The Story Behind Glenn Shepard’s THE ZOMBIE GAME

There were actually two things that inspired me to write The Zombie Game. The first was Wade Davis’ memoir of experimentation with mind-altering drugs, The Serpent and the Rainbow. In that extraordinary book, Davis, an anthropologist, describes his forays into the Vodoun Societies of Haiti, and how drugs and conditioning are used to put people into a Zombie- The Zombie Gamestate. The second inspiration was my own personal foray into Haiti, after the earthquake. I went there as a volunteer surgeon, and I loved it. I loved the people and the culture. As soon as I started writing The Dr. James Thriller Series I knew that my protagonist was going to get involved with the Vodoun in Haiti.

I have received a number of criticisms for my deviation from the “standard Hollywood perception” of zombies. Zombies are real and are still present in Haiti and maybe a few places in West Africa. Their creation involves the intake of drugs that slow the heart, lung, and brain function, after which there is further conditioning applied to the Zombie in the form of oxygen deprivation in coffins, where they are forced to spend a day or so. The result? Frontal lobe deficiencies that lower IQ and makes the individual susceptible to the demands of the one or ones who control him or her.

I was excited to take Dr. James through the zombie creation ritual. I won’t tell you how it turned out, but he does cross Sanfia, my fictitious Voodoo Queen. She is all-powerful in Haiti. She is of course working with Dr. James’ nemesis, the ISIS leader, Omar Farok. It all takes place against a background of post earthquake Haiti, a place I’ve actually been to and know. Scott James and his companion, Elizabeth Keyes, spend a lot of time hiding in the rubble and going from basement to basement. My biggest invention from all this has been the Haitian bodyguard, “Jakjak,” who is just about everybody’s favorite character now. Which was a pleasant surprise. I guess you never know where it will all lead you!

About the Author

Glenn ShepardGlenn 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. The first volume of the series was The Missile Game, followed shortly afterward by The Zombie Game. Born on a farm in eastern Virginia, Dr. Shepard lives and maintains a thriving surgical practice in Williamsburg.

Visit Glenn’s website at


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