Q&A with Zombie Author Steven Pajak

Steven Pajak Collects Watches. And Guns. On His Lunch Break, He Collects Ideas.

Did you know that the author of Mad Swine  collects watches? Well, he does. Guns, too. Of course, one would expect a zombie author to collect guns. But designer watches from the 1960s and 1970s? Steven Pajak collects both.

Pajak was kind enough to answer a few questions for me earlier this month. I asked him about his collections. I also asked about his job as Associate Director of Admissions at NIU.

I've edited and redistributed my questions for smoother reading. I'm not an expert interviewer--yet.  My subjects are intriguing characters, so that kind of covers for my lack of experience.

I think it's fascinating that you collect watches. Can you say a bit more about that?
What can I tell you about my watch collection? Well, it's not quite as substantial as say Adam Levine or John Mayer, but it's just right for me.

My collection consists of mostly vintage Seiko diver watches and vintage Rolex watches (as of recent). There's just something about the form and function of the older watches of the 60's and 70's that appeals to me.

How did you first begin collecting?
Initially, I started collecting because I enjoy wearing these watches as well as the aesthetics of them. I then became interested in learning what makes the watches tick, so to speak, and that led to opening them up and maintaining them, to even upgrading or modifying the looks of some. It's small and tedious work, but I enjoy the time and the satisfaction of working on something so small and just knowing that I did the work myself, with my own tools and my own hands.

You're also an avid sport shooter?
As far as sport shooting goes, I've been interested in guns from a very early age. My fondest memories of childhood are of me and friends with toy guns having mock battles in abandoned fields in our neighborhood. I don't know what was the draw for me at that early age, but I just like guns.

And you collect guns, too?
As I grew to the age that I could own my own guns, I purchased guns for protection, primarily, and in the learning of proper firearm use and techniques, I soon realized how much fun shooting guns could be. It was also something that my brother and I had in common and it was a good way for the both of us to bond, especially since we didn't have much else in common (later we would develop a kinship with fishing and camping, as well, but first it was guns).
As with anything anyone collects, I bought different guns for the variety and based on my tastes. Of course, I discovered the joy of curios and relics, guns from WWI and WWII and that pretty much sparked my desire. Just like I wear all of my watches (no safe queens for me), I also shoot all my guns. I don't collect for the sake of collecting-I want to be able use my collection and thoroughly enjoy each piece.

Have you ever had occasion to use your experiences as an admissions officer in any of your books?
I have not ever used an admissions candidate in a zombie book, but I have used some of my experiences at the university in Mad Swine: The Beginning and in some of my other novels.

In fact, the whole idea of Mad Swine: The Beginning came one day while I was sitting out in the quad having lunch and I thought 'What would happen if a zombie outbreak happened right now?' The next day we had an emergency drill and as the school evacuated, I thought 'This is what it would look like...'

When I got home, I started writing and had the opening chapter of Mad Swine: The Beginning.

As I said, I've used some other experiences in some of my other books and I'm also currently working on a novel based on another experience in my daily life. Who knew the life of an admissions director would be so adventuresome?