Tomorrow I return to talk about Ava, NaNoWriMo, and what to expect from me in the near future. Also, I will address what I consider one of the glaring problems with the social media when it comes to writers and writing. But today...I give you Jay Wilburn.
What has led you to writing?
I had health issues that forced me to discuss life expectancy with doctors. I came home and thought about what I wanted to do. It wasn’t the sort of news that demanded a bucket list or anything that dramatic. I imagined my last day on Earth and odds were I would get up, get the kids ready, go to work, come home, and get ready to do it again. The only difference being on that day I wouldn’t repeat. I asked myself what I wanted to do. Beyond being a good father and husband, my answer was I want to write every story I can get out of me while my heart still beats and I still have breath in my lungs. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.
Has your experience thus far been all you expected?
I’m surprised at how kind and supportive the horror and speculative fiction publishing community has been on the entry level. I’m also surprised every time I get a story accepted.
Poor editing seems to be a big issue in the Indie scene. What is your take on the subject?
I’m part of the problem. I’ve learned a lot from the process of submitting stories, but I had a lot of bad habits to correct in my writing. I made a decision to set aside pride and embrace editors. Even if I take away all their good qualities, just from a pure capitalist perspective they are the most motivated partners I have in making the story the best it can be. I have benefited greatly from every editor I’ve encountered.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?
Ebook publishing is making it easier to get anything in the market place. There is more competition and anyone can play. Getting great work into readers’ hands is more challenging. Distinguishing good writers and great talent is difficult. The solution is to continue to demand the best work from open calls and to continue writing to improve the work.
The social media is…
A magic land where I can play professional writer from my living room. I have marvelled that I have written, edited, submitted, signed contracts, promoted, received payments, carried on conversations, and developed professional relationships without ever going outside or picking up a phone. Some folks with whom I have done extensive work, I have never heard their voices, met them, or seen them except for profile pictures. It is a strange, new world.
Share some information about your work with us:
My first novel, Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel with Hazardous Press, is exclusive with Amazon Kindle. It will open in wider release before 2013. Print release will be based on reviews. I started publishing short stories with Dark Moon Digest and I now write a monthly horror column, Bits of the Dead, with their ezine Dark Eclipse. I am particularly grateful and proud of the work I have done with Dark Moon and the relationships I’ve built there. I’m in a number of anthologies including Grindhouse, The Ghost IS the Machine, and Fist Full of Horrors. I originally wrote solely zombie stories, but I have stretched into other areas of horror and speculative fiction.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
“I don’t like being scared. Have written anything ‘not scary’ that I could read?”
How will you deal with negative reviews?
As graciously as I possibly can. My hope is always that whatever they are reading is going to be worse than everything I ever write after that. I’m still thrilled when anyone reads my work. If they read it, they have a right to say what they think positive or negative.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I’m cheap. I like to read for free. I do a good bit of beta reading for fellow writers. I do screening reading for the slush pile for a particular publisher. I’ve read for reviews for Last Writes too. I like to read the other stories in the contributor copies of anthologies where I’ve been accepted.
Stephen King says you can’t write well without reading and I try to disagree with him as seldom as possible. Reading shows me how much better other writers are than me and I try harder. Reading also opens a window on bad writing habits and blind spots in writing. If I do it enough, it turns into a mirror and I can see things that need to be corrected in my own craft. You can get away with anything for a while, but you limit your potential by not reading.
Define “Indie Writer” and defend or attack their position in the book market.
The indie writer is the gunslinging, zombie killer outside the city walls. There are scraps out there, but he or she has to fight the other survivors or join together in loose confederations to get a piece of the action. It is rare for gunslingers to get into the city, but it has happened enough that the others dream of it. There are good stories inside the walls that the city dwellers read in large numbers, but some part of them knows there is something grittier out in the wastelands. There is a lot of potential for something new or more extreme outside the walls. Every sub sub sub genera that will have the word “punk” attached to it one day is being explored by someone if the reader is willing explore far enough away from the city. Even if most of the slingers are going to die outside the city, their work will be there to be discovered and imitated forever.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m in the outlining phase for a novel combining time travel and horror. I’m finishing a novella for an open call that wants a zombie retelling of a fairytale with horror, but low gore with strong romantic elements and a happy ending. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I’m constantly writing short stories for submissions in a wide range of genera.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I’m an ultra-libertarian and a fundamentalist Christian. I’ve chosen a very conservative lifestyle for me and my family, but defend unconditionally the rights of people to live lives that are in complete contradiction to my beliefs. This, by the way, is the perfect combination to piss off the most people on both ends of the political spectrum. Full disclosure, I am an excellent libertarian, but really fall short as a Christian. People should seek their examples to live by elsewhere. I do write a mean zombie story if anyone is seeking that.
If you could team up with any Indie author, (no fair if I let you choose from one of the big names), who would you choose, and what would be the subject matter of the book?
Chris Larsen. I met him through The Ghost IS the Machine anthology with Post Mortem. I’ve read a good bit of his work since then and it always makes me wish I had thought of it first. I’ll let him pick the subject and I’ll take the credit.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
My wife has put up with a lot in letting me play writer. I appreciate the good folks at Dark Moon. I also appreciate the faith Robert Helmbrecht at Hazardous Press has shown in taking my first novel, Loose Ends.
Why do you write?
My heart is still beating and my lungs are still filling with air. That’s all the sign I need that I’m not done telling stories.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
I have an endless pile of stories for screening. I’m enjoying exploring the lands outside the walls. I have a stack of presidential biographies that keep getting moved down when a new piece of fiction catches my interest.