by Jay Wilburn
My greatest breakout success to date has been a weird little zombie story titled “Dead Song.” I never intended it to be great even as I was writing it. Maybe it is really not. There have been some less than stellar reviews. Maybe it is just some strange, mass delusional halo effect that has some people thinking it is good. I’ve tried more than once to leave it behind along with zombie stories, but time and again opportunity pulls me back into the genre and this story keeps shambling onward. I working on a novelized version of “Dead Song” now.
I used to only write zombie stories. My first story ever published was a zombie story. I got a check with the note line reading “Payment for Zombies.” I slowly ventured out into other stories. I would eventually be writing full-time on the back of several genre and ghostwriting.
I write zombies whenever the opportunity arises. The genre, fellow writers, and publishers have pulled me back again and again even as I worked to expand in other areas. I have theory that my zombie stories actually got better and sold better because I was writing other things which expanded my tool box and improved me as a writer.
“Dead Song” was a strange idea. It hatched from a thought of creating a screenplay as a short story. It would evolve into a narrative format, but just barely. The concept is that a documentary is being made about the evolution of music during the zombie apocalypse. In reality, the story is a guy in a sound booth doing a voice over. If I have ever been accused of telling and not showing, this is my masterpiece of that.
This story was going to be published nowhere and I knew it.
Elektrik Milk Bath Press put out a call for strange zombie stories for a charity anthology. This one was strange, so I submitted “Dead Song” and forgot about it. The anthology came out and was full of zombie weirdness as advertised.
After the book came out, a few reviewers mentioned my story positively. I actually went back a read the story to try to see what was in it that I had missed. It was better than I remembered. The horror sort of snuck up on you in it.
Some time after that, Prime Books approached me and asked to pay me forty dollars to reprint it again in their Zombies: More Recent Dead featuring the best zombie stories of the last few years. The book features work by Neil Gaiman, Joe McKinney, Jonathan Mayberry, Joe Lansdale, and more. I read the story again.
I began outlining a novelized version of the events and characters described in the story. As I went into the actual world detailed in “Dead Song,” I realized how dark, campy, twisted, and gritty that world was going to be. This place is full of zombies, drag queens, epic landscapes, Southern gothic, mystery, and magic. As I have churned out short stories while neglecting novels, I realized this story was choosing me again.
I have already been surprised myself by what has been revealed in the first few thousands words. I’m just more convinced that this story has more to offer still. I hope you get a chance to check out “Dead Song,” the weird little zombie short story that won’t quit and eventually the novel, Dead Song: The Legend of Tiny “Mud Music” Jones.
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The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014
AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily: