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. You can find her works as both Mira and Seanan at her main bibliography page. Seanan’s website is the best place to find information on where both she and Mira will be appearing.

Both Feed and Deadline have been nominated for Hugo Awards, as has “Countdown,” the first novella in the Newsflesh universe.

Fran Wilde writes speculative fiction, poetry, and things in between. She is an assistant editor for Apex Magazine and hosts a food and genre fiction interview series called Cooking the Books. She can also tie a bunch of sailing knots, set gemstones, and program digital minions.
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  1. “If You’re Not Using Your Decor As a Weapon, You’re Doing it Wrong” « ~ fran wilde ~ - [...] MG: When designing your home/bunker for survival in a Zombie Apocalypse environment, there are several factors you need to …

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