Negative Space Author Q&A: Jay Wilburn, “The Artist and the Muse”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story in the Negatives Space anthology is “The Artist and the Muse.” The apocalypse is caused by some vague contagion that results in mutations. The survivor is a girl being stalked by a Cronenberg-esk butcher who thinks of himself as an artist working in living flesh. Her efforts to stay ahead of his game prove quite difficult.

Q: What works of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: *Rubs hands together* I’m a pretty rabid reader, so I love giving book recommendations in particular. There are a lot of great examples in fiction that incorporate survival elements in creative ways. Some great ones include The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz, Succulent Prey by Wrath James White, Full Brutal by Kristopher Triana, Good Boy by Thomas R Clark, School’s Out by Brian Keene, and Until the Sun by Chandler Morrison, to name a few.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: I’m a kidney transplant patient, so my survival depends on access to regular medications. Any sort of apocalyptic scenario involving the shutdown of society would be the end of me. Even when we have a hurricane coming, we evacuate early to stay with friends and family so we keep power and can have access to a working hospital. With the recent pandemic, I’m one of those vulnerable groups where if I catch it, it will probably kill me. I’m for sure staying isolated for longer than the states call for it and my family is doing their best to be safe, too. The possibility of catching it during second and third waves of the disease is a real danger that weighs on my mind. Real life is pretty scary for me, I guess. On the upside, staying at home and not going anywhere is kind of what I’ve been working toward my entire life. Being a full-time writer makes this survival plan possible for me.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: Maintaining the right level of tension is the key to a great survival story, I think. Tension between what is shown and what is hidden, which was a big part of the Negative Space anthology and part of what attracted me to it. Tension between violence and suspense. Tension between the point of view characters and the oppositional characters that are hunting or being hunted by the POV characters. Expressing that tension through the characters, the setting, and the story itself is an important art.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I was hired on as a staff writer for the Still Water Bay series being created through Crystal Lake Publishing. It is an episodic written series of dark fiction set in a strange and monster besieged town in coastal Georgia in the southern United States. There will eventually be audio versions and other media tie-ins as well. The first episode dropped for free on April 27th on the Crystal Lake Publishing Patreon page. People can check that out now. The second went up on April 29th and at least one new episode is published each month. $5 per month gives you access to all that and $7 per month gives you behind the scenes stuff along with all the other great stuff on Crystal Lake Publishing’s Patreon at

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: I have stories for younger readers including the Maidens of Zombie Kingdom young adult fantasy trilogy and the Lake Scatter Wood Tales series of adventure stories for elementary and middle school readers. I have fiction for adults including Vampire Christ, the Dead Song Legend series, and a thriller called The Hidden Truth. You can find my work on Amazon, on my website where I sell signed copies, or find me on Twitter @AmongTheZombies for more interaction.

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