Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interview with Jay Wilburn.

Full Name:
Donald Jay Wilburn

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Jay … In college, my friends called me Room Dog, but I don’t know why exactly.
That is a bit odd.
College Friend: “What’s up “Room Dog”?”
Jay: “I’m sorry… what?  Were you speaking to me?”
College Friend: “Yeah!  Room Dog!  WOO!”
Yes, I believe it was generic term for “roommate” at that time.  I was roommates with a much maligned student they called The Possum.  So, I think I went from being “Possum’s roomdog” to just being Room Dog after he dropped out.  I’m sure that clears this whole thing up for you.
Strangely enough, it does.  At least you weren’t “The Possum”.

Winterhaven, Florida

Current hometown:
Conway, South Carolina

Favorite city and why?
Conway, of course, it is the strangest town on Earth.  Old South, swamp, farmland, tourist town, beach, retirement town, and more.
Yes, but is it haunted?
All small, Southern towns are haunted both literally and figuratively.  My writing career is partially built of this truthiness.

Birthday / Age:
39, but if you are as young as you feel, I am 70.
I never sleep, so I think that I get to add a .5 modifier to my age… which would make me 57.
Statistically, people who sleep less actually live longer, but I figure the last years are the bad ones anyway, so I’m trying to shave a few of those off.
Ye gods, I hope those statistics are wrong, because with how little and infrequently I sleep I’m going to live forever.  And I’m only 38 and already looking forward to death so it’s going to be a long haul.  At least I’ll hopefully be able to get all of the writing that I want to get written.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Old and tired.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Scary, but strangely sexy.

The first thing people notice about you is…
My crazy beard.

Sexual orientation?
Heterosexual … why?  What have you heard?
Nothing… why?  *looks down at his feet and then up at the ceiling and walks off whistling*

Religion, if any?
Southern Baptist … I’m also a Libertarian politically, so I tend to even piss off people who agree with me too.
Like Dave Chappelle’s Black Klansman skit?
Not quite that bad.

It usually goes like this:
Church friend: What do you mean you don’t oppose gay marriage?
Me: I don’t care what gay people do.
Church friend: But the Bible says it is a sin.
Me: Right, but just because you or I believe something is a sin doesn’t mean it should be illegal for others or that we have to use force of law to impose our interpretation on others.
Church friend: But society is falling apart … like Rome.
Me: I’m pretty sure Rome fell because of the over-extended imperialism, the weight of slavery on the economy, the unsustainable spending and tax system, the corrupt political system, and the barbarian incursion into the Roman army … not because there were gay people.
Church friend: You are part of the problem!  You are putting future generations in danger.
Me: Yes, I am clearly out of my mind.

Or like this:
Liberal friend: How could you be against gun control?  Babies have died.
Me: The Second Amendment is a valuable litmus test to see when the government is encroaching on freedom.   Also, police only come after a crime has started and usually get there after it is finished.
Liberal friend: It was written in the time of muskets.
Me: Freedom of the Press was written in the time of the printing press.  I still want that too.
Liberal friend: No one dies from freedom of the press.
Me: Well, people that want to take it don’t always agree.
Liberal friend: You feel you need a gun to be safe.  They kill people.
Me: I don’t own a gun.  I don’t want it around my family.
Liberal friend: That’s what I’m saying!!!
Me: Right, but I don’t make that choice for others.  I don’t drink, but I’m against prohibition.  I don’t use drugs, but I’m in favor of legalization.  I don’t smoke, but I oppose making it illegal in bars.
Liberal friend: Second hand smoke is as dangerous to kids as guns!!!  Someone has to make reasonable choices to keep society safe.
Me: Who gets to make the reasonable choice?  I’m clearly too emotional about this to make a reasoned decision.

Both ends of the political spectrum are concerned about my impact on babies.
I say, fuck babies.  I don’t mean have sexual intercourse with them.  I mean I was allowed to have dangerous fun when I was a kid.  We had non-child-proof lighters and I climbed trees and fell out of them and rode around on skateboards and bikes without every wearing a helmet.  People were much less aware about the effects of second-hand smoke so adults would drive around with me in their cars smoking with the windows closed neither of us wearing seatbelts.  I think I turned out okay.
One of the worst things to happen to me was when they outlawed smoking in bars.  It really effected my drinking.  There’s nothing better than taking a drag of a cigarette, and then washing it down with a chug of beer.  Now I drink a lot less, so it’s affecting the local economy.  A bar is where adults go to participate in bad behavior and make bad decisions.  The government has no right to legislate the irresponsible behavior of adults.  Keep the schools open and the roads in decent condition, but other than that, leave us the fuck alone to do as we please.  If I want to drive at eighty miles an hour down an empty highway shooting a firearm into the night sky, with Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell blaring out of the windows, it should be my right to do so.  Would that be crazy?  Yeah, kind of.  But it shouldn’t be illegal.

Are you superstitious at all?  Any phobias?
I believe in God and I think he is out to get me.
That’s the worst!  Because it’s not like you can hide.  If you believe in omnipotence and omnipresence as qualities of the Judeo-Christian archetypical deity he’s everywhere at once.  Which is weird to me.  Because I don’t want God watching me poop.  And  watching me shower.  Actually I kind of wish he’d mind his own fucking business.  Plus if he didn’t want us masturbating, why did he make our arms just long enough for us to reach our genitals?  Why not give us stubby little T-rex arms?  Why?
If someone is going to watch me poop, I’d rather it be God.
You should put a piece of electrical tape over the lens of your laptop’s webcam when you’re surfing on the toilet then.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Never once in my life.  I don’t know … greed, malice, gluttony … Internet porn.
I’m not proud of my affinity for internet porn either.  But people in my neighborhood weren’t really keen on my looking in their windows and trying to watch them have sex.
Everybody has a vice.  The key is to pick one that let’s you still wander the Earth freely and buy candy when you want it.  Things like drugs or golf are far too expensive and destroy your family relationships.
Well said!

Current occupation / Dream job:
Full-time writer … I will have to turn to a life of crime soon, if sales don’t pick up.
At what point did you decide that you could write as your primary source of income?  Was it a certain number of books or a certain monthly royalty amount or both?
My son was sick and having seizures that were life threatening at one point.  My wife and I used up all our sick days and savings on medical stuff.  I resigned teaching so I could pull out my retirement to pay medical bills and then I stayed home with him to see him through.
So, I did it backwards.  I jumped off the bridge and then looked for a place to land.  Once I was home, we didn’t have to pay for daycare or afterschool care, so our need decreased.  I’ve made it work for almost a year now.  I’ll need to pull down a little more or it will be a life of crime in a few months, but I’ve been heading that direction for a long time, I think.
Well, I hope this interview and the published print-on-demand/e-book collection of zombie-genre authors helps to push your sales a bit.  I can’t promise anything, but all promotion is good promotion… unless you’re spamming cut and post promos in Facebook groups.  Then you’re just a dick and abusing your right to participate in social networking.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I take care of my kids.
I imagine you saying it like this.
Right.  Right.  I’m not looking for credit.  Just stating a fact.  If writing is my job, then that’s what I do when my son pulls on my arm, I look up from the laptop, see that he is without pants and asking for food. “Not now, son. Zombie erotica does not write itself. Go play with the paper towel roll I gave this morning … yesterday morning?”
I think pants are over-rated anyway.

Weapon of choice:
I’m learning a shoot a bow and arrow.   I’m ready if they line-up, stay still, and move slowly.
Well, depending on what kind of zombies you’re expecting, I imagine they will move slowly.  You could always build a run so that they line up.  It might just work.
Oh, I’m not doing any real work.  I’m the guy who quit my job with “write zombie stories” as my plan.  The real reason I took up archery was because I needed exercise, so I picked one with minimal movement involved.
Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of picking it as your preferred form of exercise?
But … there might be zombies.  Or I might want to compete in the Olympics one day. I’m terrible at curling.  Just terrible.
Curling’s not a real sport.  It’s just shuffleboard… on ice.  Anything that geriatrics can do shouldn’t be an Olympic sport.  Bingo isn’t an Olympic sport.  Curling shouldn’t be either.

Do you have any special skills?
I can play guitar a little.
It would be a lot cuter if you played a little guitar.  Like a ukulele.
Hmm, I’m picturing it, but in my head the image is horrifying.  Do you see an audience of gnomes throwing poo and booing me?
Geez, I wish!

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Yes, education major.  I taught for sixteen years before escaping.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
I got more when I went back for a Masters Degree.  I actually worked as a bus boy for a while after completing my Masters Degree.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
No… No is an alligator.
What do you feed it?
If you stop taking care of your pool, it attracts frogs and teenagers.

What is your favorite animal?
Pigs… they are delicious.
They are, aren’t they?

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Offended people… I love offensive people.  Offended people annoy me.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Mall Chinese food … circus peanuts.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Offensive people are more fun than offended people.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Marrying someone better than me.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Being diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease.
So your kidneys hate you and generate multiple cysts?
Yes, turns out kidneys are quite important.  They regulate blood pressure, body temperature, blood chemistry, mental alertness, cellular oxygenation, the function of joints, and a hundred other things that give me trouble.  I really think the heart and everything else crammed in there is just for show.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I had a terrible love affair with public school that ended abruptly.  There was no saving her.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
No, I always overstay my welcome and have others break up with me.
I hate it when they don’t let you know that you’re broken up.  That’s always awkward.
We have memos for everything else.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I once stopped a zombie apocalypse.  My wife insists it was a dream, but I don’t see any zombies so…
On behalf of all mankind, I thank you for your selfless bravery.
It’s for the children.  We are all in this together.  Synergy.  Memes.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I think I am responsible for a number of animal extinctions through my great depth of apathy, but I can’t prove it… well, I haven’t really tried to prove it.
When we lose the polar bear I’ll tell everyone’s it’s your fault.
Oh, I’m actively working against the polar bear.  That thing has run an effective propaganda campaign making people think it is cute.  It even has corporate, holiday sponsorship!!!  I think they may hold on forever.  I’m running out of ideas.
Start using hairspray for your beard.  I hear that CFCs melt icecaps.  I say, fuck icecaps.  I always wanted to own waterfront property anyways.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t.  I find terrible people fascinating.

What do you do?
I write horror and speculative fiction.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I started writing really bad (as in badly written) stories when I was young.  They were imitations of fantasy and sci fi stories I had read.  Eventually, I started writing zombies.  I entered a zombie story contest and came in third.  I won ten dollars.  That was all I needed to believe I could do this.  I work hard to maintain this delusion.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Write a lot.  Write what you love.  Submit it.  Fail.  Write it better.  Submit.  Fail.  Write something that scares you.  Submit.  Fail.  Go back to writing what you love.  Submit.  Gain minor success.  Write more.  Fail.  Repeat.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel… Time Eaters… The Great Interruption (currently under consideration)… a number of anthologies… a zombie story in Best Horror of the Year Volume 5 with editor Ellen Datlow.

What projects are you working on now?
Coauthoring a YA steampunk novel with Stan Swanson… Composing a semi-sequel to Time Eaters… a featured author in the documentary Dark and Bookish.
Interesting.  If you wanted to tell us a bit more about any or all of the preceding, I’m certainly not opposed to you doing so.
I’ve never written Young Adult or coauthored before. Stan has worked with me quite a while with Dark Moon Books, so it is going well.
While I was out in San Antonio for the debut of Time Eaters at the WorldCon Science Fiction convention, I indirectly pitched the sequel to the novel.  I got a green light on the book and have been working on a “Cannibals in Space” book that has built into something bigger.
The documentary will follow a few up-and-coming horror authors and document their struggles.  I plan on being extra strugglie.

What are you watching?
Dome… The Walking Dead … every movie with Danny Trejo in it.

What are you listening to?
I get on YouTube and find the most random mashups I can find.  They are my writing soundtrack.

What are you reading?
Clean Freak by Sean M. Davis… a preview copy of Dublin by Eli Wilde.

Favorite author / book?
Stephen King THE STAND.
Who’s your favorite character in The Stand?
Trashcan man.
I think Trashcan Man and The Kidd should have their own post apocalyptic novel.

Favorite band / song?
“Cornbread and Butterbeans”

Least favorite band / song?
“Christmas Shoes”

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Still writing, but for more money.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Stephen King … Ben Franklin… Tom Sawyer.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Writer is best.  Stockboy at Wal-Mart or cook at Waffle House for worst.

Got any questions for me?
Let me think on this.
How about now?
Why do you think the “is zombie fiction over” debate seems to go on and on decade after decade?
I’ve never heard anyone say that.  The zombie, the vampire, the serial killer, the slasher, the western, the romance, the romantic comedy, the space western, the buddy cop movie, all of these genres will perpetually perpetuate.  No one owns the exclusive rights to any of the aforementioned genres.  That’s part of the problem.  Before an author finds their voice and writes something original, they engage in imitation, or at least derivation.  It’s unavoidable, and mostly harmless, and good practice for when they come up with a truly original idea.  The problem is that self-publishing is so proliferate these days that anyone can publish that first novel that should probably never see the light of day.  The only reason that I’m digging up the zombie genre is because I haven’t been able to find the zombie genre book that I’ve always wanted to read, so I decided to write it myself, figuring that I can’t be the only person that wants to read the book I want to read am in the process of writing, novelette-length chapter by novelette-length chapter.  I caught a fair amount of flak when I went out there saying that I didn’t think that anyone has really nailed the zombie genre yet, but I defended my position as well as I could.  Every author thinks that they nailed it, and I believe they honestly gave it their best shot, but if I thought that anyone had truly nailed it, I wouldn’t be venturing forth in the genre myself.  I’d be happy to just kick back and read a Stephen King’s The Stand length and quality zombie book.   The comic book series The Walking Dead came pretty close, but doesn’t have the same sense of scale that The Stand does.  As you know, I’ve been interviewing a representative sample of zombie-genre authors and most of them have offered to send me copies of their books in PDF format so I can review their books and tie the review into the interview.  I truly appreciate their offers, and am sincerely looking forward to getting a chance to read everything I’ve been sent once I get caught up on my own writing.  But I’ve got ten book projects I’m working on, in turn, so it looks like I’m not going to be able to get around to getting into any of that until after the spring thaw.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

Twitter: @AmongTheZombies
Amazon author site:

About the Interviewee:
Jay Wilburn was a public school teacher for 16 years.  He left to care for his younger son and to be a full-time writer in beautiful Conway, South Carolina where he lives with his wife and two sons.  He was featured in Best Horror of the Year vol. 5 with editor Ellen Datlow.  He has published many horror and speculative fiction stories.  His first novel, Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel, is available now.  Time Eaters was released by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.  He was a featured author with Hazardous Press at the 2013 World Horror Convention and a panelist on RULES OF THE GENRE.  He was included in the limited edition Best of Dark Moon of Digest.  He is a columnist for Dark Eclipse and for Revolt Daily.  Follow his many dark thoughts at and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.

About the Interviewer:

Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
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Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
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Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
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Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
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