Author Guest Post: Dave Robertson

Today’s Author shares a guide to the zombie world.



I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Zombies because I’m a big zombie fan and so are a lot of my friends. Being a zombie fan, I have read books about zombie self-defense, others devoted solely to movies, others about zombies in pop culture. I decided there needed to be one book that covered everything about zombies, all in one place. Here’s the book blurb:


The Ultimate Guide to Zombies is your handbook to all thing zombie. It traces the history of zombies from tales of Haitian Voodoo through their portrayal in movies, games, and books to their current status on TV’s “The Walking Dead”. The book discusses what might cause a zombie outbreak, the anatomy of a zombie’s brain, and how to effectively deal with them. It also covers the way zombies have been used by various organizations and the media to further their own ends. Lastly, the book has information about zombies in movies, music, advertising as well as information on zombie survival camps, zombie weddings, and world-wide zombie events.


Review Snippet:

“This book is a must for any zombie fan or for anyone wanting to understand the planetary phenomena they have caused. I thoroughly enjoyed it as an all-around look at what zombies are; where they come from; how they have influenced pop culture and most importantly how to fend against them. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys zombies.”         –the Blithering Bibliomaniacs book reviews


Excerpt, The Ultimate Guide to Zombies:

Reports of zombies first surfaced in Haiti in the early 1900s. The most famous early report came from noted journalist Stephen Bonsal, who made a career of traveling all around the world and reporting on the social and political systems of other countries. In his book, The American Mediterranean (1912), Bonsal wrote chapters on the political and social conditions in Haiti (Hayti as he spelled it). He also published what is generally considered the first description of a zombie.

As Mr. Bonsal recounts the tale, a working class man from Port-au-Prince became sick. The man had recently joined one of the churches run by foreign missionaries. Because of this, the local clergyman came to visit the sick man. On his second visit, the clergyman witnessed the man’s death. At the invitation of the man’s wife and his physician, the clergyman helped dress the man in his grave-clothes, which was a very specific custom in Haiti. The following day, the clergyman and at least a dozen other men, described by Bonsal as “all natives and of good standing”, were present at the man’s funeral. Afterwards they closed the coffin lid, walked the coffin to the cemetery, and saw the dead man buried four feet below ground.

There were no mysterious circumstances surrounding the man’s death, according to his physician, but foul play was evident two days later when the grieving widow visited her husband’s grave. She found the grave empty and the empty coffin, open, next to it. She went straight to the police, who promised a full investigation on the condition that she keep the whole situation to herself. Yep, pretty suspicious. And, by the way, the police never did investigate. The police and other officials did not want to get on the wrong side of a voodoo priest or priestess. Instead, the case would go nowhere and would eventually be forgotten, just like so many other cases involving voodoo. Bonsal referred to this as “the invariable government attitude of suppression or denial in the presence of all Voodoo crimes.”

The case would have died on the vine had it not been for a series of extraordinary and accidental events. The day after the woman’s grim discovery, a mail carrier arrived in town telling a wild and nearly unbelievable tale. This mail man had been diverted from his route by a river that was overflowing its banks. Unable to cross at his normal place, the man had left the beaten path and, at times, travelled cross country. The man had ridden all night and was in somewhat unfamiliar terrain, trying to stay awake, when “he suddenly rode into a great clearing lit by a huge wood fire”. A dozen men and women who had been gathered around the fire rushed angrily at the man. Believing they were thieves, the mail carrier fired at them with his revolver. The mob ran, howling, into the woods, leaving the mail man apparently alone.

According to Bonsal, “The mail rider took a swig of rum to steady his nerves, and was about to beat a hasty retreat back to the flooded trail, which now contained for him nothing so fearful as the mysteriously populated forest, when suddenly, despite the rum, his blood ran cold. A long moan, as of someone in mortal agony, fell upon his ear.”

The mail carrier, according to his own account, fled the clearing in fear, not once but twice, after something inexplicably drew him back. He finally picked up a burning cedar branch from the fire and began to investigate the sound. He found a man dressed in his grave-clothes, tied to a tree, moaning and struggling to get free. The mail rider freed the poor man “who regained his speech, but not his mind.” Because of this, the man could give no coherent account of how he had ended up tied to the tree. The mail carrier put the man on his horse, tied him in the saddle, and led him to the nearest military post.

The military authorities no doubt would have covered up the dead man’s discovery had the mail carrier not gone on to Port-au-Prince and told all who would listen his astonishing tale. The mysterious man was therefore brought to Port-au-Prince where he was recognized by his wife, his physician, and the clergyman who had presided over his funereal. The recognition however, was not mutual. “The unfortunate victim of Voodoo barbarity recognized no one, and his days and nights were spent in moaning and groaning and in uttering inarticulate words which no one could understand.” The poor man was history’s first reported zombie, the apparent victim of a voodoo spell which brought him back from the dead, but destroyed his mind.

Such tales were not uncommon in Haiti at the time. Though it was officially a Catholic country, many rural people still practiced voodoo, or combined the two systems into one. Government officials who were charged with shutting down voodoo practices generally looked the other way. Voodoo continued to be practiced, and people who lived in the backwoods still clung to the old beliefs and superstitions. They still believed that a bokor, a voodoo sorcerer, could put spells on people or create powerful talismans. A regular Voodoo priest was called a houngan, a Voodoo priestess was known as a Mambo. Neither were concerned with putting curses on people or any such nonsense. A bokor, however, was a Voodoo practitioner who “worked with both hands”. This meant that a bokor could be hired to do evil to one’s enemies, or to provide a protective charm against dark magic. They worked both sides of the street, as it were.

A bokor could also, it was said, cause a person to become ill and appear to die. Even a doctor examining the person would declare them dead. Soon after the funeral, the bokor would dig up the person and revive them through magic means. The person would be listless and somewhat uncoordinated. Their speech was typically not much beyond moans and grunts. They would have no will of their own. Their only use would be as slaves, to do manual labor for the bokor. This certainly sounds like the process that was interrupted by the mail carrier, eh?





Dave Robertson is a meat-covered skeleton, made of stardust, trying to cling to a big rock called earth as it hurtles through space. He has written three books of fiction in the genres of horror and dark fantasy. He is also the author of two non-fiction books including the humorous Apocalypse Survival Guide: A Handbook for the Woefully Unprepared.


The Ultimate Guide to Zombies is available here:

Dave’s blog: