I have not written a lot of sequels for my own work. Most of my characters and stories have been one night stands. It’s not them; it’s me. I just want to write about other monsters, baby. I have incomplete sequels and prequels in the computer. I have also written a number of series and sequels in the universes of others for ghostwriting. That’s a bit different. There is an art to calling back to the past stories and building on that history in a meaningful way. There is also an important challenge to build a story that stands on its own as a great work of fiction within and apart from its context in the series.
February from Vicksburg to Cherokee is the second book in The Dead Song Legend Dodecology. That is a twelve book epic I am attempting to write about a zombie infested version of America. That’s got to be the kind of project you tell people drunk at a party and the next day you go around calling people to tell them you were kidding.
In a way, the first book was itself the continuation of something that had already started. “Dead Song” was a short story that looked back from the Recovery Era at Dead Era America and explored the cultural shifts in music that occurred due to disparate groups of survivors coming together and blending their tastes in ways that were never meant to mix naturally. The novelized series fleshes out the legends discussed in that story.
I did not begin with the intention to write twelve books. I thought it was one novel, then I thought a trilogy, and then when I outlined out the entire course of the history and legend, I realized it would take twelve books. I took a short moment to take a gut check to see if I was up to this challenge. Like with most ideas in writing, I made the leap and we’ll see where we land later.
I assembled the team of editors, layout, cover and interior artist, and even a producer to make mock-ups of some of the songs. Book one came together and went into people’s hands at conventions and then in the mail from Amazon around the world.
With two of the main characters being gay males, some of the marketing steered in the direction of LGBT readers and I built a little bit of an audience from genre readers out of the LGBT community. I take that as a great honor and a bit of a heavy responsibility in how I represent those characters in a realistic, multi-dimensional way.
The story explores American history, character, diversity, culture, regional differences, religion, politics, prejudice, and the quirky nature of place through the lens of the unraveling and rebuilding of an apocalypse. That is a lot to juggle as I constructed the second book.
The story picks up with the aftermath of a major event that ended book one. It also opens a major conflict that will sweep through much of the rest of the series in various forms. It felt like I had done it, but I never can shake the nagging feeling that any story I write is far less than I intended it to be. In addition to that mental hurdle, it was also the second installment of a very long series.
It wasn’t until I heard back from beta readers and the artist that I started to feel like that it was better than my negative mind wanted to grant. These were people connected to the project, but still they benefit by helping me make it better than what it is. They were giving the book stellar feedback. It threw me off a little.
I reached out past my usual circles and engaged others with just book two and then some with both book one and two. I wanted to get reactions from people with no concern about me as a person. It turned out I might have struck that balance where it worked in both situations as part two of a series and as its own story. The “book two only” group asked if they could go ahead a get hold of book one also. Maybe I should have made them buy it, but I felt like I owed them for the confirmation they gave me.
I’m not certain this will be all that easier with books three, four, or eleven. In a way, they all have elements of those sophomore problems and demand the very best storytelling for myself and for readers. There will never be another second book to this particular series though. This is it. This is that book. It was a fun milestone to reach with many more to come.
Check it out along with book one and see what you think of the world and characters I created.
Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. 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. He also wrote the novelsLoose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com
Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com
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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ 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!