Ginger Nuts of Horror
I can not believe I am writing a guest post for Ginger Nuts of Horror. I love this site. This is not a good way to start a post for a site that has such great content as this one. I need to be more professional and hold myself together. Time to write like a pro.
Promoting a zombie novel series on Ginger Nuts of Horror? That is going to be a tough sell. People have heard a lot about zombies. I really should have come in with something more literary, if I knew I’d be explaining myself on this site. Well, it’s too late to change the whole novel now just for this guest post. I have to trudge ahead. Time to oversell my work like a champ. That’s what we do in America. We take everything to apocalyptic proportions. Time to let my America show!
I live in Conway, South Carolina. I grew up in Georgia. My family lives all across the South (That’s “South” with a capital “S” like the name of a grand kingdom in some fantasy epic). My mother and her family are from Mississippi. My father and his family were from Kentucky. We are proud of the things about the South that are worthy of being proud of and there are a lot. Southern culture is complex and had broader roots than most people that look down upon the region care to understand.
There is a great deal of darkness to the South as well. It is what feeds a rich, gothic tradition and has wild potential for horror stories. It is also part of a dark legacy that still reaches into the present.
In June of this year, a man went into Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina down the coast from where I live and shot nine black church members to death. This church is called Mother Emmanuel. It is where a slave rebellion was planned before the American Civil War and the congregation had to scatter when the plans were discovered. It is a site where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. Dr. King would eventually be shot to death on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee – another Southern City.
Black Churches were attacked many times through the last century. Even in the 1990’s a rash of church burnings plagued the South. Bombings were all too common in the South in the 1960’s and before. Some cities experienced a hundred or more such bomb attacks on black citizens.
Many have tried to quietly forget these moments in our history and push them back into the past. The discussion of the Confederate Battle Flag which still has a stronghold in the South has begun to rise in the public debate. Neither political party can separate itself from their deep connections to the South. The largest black populations in the nation are still across the Southern states. There are a number of reasons for this, but not least among them is the fact that there were not always open arms across the states outside the South either. The prejudice that has an impact in America today was a national problem and not one that can just be pinpointed on the South.
For the record, I think the Confederate Flag should come off the grounds of my state’s capitol. I also do not believe that will have any real impact on the actual racial issues that haunt our region and nation. I know family members of the victims of the Charleston shooting. One was the principal of the school where I used to teach. Another is my doctor. I don’t know what to say to them. I have no answers.
The United States is also in a heated period of expansion of Civil Rights issues regarding marriage equality. For the record, my stance is that gay people should be able to marry other consenting adult gay people, if they wish to do so. Freedom means it does not matter if I agree with other people’s choices or lives. My freedom is not expanded if someone else’s freedom is withheld. If I take out the fact that I’m talking about gay rights, lots of people around me would agree with those statements about freedom. If I say them about gay rights, this is not a popular opinion in the area where I live.
This is not a new issue in America. Attacks on people in America for being gay have filled our history from threats to beatings up to murders and mass burnings. These are facts and it is part of a history that includes hate we wish we could leave behind.
Apocalyptic stories tear back the shiny coating we use to cover over the dark past and that we use in order to be polite as we avoid tough issues. America always thinks an apocalypse is coming when one party or the other starts flexing their muscles and gaining some ground. A good dystopian story, zombie or otherwise, can explore the core of those things that divide us and the darkness that we try to hide, but can’t keep hidden during the toughest times.
In the Dead Song Legend novels, the characters that carry the story are gay and one of the two main characters is also black. Their backgrounds and their journeys take them across the apocalyptic landscape of America and explore these issues in the context of a society stripped bare, but still struggling with identity.
I don’t have answers, but I can tell stories. Apocalyptic stories give us an opportunity to explore in a very raw way who we are and why we are those people. It allows us to pursue the answers when we don’t have them and don’t know where to find them. I love this country and I love the South. I love it enough to explore in the darkness with my writing and hopefully find the light again.
Check out the latest book and music from a new series by Jay Wilburn:
The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals –
The Sound May Suffer - Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January –
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