The Story Behind Plague by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

The inspiration for Plague sprang from, ironically, a nonfiction book: Richard Preston’s 1994 spine-tingling best seller about the Ebola virus, The Hot Zone.  As I read Preston’s book I became fascinated by Ebola and, quite frankly, scared to death by the thought there might be an airborne version of it.  Thriller writers, naturally, love things that scare folks.  So, I began thinking about how I could craft my fright into a terrifying novel.

Plague 2But that didn’t didn’t happen immediately.  I didn’t really embark on becoming a novelist until 2000.  It took another three years after that before I began crafting Plague.  Even then, I set it aside for awhile to work on what  eventually became my first published novel, Eyewall, and didn’t get back to Plague until 2010.  The final version of the novel is the product of about five rewrites, both major and minor.

Now, let me tell you a few cool things–think of it as insider information–about Plague.

There probably should be a warning label on the book.  The opening scene is pretty darn graphic, as are parts of chapters 15 and 27 describing death by Ebola.  They’re paragraphs you wouldn’t want to read just before, during, or after eating.  Why so graphic?  I want the reader to realize just how high the stakes are for my protagonist . . . and society in general.

My editor described the ending as “kick ass.” That pleases me.  But here’s a point to ponder: How does a writer create a “kick-ass” ending with a female Methodist minister involved?

There’s a zinger in the epilogue. I thought that was kind of neat.  It’s not something you see often.  Usually epilogues merely wrap up what happened to the main characters in the wake of the drama.  (Hey, no peeking at the ending and epilogue before you read the book.)

The original title of the novel was The Koltsovo Legacy(The reason will become obvious as you read the book.)  The name derives from the Koltsovo Institute of Molecular Biology, a real place in Siberia.  But I didn’t want people to think the novel was set in Russia. It’s not.  The stage is Atlanta. Besides, my publisher, BelleBooks, wanted a one-word title, following along the lines of Eyewall and my work-in-progress, Supercell.

So, if you happen to have read and enjoyed Eyewall, I think I can offer you an equally as thrilling, but different, ride in Plague.

Just remember my caution about the rather graphic scenes of death by Ebola.


Buzz BernardH. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a writer and retired meteorologist.  His debut novel, Eyewall, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a best-seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

His second novel, Plague, came out in September 2012.

He’s currently at work on his third novel, Supercell.

Before retiring, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel in Atlanta, Georgia, as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades.  He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit.

His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).

In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.

Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers.

He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.


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