Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #SummerofZombie

Summer of Zombie 2015

“Art and Beauty of the Undead”

by Jay Wilburn

When “Dead Song” went from a short story to a novel to a twelve book epic, I knew I was going to need to deliver on the story. This had to be bigger than run, hide, fight, escape, die, rise, and repeat. The music soundtrack was a different level of story telling that was uniquely fitted to this project. An invaluable addition to the written story was found in artist Luke Spooner of Carrion House.

I’ve been connected to Luke on a number of projects with small presses including covers for collections and a wide range of anthologies. I approached Luke on my own for the first time to discuss the cover and interior art for Dead Song. He is a humble guy in equal measure to his talent. He was willing to hear out my ideas and apply his talent to the book cover and the interior art.

Luke’s art is distinctive to me. He has a style that translates to many different story types. I see a Spooner piece and I recognize his work. They are each different and crafted to the stories. There is something about his use of color and shadow that identifies him.

He has an interesting process. Luke reads the work thoroughly. His art is not just randomly selected from a catchy scene. He seeks to enhance the story telling for the author. With the interiors in particular, he gives several options and explains why each one presents a good opportunity for the story. Selecting five from all the options is tough because I feel like I give up so much on the ones on which I passed.

Luke uses shading, shape, and line to add unique depth to his illustrations. He shows so much in the subject of each drawing, but then leaves ideas just outside the frame of the picture so that the reader is invited to add their imagination to what is outside the frame. He lets the story guide the formation of the visuals in an emotional way. The direction the characters stand, where they are looking, and how they interact is dictated by the development of the story. In the end, his work adds to the experience of the story and helps to tell it in partnership with the offer. He becomes a partner in the story telling as the artist.

Since there are twelve books in the chute and each one will incorporate the months of the year in order, we talked about the use of Americana in calendars that are oddly creepy in their composition. The story is full of drag queens, evolved musical styles, and the expansive apocalyptic landscape of America. Somehow Luke Spooner managed to incorporate these ideas into something amazing.

Dead Song Book 1 pic 5 color

I’m amazed at the beauty he is able to add into the pictures of zombies and hints of gore. In this picture, he took a scene from the book and brought out the intensity of the undead creature standing still in the midst of new life. The picture above is a color version of one of the interior illustrations in The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals.

Dead Song book 1 pic 1

This is the first illustration in the book. Most appear at the end of chapters, but we moved this one up closer to the front to let it appear in the preview. The performer Donna Cash is back stage waiting to go on at a seedy club in Milwaukee. The plywood has bullet holes from previous trouble with zombies. Luke used the light through the holes to create a noir feel for a character that will be struggling with identity and purpose.

Luke Spooner found a way to communicate these layers through the covers and interior art in a way that adds to the story to extents I couldn’t have imagined. And all this for a weird, little zombie story.

Check out the first book in the Dead Song dodecology and the soundtrack The Sound May Suffer for the story told through words, pictures, and music. Always surround yourself with people more talented than you whenever possible.

Dead Song Book 1 final cover

Check out The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals

Check out the five song sound track in The Sound May Suffer … Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January

me (1)

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He was a teacher for sixteen years before leaving to become a full-time writer. He writes in many genre. His Dead Song series book 1 is available now along with the five song soundtrack The Sound May Suffer.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

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!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!


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