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Feature Interview: Author Jay Wilburn

Author Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn is a public school teacher who left his job to care for his younger son and to be a full-time writer. He resides in Conway, South Carolina with his wife and two sons, where he stalks the beaches like some goatee bearded swamp monster waiting for his next victim. Okay, that last part may be a bit of an exaggeration. He was featured in Best Horror of the Year Vol. 5 with editor Ellen Datlow. He was a featured author with Hazardous Press at the 2013 World Horror Convention and a panelist on RULES OF THE GENRE, is a columnist for Dark Eclipse and for Revolt Daily, and his books Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel and Time Eaters are available through
Karma Girl: Before we begin I have to ask, did you read my last interview with Paul Flewitt?
Jay Wilburn: Yes, but I've read several recently, so it is not fresh in my mind.
KG:  (Steeples fingers with evil intent) Excellent! Okay, let's begin. Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
Jay: My name is Jay Wilburn. I taught public school for sixteen years and then quit. I stay home with my kids and write full time. I also occasionally fly or drive to others cities for conventions and book debuts. I live in the swamps of coastal South Carolina and watch the tourists from the shadows. I have two published novels LOOSE ENDS and TIME EATERS along with several short stories scattered across the globe.
KG: You watch tourists from the shadows? Like Swamp Thing?
Jay: Well, I actually drive down to the beach with my kids and we play in the sand or go to the aquarium. But there are shadows there too.
KG: Fair enough. You said you taught public school for sixteen years. What subject did you teach and how did you escape with your sanity intact?
Jay: I was certified in all four academics, so I was sort of the utility player for my schools. I've taught every subject from grades four through eight at least once. I figured out how to please parents, students, and administration, so I stayed out of trouble and was well respected. When my son became sick, I volunteered to stay home with him. I was done killing my soul one class period at a time.
KG: You left your job to take care of your son? May I ask what happened to him?

Jay: He was having trouble with seizures. This isn't uncommon with babies, but he kept having them. My wife and I burned all our sick days, so we were losing money every time one of us had to stay home. It came down to not wanting to put him on medicine if we could help it. I stayed home to try to help it and I think he may have outgrown them finally.

KG: I think you may have become my new hero. Now that you don't have to take care of public school hell spawn for a living, do you find your writing has become more productive than ever or do you suffer from POD (Procrastinators Obsessive Disorder)? Symptoms include: Taking an interest in housework where there was no interest before; Addiction to computer games and social media (cough, Candy Crush Saga, sputter, facebook); Suddenly remembering your wife's birthday/anniversary/"Damn my woman's hot and I really need a break from all this writing, so let's just make something up, shall we?"

Jay: I'm fairly prolific as a writer. As soon as I complete, edit, and send one short story, I immediately open a word document and type the first lines or paragraphs of the next story. It keeps me moving. Writing is still a "between life" activity whether I was giving up sleep to write on school nights or writing between changing diapers and picking up the older one from school. That's just the nature of it. I still do all those life things and neglect things to write like I did before. Full time writer is a job and you have to drive yourself to make progress even when you do feel passionate about it.

KG: I suddenly feel like the laziest creature on Earth. Thank you for that.

What got you into writing? Has it been a life long interest or did you get your start by writing porn to pay off a debt owed to the Cajun mafia? Not that that's ever happened to anyone I know...

Jay: I started writing when I was really young. I started on notebook paper imitating fantasy and sci-fi stories I had read. I seldom finished and would let no one read them. I played with the art from time to time over the years. I got serious about publishing writing a few years ago mostly writing zombie stuff. From there, I honed the craft the way only publishing can do and it consumed my life from there.

KG: A fellow zombie lover. Nice! Is that your main thing or have you experimented with other genres?

Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 5
Jay: I'm probably a zombie writer at my core. I write everything I can try to build my tool box. In terms of numbers, I've been paid more for sci fi and steampunk stories, but my cumulative mass of my horror writing is starting to catch up in financial measures. I think all of this has made me a better zombie writer. I got a zombie story picked for BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOL 5 and a zombie story included in THE BEST OF DARK MOON DIGEST. I'll always be a zombie writer and an advocate for that genre.

KG: Speaking of steampunk, I read your story "Super Dome" in the anthology NEW ORLEANS BY GASLIGHT. It was an excellent read. Was this a little piece of commentary regarding what happened in New Orleans during Katrina?

New Olreans by Gaslight
Jay: Yes, I try to make even my lightest stories mean something. I don't try to preach a political view onto anyone. My goal is for stories to reflect truth without imposing a preset opinion. I think that story is a good example. With it being an alternate world set up by that excellent anthology, it allowed me to superimpose the details of the real life event over the fictional story. I believe the characters' reactions were honest, but the reader is allowed to draw conclusions how they see fit.

KG: I can't speak for other southern Louisianans but I have to admit, I kind of felt Constable Gravette made an excellent observation at the end of the story.

Can you tell us about your current WIP (Work(s) In Progress)?

Time Eaters
Jay: I'm working on the novella CONVINCED for a shared collection with the Dark and Bookish tour and documentary authors. It will be out in a few months as AT THE NEXT EXIT. I'm working on a co-authored YA steampunk novel that is going very well. I'm teamed with Stan Swanson on that one. I'm going to be at WorldCon in San Antonio for the debut of TIME EATERS, so I'm excited about that too.

KG: What do find is the hardest part of writing? Besides beating your muse into submission and stuffing their hogtied bodies in the back of your closet? Again, not that that's happened to anyone I know...(insert sneaky eyes here)

Jay: Trying to be better than I am. The myth I choose to believe about myself is that I am pretty good with moments of greatness. This myth whether true or not allows me to strive for and occasionally achieve greatness. I learn things I'm doing wrong and I struggle to improve those things while trying to keep the raw, risky edge that make my writing great at moments. This is a tough balance for me.

KG: So, not ropes and ball gags? Le sigh.

Jay: Just laptops and post-it notes mostly.

KG: Oh well.

Now we've come to the portion of the interview that I like to call: The Serious Three. I'm going to ask you three incredibly serious questions and I want your honest answer. Are you ready sir?

Jay: Yes ... no, but yes. Go.

KG: Serious Question #1: What are your hopes, your dreams, interesting nightmares that don't involve clowns, spiders, or Ben Affleck morphing into a nipple suit wearing Batman?

Jay: I have a shortened lifespan due to my own health issues. I want to make something that outlasts me with words and stories. I'm haunted by this drive to create.

KG: That's one dream I certainly hope you achieve.

Jay: I appreciate it.

KG: Serious Question #2: Do you have any tips for other writers besides telling them to look both ways before crossing the street and not accepting wooden nickels?

Jay: Write what you love, but also try things outside your comfort zone. Write other genres with the intent of submitting the stories so you know you are serious. It will make the genres you love better and different than everyone else doing them.

KG: Serious Question #3: Where can readers stalk you online or otherwise?

Jay: @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.

KG: I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for you. Especially when the zombie apocalypse goes down. I think we'll all be needing your expertise.

Jay: You'll find me hiding in the swampy shadows. Thanks. This was fun.

KG: No, thank you!

Interested in an interview? Need more exposure for your book/art/business? Just want to have wacky fun with the Karma Girl? Send me an email at to make all your dreams come true...not the dirty ones, you pervy bastards.


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