Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Identity is What We Share and What We Hide (Guest Post from Jay Wilburn, author of THE DEAD SONG LEGEND)

Hey there, flayed corpse lovers!  I know we bounce around in focus here on the blog quite a bit, but today, we are getting back to motherfucking basics with a guest post from a zombie author I've admired for quite some time: the one, the only, Mr. Jaaaaaaaaaay Leno!  I mean Wilburn.

Jay has come to us today with a new book and a new album.  Let's meet the man and then jump right into the post.

About Jay Wilburn:

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at

Guest Post:

I created a novel series that involved characters traveling back and forth across the apocalyptic, zombie infested landscape of America to gather recordings of the music of the various disparate groups of survivors thrown together and forced to survive together. The novels involved stage names, drag queens, roving gangs, and gay lead characters. I was then challenged to sum up the story in a sentence. It was a request unrelated to these particular novels, but the idea was that if you couldn’t boil the story down to one sentence then you might not truly know what it is about. It might have subtext, subplots, and multiple themes, but if a writer cannot see through all of that to the core of the novel, he or she may be too lost in those extra elements to see the real story. A paragraph summary is an action recap and can begin to sound like a five-year-old recounting his day to his parents in a rambling stream of consciousness regurgitation of events. The idea is that you have to know that single core sentence that gives the key heart of the story or none of that summary has any meaningful focus. It is a point that may be argued, but it is an approach that helped me see why stories that I write matter to be told and then to keep those stories focused. For the Dead Song Legend, I came up with “Identity is what we show people about ourselves, but it is also what we try to hide from them.”

The characters in the story withhold their true names each for his or her own reasons. This plays into who they are and who they are trying to be. The two most important characters are gay men. They have that in common, but not a lot else. Each has dealt with this aspect of identity before and after the apocalypse. One of the two is African American and the story explores how the apocalypse causes some people to leave behind prejudice as unimportant baggage for the needs of survival while others have their hatred laid bare by the stripping away of social guidelines and courtesy. One character goes by multiple names and even performs in drag along a circuit of clubs that continue to put on shows for survivors starved for entertainment.

Music plays a major role in the story. We even recorded some music as if live from the world of the novels to help tell the story. The mash-ups from the world of Dead Song are the result of groups of survivors that would not normally build a community together being thrust together by the terrors of the apocalypse and forced to do so for their survival. As their musical styles blend, they form a new group identity that represents all of them together expressed through the new, invented style. The production of music also represents people seeking to do more with their lives than just survive. It is the expression of hope and faith that one day they will be able to rebuild and reclaim life together. Afterward though, they will not be the same people or the same nation they were before. Their collective experiences will change who they are.

As the stories progress, readers will learn more about the characters and their pasts. These details will have an impact on their individual futures, but the destiny of the entire nation and world too.

The Dead Song Legend tells the story of Tiny Jones. He will be a legend in the Recovery Era, but the truth behind his story is far more complicated than even the outrageous stories about his life could tell. The novels of the series unfold that truth behind the legend revealing who Tiny really was and why that mattered.

All of us are complex and full of contradictions. This is what makes us so frustrating to each other and so interesting in fiction. The crux of these complexities is that we show people what we want them to see. Sometimes that show is untrue or only partially true. Sometimes it is mixed in with the pieces of our personality that slip out at times we wish they would not. Who we are is also made of those parts that we hide. Sometimes we are able to hide them for a long time. Sometimes we are found out. Often, we are afraid to let people see those deeper, darker aspects of our person. All of these things are part of our identity and I hope I captured some of that with my characters in Dead Song.


In a world where Twilight has the balls to call itself a ‘saga’, I think it's time to take a step away from that word. I go to a book store and see a book proclaiming to be the first in a dodecology, I'm gonna buy that book just cuz the author decided to throw down that gauntlet from the start.—Indy McDaniel, author of Nady’s Nights: Road to Vengence

Truth is lost in legends and legends grow over time. They grow because we need them to be bigger and we need them to explain the things we fear. We write them for ourselves and for our world. The Dead Song Legend of Tiny “Mud Music” Jones has captured the imagination of everyone that survived the apocalypse even as he captured the music of the survivors and the music that helped us all to survive.—B.B. Tarmancula, Dead World Memorial Dedication.

About "The Sound May Suffer"

All songs recorded live during the zombie apocalypse by music collector Tiny “mud music” Jones. The sound may suffer.

Track Listings

1. Amazing Circle of Suffering
2. Don't Make Me Repeat It
3. Last Lullaby of the Wind
4. Replay the Life Incomplete
5. Undead Dinner Bell

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)