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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How do you make a zombie?

It's Halloween month! 

My favorite time of the year. And what better way to celebrate this deliciously frightening season than with a good, creepy zombie story.
Did you know that a living person can be turned into a zombie?  It takes two special powders being introduced into the blood stream (usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: "powder strike"), includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), a powerful and frequently fatal neurotoxin found in the flesh of the pufferfish (order Tetraodontidae). 

The second powder consists of dissociative drugs such as datura. Together, these powders were said to induce a deathlike state in which the will of the victim would be entirely subjected to that of the bokor.
Once they had been issued the coup padre, the subjects being prepared for their descent into zombidom by the bokor would appear to die insofar as their heart rate would slow to a near stop, their breathing patterns would be greatly subdued and their body temperature would significantly decrease. The public, thinking that the person was dead, would bury him/ her as if they were a corpse. They would then be exhumed, still alive, by the Bokor and, although their body remained intact, their memory would be erased and they would be transformed into mindless drones. "Though still living, they remain under the Bokor's power until the Bokor dies." (Keegan,

Pretty neat, huh? 

I find the whole subject of bokors (hoodoo witches) absolutely fascinating and this became the basis for my zombie story. In THE DARK BOKOR, a war arises between hoodoo bokors vying for power. When zombies appear on the streets of New Orleans, Jesse Dalembert, a powerful bokor in his own right, is called in to set things right. But is he strong enough, or will he succumb to the dark bokor's hoodoo magic and become a zombie himself?

Prize time! 

Comment below telling me your favorite Halloween story for a chance to win an e-copy of any book on my backlist. Don't forget your contact info. Happy Halloween!

Available from Breathless Press:

It's started. Bodies have been found in the French Quarter, torn limb from limb. The undead have been seen walking. For Detective Matthew Rieves, this is the worst news he can imagine. Having spent his entire life in Orleans Parish, Matt's no stranger to the bizarre. Though, despite the growing evidence, he still has a hard time believing in the occult. But when two hoodoo bokors vie for supremacy, it's the innocent civilians that pay the price.
For Jesse Dalembert, he'd left New Orleans to sever his ties with hoodoo. But when a friend is brutally murdered by the bokor's zombies, he returns, falling at once into danger and into Detective Rieves's bed. With their lives on the line, their simmering attraction flares into a passion they can no longer deny.
Working against time, can the lovers find a way to stop the hoodoo war, or will they fall victim to the dark magic, maybe becoming zombies themselves?

Again, he stopped in the doorway, heart pounding with fear and adrenaline. He would need all his skills to save his lover. Two of the walking dead flanked the bed. Jan straightened from where he'd been leaning over Matt, sprawled on the blankets. Blood dripped from the knife in his hand. Matt lay stiff, still, and a violent shudder passed through Jesse at the blood on his naked chest. He'd already been cut, but had he been drugged yet? He didn't smell the sweet odor of the powder strike the bokor would have to use to control Matt, rubbed into an open wound.
Hope trembled in him until a cruel smile touched Janjak's full lips. "Too late, cousin. He's mine now."
"No." Jesse straightened to his full height, still inches shorter than the man before him. Didn't matter. He drew on the powers he'd kept at bay his entire life, letting life's energies flow into him. The zombies stepped toward him, but he stopped them with a flicker of his lashes, all his attention on the dark bokor.
Janjak's smile slipped. "You're strong, Jesse. I can feel you." He drew a deep breath, a delicate shiver running through his sleek frame. "Your power is a heady mixture, love. Join me! Come back to the family. No one could stand up to us." He looked Jesse up and down, bit a plump lip. "Oh, the fun we can have together!"
Jesse felt a strange touch in his mind, familiar. Lustful. The beautiful man wanted him, his power and strength. Wanted his body to touch and suck, to bind with soft rope and scarves. He'd been in Jesse's mind when he and Matt had made love. He wanted that: Jesse tied to the bed, ass raised, immobile while Jan shoved fingers, then his long, slim dick into him, doling out pleasure and pain in equal measure.
Jesse shook the image from his head, knowing it was a lie planted to distract him. Just as he had done with Matt, playing on their loneliness. He noted that Janjak had moved closer to him. "What about Alexia? She might have something to say about this."
Jan stopped, delight sweeping his pretty face. He threw his head back and laughed. "You jewel! No wonder Matt loves you. I met with my dear aunt days ago. Want to know the outcome? I'm here while she's drooling in her pudding at the state hospital."
"But I felt her—"
Janjak's expression hardened. "You felt what I wanted you to. It served my purpose to have everyone believe a war was brewing between us. But it's been me all along."
Confused, Jesse searched his cousin's cold, beautiful face. "But why?"
"To lure you to New Orleans, my sweet. You're the only one left in the family who could challenge me. I won't live with that. I broke the great bokor, Alexia LePierre! And now I'll break you."
Janjak sprang forward, raising the closed fist of his left hand. Apparently, he hadn't had time to use the powder strike on Matt. Jesse barely had time to close his eyes before the white substance struck his face, feeling like cornstarch and sugar. Panicked, he tore his shirt over his head, wiping quickly at the powdery substance. It should be applied to open wounds, but his mouth, his eyes! A numbness crept along his face and started down his neck. No!
Tears stung, cleansing his eyes, and he spat to remove what clung to his lips. A moan jerked his head up. Matt! Damn, he had to see him. He blinked, opened his lids carefully. The zombies were moving, circling the bed. He didn't see Janjak, but his heart jolted, raced as the nearest creature raised his fist and smashed it down on Matt's bleeding chest. Matt's anguished cry snapped Jesse's stupor. This was not going to happen!
Centering his thoughts, Jesse's mind swept his body, expelled the drug from his pores in painful beads of sweat. Matt's fearful cry brought Jesse's attention back. No! The zombie's fist was raised again while the second creature had his hands on Matt's head. Enough was enough. Jesse walked up to the nearest one. The monster turned on him, and Jesse put a hand on his cold forehead. The creature froze, and Jesse pushed his thoughts into his mind. Oh God, like shattered glass, fragmented, irreparable.
"I'm sorry." His heart ached for the man the creature had once been, before Janjak had seduced and betrayed him. "Sleep now," he said gently and lowered the man to the floor, closed the now-lifeless eyes.

Dianne Hartsock


  1. Hey, thanks so much for having me as your guest today. :)

  2. Sounds like an awesome zombie book. Please count me in.


  3. I've always loved gargoyles, whether around Halloween or not. There's something very romantic and mysterious about them.


    1. Oh, I agree Ashley! I've written a short story about gargoyles that I hope to expand into a novel one day. Thanks for stopping by!