Inside the Author of The Zombie Game

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The Zombie Game

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The real Zombies of Haiti come alive in this story of a plastic surgeon, a man who “fixes people’s faces,” racing to stop a plot to kill the Pope during his Papal visit to America. Follow Dr. Scott James as he falls into an incredible world of psychotropic drugs, exotic ceremonies, and murder.


Jacques Jacobo, “Jakjak,” is the Haitian Finance Minister’s personal bodyguard. He’s just taken two bullets in the chest trying to stop an assassination attempt on his boss.


Dr. Scott James is a volunteer surgeon on a hospital ship anchored off the coast of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. He’s got his share of personal demons.


Omar Farok wants to rule ISIS, and the world. He’s just taken over the hospital ship and converted it into a launch platform for a nuclear strike on Miami.


Sanfia is the most powerful Vodoun priestess in Haiti. Omar Farok will pay her big money to turn Dr. James into a zombie.


Beautiful Elizabeth is one of the most notorious freelance operatives in the world. She’s come to Haiti to defuse the bomb.

They’re all about to play The Zombie Game.

** from Amazon

Hott Interview with Glenn Shepard:

When I hear “The Zombie Game” my head immediately turns to the current zombie craze or to Halloween. Can you tell us how this is different?

Zombies have a historic and factual basis, as opposed to Snoopy and the Great Pumpkin and so many other entertaining but entirely made-up illusions. This includes those portrayed in The Walking Dead or any of the other creepy monster-type depictions. Being a scientist, this zombie concept is just not believable. A corpse with bare bones and exposed brains that stalks and kills people? You can’t expect me to believe that. I’m a doctor!

But I do indeed believe in real zombies, and I’ve made a great effort to portray them in an accurate light. The Zombie Game is based on my travels in Haiti and my research into the zombie process. I’m well-versed in the psycho-active drugs that are used on these people, mainly scopolamine and tetrodotoxin, and I’ve spent a lot of time studying how they effect the human body. These agents will definitely make a person into a zombie—a person in a deep fugue state who can be easily manipulated by evil masters—no doubt about it. I’ve had a lot of experience with mentally impaired people, and I’ve used those experiences, combined with my research into mind-altering drugs, to bring to life, in
my new book, the real zombies. I hope readers will be just as fascinated by this phenomenon as I am.

Zombies are a fact and a fear that goes back ages. Can you tell us what interested you about the Zombies of Haiti?

The creation of a slave empire in the 1700’s in Haiti brought elements of West African culture to the new world. One of these elements was the justice system of the Vodun societies which thrived to mete out justice within the confines of the slave population. Of course, the slave owners imposed their own justice, many times harsh and cruel, but the slaves needed more than that. They needed a justice of their own.

The slaves weren’t just imported workers, but also individuals who’d been leaders in their culture in West Africa. These individuals, mambos (the women), and houngans (the men), filled the void and continued a justice system that was common in West Africa in the Vodun Societies. The ultimate punishment by the slave owners? Death. The ultimate punishment by the Vodun societies? Zombie transformation. 

I mention Wade Davis and his research all the time, but dozens of other writers give merit to the reality of zombies. I didn’t think of writing about zombies until my visit to Haiti. By simply asking about zombies I lost the few friends I had made there. The culture of secrecy was very strict. Why, my last day there, all these people that had been so friendly wouldn’t even talk to me. The writer instinct in me exploded. I couldn’t wait to get to the page and run with that one.

I couldn’t do it in the first book of the Dr. Scott James Series, The Missile Game, but I did use that book as a stepping stone to get Scott James, my protagonist, to Haiti.

Much of the Scott James series has revolved around zombies. I tried to end the fixation in The Zombie Game, but it spilled over into The Ebola Game. I’m trying to let go of it (it’s like an addiction) in The Encryption Game. And as of now, I don’t know if zombies will be in it. But I’m trying to shake the habit. (A note to my readers: Please don’t write anymore encouragements to continue with the zombies. I need to go “cold turkey” on this one.)

What do you do when you’re not dragging Dr Scott James into a mystery?

I’m a science fiction buff. The Frankenstein Monster? Yes. I can believe. In modern medicine, just about everything can be transplanted. The only hurdle left in that formula is the transmission of impulses along the spinal column, from the brain to the body. A lot of medical research is being done
there, and someday, that too will be a reality. Dracula? That stretches reality. The space aliens so common in movies like Predator, Edge of Tomorrow, The Thing—these scare me a little. I really enjoyed The Thing, especially—what I couldn’t see scared me to death. Totally believable to the scientist in me. I don’t have to look to outer space to imagine this reality—look at all the genetic mutations scientists uncover on Earth in the extreme depths of the sea and the polar ice caps. They’re weird to us, but the power of life mutates to conform to the confines of the environment.

I maintain a plastic surgery practice, limiting my work to the “easy stuff,” like face lifts, blepharoplasties, and rhinoplasties, which can be done in an office setting and don’t require extensive hospital stays, such as were required for some of the extensive reconstructive procedures I did in the past.

During the days of 24/7 work as a surgeon, I found relaxation by writing. Ideas jumped into my head and I’d write them down between cases and before going to sleep at night (when I did sleep). I wrote books then but didn’t have time to go through “the publication process.” Now with my limited surgical practice, I have time to do the things I only dreamed about in the past, like work through the lengthy process of publication. And resurrect the books, six good books that I put aside in the past, and do the “publication push.”

I operate my own aquaculture farm, like Lars Paulsen does in The Zombie Game. I raise hybrid striped bass. I also fish quite a bit, rainbow trout in the winter, black bass, crappie, and giant bluegill. In the past, I frequently went to the Florida Keys to fish for tarpon, still my favorite fish to catch, but a few years back, a big barracuda jumped into my boat, cut up my neck and face pretty badly, and damned near killed me. A wonderful Cardiovascular Surgeon in Key West saved my life. Now, mainly, I make sure no barracuda get into any of my ponds.

How amazing! You’ve drawn me right into your series! I’m going to have to go grab a couple of Scott James books and delve into the unknown!

Excerpt from The Zombie Game:

The Streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

June, 2014

10:01 p.m.

JAKJAK, THE CHAUFFEUR, PEERED through the windshield of the black Mercedes sedan, looking for danger. Haiti could be a bad place after dark. Killings, kidnappings, and armed robbery were common. Police protection was almost nonexistent in Port-au-Prince. Not only was Jakjak a driver, but he was also his employer’s bodyguard.

It had been more than four years since the terrible earthquake had destroyed the country, but massive piles of rubble remained. Jakjak dodged broken stones that had spilled onto the road from the high rows of demolished cement blocks lining the streets, and then suddenly a black cat jumped out in front of the Mercedes.

Jakjak stomped on the brakes but heard the thump of the animal striking the bottom of the car. Slamming to a halt, he looked back to see the dead cat lying in the middle of the road. His heart beat faster and he began to sweat. His mother had warned him of this. She was a Mambo, a Vodoun priestess with strong powers. According to Jakjak’s religion—Petro Vodou—the spirit embodied in black cats, Iwa, grew angry and vindictive to those who brought him harm.

Jakjak felt through his black suit coat to reassure himself that his .45 was in the holster strapped to his chest. He was a young thirty-eight, muscular from his daily workouts with heavy weights, and imposing at six-foot-two and 220 pounds.

But killing the cat had made his large hands shake.

Jakjak turned to the three men in the back seat. “Mal se nan lé a. Evil is in the air. We must turn back.”

Julien Duran answered, “No, Jakjak. Drive on.”

“Please, sir. Listen to me. No good will come of tonight’s meeting. I feel the spirit of the cat on me. We have angered him.”

Duran cleared his throat. At forty-eight, Duran was tall and thin, with prematurely gray hair. He wore a white suit, white tie with a diamond stickpin, and a heavily starched white shirt with gold cuff links and mother-of-pearl inlays. Jakjak had worked for him for twenty years, since Duran had returned from his economics studies at Yale, and law school at the University of Virginia. After only two years in a prestigious law firm in Port-au-Prince, Duran had been offered a government job as Assistant Minister of Finance, where his work gained him frequent promotions. In 2010, after the quake, he reached the top. He was made Minister of Finance.

Duran, sitting in the back of the Mercedes between his two assistant ministers, leaned toward his driver and said, “Jakjak, I respect your beliefs, but regardless of what your intuition tells you, I must go to this meeting. Charles Roche is a billionaire. I can’t keep him waiting.”

“Men lé a. But the hour … Hooligans now rule the streets at night. The spirits say we are in danger.”

Duran folded his arms as he sat back. “Tonight, Roche is choosing between giving financial aid to Haiti or Chile for earthquake damages. I don’t want Chile to be the one to take his money.”

A few minutes later, the Mercedes cruised past the once opulent building of the Ministry of Finance. The white columns and mahogany doors had all been bulldozed after the great building had stood for months as an uninhabited ghost structure. The marble and white cement that was once a palace now lay in ruins.

Jakjak continued a short way and then parked in front of the temporary housing units that were still used from time to time as offices for the Ministry. Piles of debris covered most of the parking spaces, so Jakjak was forced to park the Mercedes a good distance away. In the aftermath of the quake, the Minister and his two assistants were used to this kind of thing. Jakjak got out, briskly opened the car doors for his passengers, and then he escorted Duran and his two assistants to the office.

The visiting group consisted of three officials and two bodyguards. They were waiting at the door of the main temporary building. Jakjak unlocked it and ushered them in.

One of the bodyguards saw Jakjak’s .45 bulging against his coat and stopped him at the door. “No guns.”

Jakjak placed his hand over his gun. “Non, Mesye. I won’t give up my gun.”

“Then no meeting.”

Duran went to Jakjak’s side. “Check these men for weapons and then wait outside.”

The five visitors raised their hands as Jakjak patted them down.

Jakjak turned to Duran. “I cannot leave you.”

“I’ll be fine. Stay in the car. I’ll be out shortly.”

As the other men made their way to the conference room, Jakjak returned to the Mercedes. But his hands began to shake. He closed his eyes. He saw the cat’s eyes; they were in the face of the devil.

The introductions were brief. The central figure was a lawyer Duran had known for years, Virgil Baccus. Baccus was the attorney for billionaire Charles Roche. He was a portly man who practiced law in St. John and often worked with foreign clients. After shaking Duran’s hand, Baccus took his seat. Duran’s heart beat fast as he thought about Baccus. He had a reputation for representing men who created their wealth by embezzling corporate funds.

To Baccus’ right was a six-foot, muscular man dressed in black; to his left was another tall, muscular man, also dressed in a black suit. The two bodyguards stood by the door. Duran recognized all the men as being from St. John and St. Croix.

Baccus spoke up immediately. “Well, I have good news. Mr. Roche has already decided to give his money to your country. I bring a check from him for five hundred million dollars.”

Baccus removed a check from an envelope and handed it to Duran.

Duran looked at the check and smiled. At the conference table were his assistants, Antoine Gabriel and Hugon Cheval. Both were small and thin. Gabriel wore wire-rimmed eyeglasses. Both men were dressed in black suits and black ties.

Duran showed the check to Gabriel and Cheval. Both smiled and nodded their heads in appreciation.

Duran turned to Baccus. “Please extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Roche. This will be incredibly helpful in rebuilding Haiti.”

“Indeed.” As they stood and shook hands, Baccus said, “Mr. Roche would appreciate the check being deposited right away so we can begin to allot money for building projects here on your island.”

Duran withdrew his hand. “We?”

“Yes. My client of course expects to have a say in the distribution of his generous gift.”

Baccus handed a ten-page contract to Duran.

Duran put on reading glasses and spread the papers in front of his men. His smile turned to a frown. Cheval pointed to an item on page one and shook his head. Gabriel pointed to two lines and then a third. Duran put his finger on a paragraph on another page. The three men raised their heads and locked eyes with Baccus.

Duran, looking over his glasses, asked, “Is this some sort of joke? You’re proposing we have your client serve on the board, my board, and have veto powers over everything, including my authority?”

“That seems only fair. My client has good insights into the needs of your country. He pledges to restore Haiti to an even better state than it was before the quake. But he must be in charge of the relief effort.”

“We’ll gladly accept his money, but I’ll never agree to turning over control of the funds to outsiders,” Duran said.

“You have twenty-four hours to sign these papers, or else we will withdraw all our funds.”

“We don’t need more time. My associates and I are in agreement. The answer is no. This meeting is over.”

The two bodyguards moved quickly from the door, just as Baccus broke open his briefcase. Passing by, single file, the guards reached in and removed two, tiny, .22-caliber pistols, each fitted with a silencer as hefty as a beer can.

Baccus spoke. “That is unfortunate. However, there is still time to change your vote to our favor.” He looked coldly at Duran’s assistants. “Mr. Gabriel?”

Gabriel trembled as one of the guards raised his custom-fitted gun to the terrified man’s head.

But Gabriel’s answer was firm. “No.”


Author: Glenn Shepard
Source: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours
Publisher & Date: Mystery House, January 2016
Genre: Thriller, Action & Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-9905893-0-3 // 978-0-9905893-6-5
Pages: 336
Setting: Haiti
Series: The Dr. Scott James Thriller Series Book 2 (each can be read individually)
The Missile Game
The Missile Game
The Zombie Game
The Zombie Game
The Ebola Game
The Ebola Game

Author Bio:

Glenn Shepard’s first novel, Surge, was written while he was still a surgical resident at Vanderbilt. In the following years he wrote The Hart Virus, a one-thousand-page epic about the AIDS crisis, as well as three other novels. In 2012, he created “Dr. Scott James,” his Fugitive-like action-hero, and began publishing a series. The first volume of the Dr. Scott James series was The Missile Game, followed shortly afterward by The Zombie Game. The third of the series, The Ebola Game, is due out in December, 2015. Though the books contain many of the same characters, they don’t have to be read in order. Each can be read as a stand-alone.

Visit Glenn Shepard: Glenn Shepard's website

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Glenn Shepard. There will be 5 US winners of 1 copy of The Zombie Game by Glenn Shepard. The giveaway begins on Jan 20th and runs through Feb 29th, 2016. For US residents only.

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2 Comments Text
  • Wow, great interview! Probably one of the more interesting ones I have read!

    Loved this – “A corpse with bare bones and exposed brains that stalks and kills people? You can’t expect me to believe that. I’m a doctor! But I do indeed believe in real zombies, and I’ve made a great effort to portray them in an accurate light.”

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