Twelve books was not just a random number. When I first wrote “Dead Song” the short story, it was just this weird non-story story that I thought I was never going to find a home for. Elektrik Milk Bath Press was looking for weird zombie stories for a charity anthology and I gave them this one. It ended up selected and reprinted for Best Horror of the Year volume 5. It was reprinted again in Zombies: More Recent Dead with Prime Books. I decided to see if there was a novel behind the world created in that story. I wrote part of the first night of the story of the characters and realized I wasn’t going to finish in one book. So, I figured I had a trilogy. I wrote a couple more chapters and realized that by the end of novel one, I was not going to be one-third done. So, I sat down and outlined what the entire mythology would look like, if I told the entire thing. I came up with twelve books. I had to decide if I was up to that challenge. When I decided to go forward with it, I went ahead and called in a Dodecology because I knew that’s what I planned it to be.
With the number twelve, I thought about using the months of the year as a marker to help title the books. Those month titles slipped into the story telling and the names of characters within each of the books.
As I brought Luke Spooner on board for the art, I was starting to form a concept of what I wanted for the covers. I had started to pay attention to calendar pages. Those creepy Americana calendars that feature children and pastel colors started to really bother me. It is odd how we buy calendars and stare at one piece of art for a month either to turn the page forever or to toss it away. It is even creepier if we decide to hold on to one month’s art like a souvenir of something dead and gone like that watering can of flowers from March of 1989 or that old barn from April of 1985. All these calendars feature abandoned barns, watering cans, wagons filled with odd things, children dressed up to play like adults on a pastel landscape that is barren of adult supervision, and pieces that represent America as we imagine its spirit separated from its body and captured in off colors. These calendars are alternate dimension Americas where reality is thin and the borders of the land are lost in pastel smears. It is a special kind of horror hidden below paintings meant to lull us with positive emotions laced with nostalgia.
This application of art seemed a perfect inspiration and interpretation for the covers for the Dead Song Legend Dodecology. And, of course, Luke Spooner works magic. We discussed the above ideas along with horror, apocalypse, dystopia, zombies, and drag queens. We amped up the subtle horror I found in these pictures meant to live for one month only. I think Luke in turn created that delicate balance of beauty and horror. I hope my stories can live up to the covers.
Check out the latest book and music from a new series by 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 JayWilburn.com