Frequently Asked Questions
last updated 3/4/2018
+ What are you working on now?
The final two books in the Dead Highways series. A psychological thriller novel. And a special surprise project.
+ How can I get the latest book updates?
Glad you asked. It’s easy, actually. Sign up for my newsletter on the home page. You can also follow me on Facebook. But the newsletter is the best place if you just want book updates. Just make sure you check your promotion/spam folders, since sometimes email providers like to hide my emails.
+ How do I contact you?
Facebook. Or use the form on my contact page.
+ How many books are planned in the Dead Highways series?
Five books in the main story arc. Whether I write anymore in the Dead Highways universe after book five will depend upon reader interest.
+ Why are the infected heading west?
They’re going to California to become movie stars!
+ Any plans to produce the rest of the Dead Highways series in audio?
Yes. The rest of the series should be available in audio in late 2018.
Titanic with Zombies
+ What inspired you to put zombies on the Titanic?
My wife. One day we started talking about which movies would be better with zombies. Obviously, Titanic came to mind. I mistakenly joked that maybe I should write a book about it, and she wouldn’t let me off the hook. I released the book in time for the 100 year anniversary of the sinking to the delight of only a few people.
+ How much of Titanic with Zombies was true to the tragic event?
Most of it. I believe only two characters in the whole book weren’t real people who were on the Titanic back in 1912. If you’ve read the book, you can probably imagine how much research went into it. My goal was to blend a zombie infection into the actual story as seamlessly as I could, without making a mockery of the sinking. I think it turned out surprisingly well, though I’m in no hurry to write a story that takes place on a ship again.
+ I heard you added an epilogue to Titanic with Zombies. Where can I read it?
Right here! Get reading.
Undisclosed military research facility. Sometime in June, 1912.
Wallace and Hurley sat across from each other at a square wooden table, playing poker. Each man had a stack of coins beside them. The table sat in the center of a narrow, dusty storage room, twenty feet in length. Above the table, suspended by a cord from the high ceiling was a flickering light bulb, radiating heat and buzzing with electricity. Two wall sconces provided the only other source of light, glowing a dim orange color, illuminating the long glass enclosure that stretched almost the entire length of the room. Behind the glass were five test subjects, impatiently waiting for their day on the exam table, scratching and clawing to get out. Wallace finished dealing the cards. Both men tossed coins into the center of the table and then held their five cards up, fanned out in front of them so the other man couldn’t see what they had.
“You certain that glass will hold, Sarge?” Hurley asked with a nervous smile, reordering the cards in his hand.
“It’s held so far,” Wallace replied. “I should know. I’ve been here long enough.”
Wallace studied the new guy across the table from him. Corporal Hurley was tall, thin and clumsy looking, like a kid still trying to grow into his adult body. The beret he wore practically swallowed his small head, but his long, misshapen nose made his face appear longer than it really was. This was the third man the commander had sent his way in the last month. Wallace had grown tired of guard shift some time ago and hoped that soon he’d be replaced, sent off to a new station. But it seemed every other man in his unit was on a rotation except for him.
“I’ll check,” Hurley said.
Wallace nodded. “Cards?”
“I’ll take one,” Hurley replied, discarding a single card face down on the wooden table.
Wallace slid a card off the top of the deck and flicked it across the table toward Hurley. He studied his own cards for a moment, and then set two on the table and replaced them with two new cards from the deck.
Hurley shifted the beret on his head. “How long have you been here?”
“Since they brought them in.”
“That long, eh? Have they told you anything?”
“They make sounds...but they don’t really speak.”
“I meant the others. The higher-ups.”
Wallace shook his head, examining his cards while massaging his wiry mustache. “Only what I need to know, which ain’t much.”
Hurley looked over at the glass cage. “So no idea what’s wrong with them?”
Wallace set his cards down and followed Hurley’s gaze. “They’re sick. But I suppose that much is obvious.”
The caged subjects, all five of them men, continued to bang their arms and smear blood against the inside of the thick wall of glass. All five wore ragged clothing from head to toe, torn and crumpled and foul-smelling. Their faces, gray and deeply emaciated, resembled that of a rotting corpse. What hair they had left was little more than brittle strands of straw. Cloudy eyes rolled around in their hollow sockets, seeing everything but understanding nothing.
Nothing but a need to feed their bottomless hunger.
“You should’ve seen it. That whole glass room was full when I got here,” Wallace said. “Over two dozen of them. One by one they’ve gone off, never to return.”
“Where do they go?” Hurley asked.
Wallace pulled a metal flask out of his pants, popped the cap and took a long swig. “Big room, down the hall...where they do the experiments. I’ve seen arms and legs hung up from the ceiling. Organs sitting out on a tray like butchered meat. Stick around and you might see such things too.”
The disturbed look on Hurley’s face indicated he had no interest in visiting the big room down the hall. “Gosh, I’m surprised they even let you in there.”
“It’s not for long,” Wallace replied, taking another swig from the flask. “Just until the subject is strapped down. Then I’m ushered back here to sit and wait for the next round. Don’t worry, probably won’t be today. I just sent one off to be carved up yesterday.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
Wallace hit the flask again, and then set it down on the table beside the deck of cards. “Are we gonna play or what?”
“Right, the game,” Hurley said, returning his focus to the cards. “I’ll stay.”
Wallace studied Hurley’s face, trying to get a read on him, wondering if the young kid was slow-playing him. He rubbed at his mustache and peered down at his three eights. Then he tossed four coins into the pot and said, “I guess I’ll bet.”
Hurley wasted no time folding his cards.
Wallace sighed and revealed his three eights, counted up his small winnings. His stack of coins was half the size of Hurley’s. “My luck is bound to change eventually. Why is it every time I have a big hand you always fold?”
“Well, if I told you sir, then I might never win.”
Wallace sat up in his chair, intrigued. “You’ll tell me because I outrank you, Corporal. Now spit it out.”
“You do this thing with your fingers and your mustache, sir, every time you have a good hand. It’s a...what do they call it?”
“That’s it. You have a tell.” Hurley peered down at his stack of coins and smirked. “And quite a good one if I may say so.”
Just then the door opened and Colonel Ford burst into the room, shoulders up and walking with purpose. Startled by the Colonel’s sudden entrance into the room, Wallace leapt up from his chair, rocking the table and knocking over his flask. A few drops of liquid spilled out onto the deck of playing cards. In a rush, Wallace shoved the flask back into his pants before Colonel Ford reached the table in the center of the room.
“Gentlemen,” Ford said. His tone was strong and commanding. “How are you this day?”
Both Wallace and Hurley stood at attention, facing the Colonel.
Ford turned his nose up, sniffing at the air. “Why does it smell like whiskey in here? Have either of you been drinking?”
“No sir,” Wallace said. “Of course not.”
“Good,” Ford replied. “You’re lucky I let you keep the cards.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“At ease,” Ford said, allowing the two enlisted servicemen to relax their posture. Ford sauntered over to the glass cage. “We’re ready for another, Wallace.”
“Another...already? But it’s only been—”
“A day,” Ford interrupted. “I know that. But we had an issue with the last one.”
“Let’s just say he damn near fell apart on the table. So we’re gonna need you and...and...”
“Yes, you and Hurley here to bring us another one right away.”
“Sure, we’ll do that.”
“Good.” Ford went for the exit with the same bounce in his step as when he’d entered.
“Um, sir,” Hurley said, stopping the Colonel in his tracks.
Ford turned in the doorway and looked back. “Yes. What is it?”
“Have you figured out what’s wrong with these people?”
“What people?” Ford asked sternly.
Hurley placed his hand on the thick glass. On the other side the five men inside went crazy with rage. “These people you’re experimenting on.”
“Those aren’t people anymore, Corporal,” Ford replied. “For all intents and purposes, they’re dead. A blind man could tell that. But yes, we’re learning new stuff about them all the time, which is why we need you to bring us another subject this minute. I could tell you more but then I’d have to kill you.”
The door slammed closed and Ford was gone.
Wallace glanced over at Hurley, then at the long wooden catchpole hanging near the door to the cage. “Guess your luck is about to change.”
“You don’t really expect me to...”
“Sure, why not? They didn’t send you here to stand around and watch me do everything. You gotta learn sometime. May as well be today.”
“But they seem rather violent. And we don’t even have any weapons.”
“We have this,” Wallace said. He removed the wooden pole from the hook on the wall and tossed it to Hurley. Attached to one end was a looped rope for securing around the subject’s neck.
“What is this wretched thing supposed to do?” Hurley asked.
“Steer them where you want them to go. Where we’re going is down the hall. The big room, remember?”
Beads of sweat began to gather under Hurley’s worried eyes. “Christ, we should have guns for this.”
“Right. You really think they’d let us have guns in here.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because they care more about those things behind that glass than they do us, that’s why. They’re more important. You harm one and you’re going for a dirt nap. Now don’t be such a sniveling coward. I’ll show you what to do.”
Wallace and Hurley huddled around the door to the glass cage.
“I’m not going in there first,” Hurley said.
“Neither of us are going in there, dummy. Look...give me that damn thing,” Wallace said, snatching the pole out of Hurley’s hands. “You open the door and let one out. I’ll put the chain around their neck.”
“What if more come out?”
“They won’t if you do this right. Once one is out you close the door on the rest, got it? You have to be quick. Can you be quick?”
“I think so.”
“Do you want to work the stick and let me handle the door?”
“Oh no, you keep the stick. I’ll get the door.”
“Fine,” Wallace said, frustrated. He immediately perked up when he saw the subject waiting closest to the cage door. “Hey, this really is your lucky day. Look who’s first in line. You recognize him?”
The man closest to the door had on a tattered blue suit, brown boots and a belt with a gold buckle. Hanging loosely from his withered left wrist was a matching gold watch, caked with blood and shredded bits of flesh. The skin on his face was pulled back tight, his cheeks sunken, his jaw offset. Above his upper lip sat a spotty patch of matted hair that used to be a mustache. He opened his mouth in a snarl, showing off his black, diseased teeth.
“No, he doesn’t look familiar,” Hurley replied. “Looks like your typical rich dead guy really. I imagine there were a lot of them on the Titanic.”
Wallace grinned. “That’s jackass.”
“Guess you don’t read the papers much, eh? That’s John Jacob Astor. He’s one of the richest men in the world. Or he was one of the richest.”
“Okay yes, I’ve heard of him. But why do they call him jackass?”
“Hell if I know. But they do. I wonder what they told that young wife of his, Madeleine. Bet she don’t know he’s here.”
“She’s probably too busy spending his fortune to care,” Hurley said, shrugging. “Can we just get on with it? I feel my breakfast coming up.”
“Okay, I’m ready,” Wallace said, gripping the wooden pole tight with two hands. “You get the door. Just like I told ya.”
The glass door had three long rectangular metal latches, equally spaced out from top to bottom. The heavy latches kept the door locked and sealed, and were built to withstand an immense amount of pressure. God knows the men inside the cage had tested the integrity of the locks for two months straight. The glass itself was four inches thick. Wallace found it absurdly amusing that the men who had decided he shouldn’t have a gun to protect himself were nowhere to be found when it was time to transfer the poor harmless subjects. They were probably somewhere safe and comfortable, feet up on their desks, enjoying a nice smoke.
Starting with the top and bottom first, Hurley began pulling open the metal latches. Before unlocking the final latch in the middle, he turned and glanced back at Wallace. “Ready?”
“Go ahead,” Wallace said. “Throw it.”
Hurley yanked the middle latch from its striking plate. The door fell open with a swoosh and John Jacob Astor pushed through, moaning, eager to escape. A putrid, vomit-inducing smell accompanied him out the door. Wallace quickly flipped the business end of the catchpole toward the wealthy man’s head, jockeying the rope into position. He had the rope halfway down when Astor slipped away, stumbling forward to the ground.
“Shit!” Wallace yelled, stepping backward so Astor wouldn’t land on top of him. “Hurley, you idiot, close the door!”
Hurley tried to push the door closed, but Astor lay in the way, struggling to stand back up. Over and over again, Hurley threw his shoulder into the glass, smashing Astor between the door and the wall. Wallace gathered himself and made a second attempt with the rope, carefully slipping it over Astor’s head and around his neck.
Gotcha, Wallace thought, clenching his teeth. He tightened the rope and then began pulling Astor out of the doorway.
Unfortunately, a second subject followed. Hurley, too busy eyeing Wallace fighting with the rope, hadn’t been paying attention to the four other men waiting behind Astor. By the time he realized his error, it was too late to push the door closed.
“Hurley!” Wallace shouted, dragging Astor by the neck into the center of the room. Backing up, he accidently bumped the card table, causing the stacks of coins to topple over. “Don’t let them escape!”
Hurley showed his bravery by stepping in front of the second man and grabbing him by the shoulders, preventing him from clearing the doorway. But this man was much larger than Astor, much larger than Hurley, and didn’t respond well to being held. With his bony-fingered hands he clutched Hurley’s left arm, and then in one rapid motion, pitched his head down and sunk his teeth into the young Corporal’s bicep.
Hurley cried out in extreme agony as the big man ripped a chunk of muscle tissue straight from the bone, barely chewed before diving in for another taste. Blood sprayed up into Hurley’s face—into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. The red ran down his arm and streamed off his fingertips, formed pools on the wooden deck below. All the while, Wallace looked on in shock, still trying to control Astor who seemed to grow ever the more rabid once Hurley’s blood was spilled.
Still wailing, Hurley clawed at the big man’s hands and finally squirmed free, slipping on the bloody floor and tumbling backward. He rubbed at his eyes to clear his vision. A moment later he righted himself and, leaking a trail of blood behind him, dashed for the exit. He threw open the door and took off down the long hallway, crying for help as he held his ruined arm. Wallace yelled for Hurley to come back, but the young kid was as good as gone. Realizing he had no other choice, Wallace dropped the catchpole and made a break for the open exit. Not soon enough, however, as the other four sick men stumbled out of the glass cage and blocked the way, coming at him with their arms straight and their hands reaching. He tried to circle around them but they quickly closed the gap. One nearly snagged him between its pale fingers, scratching at his neck.
“Help me!” he continued to shout, backing into the card table again, sending a burst of pain up his spine. “Please! Someone Help!”
The five deathly sick men forced him back into a corner, nowhere left to turn. Trembling in fear, Wallace slid down the wall and crumbled in the corner with his hands on his knees like a frightened child. Astor, still crawling along the ground with the noose around his neck, slithered to the front of the line. The other four loomed over him like giant shadows, two on each side. After waiting so long, contained behind four inches of glass, they’d finally get to feast on the man they’d spent months salivating over. Wallace reached into his pants and pulled out his flask. Placing the cold metal to his lips, he managed one last swig of whiskey before being pulled apart.
Screaming for his mother.